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The Wrong Camera?

He was big and proud: a male bighorn sheep was posing on a mountainous ridgeline, merely 100 yards from the road. I pulled over and rolled the window down. But I had no camera!

A couple years ago I gave up on the $200 cameras with 20X optical zoom. They only lasted 2-3 years. Usually the telescoping zoom mechanism would stop working. Presumably it only took one grain of sand to jam things up.

My solution was a "tough" camera which lacks an external telescoping mechanism. It does have an internal telescoping mechanism for optical zoom. Keeping the moving/sliding parts internal is what keeps it 'tough.'

But it also keeps the optical zoom down to a mere 4X.  That would barely have worked for that magnificent bighorn ram. 

So did I do the right thing by giving up on those 20X zoom cameras? It seemed like the right decision at the time, but I never bring my (low zoom) digital camera along anymore. And the smartphone has no zoom. 

Since I belong to the school of photography that says the best camera is the one that you actually bring along, my photography-life is essentially dead.

Say, wouldn't it be great if a smartphone had a high zoom with no moving parts, by using a separate fixed lens? Multiple fixed lenses has become the style for expensive smartphones, these days. I wonder how high the optical zoom goes?

From the archive, bighorns in the Arizona mountains.

 After spending some time studying telescoping lenses, it seems that I am going to fall into the usual difficulty: they don't explain how products work. They say nothing about what a single grain of sand can do to sliding plastic cylinders.