Making a superzoom for a compact is easy, but for a DSLR, it's hard?

Started 9 months ago | Discussions
dherzstein
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Re: Getting to the bottom...
In reply to Leandros S, 9 months ago

Leandros S wrote::

I still don't find that intuitive. Other than the issue of flange distance, you should be able to scale a bridge camera design up to being an exchangeable lens, and vice versa. Added to that, miniaturising things is technically harder than making them bigger - at least in terms of R&D. At the small scale, imperfections are much more noticeable, so the glass actually needs to be higher quality.

Double the size does not mean double the cost.  2x length = 8x volume of glass.  And it still does not scale at 8x; there is less tolerance of curvature and more than 8x reject rate.

And yet, I don't hear the superzoom compact reviews droning on about sharpness. In fact, the last time I remember that complaint as referring to the glass rather than the autofocus accuracy was in an HX300V review - that being a 20MP camera!

I've not seen a "1200mm equivelent" image with an IQ that I'd be happy with.  Compact superzooms are usually compared to other compacts.

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EinsteinsGhost
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Re: Making a superzoom for a compact is easy, but for a DSLR, it's hard?
In reply to Leandros S, 9 months ago

Leandros S wrote:

People say that interchangeable superzoom ("travel") lenses can't manage good sharpness, yet superzoom compacts do just fine in terms of sharpness. Why is that?

If "just fine" is acceptable, be it distortion control, optical sharpness and aberrations, then it isn't a big deal for DSLRs either. I have Sigma 18-250, which 28-375mm (FF) equivalent, and quite good actually when stopped down a stop or two.

But, a part of consideration for an ILC (interchangeable lens camera) is that you don't need to compromise with a "one size fits all" solution, rather be free to get a variety of lenses suited for specific needs.

This is focal length distribution (FF equivalent) from 400+ images I recently took during a road trip (excludes dozens of images taken with an 8mm and a 50mm lens):

A vast majority of images were taken between 24-130mm (16mm - 90mm, APS-c), only a few at 320-380mm and very few in between.

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Mike CH
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Re: Getting to the bottom...
In reply to Leandros S, 9 months ago

Leandros S wrote:

Mark B. wrote:

Leandros S wrote:

MoreorLess wrote:

Leandros S wrote:

People say that interchangeable superzoom ("travel") lenses can't manage good sharpness, yet superzoom compacts do just fine in terms of sharpness. Why is that?

smaller sensors being easer to design lenses for

But why?

Small sensors ==> small glass. Large sensors ==> large glass. It's much more expensive to make a superzoom lens for a large sensor because the image circle must project a larger image onto the sensor. It requires a lot more glass.

So when you say, "more glass", are you referring to overall volume/mass, or the number of lens elements? I'm not sure that superzoom compacts get away with fewer lens elements, and I don't think the glass volume is the problem either, since, as John1940 points out, you can get telezoom DSLR lenses starting at $100.

Volume for starters.

And the cost of glass for lenses probably rises more than linearly by volume rather than by diameter, meaning there could be a quadratic relationship in cost from superzoom to DSLR.

The reject rate will be larger, too. Tolerances will be another obstacle.

And those DSLR lenses starting at $100 don't quite (ahem) compare to their more expensive brethren.

Regards, Mike

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Wait and see...

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brianj
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Re: Making a superzoom for a compact is easy, but for a DSLR, it's hard?
In reply to EinsteinsGhost, 9 months ago

EinsteinsGhost wrote:

A vast majority of images were taken between 24-130mm (16mm - 90mm, APS-c), only a few at 320-380mm and very few in between.

But the number taken was rising towards 380mm, imagine if you could have gone to 1000mm, what would the graph look like then.  My findings after owning a superzoom is that the mid range drops but it rises again towards the tele end.

Brian

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EinsteinsGhost
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Re: Making a superzoom for a compact is easy, but for a DSLR, it's hard?
In reply to brianj, 9 months ago

brianj wrote:

EinsteinsGhost wrote:

A vast majority of images were taken between 24-130mm (16mm - 90mm, APS-c), only a few at 320-380mm and very few in between.

But the number taken was rising towards 380mm, imagine if you could have gone to 1000mm, what would the graph look like then. My findings after owning a superzoom is that the mid range drops but it rises again towards the tele end.

