Are there any zoom lenses from any brand including medium format that equal the performance of primes?
Given the broadness of the question the answer is a broad "yes" :-)
The general caveats are:
- a zoom lens is generally more expensive than a prime lens of the same quality so if you want a good zoom lens it will cost you
- zoom lenses are usually not as fast (max aperture) as similar quality primes
- wide zoom lenses often show more distortion at their wide end than a similar quality prime
- zooms that cover an unusually long range are very rarely good quality (e.g. a 24-300)
- a zoom lens generally does not perform as well wide-open (aperture) as similar quality primes
- performance of a zoom lens can depend a LOT on where within it's range you are; in other words a wide to normal may perform very well at it's normal end but only moderately well at it's wide end
When used in their best aperture range many good zooms perform very similarly to good primes.
As an example:
- Phase 75-150D: @80mm f/4.5 is so-so, @80mm f/11 is very good, @150mm/f5.6 is so-so, @150mm/f11 is excellent
- Schneider 80mm D LS prime: f/2.8 is very good, f/5.6 is excellent, f/11 is excellent+
- Phase 150mm D prime: f/2.8 is very good, f/5.6 is excellent, f/11 is excellent+
Meaning the 75-150 is nearly identical when stopped down to the 80/150 primes but both primes outperform it at the zoom's fastest aperture and in addition have another stop or two of faster usable apertures.
The 75-150mm is also physically heavier and larger than either of the primes. But then again it's pretty hard to put both the 80mm and 150mm on the body at the same time :-).Doug Peterson
Head of Technical Services, Capture Integration
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