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Digital Cameras - Fixed Lenses Vs. Zoom Lenses

Author : Tabitha W Mwendo

Most cameras come with a zoom lens as standard. However, you might want to consider the alternative to these - the fixed lens camera. Here we will explain which is the best for you.

First, in brief a zoom lens is the key feature on a digital camera as it adds tremendous flexibility to your photography. Most compact digital cameras have optical zoom lenses; that's a lens that can vary its field of view in order to magnify ('zoom in') or broaden ('Zoom out') a scene. These are ideal for when you cannot get close to your subject or want to include more of it in the shot, making the camera very versatile.

We have seen the flexibility a zoom lens has to offer, but there are a couple of benefits offered by a fixed lens digital camera which are not available to most zoom optics. These are a higher optical quality and a compact size. A good example of a fixed lens digital camera is a Canon's IX US i5; it has a high quality build, compact and stylish design, and a bright 39mm lens.


Better optical quality results from the lens not being the optical equivalent of a jack-of-all-trades. A zoom must do a multitude of optical tasks and, in order to achieve them, compromises are made in the lens designs which affect optical quality. No such compromises are made in a fixed lens. Having one focal length, usually a wide view between 28mm and 35mm, means that the lens is made specifically for that length, making it sharper (for more detail) and brighter (to let in more light) than the zoom lens equivalent. They often have a wider field of view too. Compact sizes are possible because the design does not cater to the mechanisms needed to zoom the optical train back and forth. Battery power lasts longer too for the same reason.


Fixed lens digital cameras can seem expensive, largely due to the cost of their optics and the fact that fixed lens digital cameras are often premium models. Another consideration is that there are fewer fixed lens digital cameras on the market. In addition, as already discussed, a fixed lens camera does not have the convenient flexibility of a zoom. Because of this, most people are willing to live with the compromises involved in a zoom camera.

The Cheaper Option

There are many very cheap non-zoom digital cameras on the market. They tend to use digital zoom to make up for the lack of an optical zoom. We've discussed the problem with digital zoom already, and with very cheap fixed lens digital cameras you actually get worse optics, poor image processing and even poorer results. These are best avoided.

So, why purchase a fixed focal length lens when you could get over fifty dissimilar focal lengths with a zoom lens? There are in fact several good reasons to opt for fixed lenses over zoom lenses. The first good reason to go for a fixed wide-angle lens instead of a zoom wide angle is because fixed lens are faster and they show more depth. The differences between the two kinds are usually very subtle, but it does make quite a difference. Since the zoom lenses change focal lengths as they shift they tend to flatten the depth of field and change the perspective. With a fixed lens, there are not any moving parts and therefore better performance on their one focal length.

Thanks for reviewing this article, I hope you found the information useful and of great use.

Author's Resource Box

We hope youve found this article about video camera lenses very educational and informative. Tabitha Mwendo: A website consultant, publisher, author and marketer. She is at the moment focusing on water resistant digital camera theme. click here for more digital photography tutorial and inspiration -

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Tags:   fixed lens camera, zoom lens, digital camera, compact digital cameras, photography fixed lenses, Zoom Lenses

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Submitted : 2010-11-16    Word Count : 1    Times Viewed: 318