Best Zoom Lenses of 2020 – Complete Review

Photography in all its forms is absolutely mesmerizing. But there is something about close-up shots and defocused backgrounds that really win over everything else. These kinds of images may seem like ones that only a professional could take, but that is far from the truth. All one needs is a good zoom lens and sufficient practice. In order to help you take the first step towards those stunning shots, here is a complete guide on choosing the right sort of zoom lens for yourself.

Comparison of the Best Zoom Lenses

PRODUCT DETAILS
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Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED

  • Best overall
  • Features vibration reduction that allows better image quality
  • Available with three different accessories including UV filter, case, and a polarizer
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Sony 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS APS-C E-mount Zoom Lens

  • Runner-up
  • Available with either a polarizer or a UV filter for users to attach
  • Allows a 7.5x high magnification zoom for outstanding close-up shots
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Sony SELP1650 16-50mm Power Zoom Lens

  • Best for the money and best zoom lens for Sony
  • Comes with a special E-mount lens designed to be compatible with Sony cameras
  • Designed to provide an aperture range of f/3.5-36 with a focal range of 24-75mm which is 35mm equivalent
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Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS

  • Best zoom lens for Canon
  • Features a maximum close-up magnification of 0.24x for optimal results while shooting
  • Standard zoom lens designed to provide maximum compatibility and ease of installation
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Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM Telephoto Zoom Lens

  • Best Telephoto zoom lens for Canon
  • Zoom lens designed specifically for Canon SLR cameras
  • Also available with a UV filter for enhanced results of images
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Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR Zoom Lens for Nikon DSLR Cameras

  • Best Nikon zoom lens
  • Comes with a snap-on lens cap for protection
  • Features an exclusive Nikon silent wave motor that is designed to work with the brand specifically
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Sony - FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS Standard Zoom Lens

  • Best Sony zoom lens
  • A G-lens design that is equipped with sharpness-enhancing features
  • Standard zoom lens that is designed to deliver nothing less than the best
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Phone Camera Lens, KNGUVTH 5 in 1 Cell Phone Lens Kit

  • Best iPhone zoom lens
  • 5-in-1 phone camera lens kit that allows multiple functions for users
  • Designed to provide the utmost compatibility with several iPhone models
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Fujinon XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR

  • Best Fuji zoom lens
  • Allows a focal length of 16-55mm and a wider range of focus than any other zoom lens
  • Available in two different variations for users to choose between a polarizer and a UV filter
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What is a Zoom Lens?

A zoom lens is one of the many attachments that help your camera perform better. As the name suggests, it allows you to zoom in and out of objects and scenes. The main feature of a zoom lens is that it allows a wider range of focus. This is what differentiates it from other lenses.

Not only does it allow you to choose where to keep the focus of your image, but it also lets you do it without changing lenses in between shots, unlike a prime lens. So with a zoom lens, you not only get the advantage of taking close-up shots but also save money on buying extra lenses of different focal distances.

How Does a Zoom Lens Work?

As mentioned above, a zoom lens basically functions by allowing multiple focal lengths. If we talk about its structure, it is basically an assembly of lens elements. For this assembly, the focal length, and consequently, the angle of view can be changed.

A true zoom lens is known as a parfocal lens. The characteristic feature of it is that it maintains the focus at a specific spot while the focal length changes.

What Should I Look for When Buying a Zoom Lens?

A zoom lens may be considerably more simple than other lenses, but in order to make the right choice, you still need to consider certain aspects very keenly. Some of these important factors are listed below, so you do not go wrong with your choice.

Focal Range

While looking for a zoom lens for yourself, you need to keep in mind the focal range that you want for your use. Certain shots that require you to be at a considerable distance from your subject would need a camera with a wider focal range, while the others do not.

Size and Weight

One of the biggest issues that come with lenses the size of zoom lenses is that they are hard to carry around and handle during use. If used by a professional, the size and weight may not be such an issue, but these factors may not work very well for beginners. Therefore, the dimensions and weight of the unit must be kept in mind while picking a lens.

