Zoom Equivalent for DSLR Cameras

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Zoom Equivalent for DSLR Cameras

Postposted on Mon Apr 14, 2008 5:04 pm

I currently have the Fujifilm Finepix S5200. It has "10x optical zoom" listed on the front. I am glad I bought a camera with this level of magnification because it has allowed me to get some great ultimate frisbee close-ups. I want to move to a DSLR sometime this year, but I am having trouble deciphering some SLR terminology.

For example:

Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS Telephoto Zoom Lens

The above is priced at $260. It looks like a good deal, but I am having trouble figuring out what it does :p First, is there an "equivalent zoom" that I can estimate from the numbers listed above? I don't want to spend a few hundred on a lens to discover my older P&S can zoom in farther. Second, would it be better to get a "body only" camera and buy something like 2 lenses, one for close up shots and a second for sports and action shots? I see that most DSLR's come with a cheaper lens, but is it worth it to spend the extra $100 for something nicer?
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themattman
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Re: Zoom Equivalent for DSLR Cameras

Postposted on Mon Apr 14, 2008 5:18 pm

The "zoom factor" of a lens is simply the ratio of it's focal length at full telephoto/wide angle. It doesn't give you any indication of exactly how far you can zoom in. The specs for your Fuji should list a "35mm equivalent" focal length for that camera.

Since most of Canon's consumer DSLRs use a APS-C sized image sensor they have a crop factor of approximately 1.6x, which means that with that 55-250mm zoom lens you'll get a "35mm equivalent" of about 88-400mm. Your Fuji S5200 has an equivalent 38-380mm lens, so with this 55-250mm lens you'll get a little bit further zoom.

Regarding your other question, Canon and Nikon's current 18-55mm stabilized kit lens offer respectable IQ and for the price are pretty decent. You're generally better off buying more specialized lenses than one or two that try to do it all.
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Re: Zoom Equivalent for DSLR Cameras

Postposted on Mon Apr 14, 2008 5:35 pm

crazybus nailed it. Take the farthest:widest ratio, and that's the zoom, i.e. an 88-400mm lens would give you ~4x magnification. The trick here is that, afaik, the focal length that's considered 'life size' is around 50mm, that is, if you shoot at 50mm (in 35mm sensor size), you'll be about as zoomed in as your eyes are normally. In that case, an 88-400mm lens really 'zooms in' from 50-400mm, which is ~8x closer than real life.
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Re: Zoom Equivalent for DSLR Cameras

Postposted on Mon Apr 14, 2008 5:55 pm

The Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi (450D) will be widely available in two weeks. The kit with the XSi camera body and the new EF-S 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens will list for about $900.

Expect the availability of this new model to drive down prices on the older Rebel XTi (400D) even further. The kit with the Rebel XTi camera body and the older EF-S 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 non-IS lens normally goes for about $600.

The older 18-55 lens without the image stabilization isn't as good as the new $170 lens, but it is quite versatile, covering an equivalent field of view of a 28.8-88 mm lens on a 35mm camera. This is a very useful range of focal lengths.

If you want to take photos indoors without a flash or if you want to take photos with a shallow depth of field (to isolate your subject in focus against a blurry out-of-focus background ("ooh, Bokeh!"), then you may want to add the $90 "nifty fifty" EF 50 mm f/1.8 lens. This is Canon's least expensive EF lens, but it can take some very nice photos. It's fast (it gathers 10.1 times as much light as the kit lens' maximum f/5.6 aperture at this focal length), sharp, and offers a wide aperture for a shallow depth of field.

To reach out further, you may want to add the new $270 EF-S 55-250 mm f/3.5-5.6 IS telephoto zoom lens that you mentioned. This inexpensive telephoto includes Canon's excellent optical image stabilization to compensate for camera shake. This will not help with fast-moving subjects, but for stationary subjects, it allows you to take hand-held photos at much slower shutter speeds than would otherwise be possible. A clear image at 1/15s without a tripod is impressive.

Those three lenses would cover a pretty wide range without breaking the bank. What you spend on lenses only goes up (and up) from there.