Brian

It would have looked flat, worse than 140-180mm range. For seven years, I used Sony F828 as my main camera and its 28-200mm, f/2-2.8, lens was sufficient (equates to 18-135mm lens) and in fact, that very fact is also reflected above.

As it is, even 18-250 travel zoom (many images above were taken with it, including the few you see at 380mm eq), is heavily compromised optical design. I don't use that lens often for that reason (my go to lens is Sony 16-50mm f/2.8 SSM). I will often carry 8mm/2.8, 135mm/2.8 and 200mm/2.8 as a set of lenses for most coverage. The only advantage the travel zoom has is... one lens solution. It gets slow fast.

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Marty4650
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Why are you asking, if you know all the answers?
In reply to Leandros S, 9 months ago

Perhaps it is just your style, but you seem to be arguing and rejecting every single good answer anyone has given you.

The fact is.... the optical glass used for lenses is very expensive, especially once you start using exotic compounds. And the reject rates go up as size increases. So the material cost of a large lens is quite a bit more than the cost for a small lens.

Plus, you need to understand how the laws of physics work. Upscaling a 24-600mm Panasonic FZ200 lens for an APS-C sensor wouldn't make the lens twice as big, or four times as big... it would make it ten times larger and heavier. Perhaps even more.

A Superzoom compact like the FZ200 will give you 600mm of effective reach at a constant f/2.8 aperture. And the entire camera.... lens and all... only weighs 1.3 pounds, and costs around $500. This is possible due to the very tiny image circle needed. (Smaller image circle means less class, less size, less weight, less cost.)

A 600mm lens for a large sensored camera (like the Nikon 600mm f/4.0) will weigh OVER 11 pounds and will cost around $10,000! And this is just for for a prime lens. A zoom lens that went from 24mm to 600mm and had a constant aperture of anything under f/8.0 would weigh and cost a whole lot more for this sensor size.

Please note... high quality optical glass can cost several hundred dollars per pound. Some exotic optical glass can cost thousands of dollars a pound. So the cost of building lenses that weighs "pounds" is a lot higher than building lenses that weight "ounces."

When we speak about miniaturization, we are talking about electronics. Making circuit boards and other electronic parts smaller. There is no practical way to make an image circle smaller. It must be large enough to cover the sensor size.

But there's another big reason.

Who would want such a monstrosity?

People who buy DSLRs buy them because they want the ability to change lenses so they can use the best lens they can for each focal length or for each focal length range. These people are NOT looking for one lens solutions. These are NOT convenient cameras to use, so they don't select their lenses for convenience. They generally select them for quality and speed.

It is true that there are some superzoom lenses sold for DSLRs, but these are primarily used for taking snapshots when travelling, and are not one lens solutions for anyone. None of these lenses ever tests really well, and many DSLR owners will shun them completely.

Their image quality varies from mediocre to pretty good, because there is not such thing as an outstanding superzoom lens for a DSLR. Size, weight and cost force compromises here. It just isn't possible. And these are generally 10X - 17X lenses, and not the 30X, 40X or 50X variety you see on superzoom cameras.

In a nutshell, we don't have big zoom range lenses for DSLRs because while YOU COULD scale them up, the result would be very large, very heavy, and very costly. And very few people would buy them.

OK, now you can tell me why I'm wrong.

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dherzstein
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Re: Why are you asking, if you know all the answers?
In reply to Marty4650, 9 months ago

Marty4650 wrote:

OK, now you can tell me why I'm wrong.

Can I give you 2 thumbs up?

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Marty4650
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Re: Understanding demand curves
In reply to Leandros S, 9 months ago

Leandros S wrote:

headfirst wrote:

the CN-E30-300mm is a professional video/cine lens - high quality, high R&D/tooling cost & very low production nos. to recover it.

That explanation is backwards and doesn't satisfy. How many SLR users do we think actually enjoy changing lenses?

Pretty much all of them do. They may not enjoy it that much but they have elected to change lenses in order to get the quality they want. If they wanted the convenience of never having to change lenses they probably would have bought something else.

I certainly don't. And yet, I slavishly continue in that bad habit because I've been told that I won't get good IQ with a travel lens. And the reason I bought an SLR is partly because I wanted that IQ.