Quick Take - Best Zoom Lenses

Before we dive into our review, here are the best zoom lenses:

  1. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED
  2. Sony 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS APS-C E-Mount Zoom Lens
  3. Sony SELP1650 16-50mm Power Zoom Lens

Review of the Best Zoom Lenses

Just a consideration of all the important aspects of a zoom camera is not enough. One needs to go through a number of products to finally find one that fits all their needs. Combing through a sea of products to look for the best one can be a painstaking task. In order to make the task easier for you, here we have listed and reviewed some of the best products that you could invest in.

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras

PROS

  • Unit ideally designed for birding, wildlife, motorsports, and various events
  • Aperture ideally designed to perform impressively even in low-light situations
  • Equipped with a fast f/5.6 constant aperture that captures outstanding blurred backgrounds
  • Covers a minimum focus distance of 7.2 feet and allows a focal length range of 200 to 500mm
  • Features a 500mm zoom power compatible with FX-format DSLRs, and 750mm equivalents on DX-format DSLRs

CONS

  • Lacks any flare or environmental protection
  • More expensive than other products of its like
  • Considerably big and heavy which makes it hard to store and handle

What Recent Buyers Report

This unit is one of those that perform so well that it receives no negative feedback from its users. Almost everyone that has invested in it and tried it for themselves have found it to be absolutely worth its price. This unit provides everything that it promises and much more, which is why users find it to be their favorite.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Of the long list of features that this unit has to offer, the one feature that stands out the most to us is the 4.5 stops vibration reductions. Such an outclass functioning device does not even let you feel the mechanics of it working, allowing you to enjoy a disturbance-free shoot.

Who Will Use This Most

This zoom lens, with its vibration reduction and autofocus, makes it great for just about any situation where a zoom lens camera can be used. But specifically speaking, this unit, with all its features, makes an ideal lens for shootings that involve any sort of sports or wildlife, or even birding.

Bottom Line

If you are looking for a zoom lens that allows you to capture the perfect shot every time, without failing you, then this is the one that you are looking for. It will not only satisfy you with its outstanding design and built but will also impress with its functionality that is topped by no other.

Sony 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS APS-C E-Mount Zoom Lens (Renewed)

PROS

  • Provides users with a focal length of 27-202.5mm, an equivalent of 35mm
  • Enjoy bokeh images with an impressive and efficient 7 blade circular aperture
  • Features autofocus that is not fast and precise but also quiet for greater accuracy
  • Experience sharpers stills and video using an optical steady shot image stabilization
  • Images portray an outstanding sharpness obtained from the 1x aspherical and 2x ED glass elements

CONS

  • Sharpness of the images may not be up to users’ expectations
  • While taking raw pictures, users might notice slight vignette and distortion
  • Maximum aperture size is not as big as that offered by some other products

What Recent Buyers Report

This unit is one that has managed to impress almost all its users with its quality design and outstanding functioning. Users have not only found it to be satisfactory but are also impressed by the number of additional features that it comes with, especially in the given price range.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This lens undoubtedly gives us a number of reasons to be on this list, but the main reason it has earned its place here is due to its OpticalSteadyShot image stabilization. It is an outstanding yet rare feature that really brings out the best in photography.

Who Will Use This Most

All the 12-16 elements of this unit provide outstanding functionality, but it's 7-blade circular aperture really makes an impact. Its capability of capturing beautiful bokeh shots makes it very popular for users who find themselves interested in such shots, with petal shape and bayonet type hood.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for the best zoom lens out there, but feel like our top product won’t suit you, then this one will be the perfect alternative for you. It may be the runner-up, but only by a very small margin, and comes with features that are just as good as the best.

