Zoom usage analysis

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by pdk42, Nov 16, 2015.

  1. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    I just did some "data mining" on my shots from this year. If I look just at the short zooms I have (all Panasonic):


    then I get this graph:


    There are strong peaks at 7, 12, 14, 32, 35 and 100 - exactly the extremities of the zoom ranges of the lenses. So, all that money for zoom lenses, when what we really need is something like this!!

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  2. Addicted2light

    Addicted2light Mu-43 Rookie

    Nov 13, 2015
    ...or just the Oly 12 (stitching when you need a wider field of view) and 45 plus the 75 (or a legacy 100mm lens) ;)
  3. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Or something like the Leica Tri-Elmar :)

    Same situation here: full in or full out, except for the 25mm because I set it looking at the lens when I go out.
  4. coffeecat

    coffeecat Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 4, 2012
    SW England
    I did that exercise a while back, but basically got the same result. Nowadays I almost never use zooms.

    My OH has had a succession of compact P&S cameras, and it's the same with them too. In fact, she mostly seems to use them on fully wide.
  5. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    All this proves is number of shots taken at each focal length.

    It does not take into account keeper rate, any cropping to another potential FOV, or the images that you feel were the best.
    I'd keep mining and looking with those things in mind and see if that changes the skew of focal lengths.
  6. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    David Dornblaser
    I did the same exercise with the O12-40. My usage came in mainly at ~ 12, 17 & 40 which mirrors the primes that I carry.
  7. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    You, your data, your usage; NOT WE. Unless, of course, you're one of the Photo Police.
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  8. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    David Dornblaser
    Look at the picture that follows his comments, it was a humorous comment.
  9. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Quite arrogant to assume he included you when he said "we".
  10. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I think it is common to have a lot of shots clustered around the extremes of your zoom ranges. But that could also just mean that you had the wrong lens on any made it work anyway. All those 12's might have really been better off as 10mm, but you didn't have your 7-14mm on the camera at the time. And all those 35' might have been 50mm if you'd had the 35-100mm on. And you could say maybe you just need 7, 12mm and 35mm primes, but if you add up all the intermediate focal length shots in the middle, they represent a large portion of your shots.

    I guess I am just saying be careful about making assumptions regarding the data. I see people sometimes choosing primes based on analysis like this. All it says when you shot 35mm a lot is that your zoom ended there and you zoomed in or out as far as you could. It doesn't mean 35mm is your favorite.
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  11. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    David Dornblaser
    I think that under some circumstances your eye is trained by your lens selection. I don't think that it is a coincidence that my most used FLs on the O12-40 mirror the primes that I carry daily. I think the FLs used on zooms can also reflect our preferred subjects.
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  12. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    Yep, I think that's absolutely spot on.

    When I look at a a sample of 104 keepers with the 14-140 from my Galapagos trip last year, 18 of them are at 14mm, and 26 of them are at 140mm. The other 60 shots - more than half - are almost a uniform distribution between 15 and 131mm comprising 21 different focal lengths. The only other little cluster was 8 shots taken at 32mm, and 9 taken at 41mm. Which also suggests that my 14-140 may have a few little sticky spots, haha.

    This is also a useful sample, because I excluded all the 14mm shots that I stitched into ultrawide panoramas, which would have otherwise biased the comparison substantially to the 14mm end which isn't anywhere near wide enough.

    Zooms are pretty awesome...
  13. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    For me, the purpose of zooms is not to replace primes. It is this: To increase the likelihood that the focal length that I need is already mounted on the camera, ready to take the shot that is presenting itself to me.

    I have no idea what my statistics would look like. Maybe I'll run the analysis some day out of curiosity but I really don't care if all my shots are at either 14mm or 140mm. The point of the zoom is that I can take a shot at either of those focal lengths (and any in between, of course) without changing lenses.

    I think this criterion is applicable to a large fraction of photography, maybe even a majority. For studio shots of course you can install the focal length you want as a prime and be done with it. For my shooting, primarily travel, I cannot. For sports, children, etc. it is the same. My need for a particular focal length changes from minute to minute. Even in quasi-static situations like a meeting at a church I shot recently, I needed a zoom to precisely frame the shot that I wanted, with the speaker at left at the pulpit, a photograph displayed on a large monitor at the upper right, and the attendees in the foreground, cropping out the empty pews behind them. I didn't note the focal length needed but the odds are small that I would have it on the camera anyway.

    Next July we will be in Tanzania. I'll be carrying two bodies (GX7s or maybe at least one GX8) and my safari setup will be a 14-140 on one and a 100-300 on the other. Even if I could carry enough bodies to cover this range 20:1 with primes, the logistics of trying to deal with them would be impossible.

    So, different objectives for different folks.
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  14. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    David Dornblaser
    I think that a lot has to do with your subjects. When we go back to Africa or Yellowstone or Alaska, etc., we will have nothing but zooms on. Urban environment, it will be primes.
  15. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
    Haven't done numbers but have used zooms like you found. But it's definitely subject related.

    Saw a similar analysis of someone's trip to Africa. Their 100-300mm was, no surprise, @ 300 most of the time. @ Grand Canyon rim last week, my 9-18 was @ 9 most of the time but also @ 10 & 11 'cause you can't walk back or forward to change framing.

    The really lovely thing about m43 is the number of small primes you can carry instead of a zoom.
  16. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    Matter of taste, of course. I am not much of a street shooter but my go-to lens for that is the 9-18mm. I have actually sold all my primes (12, 20, 45) due to lack of use. They were lovely and small, but in a month-long trip to Ethiopia last January none ever found their way onto a camera.
  17. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    David Dornblaser
    I tend to shoot a fair amount in low light conditions, so primes make sense for me.
  18. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    Another reason people choose different tools. Different tasks. When I travel I don't tend to have a lot of low light, but I am almost always carrying a monopod too. So when I do get into a low light situation, it's the monopod that gets used rather than a prime. I actually bought my 12/2 specifically for low-light interiors like churches, caves, castles, etc. but in the end I found that it was the monopod that I used rather than the 12/2.
  19. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I've noticed this about my own shooting and it kind of bugs me. So many 9mm shots on the 9-18, so many 12mm shots on the 12-X, so many 175mm shots with the 45-175. At least with the 12-X there end up being a variety up to about 30mm, and the 45-175 often gets shot at 70-120mm...
  20. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Quite - thanks for the support!!!