Standard zoom vs super zoom lens: which is best for you?

Standard zoom vs super zoom lens: which is best?

If you’re looking to upgrade from your standard kit zoom you’ve probably been comparing the pros and cons of buying a better standard zoom vs a super zoom lens. How do you know which one is right for you? Our head of testing gives her answer.

Standard zoom vs super zoom lens: which is best?

24mm

You can’t beat a good superzoom lens for versatility. Lenses like the Sigma 18-250mm OS give a monster zoom range that stretches from wide-angle to generous telephoto focal lengths, without having to swap between different lenses.

However, all superzoom lenses are a bit of a compromise in terms of image quality. A good standard zoom will typically give you sharper results, with less distortions throughout the zoom range.

For cameras with APS-C format image sensors, good quality yet reasonably priced standard zooms include the Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM, and the Nikon AF-S 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G DX VR.

Both deliver excellent image quality and have highly effective optical image stabilisation and ring-type ultrasonic autofocus.

Standard zoom vs super zoom lens: which is best?

85mm

The effective zoom range of these lenses is 24-136mm for the Canon and 24-127.5mm for the Nikon.

They therefore give you more wide-angle coverage than a superzoom lens, which will typically limit you to an effective focal length of 28mm.

You lose out at the telephoto end but, even so, the zoom range is good for general shooting.

On balance, we’d go for a good quality standard zoom, and buy a separate telephoto zoom.

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