Best for the Money and Best Zoom Lens for Sony A6000:
Sony SELP1650 16-50mm Power Zoom Lens

Sony SELP1650 16-50mm Power Zoom Lens (Silver, Bulk Packaging)

PROS

  • Optical SteadyShot Image stabilization allows better pictures without any shakiness
  • A minimum focus distance of 9.8 inches enables users to take better close-up shots
  • Special mount built into the structure of the unit allows easy installation to save time
  • Four aspherical lens surfaces and the internal stepping motor allows it to provide enhanced results
  • Ideal focal range ensures that the users can focus at almost any distance that they want to

CONS

  • Users may find adjusting the focus a little tricky
  • Not designed to be highly compatible with a wide range of cameras
  • May not be as durable as other similar products in the same price range

What Recent Buyers Report

For the price at which this lens comes, users couldn’t find anything better. It not only ensures to help photographers save money but also provides them with the ideal functioning that they would expect from a zoom lens, which is why it has turned into their quick favorite.

Why it Stands Out to Us

One of the main reasons that we think this unit deserves a place on this list is the mount that it is designed with. The special E-mount not only enhances the compatibility of the lens with Sony cameras, but it also allows an easier and faster installation process that helps users save time and effort.

Who Will Use This Most

Given the ideal features that this unit comes with, it’s impressive functionality and convenient use; we regard this to be absolutely perfect for all those who have recently started taking an interest in photography. It is a cheap lens that works perfectly, allowing beginners to learn easily.

Bottom Line

If you are looking to save on money, but without compromising on the functionality of your zoom lens and the quality of the images taken, then this is your best option. It not only allows an easier functioning but also lets you enjoy the bliss of photography without having to worry about it being too heavy on your pocket.

Best Zoom Lens for Canon:
Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS

Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Standard Zoom Lens for Canon DSLR Cameras

PROS

  • 18-200mm focal length allows users a wider range than most other zoom lenses
  • Equipped with a micro motor type autofocus that functions without the slightest of disturbance
  • Does not present with the hassle of full-time manual focusing, making the experience considerably easier
  • Provides an equivalent focal length of 28.8-320mm on Canon APS-C cameras and fits 72mm filters for ideal functionality
  • With the closest focusing distance of 1.48ft or 0.45m, users will find their close-up shots to have a whole other level of quality

CONS

  • Users may notice vignetting of images in longer ranges
  • Front element is considerably heavy, making it harder to handle while in use
  • Variation in close range of focus does not bring about noticeable changes in the images

What Recent Buyers Report

This lens is one that has been highly used and complemented by users. It not only excels in terms of its design and build, but also impresses users with the fine and sharp images that it produces. Almost every user that has invested in it and tried it has not found himself to be disappointed.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This zoom lens has a lot to offer, considerably more than a number of other products out there. But one specific feature that we really love about it is its 4 stop image stabilization. This feature not only serves as an addition to the long list of features but also greatly adds to the quality of the image.

Who Will Use This Most

This unit is designed with great precision and provides equally impressive results. It would be ideal if a lens like this could work for every camera, but it shows great compatibility with Canon cameras only. This is why we think it would be ideal for any photographer that uses a Canon camera.

Who Will Use This Most

Finding a specific lens for a specific brand can be a painstaking task. But if you are looking for a zoom lens for your Canon camera, then your search ends right here. There is no other zoom lens that provides better compatibility and functionality for a Canon camera.

Best Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon:
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM Telephoto Zoom Lens

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras, Lens Only

PROS

  • Allows a diagonal angle view of 34 degrees to 12 degrees for better results
  • Provides a focal length of 70-200mm paired with a maximum aperture of 1:4
  • Since the front lens element does not rotate, a circular polarizer can be easily attached.
  • Features an inner focusing system with USM focus adjustment that is extremely easy to use
  • Lens construction is based on 16 elements that are arranged in 13 groups for optimal functioning

CONS

  • Lacks any image stabilization for a still image
  • Getting the hang of the working may take quite a while
  • Colors and contrast are not as crisp as some users would expect them to be

What Recent Buyers Report

Once the users figured the right functioning of this zoom lens, many claimed that it worked better than most of the lenses that they had tried before. It not only came at an incredibly low price, making it their first choice but also proved to be worth a lot more than its price tag, making it their favorite.

