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by Phil Ball

Q. I'm getting a new camera with interchangeable lenses. Should I buy the bundle with the kit lens plus a telephoto zoom or buy an all-in-one lens that covers the whole range? What are the advantages, either way?

A. Having worked both ways, my opinion is that I prefer using a single all-in-one lens of high quality. Carrying one lens is definitely more convenient. I can't tell you how many photos I've missed when I pull the camera out of the bag and it has the wrong lens on it because while I change lenses, the subject disappears. One big lens means that you will always have the "right" lens on your camera at all times. But the key work there is "big." An all-in-one lens will be larger and heavier and will be a real neck breaker if carried around your neck all day. It also is more prone to bump into things as you move around.

Another problem with interchangeable lens cameras is that while the lens is off the camera even for a moment, dust can get on your sensor and you'll have a blob on all subsequent images until you notice it and take the time and effort to clean it off. This can be a serious consideration in dusty old Arizona. Carrying two lenses has the advantage of giving you a spare lens if one breaks down. There is nothing worse than being out in the middle of nowhere when your lens stops working and your camera becomes a paperweight.

A high quality lens is probably better built than a cheaper lens in terms of both image quality and durability. Whatever you decide, buy the best lens that you can afford keeping in mind that you tend to get what you pay for; better lenses cost more. If you plan to travel with your camera a lot, the rough usage may cause your lens to break down. A high quality lens will be better built and can take more abuse. If you are careful with your equipment, you can get by with lower quality, cheaper lenses.

Published: Courier 4/25/15 - Page 12A