At this point in the development of digital photography, there is a camera for every buyer . In selecting which camera is right for you, one of the basic considerations will be whether to get a fixed lens or camera that lets you change lenses.
These days the question is not as clear cut as it was a few years ago. In the old days, you wouldn’t think of taking portraits with a zoom lens. You would have had a case of prime lenses and probably picked one in the 85mm-135mm range. Today zoom lenses are much better. Computer controlled milling machines, advanced optical coatings, and robot assembly means zoom lens quality is no longer an issue.
Now there are “superzooms”, also sometimes called “travel lenses” with incredible zoom ranges that make changing camera lenses a rare event. A few years ago you might have been carrying a small case full of lenses, today, even for a commercial shoot, you’ll likely only be packing two or three.
Modern consumer cameras with fixed lenses are still able to offer an impressive zoom range and most will work for 90 percent of the shots you will probably ever want to take. It’s that last 10 percent that separates photographers. Specialties that positively need to change lenses are serious bird watchers, sports, and wildlife photographers.
If you’re taking pictures for a living, or think you will, interchangeable lenses will be a capability you want. You may not have a lot of lenses at first, but you’ll pick them up over time.
Even if photography is just a serious hobby, I’d still get interchangeable lens capability if it’s in your budget.
But if you’re getting a camera to take pictures of the kids, for a family vacation, or occasional get together then the zoom range in most point and shoot cameras are just fine.
If you’re thinking about your kid’s soccer game, cameras like the Canon SX30 IS, the Nikon CoolPix 500, and Fujifilm Finepix HS20 with a built-in long zooms can put you right in the action, even from the sidelines at a price less than you’d pay for a decent long lens.