Why it Stands Out to Us

One of the reasons for which we felt this unit deserved being on this list is the ease that it provides with which a polarizer could be attached to it. A lot of users like using a polarizing filter but are unable to do so due to the rotating front element of their lenses. But this unit poses no such issues.

Who Will Use This Most

The view angle provided by this unit is not very wide, but the focal range is one that not many can compare to. These two features together make this the perfect telephoto zoom lens for anyone that is looking for a new one to go with their Canon cameras.

Bottom Line

Telephotos may not be for everyone. But those that take an interest in them know the great results that it can provide. All one needs is a good telephoto lens, and this exactly what this one serves to be. It excels not only in terms of its design but also with the results and high-quality images that it provides.

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras

PROS

  • 5.5x telephoto zoom lens is capable of fitting a 58mm filter for enhanced results
  • Features Nikon VR image stabilization that works by reducing the vibrations of the motor
  • Also geared with a tripod detection mode that is activated automatically upon the use of a tripod
  • Equipped with not one but two extra-low dispersion elements for even better sharpness of photos
  • Designed with a high refractive index lens element to ensure outstanding quality of the images taken

CONS

  • Functioning may take some time to get used to
  • Telescoping body may not be easy for all sorts of users to handle
  • Change in focus may lead to a loss in sharpness of the image obtained

What Recent Buyers Report

If you were to go by the words of the recent buyers, you would be instantly convinced to buy this model for your Nikon camera. Its functionality and results are so outstanding that the users can’t help but sing its praises and recommend it to other Nikon users.

Why it Stands Out to Us

There are a lot of features in this lens that we think are worth appreciating, but the one that tops the list is its high refractive index lens element. Manufacturers are usually highly focused on the motor elements, paying less attention to the lens element itself, but that is absolutely not the case here.

Who Will Use This Most

This zoom lens is definitely a catch for all those that own a Nikon camera and are looking for a zoom lens. With the outstanding image results and quality that it provides, there is no reason anyone with a Nikon camera would look for another zoom lens. This unit has everything one needs.

Bottom Line

Some accessories catch our eye right from the first glance, and this is one of those. Its outstanding built, complemented by its flawless functionality, makes it a must-have for anyone that owns a Nikon camera and wishes to improve their photography with a zoom lens.

Sony - FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS Standard Zoom Lens (SEL24105G)

PROS

  • Constant f4 aperture allows a consistent maintenance of exposure as well as depth of field
  • Unique combination of glass allows a corner to corner resolving power at every focal length
  • 4 aspherical glasses allow a unique touch to your photographs that is unmatched by others
  • Three extra-low dispersion glass elements prevent excessive scattering of light for a crisp image
  • 9 blade circular aperture works beautifully to provide users with outstanding blurry backgrounds

CONS

  • Comes with lesser F stops as compared to other similar products
  • Users may notice barrel distortion to some degree at 24mm focus length
  • Considerably more expensive as compared to other standard zoom lenses

What Recent Buyers Report

For Sony users, no other zoom lens has functioned better than this one. It not only beats all the others in terms of its outstanding built, but it also provides a greater number of features. For these reasons, users find it to be worth the amount of money that it costs.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Of all the reasons that this unit gives us to be one of the best, one that we absolutely love is its 9-blade circular aperture. This high-end aperture not only allows for beautifully defocused backgrounds but also enables users to take stunning bokeh shots with the various hoods that it comes with.

Who Will Use This Most

With this zoom lens, Sony has done all of its users a favor. It serves to be one of the best lenses that a user with a Sony camera can attach. Moreover, photographers that find bokeh shots to be their thing would also find it to be absolutely perfect for themselves.

Bottom Line

Be it because of its high compatibility with Sony cameras or because of your love for bokeh; if you own a Sony camera, then there is no other lens that would better suit your camera. It is a unit that is designed to impress at all costs, and provides its users with nothing less than the best.

