Honestly, I think that ic-racer might be the most accurate here. The marketing obsession perhaps was the main reason for so many being sold? True, they are handy, but, really, isn't the 28-80 far more handy? The 80-200 does not have all that much over the 135. That prime is: usually faster, at least as sharp (if not sharper), more manageable, less problems through wear with time.
Still, to get a perfect portrait lens in the 80 to 100 range one would have to search forever to be able to find one as cheap, and, let's face it, as good as this ubiquitous monster. I wanted to hear feelings on this lens as it is everywhere, and then some. - David Lyga
If you had ever worked in a camera store, you would remember having to deal with many people who wanted the XX-200mm zoom because the 200mm setting would bring things closer.
For many, many people, whether or not a lens exhibited higher resolution, better overall contrast, better acutance, more accurate colour rendition or any of the other technical measures of quality was relatively unimportant.
Well, if you happen to need or want one, (I don't) even good ones are cheap.
So I guess there is an upside to their being produced in great numbers.
As an aside, I've had several zooms, most came as body caps for cameras I wanted. Of all of them the only one I found useful was a cheap, little 28~48 f4 Zuiko S for my OM. I sold it because I could get $125 for it on e-bay and regret that to this day. It had a constant f4 aperture throughout it's range, focused close enough, took 49mm filter size like the rest of my Zuikos and was tiny and light. I was greedy and stupid to sell it.
Grouping the 70/80-200/210 zooms together is a mistake, those Vivitar Series 1 zooms are well regarded as top notch for the day, but they pale in comparison to the truly modern 70-200s by the camera manufacturers. Nearly every facet of image quality has truly been advanced by better coatings and computer optimization for this design segment. I cannot say the same for most primes, apart for ultra-wide-angles.
That being said, unless tasked with event coverage where I simply must get the shot (and am being paid to do so), the 70-200 range solves a lot of problems that would take a lot of other glass to solve similarly well. The most recent Canon 70-200 2.8L IS II is astoundingly good, but yes, it is a brick in your bag.
What any zoom has over any fixed lens for me, is my ability to shoot from where I'm at.
Originally Posted by David Lyga
I use my 80-200 to shoot through crowds at evets, at bicycle race starts where I can't be on the course, and other spots like Kayak races where zooming with my feet might mean wading into 4' of 45 degree water in a class 3 rapid or scrambling up a boulder strewn 45 degree incline while trying to frame and focus.
BTW I love the 28-80 range too, I just do more with the longer lens.
MattKing said: "For many, many people, whether or not a lens exhibited higher resolution, better overall contrast, better acutance, more accurate colour rendition or any of the other technical measures of quality was relatively unimportant."
Unfortunately , MattKing, this evinces the sad story of marketing in the 'informed' USA. During the Soviet period Russia had a plastic (Bakelite?) camera that took 35 mm film and, at a camera show a few years back, I bought one for $5. As much as 'for the downtrodden Soviet masses' that this camera was directed towards, it still had a fully adjustable aperture and a selection of shutter speeds. I was rather surprised with the relatively high sharpness of the slow f4.5 lens. Yes, we did have our Argus 35mm 'brick'.
But what did actually SELL? Compare, within the same era, what the USA offered cheaply to its poor masses: cameras similar to the Kodak Hawkeye or Brownie or Instamatic 100: all utter garbage as far as quality was concerned. Why? Because much of the American public is amongst the most mentally lazy on Earth and, time and again, Kodak catered, and Japan had to learn to cater, to the quest for utter convenience (ie, little 'need' to exercise the brain) over sparse demand for either build quality or optical precision amongst this 'genre'. (Perhaps the 'point and shoot' era should be renamed 'point and don't bother to think'.) Of course, the more esoteric thinkers (many, admittedly, here) got what were truly great cameras like the early SLRs, but, back then, the cost was formidable and a genuine impediment towards attaining a vehicle allowing real photographic quality. The latter day obsession with the Holga (complete with 'trendy, artistic' light leaks) continues and confirms, with aplomb, this dire 'thought' process. - David Lyga
me too my 24-80 nikkor gets the most use despite it's poor opticalperformance, which makes me go back to the primes in that range until I look for something more con venient again.
Originally Posted by markbarendt
the best cameras are not the most expensive or the ones which require the most thoughtbut the one that works for you and fits into your budget. not everyone is rich or has unlimited fundsor feels freeto 'steal' from the family budgetto satisfies his own wants.
I know Ralph, but today, one can easily buy the more expensive ones for little money. The digital revolution has brought about this happy circumstance. - David Lyga
It seems to me there's a certain sentiment that zooms are bad. I, and seemingly many people in this thread, disagree.
The difference between a good prime (not GREAT, which costs half your life savings) and a good zoom at the same settings is not very noticable. For most people you would be hard pressed to put two photos side by side and make a blind taste test (so to speak) and put your finger on which was the zoom and which the prime...
(by "good" I mean not the bottom of the barrel crap lenses that will always have problems, but nothing that breaks the bank either. Good middle range gear.)
IMO, and mind you I could be wrong but this is honestly what I feel, the one area where a prime will be better is under intense scrutiny, using much higher magnification than average. This is useful for primes where you have to then blow up your own prints to get the original framing you wanted. But.... a zoom removes that need (for the most part). With a zoom you can get the exact framing you need the first time. Your quality is still good enough to blow a photo up after the fact to make larger prints.
I have a decent 50mm (stock Canon, nothing bad, nothing great) that I used a lot. I have a 28mm I also used a lot. The problem is the framing of the shot I want. Having to choose the lesser of 2 undesirable shots to get what I want. I find my main choice these days is a Sigma 35-70mm f2.8 and it saves a lot of time I used to spend swapping out parts. Not the best, not the worst. Good mid-range quality glass. I'd challenge folks to find a flaw in the pictures taken with it -- a flaw that wasn't user error, mind you -- compared to my 50mm.