Magazine Article


Those D___ Lenses
The Digital Deal

tug and Statue of Liberty
Telephoto compression. It’s more pronounced at greater distances. Statue of Liberty looks next-door to the orange ferryboat, but they’re about a mile apart. Maxxum 7D at 300mm. (480mm equiv.)
© Don Sutherland

cruise ship
DSLRs lead the image-quality parade, but that doesn’t make permanent-lens models bad. Kodak EasyShare DX7590, 5MP with 10x Schneider, caught the fine details of Carnival Legend.
© Don Sutherland

Canon 10-22mm digital lense
Three new Canon digital lenses: 10-22mm
Canon 17-85mm digital lense
Canon 60mm Macro digital lense
60mm Macro

Canon and Nikon undoubtedly would argue so (and you'll have to, too), but in a world bred to love specs, here's three wide-angle lenses which, shall we say, seem to overlap? Would that, in some buyers' minds, reduce the real range of choices to just four D-lenses in each line?

If we assume the customer won't buy additional lenses, that's not a big problem. But for those who really do buy SLRs for interchangeable lenses, some salesmanship may be required. Let's not forget that although digital-specific lenses are theoretically superior, an enormous number of film-camera lenses are resoundingly good anyway—fifteen years of experience have proved it. Indeed, Canon's two top cameras, the 1D Mark II and the 1 Ds Mark II, use film-camera lenses only. While the digital Rebels and the 20D series work fine with Canon D-lenses, the two super-pro models use imagers larger than APS-C, for which the D-lenses are designed.

Pentax, meanwhile, in August announced two new macro D-lenses, bringing their total to eight. Their shortest zoom zooms-out to 16mm, with only one entry in the 18mm range. Like Nikon, they offer a 12-24mm which, has a "35mm equivalent" range of about 19-38mm. Because of this "telephoto magnification factor," the lenses that zoom-out to 18mm have an "equivalency" of about 28mm.

Canon goes them one better at the wide-angle end, with a 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 whose wide-angle "equivalency" is 16mm.

In other words, although things are getting there, the extreme wide-angleness that made 35mm lens systems so daring has not been completely duplicated in D-lenses yet.

The widest wide-angle zoom of all, at the moment, is an Olympus, whose 7-14mm has an "equivalency" of 14-28mm. That's the widest wide-angle in any zoom we've ever heard of (though non-zoom lenses have gone even wider).

It's Olympus that has the largest number of D-lenses at the moment, ten on the market in all. It can be argued that they "had" to produce so many lenses, since their Four/Thirds lens mount is brand-new —customers can't count on Olympus "legacy" film lenses the way Canon and Nikon and Pentax customers can. But whatever the reason, the bottom line's the same: this is where the customer at the moment finds the widest selection of optics of the type he's being exhorted to seek.

It's too soon to predict where all this will lead. But it could be somewhere altogether new, because of those d------ lenses. ptn