Phone Camera Lens, KNGUVTH 5 in 1 Cell Phone Lens Kit - 12X Zoom Telephoto Lens + Fisheye Lens + Super Wide Angle Lens+ Macro Lens Compatible with iPhone 11 Pro Max X XS XR/8/7/6/6s Samsung Android

PROS

  • Lenses can be switched pretty quickly and used conveniently
  • Constructed out of industrial-grade aluminum that ensures greater durability
  • Wide-angle and fisheye lens come screwed together with a 15x macro lens that provides better shots
  • Design makes it highly compatible with a wide range of mobile phones, making it usable for a number of people
  • Kit includes a Telephoto, a fisheye, a super-wide angle, and a macro lens, all of which are designed for optimal functioning

CONS

  • Not designed to serve for professional purposes
  • Since the lenses are very small, ensuring that the right one is being used can be tricky
  • Lenses may decrease the quality of images when used with a camera of higher resolution

What Recent Buyers Report

Users who have been experimenting with photography on their mobile phones have found this to be one of their greatest investments. It not only makes mobile phone photography much more fun for them but also adds an extra element to their photos, really adding a professional touch to them.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Why we think this unit deserves to be on this list is because of the great convenience it provides. Not everyone that likes photography owns a professional camera. This lens kit provides a great opportunity for all those that are still experimenting with photography on their own phones.

Who Will Use This Most

Given the fact that this lens kit works for mobile phones and not cameras ensures that it is suitable for a wider range of users. Of all the people that would be interested in using this lens kit for their phones, the group that would find it to be the most efficient would be iPhone users, given the higher quality of their mobile phone cameras.

Bottom Line

This lens kit for mobile phones is the perfect example that one does not need to have all sorts of professional equipment in order to check their own photography skills. For all those users who want to enjoy photography without spending on expensive fancy equipment, this is the perfect option.

Best Fuji Zoom Lens:
Fujinon XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR

Fujinon XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR

PROS

  • Specifically designed to bring out the best of image quality
  • Not as heavy as other zoom lenses, allowing convenient handling
  • Outstanding focus range ensures that users get guaranteed perfection in every shot
  • Provides an angle of view of 83.2 degrees to 29 degrees, which makes it an ideal telephoto lens
  • Features a high speed and silent autofocus that works efficiently without causing any disturbances

CONS

  • Design is too long when considered as an APS-C lens
  • Design of the unit makes it more susceptible to damage
  • Large size of the front element makes attachment of filters very hard

What Recent Buyers Report

Those who invested in this unit admit that it is a lens that requires great care while handling, but it is also one that is worth all the care. They claim to be not only satisfied with its performance but also surprisingly pleased with its efficiency and convenience, making it one of the simplest yet most effective lenses they’ve used.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Unlike most of the lenses that are available in the market, this zoom lens comes with a weather-resistant design. Harsh weather conditions are one of the main reasons people find the performance of their lenses deteriorating. But this one is above that problem since it comes with sufficient protection.

Who Will Use This Most

Given the design and dimensions of this unit, it is not really suitable for beginners. A professional may, however, find its functionality and design to be on par with other high-end lenses. For this reason, this would function as a great addition to any professional’s set of lenses.

Bottom Line

This item may be the last one on this list, but it is definitely not the least. It provides its users with great functionality that is just as good as any other lens on this list. This zoom lens by Fujinon is one that is designed to deliver nothing but sharp images with a quality that is second to none.

When Would a Zoom Lens Come in Handy?

A zoom lens can provide great results, but does that mean it should be used for anything and everything? Absolutely not. But there are certain cases where a zoom lens should serve as your go-to lens. Here is a list of all the times where it would serve to be the ideal companion for your camera:

During Travels

While you’re traveling, one can’t carry all tools and accessories, and such limitations may confuse you about what to take and what not to take. When you can’t carry excessive equipment on your vacation, a zoom lens will be all you need.

Taking Shots at a Distance

Bringing yourself close enough to the subject that you want to photograph may not always be possible. During sports and wildlife photography, when getting any closer is simply not an option, a zoom lens will be your savior.

For Extra Touch of Creativity

When you want to get in touch with your creative side and want to add something extra to your images, a zoom lens will allow you a number of options to do so. It greatly helps with creative and abstract photography with special effects and blurred background.

