Brief laymans explanation of the numbers.......difference between the numbers describing the lens relate to the range of zoom. 18-55 isn't really that much. 18 is wide angle, suitable for landscapes or maybe someone standing close to you. There are wider lenses but 18 seems to be a fairly standard starting point. The higher number relates to how much you can zoom in. The 55, explained very basically, seemed to be good for zooming into someone about 5-10 metres away, maybe on the other side of a room.
Examples of various zoom lengths (from a cameralabs.com review):
17 (didn't have an 18!)
Main lens options I looked at:
- 70-300 - Good value and being able to zoom to 300 would be great. Information I could find says that you really need a tripod once you zoom past about 200. Main problem for me was that I would have to change lenses, between the 18-55 and 70-300. This doesn't have to be a big deal, but I'd prefer to just carry one lens. Changing lenses also increases the chances of getting dust inside the camera.
- 28-300 - This looked like a great solution until I discovered that the zoom difference between 18 and 28 is significant. Starting at 28 means you are already zoomed in enough to affect many pictures. See the examples above.
- 18-200 - Now we're talking! A lens that starts at the same wide-angle point as my other lens but goes all the way to 200. Not cheap, but so far has been great. It's hardly any longer than the original. Suddenly, I can take a group shot but when I see an individual doing something in the group, I can very quickly zoom into them and get some great pictures.
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