Zoom & Focus ring position ergonomics, which do you prefer?

Started 1 month ago | Polls thread
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fishy wishy
fishy wishy Veteran Member • Posts: 8,744
Zoom & Focus ring position ergonomics, which do you prefer?

Most lenses have zoom rings at the camera end of the lens, unless they are small consumer zooms in which case there is presumably not enough practical space for the hand that way.

Let's briefly survey the state of zooms:

Professional: 14-24 - zoom at back, 16-35 - zoom at back

17-55 AFS DX - zoom at back, 24-70 AFS - zoom at back, 24-70 VR - zoom at back

80-200 ED - zoom at back, 70-200 VR - zoom at back, 70-200 VRII - zoom at back, 70-200 f4 zoom at back, 70-200 FL - zoom at front

200-400 - zoom at back, 180-400 - zoom at front

Prosumer: 70-300 VR zoom at front, 80-400 VR - zoom at front, 200-500 - zoom at front,

16-80 DX - zoom at front, 24-120 - zoom at front

Consumer: zoom at front is too many to count

... you could look on it as a modern trend towards more zooms having the zoom ring at the front, or you could look on it as a trend arising from DX consumer lenses.

I find using the zoom ring at the front on little DX lenses completely understandable as putting on the back might lead to the hand being scrunched up. Usually DX consumer lenses also have narrow focus rings anyway. DX users are more likely to use auto-everything.

I also find using the zoom ring at the front on big lenses I can only practically use on camera supports fine, because that way the tripod collar does not interfere with operating the zoom ring.

Where I am not in agreement with zoom rings at the front is with substantial lenses that will be hand-held. People tend to tuck their elbows in for support and doing this while straddling the whole setup with your hands may be less comfortable. Then there's the question of whether you're more likely to accidentally jog the focus with the base of your hand or by a stray finger you'd like to use for support near the front. Anybody got input on that? Whichever it is, manufacturers need to give thought to where the hand will support the lenses.

I used both types of lenses at the same place recently and I did not have problems with either the balance of a front zoom ring on a monopod or the rear zoom ring on it, the main problem I had was an occasional jogging of the notorious AF-M ring on the 80-200. I remember I did not like using the Sigma 70-200 OS which had the zoom ring at the front for hand-held use all that much though.

Maybe some notably front-heavy designs do better with the zoom at the front. Examples I can relate are the Sigma 100-300 f4 and Olympus 35-100 f2. Both are around 1500g and 22cm long, near the limits of sustained hand-holdability for most.

POLL
Back: I prefer from experience the zoom ring at the back
37.5% 3  votes
Front: I prefer from experience the zoom ring at the front
37.5% 3  votes
I put my faith in what Uncle Nikon decides and count myself lucky, thanks
25.0% 2  votes
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