Zoom ranges keep getting longer. Camera companies seem to think that this is the only way to keep selling compact cameras. (It’s kind of like how those same companies thought adding more megapixels was the best way to keep selling compact cameras. ) The trend begs some questions: Is there any advantage beyond, I dunno, 30x magnification? What is the logical endpoint? How the hell, physically, do you get such crazy magnification out of a small lens? What changed to make that possible, all of the sudden, in the past three or four years?
This is an article I’d wanted to write for a while—I’m really fascinated by it for some reason, but all I had was 600 words, because it was written for print. I’d like to go deeper eventually, but for the 99.5% of people out there who’ve never thought about camera zoom, I think it’s a decent primer on how we got here and where we’re going. Also spoiler alert: Sounds like Fujifilm has something clever up its sleeves for CES.