I think you are making the mistake of thinking that what you want... should be what everyone else wants. If you want a superzoom lens (or a fixed superzoom camera) then by all means, you should buy one. It will suit your needs and your expectations. But do not assume that all those other people are buying prime lenses and 2X or 3X zoom lenses because they have no other choice, and they really wish they could buy a nice 25X zoom lens and be done with it.

So I'm quite convinced that if there were a reasonably good superzoom lens available at a decent price, everyone would go out and buy it.

Mighty big if. Reasonable is a relative term. Right now, there are reasonably good superzoom lenses for DSLRs. But most people don't buy them. Perhaps want something better?

I will probably buy one anyway eventually, even if reports keep showing that it's not as sharp and has additional distortion/aberration, simply b/c it will mean that I'll always be able to take the shot when it presents itself.

Sharpness is also a relative term. What is unsharp printed at 20" x 30" suddenly looks a lot sharper when printed at 8" x 10".

Buy exactly what you need.

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EinsteinsGhost
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Re: Understanding demand curves
In reply to Leandros S, 9 months ago

Leandros S wrote:

headfirst wrote:

the CN-E30-300mm is a professional video/cine lens - high quality, high R&D/tooling cost & very low production nos. to recover it.

That explanation is backwards and doesn't satisfy. How many SLR users do we think actually enjoy changing lenses? I certainly don't.

Speaking for self and among the lenses I own, I prefer carrying:

8mm f/2.8, 16-50mm f/2.8, 70mm f/2.8, 135mm f/2.8, 200mm f/2.8

Over:

18-250mm f/3.5-6.3

The first set covers 24mm-300mm at f/2.8. The second covers 28-375mm at f/3.5-6.3. Only on occasions when I don't mind compromising quality for convenience of one-lens solution, and am assured of good lighting, I pick the latter.

And even on occasions I might prefer one-lens solution, I have started to take two bodies. I carry Sony A55 with Sony 16-50mm f/2.8 SSM as my kit lens, and have Minolta 70-210mm f/4 as my telephoto zoom on Sony NEX-3, good for 24mm-320mm f/2.8-4, a more versatile solution than 28-375mm f/3.5-6.3.

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weezy
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Re: Making a superzoom for a compact is easy, but for a DSLR, it's hard?
In reply to EinsteinsGhost, 9 months ago

I don't know about lens size, sensor, etc, but I have a Canon SX 50 and I keep a #4 gray filter on it. I was asking about using a polarizing filter instead and asked the camera store which filter the SX 50 would use. It takes the non-rotating one.

So why do lenses for DSLRs rotate, and the bridge camera superzooms don't?

.

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dherzstein
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Re: Making a superzoom for a compact is easy, but for a DSLR, it's hard?
In reply to weezy, 9 months ago

weezy wrote:

I don't know about lens size, sensor, etc, but I have a Canon SX 50 and I keep a #4 gray filter on it. I was asking about using a polarizing filter instead and asked the camera store which filter the SX 50 would use. It takes the non-rotating one.

All polarizer filters rotate - they have to.

Perhaps you meant to say "circular polarizer"?  Digicams can use either "linear" or "circular" polarizers.  Linear polarizers are less expensive.

So why do lenses for DSLRs rotate, and the bridge camera superzooms don't?

DSLRs use beam-splitters and circular polarizers are required for proper metering.

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glasswave
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Re: Superzooms can be very sharp...
In reply to Leandros S, 9 months ago

Leandros S wrote:

People say that interchangeable superzoom ("travel") lenses can't manage good sharpness, yet superzoom compacts do just fine in terms of sharpness. Why is that?

But they require very bright light and need to be stopped down a bit to get the most out of them.

Don't think of them as a Jack of all trades lens, think of them as a  specialty lens, made for situations when changing lenses is not very feasible due to poor environment (ie: mountaineering), fast changing action (a mix of wildlife and landscapes in variable light), danger from others (a political protest in a developing country) etc...

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John1940
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Re: Understanding demand curves
In reply to EinsteinsGhost, 9 months ago

EinsteinsGhost wrote:

Leandros S wrote:

headfirst wrote:

the CN-E30-300mm is a professional video/cine lens - high quality, high R&D/tooling cost & very low production nos. to recover it.

