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Zoom Lenses
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Zoom Lenses

Zoom lenses have a variable focal length, and virtually all digital point-and-shoot cameras and full-featured zoom cameras come equipped with a zoom lens. The greatest virtue of zoom lenses is that they let you widen-out or zoom-in on composition without having to change your shooting position. Zooming only changes the relative magnification; it has no effect on perspective or size relationships, so creatively it's often more effective to change perspective by changing your shooting location rather than relying on zooming power.

Zoom lenses are described by their multiplication factor—3X or 4X, for example. What that number means is that the longest telephoto setting is three times or four times the focal length of the widest wide-angle setting. If you have a 35mm-105mm zoom, for example, that lens has a "three times" or 3X zoom range. Everything else being equal, the longer your zoom range, the more flexibility you'll have creating compositions.

If you are shooting with a DSLR, you can cover a wide range of focal lengths with just two or three zooms. Carrying a 24mm-105mm lens (wide-angle to moderate telephoto) or a 70mm-300mm lens (moderate to long telephoto), you'll be covering everything from wide-angle to super-telephoto focal lengths with just two lenses. Again, the actual working focal length ranges will be determined by the cropping factor if your camera requires using one.

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