History question-- when did the zoom become the default lens type?

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yardcoyote
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History question-- when did the zoom become the default lens type?
4 months ago

When I started in photography (not quite in the dinosaur era, but definitely when mammoths roamed the earth) most lenses were primes. New SLRs came in kits with 50mm lenses. I started with just such a kit, and added a used 85mm prime a few months later. Finding my needs met in full, I shot with the same kit for 20+ years, then took a long hiatus from photography when I could no longer afford film. During this long period, almost 30 years, I paid very little attention to the camera market.

Various circumstances brought me to digital photography a couple of years ago, and last summer I bought a simple DSLR, and found myself with no prime options at all when choosing a kit. I ended up with the now traditional 18-55mm zoom. Leaving aside my own personal opinions about the wisdom of this kind of marketing, and my experiences with the lens, I was left wondering: just when did the zoom become the default type of lens, and the prime become a specialty item?

I know I missed a lot of developments in my long years of contentment with a fully manual SLR-- automated exposure modes, full auto film cameras, autofocus, the first digital cameras, and several generations of DSLRs . So please, gearhounds of long standing, how are all these events related?

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