That explanation is backwards and doesn't satisfy. How many SLR users do we think actually enjoy changing lenses? I certainly don't.

Speaking for self and among the lenses I own, I prefer carrying:

8mm f/2.8, 16-50mm f/2.8, 70mm f/2.8, 135mm f/2.8, 200mm f/2.8

Great lenses but surely not fun to carry around on long trips overseas! They would not even fit in most hotel or ship cabin safes. It's a tough trade off but I usually take a Canon 600D, a Sigma 10-20mm, a Sigma 18-200mm, and a Canon 60mm macro f/2.8. Plus my wife's G15 P&S. And her tablet. For the 600D the 18-200 has the worst IQ of the three but is used the most.

I might go for the Canon 15-85 at some point with the same 600D or (maybe) a 70D. The 15-85 might go wide enough for my travel uses but I'd need more telephoto, which requires a second lens. And, I might leave the macro at home.

The main place I'd really like a FF DSLR and high quality lenses is here at home. We've spent a lot of time and money this year on making our house and (especially) its surroundings (on 25 acres) look nicer. But APS-C is better for our type of travel. FF stuff is just too much of an issue size-wise. I still have three film SLRs that I lugged around for years.

Over:

18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 35 mm slrs and bigger lenses that I lugged aroung to many countries.

The first set covers 24mm-300mm at f/2.8. The second covers 28-375mm at f/3.5-6.3. Only on occasions when I don't mind compromising quality for convenience of one-lens solution, and am assured of good lighting, I pick the latter.

And even on occasions I might prefer one-lens solution, I have started to take two bodies. I carry Sony A55 with Sony 16-50mm f/2.8 SSM as my kit lens, and have Minolta 70-210mm f/4 as my telephoto zoom on Sony NEX-3, good for 24mm-320mm f/2.8-4, a more versatile solution than 28-375mm f/3.5-6.3.

John1940

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Old Listener
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Re: Why are you asking, if you know all the answers?
In reply to Marty4650, 9 months ago

Really good post!  And your other posts in this thread are good too.

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OpticsEngineer
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Re: the easy explanation
In reply to tko, 9 months ago

"Optical designers could give you a more complex answer, but the simplest way to visualize it is that a lens is a curved surface. The bigger the lens, the more the surface has to curve."

That pretty much is it. And rays out on those more curved areas suffer a lot more spherical aberration. So then you have to use additional elements or aspherical elements to correct that.

Transverse spherical aberration increases as a cubic power with lens diameter. Which means lens designs just fall apart when you increase the diameter.  It often comes up with question like, "Your 20 mm diameter design is really good, can we increase that to 30 mm, that isn't a big change is it?" But usually it is a huge change.

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Tom_N
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Re: Making a superzoom for a compact is easy, but for a DSLR, it's hard?
In reply to yonsarh, 9 months ago

yonsarh wrote:

Leandros S wrote:

People say that interchangeable superzoom ("travel") lenses can't manage good sharpness, yet superzoom compacts do just fine in terms of sharpness. Why is that?

That is just another excuse. Once APS-C chip is getting cheaper, like I would say, someday it will going to be cheap as 2/3" , a better APS-C sized superzoom technology will be available in the future. but it's just too expensive to make it for right now.

Let's suppose that APS-C-sized sensors become as cheap as compact sensors are now.

An APS-C sensor is still going to require larger lenses for the same field of view range (basic optics) and so we are unlikely to see "pocketable" APS-C superzooms with decent maximum apertures (constant f/2.8 or better) and large focal length ranges (e.g., 18mm-300mm or more).

It is reasonable to expect APS-C compacts – if it was possible to build compact cameras around the even larger 35mm film format, it should be possible to build them around APS-C.  But it does not mean that the need to make any design tradeoffs suddenly goes away.

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Leandros S
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Re: Understanding demand curves
In reply to Marty4650, 9 months ago

Marty4650 wrote:

Leandros S wrote:

headfirst wrote:

the CN-E30-300mm is a professional video/cine lens - high quality, high R&D/tooling cost & very low production nos. to recover it.

That explanation is backwards and doesn't satisfy. How many SLR users do we think actually enjoy changing lenses?

