Since the typical purchase of a new 3-CCD camera or camcorder includes nothing other than a tripod mounting plate and sometimes a viewfinder,
it is up to the purchaser to select all of the “a la carte” optional items such as microphones, power supplies, chargers, batteries, and of course, the lens.
System “packages” for cameras such as the JVC X2B or the Panasonic Supercam generally include a simple, low-cost lens such as the Canon or Fujinon 13 power. These are excellent lenses, mind you, however there are upgrade lenses available at a nominal price.
The Canon or Fujinon 13x lenses have a street price of about $900-$1200 and that price is padded into the package price of a camcorder system that includes a lens.
There are other lenses available from both manufacturers that have both better optics and higher zoom ratios that are rated at 14x, 15x, 17x and higher. And, of course, the price tag increases with these upgrade lenses. You can easily spend as much, if not more, for your lens than you did for the camera itself.
Do I Need A Better Lens?
The big questions that you have to ask yourself are, “How important are the improved optics?”, “How important is the extended zoom range?” and “How much money do I have left after buying the camera and all of the other accessories?”
Higher quality optics speak for themselves. Sometimes the weak link in a high-quality camera system is the lens. If you can, check out the improvement, if any, that you will see with an upgrade lens for your particular camera before you buy it.
The extended zoom range is dependent upon how close you need to get to your subject without physically bringing the camera in closer. If you shoot a lot of sports activities from the bleachers, then a 17x lens might be more suitable than a 13x.
However, if special events and weddings are your forte, then a 13x will be just fine.
Many higher-priced, higher-zoom ratio lenses include a 2x extender, which, when engaged, doubles the zoom power of the rated lens (i.e. 17x becomes 34x). These lenses start around $4,000 and go up from there.
And there is the question of budget. Getting into a 3-chip camera is a substantial monetary crunch to begin with. You may barely have a few dollars left over of a decent tripod and a couple of batteries. If that’s the case, go with the stock 13x lens for now. If though you should buy the best lens that you can afford, you can always upgrade later if you need to.
1/2” and 2/3” Lens
The initial price of the half-inch chip camera is going to be less than its two-thirds inch counterpart (i.e. Sony DXC-327 vs. 637, JVC KY-19 vs. 27, Panasonic WV-F565 vs. 700). You are paying for a larger pick-up element that most often has more pixels that result in higher resolution and color definition.
And naturally, the lens that will go on the 2/3” camera will be higher in price than the same style of lens designed for the 1/2” chip version.
It should be noted that these lenses, 1/2” and 2/3” are not interchangeable. They have completely different barrel diameters. So, keep that in mind if you go shopping for an upgraded lens down the road.