Universal zoom

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Lenses that can do everything

These are one category of zoom lenses that cover a wide focal length range from wide angle to very long. If you have one of these, you do not need another lens.

The only lens you will need

There has been a lot of development in recent years, and lens manufacturers were able to come up with these gorgeous lenses that can do almost everything. They cover all the range that you would need from wide angle to relatively longer ranges. These are typically a bit better than the kit lenses which to keep costs in check usually lack a bit on the longer range.

Of course there are some compromises, they are usually slower (f/3.5-6.3), at different focal lengths there are different issues (sharpness, distortion) that are measurable in tests.

The main problem with these lenses is that, if you buy one, that's it, you will not need any more lenses. If you already have a couple of lenses, buying this lens will mean that you will rarely use the others. If you are just starting, getting a used APS-C body with such a universal zoom is a very good investment.

105 vs 200.jpg On the left, a kit lens the Nikon 18-105 which could be seen as a lower end universal zoom and on the right, a true universal zoom the Nikon 18-200.

Selected universal zooms

Lens For 35mm focal length Weight Notes
Nikon 18-200APS-C 27-300mm 550g Cheap as used since people usually go for the longer 18-300
Nikon 18-300 APS-C 27-450mm 550g Newer and better version of 18-200
Nikon 28-200full frame 28-200mm 350-550gOne of the older universal Nikon zooms
Nikon 28-300full frame 28-300mm 800g The full frame universal zoom

These pages are for Amateur Photographers and not really for seasoned photographers and professionals. I have no affiliation or commercial interest with any brand/make. I write from my own experience. I ended up using mainly Nikon, so I am more familiar with this brand than others. See price for notes on pricing as well as photography related links.