What are we referring to when we use the phrase superzoom? What we’re talking about are photographic zoom lenses, manufactured for use with a 35mm camera and featuring an unconventionally large focal length – typically more than 5×. Superzoom lenses have improved significantly over time, with models now on the market boasting over 15× abilities, but they weren’t always so gargantuan.
The first superzoom was brought to the market by Voigtländer in 1959, after being developed by Dr. Frank G. Back. Voigtländer and Dr. Back had collaborated in the past on zoom lenses for TV cameras but it is astounding to consider just how they developed the 36-82/2.8 Zoomar lens and got so much right from the start. Today, the lens is a highly prized collector’s item.
Not long after the 36-82/2.8 Zoomar lens, Nikon, hot on the heels of Voigtländer and Dr. Back, introduced the Nikkor 85-250 mm/1:4.0-4.5 for new Nikon F. It was the first zoom lens designed by a Japanese manufacturer that featured a sliding zoom design.
The first superzoom affordable to amateurs was the Vivitar series I 1:3.5/70-210 mm, released in 1973, featuring an impressive focal range for a cheaper product.
Modern superzooms boast a mighty zoom range, with many models delivering focal lengths of 18mm at the wide-angle end and anything from 125mm to 270mm at its longest telephoto zoom setting. This results in an effective zoom range between 29-200mm and 29-432mm. However, there is a common question regarding compromise when discussing superzooms; just how great a zoom range can you get without sacrificing image quality?
Nikon lenses have always retained a reputation of quality and the Nikon 18-200mm VR has long been regarded as the best superzoom on the market. However, it was ‘outzoomed’ by the Sigma 18-250mm and Tamron 18-270mm, both of which recently enjoyed redesigns. Nikon was quick to react and has once again trumped others with the release of the new 18-300mm VR, boasting the biggest zoom range of any SLR lens on the planet.
Now we just have to see what the future brings for the superzoom. I predict telescopic abilities and more compact deigns, with hopefully, more achievable pricing.
For a full range of Canon and Nikon superzoom lenses, visit: http://www.cliftoncameras.co.uk/