Digital camera lenses range from small, built-in lenses with fixed focal
lengths to large, interchangeable zoom lenses. A camera's lens
impacts the design and operation of the camera, and we have listed the
four primary lens types below.
Fixed-focal-length lenses offer no optical zoom feature, so limit
your choices to autofocus cameras with this type of lens. This
lens type, often found on entry-level "point-and-shoot" cameras, does
offer several benefits. It enables the design of compact cameras
that are inexpensive and simple to operate. Furthermore, these
lenses are generally good for group shots and landscapes because they
offer a relatively wide viewing angle. However, the optical quality
of these lenses tends to be fairly low, and they cannot zoom in close to
photograph distant objects. In addition, these lenses can't usually
accept filters or converters for other focal lengths. If you buy a
camera with this type of lens, look for macro and landscape focus
features, as well as a digital zoom feature that can produce enlarged
images of slightly reduced visual quality.
Retractable zoom lenses are stored in the body of the camera; they
extend when the camera is powered on. These lenses enable the
design of portable, compact cameras that have built-in covers to protect
their lenses. However, their zoom range is fairly limited and, like
fixed-focal-length lenses, they usually don't accept lens converters or
filters. These relatively rugged cameras are well-suited for travel
Fixed zoom lenses are affixed to the body of the camera rather than being
stored in the camera body. These lenses have a wider zoom range and
usually have threads to accept filters and lens converters. Cameras
with fixed zoom lenses usually offer advanced features, including precise
manual focus and zoom control via lens rings rather than buttons.
Nevertheless, these lenses necessitate a larger, more bulky camera design
and more complex camera settings. Cameras with this type of lens
may also include a digital zoom feature. Business users and serious
amateur photographers tend to prefer cameras with a fixed zoom lens.
Interchangeable lenses are detachable lens systems that are used with
both film SLR cameras and digital SLR cameras. These lenses offer
high quality optics and the flexibility to handle many photographic
situations. However, these lenses are bulky and expensive.
High-end SLR cameras with interchangeable lenses are favored by
professional photographers and serious amateurs. A special type of
lens, the macro lens, is used for close-up photography. With their
wider range of focal lengths, macro lenses can focus on detailed subjects
only a few inches away!
Camera Lens Manufacturers
Each digital camera offers its own line of lenses, and the following
companies also offer lenses that can be used with multiple camera bodies.
is a Japanese-based manufacturer of camera lenses.
offers interchangeable lenses for a wide range of 35mm SLR cameras.
manufactures a broad line of autofocus and manual focus converter lenses.