Deal Breakers – Those Cameras And Lenses Where You Know It’s All Over Before It’s Even Begun

A lens I bought recently was destined for the door only moments after I’d unwrapped it. 


It was a zoom with one of those sliding barrels to adjust the zoom, rather than a rotating one, and worse still it was so sloppy and loose, every time I tilted the lens a few degrees the moving part of the barrel slid, whoosh-ker-thunk, jarringly, to one end of the zoom range or other.

Even trying to focus whilst at one focal length, I’d raise my eye from the viewfinder to find whilst focusing I’d inadvertently drifted the zoom too so I was at 95mm not 85mm, or 150mm not 135mm.

These things matter to me, and this fatal flaw of the lens meant I would never even consider using it again, however great the images may be.

How about you? What are completely unforgivable deal breakers for you with a camera or lens, a feature or quirk so inconvenient or irritating you know you’d never overcome it and enjoy shooting with it?

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

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7 thoughts on “Deal Breakers – Those Cameras And Lenses Where You Know It’s All Over Before It’s Even Begun”

  1. Pretty much any zoom lens is a deal breaker for, I just never liked them. The other major one is any film camera that makes terrible clattering shutter noises, I guess I am overly sensitive to noise. Minolta and Canon FTb were the main culprits, even though I like and respect those cameras.

    1. Thanks Jon. Thinking back to my film days, I recall most SLR cameras were pretty clattery! I just saw it as par for the course. Not ideal for any kind of stealth or discrete photography!

  2. The “sliding barrel” used to be called a 1-touch zoom – the same ring is used for focusing and zooming and you don’t have to move your left hand around (if you’re a right-hand shooter like me). Back when my Pentax SMC-A 70-210mm f4 Macro was my only good telephoto lens, I got quite used to it and was able to zoom in and out while maintaining focus. It made for some very agile shooting and I quite enjoyed it.
    Now I use my 100mm and 200mm lenses instead, but haven’t sold the zoom yet as I might still use it sometimes.
    But to answer the question… to me it’s been the zooms that have a variable aperture yet pretend that they don’t… For example, a 60-300mm I had was f/4-5.6 but at the long end, if I set it at f5.6, it was actually f8. At f4 setting, it was at f5.6. The stated aperture was one step lower than the actual aperture. God knows what it was doing in the middle of the range! That drove me crazy and I sold the lens. Same thing with a Rikenon 35-70mm f/3.5-4.5 that was superbly sharp, yet it was stating f3.5 at the long end when it was f4.5 and when I set it at f5.6, it was quite darker but I guess not quite f8. On both lenses I always had to compensate manually.

    1. Ha, that’s the exactly lens I had Chris! I did get a few shots around the garden, the colours were quite good, and considering the focal length range it wasn’t too big. But I just couldn’t get past that awful sliding zoom design – perhaps if it was more dampened it would be it ok, maybe mine was a very worn out version as it literally slide up and down the moment the camera was tilted a few degrees from horizontal.

      I’ve not experienced what you’re talking about with the aperture, but then I’ve had very few zooms anyway, one reason being they’re usually very slow (ie max aperture) compared with a prime. I had a Pentax-A 35-105 which was capable of very good results for a zoom. But f/3.5 at 50mm is just not much use at all when there are dozens of 50/55mm primes at f/2 or faster with far more pleasant bokeh to match. Oh and it was massive, especially on the K10D, so it’s not worth using such a heavy lens for anything less than 50, when there are lenses like the plastic fantastic DA 35/2.4. And at 105, something like the beautiful little Takumar 105/2.8 was faster, far smaller and much lighter, capable of beautiful images. I know a zoom is supposed to replace multiple primes, but it didn’t make much sense at any of its focal lengths, despite being very decent and fast, for a zoom, across the whole range.

      I’ve kind of digressed!

      1. I think I’m done with zooms for the most part as well! I’ll keep the DA*16-50mm f2.8 because sometimes you do need that flexibility, there’s no way around it when you’re trying to take family or event pictures. Having another body nearby with a fast prime is always good, and those end up being the pictures that I prefer…
        I’ve always heard the praises about the SMC-A 35-105mm f3.5 but its size has kept me away from it…

      2. It is massive! And as I said, whilst it’s good at all focal lengths, a dedicated prime would be better, and faster. Which makes (or made, for me) the 35-105 kind of pointless. A lightweight zoom across a wider range (or more towards one end or the other) makes far more sense. I don’t have anything like a 70mm prime lens (58mm Helios, then the next up is a 135mm) so I use my Pentax-F 35-70mm almost exclusively at 70mm, especially as it focuses pretty close too, and is small and light.

    2. Chris, are you attempting to compare or determine the f-stop of lenses on the basis of exposure readings? If so, I just want to point out that the f-stop number is not an indicator of how much light a lens will pass. It is the result of a mechanical/optical calculation involving focal length and optical diameters. It relates to depth of field, circles of confusion and other mathematically-derived functions. Light transmission, on the other hand, is affected by factors such as transparency of the glass, number of elements, etc. Just as an example, attaching a ND filter to a lens does not change its f-stop, but it will obviously affect exposure. Sorry if I’ve misinterpreted your post regarding this issue.

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