Zoom lenses are nothing new, they have been around since way back when film photography reigned supreme. Still, the versatility and usability that a zoom lens still provides to your photography kit cannot be overstated. Are you wondering what exactly a zoom lens is? A zoom lens is a lens that provides multiple different focal lengths between two points. As you zoom in, you use a longer focal length which provides a more magnified field of view, while zooming out provides the opposite effect. The opposite of a zoom lens is a prime or fixed focal length lens, which is a lens that simply allows photographers just one focal length to work with.
So, what do all the numbers mean? The main selling point of a lens and the part that makes up the majority of its name is its focal length or focal range. The zoom range of a lens will be given as a measurement in the lens name, such as 18-200mm, which means that at its widest setting that lens will provide an 18mm focal length and when it is completely zoomed in the focal length is 200mm, and you have the entire range in between to work with too.
While when many beginners think of a zoom lens they think of a large lens with a very long focal length, this is not always the case. Zoom lenses are available in long telephoto options, but there are normal or standard zoom lenses available, as well as wide-angle zoom lenses. In modern times most popular camera lens manufacturers also provide all-in-one zoom options, which feature a large wide to telephoto zoom range. A great example of this is the Tamron 18-400mm VC lens, which delivers this versatility while still remaining portable and travel-friendly.
If you'd like to know more about lenses before making your purchase, be sure to have a read of our handy lens buying guide.