Emerging out of the gloom toward the African Plains exhibit, I spied a lion lying regally beneath a tree, watching a herd of obviously adult deer-like nyala grazing. It made a nice landscape shot, but in lieu of cubs, I wanted a close-up of the lion. So I pulled out Sony's DSC-F505V with its Carl Zeiss 5X optical zoom lens. A high-quality lens is the key to a good shot, and essential when you zoom. Before making a buying decision, you should note the number of optical elements in the lens, whether they're made of glass (ideally) or plastic, and the speed at which they move. Or just stick with a company that's known for lenses, such as Nikon and Canon, or a high-end lens brand, like Carl Zeiss. But remember, in general you get what you pay for, and the bigger the lens, the better. With zoom lenses, check the optical, not digital, zoom rating, and pick a lens that starts at the widest angle. In 35mm film-speak, that would be 28mm or lower.