Here are reviews of the lenses mentioned above:
EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 II from the XTi kit
EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS from the XSi kit
EF 50mm f/1.8 II
EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS

The lens that I usually have mounted on my EOS 40D is the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM, which covers the same focal length range as the inexpensive kit lenses, for five times the price.
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Re: Zoom Equivalent for DSLR Cameras

Postposted on Mon Apr 14, 2008 7:59 pm

I'm just throwing around ideas, but here is a draft of what I think would be a good setup. I plan on getting more into photography this summer so I can develop some good picture-taking skills.



Canon Digital Rebel XSi 12MP Digital SLR Camera with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens (Black) - $899.95
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens - $86.28
Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS Telephoto Zoom Lens - $260.99
Kingston 2GB Secure Digital Memory Card - (2)$10.68 = $21.36

The above adds up to $1268.13

I would need a camera case as well, which would probably cost around $100. My 2407WFP-HC has a SD reader on the side, so I do not see the need for a separate reader unless it is much faster.

That gives an estimated total of around $1400.00 for a complete setup. Am I overlooking any components or is there something which would cut the cost?

Thanks everyone for your responses.
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Re: Zoom Equivalent for DSLR Cameras

Postposted on Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:23 pm

You'll want UV filters for all your lenses, if only to protect the glass.

You should make sure you handle whichever DSLR you buy enough beforehand to get a good feel for whether it is comfortable and intuitive enough for your liking. You're not going to want to take pictures with a camera that is uncomfortable or frustrating.
Last edited by crazybus on Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Zoom Equivalent for DSLR Cameras

Postposted on Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:30 pm

crazybus wrote:You should make sure you handle whichever DSLR you buy enough beforehand to get a good feel for whether it is comfortable and intuitive enough for your liking. Your not going to want to take pictures with a camera that is uncomfortable or frustrating.


I'll second this. When I was trying to decide between DSLRs I went with a Nikon D80 because it felt a lot more comfortable and stable in my hands compared to the Rebel. If you have large hands I would look at the D80, otherwise both cameras will provide roughly the same picture quality.
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Re: Zoom Equivalent for DSLR Cameras

Postposted on Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:37 pm

themattman wrote:I'm just throwing around ideas, but here is a draft of what I think would be a good setup. I plan on getting more into photography this summer so I can develop some good picture-taking skills.



Canon Digital Rebel XSi 12MP Digital SLR Camera with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens (Black) - $899.95
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens - $86.28
Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS Telephoto Zoom Lens - $260.99
Kingston 2GB Secure Digital Memory Card - (2)$10.68 = $21.36

The above adds up to $1268.13

I would need a camera case as well, which would probably cost around $100. My 2407WFP-HC has a SD reader on the side, so I do not see the need for a separate reader unless it is much faster.

That gives an estimated total of around $1400.00 for a complete setup. Am I overlooking any components or is there something which would cut the cost?

Thanks everyone for your responses.


You'll probably want a flash unit also. Your wallet will cry. :cry:

I really like Canon's backpack case. It is well padded and holds my camera + 3 lenses + flash + more.
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Re: Zoom Equivalent for DSLR Cameras

Postposted on Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:41 pm

The spending with this hobby may have no reasonable end. It may be best to start small and learn how to use that first.

I have a case like this one to hold the camera with one lens attached for when I don't want to drag the whole backpack along:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/3 ... mpact.html

I use these to keep from dropping my lens caps:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/4 ... s_Cap.html

A multi-coated UV filter doesn't really help a digital camera, but it provides something cheaper to scratch than my favorite lens:
http://www.abesofmaine.com/item=FLMCUV58~item.htm

A circular polarizing filter allows you to selectively enhance or eliminate glare/reflections/refracted polarized light:
http://www.abesofmaine.com/item=FLMCCPL58~item.htm

Tripod?

I've got my eye on a remote trigger for long exposures.

I'm reading this book:
Understanding Exposure

etc. etc. etc.
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Re: Zoom Equivalent for DSLR Cameras

Postposted on Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:42 pm

JJCDAD wrote:You'll probably want a flash unit also. Your wallet will cry. :cry:

http://www.abesofmaine.com/item.do?item ... id=CN580EX
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Re: Zoom Equivalent for DSLR Cameras

Postposted on Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:55 pm

Well, I had initially assumed that everything would cost around $2000 to do everything right. Now I have a better picture :p of what I need to get to start my collection of various components.