Pros and Cons of Zoom Lens

When it comes to photography, zoom lenses are pretty great. But they also come with their own set of drawbacks. In order to decide if you want to invest in a zoom lens, you need to evaluate its advantages and disadvantages.

Pros

Let’s first check out the pros that you’ll get on investing in a zoom lens.

Cheap

 A single zoom lens is comparatively cheaper than a prime lens. Moreover, it can provide the focus range provided by an entire collection of prime lenses, thereby reducing the overall cost you will have to spend on your camera arsenal.

Easier to Use

 Many features of zoom lenses ensure ease. For instance, they eliminate the need for changing lenses in between shots, which can be otherwise exasperating. Plus, you do not need to move closer to the subject for a better shot.

Customization

 Adjusting the zoom can allow you to decide how much of the background is included in the picture. This gives you the creative freedom to decide how you want your shot to turn out.

Cons

 Despite all its benefits, zoom lenses come with their limitations.

Heavy

 Zoom lenses are considerably heavier prime lenses. This makes their storage and portability less convenient.

Not as Good as Prime Lenses

 These lenses are also slower than a prime lens since shifting focus can take time. They also do not provide the same quality of images that a prime lens does. Plus, they are not designed to provide optimal functioning in low lighting, unlike prime lenses.

How to Use a Zoom Lens

A zoom lens is designed to give you outstanding results only if you know how to use it the right way. If you find yourself not too familiar with these and it’s working, here is a quick guide on how it is supposed to be used.

Aperture

The aperture on your lens decides the amount of light that enters the sensor. A wider aperture is better used when you want to blur out the background. Meanwhile, a smaller aperture allows a better focus on the whole scene.

Focus

With a zoom lens, you can shift the focus of the image onto different spots in the same scene, without moving an inch from your place. All you need to do is turn the focus ring present at the end closer to the lens until the image is focused on the spot you want it to.

Tripod

When you zoom into an object or scene, the camera shake starts having a significant effect on your image. In order to prevent this from ruining your photos, use a tripod to eliminate this element completely.

Conclusion

It’s time to put your zoom lens on and get your desired close-up shots. All you need to do is consider the right sort of features that you need according to the type of shots that you intend on taking and make your final choice. With a process as simple as this, you can get zooming in no time at all.

People Also Ask

Zoom lenses may be convenient to use, but if you do not understand their basics, you may not be able to make the best out of them. In order to ensure that you don’t miss out on some great shots, here are a few questions users frequently ask, so you understand zoom lenses better.

Which is Better Prime Lens or Zoom Lens?

Prime and zoom lenses are both unique in their own way. They each have their own function, and their suitability depends upon the use that is required of them. A prime lens usually provides a better picture quality but lacks in terms of versatility. A zoom lens, on the other hand, may not be able to provide the same image quality, but it offers a wider focal range and is also cheap.

Do Prime Lenses Zoom?

Prime lenses are known for the high quality of the image that they provide as well as their outstanding capability to perform in low light. However, when it comes to zooming, they fail since they are not designed to allow a wide range of focus and come with a fixed focus.

What is Difference Between Telephoto and Zoom Lens?

A telephoto lens is one that usually comes with a considerably narrow field of view. The field may be narrow, but these lenses allow a better look at things that are placed further away. A telephoto can be either zoom or prime. A zoom lens is one that allows users to control their focal distances. In simple words, a zoom lens is a type of telephoto lens.

How Do You Focus With a Zoom Lens?

A zoom lens comes with two different rings on its body. The ring closer to the camera body will allow you to zoom in or out. Meanwhile, the other ring, which is closer to the lens, allows you to focus. As you turn the focus ring, you will find that the focus shifts to different parts of the shot, allowing you to keep the focus where you want.

Can You Calibrate a Zoom Lens?

Yes, some zoom lenses can be calibrated, but not all of them. In order to calibrate a zoom lens, the process needs to be repeated twice, once for each extreme of the zoom range that is provided by the lens. The target distance, which is required for calibration tends to vary from model to model.