Pretty much all of them do. They may not enjoy it that much but they have elected to change lenses in order to get the quality they want. If they wanted the convenience of never having to change lenses they probably would have bought something else.

You see, that's exactly what I don't think is true at all. I think they bought the DSLR for the image quality. Show me the person that says they love the process of changing lenses, missing shots while they do, and accumulating dust on their sensor.

I certainly don't. And yet, I slavishly continue in that bad habit because I've been told that I won't get good IQ with a travel lens. And the reason I bought an SLR is partly because I wanted that IQ.

I think you are making the mistake of thinking that what you want... should be what everyone else wants. If you want a superzoom lens (or a fixed superzoom camera) then by all means, you should buy one. It will suit your needs and your expectations.

You're making assumptions here. You may find they aren't correct.

But do not assume that all those other people are buying prime lenses and 2X or 3X zoom lenses because they have no other choice, and they really wish they could buy a nice 25X zoom lens and be done with it.

I know that twisting what other people write is a hobby here at DPR... So I don't agree with you at all that someone who only ever shoots at 55mm should own a travel lens. Strongly disagree with you there. See?

Buy exactly what you need.

Not available. Isn't that why we're all here? I'm sure you'll disagree and tell me that some people are just here b/c they can't get attention some other way. Btw, how's your blog going?

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Leandros S
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Re: Why are you asking, if you know all the answers?
In reply to Marty4650, 9 months ago

Marty4650 wrote:

OK, now you can tell me why I'm wrong.

Because you're the one who thinks he knows everything about me. You are the one who thinks he's got all the answers. I'm just asking a question and pointing out when the answer doesn't seem to make sense. That's the only way I know for getting to the bottom of an issue.

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Leandros S
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Re: Understanding demand curves
In reply to headfirst, 9 months ago

headfirst wrote:

Leandros S wrote:

headfirst wrote:

the CN-E30-300mm is a professional video/cine lens - high quality, high R&D/tooling cost & very low production nos. to recover it.

That explanation is backwards and doesn't satisfy.

No, it's not. The CN-E30-300 is a specialist lens (it's not a travel zoom) & even if they were a 10th of the price they probably wouldn't sell appreciably more (in fact most users will probably rent rather than buy). It weighs nearly 6Kg & it has a front diameter of over 130mm - there are a lot of heavy glass lenses in it that probably take up to a year to form, polish etc.

You don't get a Ferrari for the price of a Yugo.

Maybe this would suit you better? http://www.usa.canon.com/cusa/consumer/products/cameras/ef_lens_lineup/ef_28_300mm_f_3_5_5_6l_is_usm

Yeah, Brian already brought up the Tamron covering that same range. I haven't been finding a lot of reviews other than amazon for those lenses yet - are they generally regarded as sharp with minimal distortion throughout the range? I'm actually also interested in getting the answer to the original question though - I can see that 28-300mm and 18-200mm (APS-C) might be easier to accomplish than the apparent current gold standard of 18-270mm, but of course all of them are some way from what has been done with smaller sensors in bridge cameras.

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Leandros S
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Re: Making a superzoom for a compact is easy, but for a DSLR, it's hard?
In reply to EinsteinsGhost, 9 months ago

EinsteinsGhost wrote:

Leandros S wrote:

People say that interchangeable superzoom ("travel") lenses can't manage good sharpness, yet superzoom compacts do just fine in terms of sharpness. Why is that?

If "just fine" is acceptable, be it distortion control, optical sharpness and aberrations, then it isn't a big deal for DSLRs either. I have Sigma 18-250, which 28-375mm (FF) equivalent, and quite good actually when stopped down a stop or two.

But, a part of consideration for an ILC (interchangeable lens camera) is that you don't need to compromise with a "one size fits all" solution, rather be free to get a variety of lenses suited for specific needs.

This is focal length distribution (FF equivalent) from 400+ images I recently took during a road trip (excludes dozens of images taken with an 8mm and a 50mm lens):

A vast majority of images were taken between 24-130mm (16mm - 90mm, APS-c), only a few at 320-380mm and very few in between.

Thanks for the graphic. I can see that you would be well served carrying two bodies with a more specialised lens each. That seems to be where a lot of people get "stuck" - I have a hard time seeing it as some kind of "ideal".

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