I plan to go to a camera shop before I buy anything just to test out some different models that are in my price range to see if I like any one over the others.
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Re: Zoom Equivalent for DSLR Cameras

Postposted on Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:57 pm

You don't need all of those pieces to start with. The camera body with one lens and a memory card would let you take the first thousand or two photos to get the hang of things.
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Re: Zoom Equivalent for DSLR Cameras

Postposted on Mon Apr 14, 2008 9:51 pm

If you have your money earmarked for this hobby already, don't spend it all at once. You don't need multiple lenses, a flash, or a backpack to start with. Get used to the camera first. It may seem strange now, but after shooting a few thousand pictures (that happens very quickly!) you'll have a personal preference for which flash, or backpack, or lenses you need, instead of just taking our word for it.
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Re: Zoom Equivalent for DSLR Cameras

Postposted on Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:30 pm

It is not likely you'll get a DSLR plus telephoto at anywhere near the cost effectiveness of the Fuji zoom (take a look at the latest Nikon long lens zoom point and shoot for example)

image magnification is the ratio between the lens focal length and the image area. The 35mm camera is often used as a referent but you have to be careful because you don't know exactly what that 35mm is measuring compared to many new sensors. Generally ratios of 1:1 or less are wide angle and 3:1 or higher are telephoto. for a 35mm camera, this means wide angle is a 35 mm focal length or less and telephoto 90 mm or more.

The high pixel density in modern cameras allows zoom via cropping and enlargement - but smaller pixels also mean less light sensitivity. That is another problem that qualifies telephoto lenses as the ratio of the focal length to the diameter of the aperture and is expressed as f-stop. High f-stop numbers mean the lens is long but not so big across so they won't let much light through. That means longer exposure times are needed and that means it is more difficult to prevent picture blurring from movement.

Modern digital cameras have some compensation to reduce blurring. Nikon tends towards lenses that compensate for camera jitter while Canon (If I recall correctly) tends to prefer in camera digital manipulation for the same effect.

Zoom capability is also a factor as it complicates the lens design, especially for lenses with more than about a 3:1 range in focal length.

So what you have to look for is the focal length of the lens compared to the image capture area - this usually shows as 35mm lens equivalent guesses. Then look at the f-stop at maximum zoom to see how 'fast' the lens is (a long telephoto is fast if its max f-stop is less than 5). Look for vibration reduction technology and sensor sensitivity (usually expressed as ASA film speed equivalent where higher means more sensitive). After that you get into thinks like basic lens quality including glass and optics, coatings, and feel.

have fun but don't expect miracles!
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Re: Zoom Equivalent for DSLR Cameras

Postposted on Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:23 pm

bryanl wrote:IModern digital cameras have some compensation to reduce blurring. Nikon tends towards lenses that compensate for camera jitter while Canon (If I recall correctly) tends to prefer in camera digital manipulation for the same effect.

For DSLR's both Nikon's VR and Canon's IS are lens-based. It's camera's like Alex' Olympus that have it in the body.
Only P&S's have digital IS AFAIK.
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Re: Zoom Equivalent for DSLR Cameras

Postposted on Tue Apr 15, 2008 3:59 pm

Usacomp2k3 wrote:For DSLR's both Nikon's VR and Canon's IS are lens-based. It's camera's like Alex' Olympus that have it in the body.
Only P&S's have digital IS AFAIK.
Digital IS == ISO boost. AKA worthless if you know what you're doing. Some of the Panasonic/Leica lenses also have optical image stabilization.
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Re: Zoom Equivalent for DSLR Cameras

Postposted on Tue Apr 15, 2008 4:08 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:To reach out further, you may want to add the new $270 EF-S 55-250 mm f/3.5-5.6 IS telephoto zoom lens that you mentioned. This inexpensive telephoto includes Canon's excellent optical image stabilization to compensate for camera shake. This will not help with fast-moving subjects, but for stationary subjects, it allows you to take hand-held photos at much slower shutter speeds than would otherwise be possible. A clear image at 1/15s without a tripod is impressive.
The good thing about inexpensive telephoto lenses is that they are cheap. The bad thing about inexpensive telephoto lenses is that they're cheap, and "you get what you pay for", while accurate for most camera gear, becomes progressively more pronounced with increasing focal length. f/5.6, even with stabilzation, is a bit of a buzzkill...and that's setting aside "quality" in general.
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