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Old May 14, 2010, 9:30 AM   #1
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Default f stop range in zoom lenses

..ok, i need really basic info...on my film camera of past, i had a soligor macro zoom, 80-200 with a f stop range of 4.5-22...i'm hoping to get a nikon D5000 and am looking at the nikon / DX VR II 18-200 F3.5-5.6 .....why such a small f stop range???...are there zoom out there with a range like my old soligor??..or is it necessary to have a wide f stop range?..also, are there macro zooms out there to fit a D5000?? ..that is without spending thousands
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Old May 14, 2010, 9:50 AM   #2
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The f-stop range you're looking at is the maximum f-stop at each end of the zoom range. That is, at a focal length of 18mm, the maximum aperture is f/3.5, while at 200mm it's f/5.6. These have nothing to do with the minimum aperture, which, btw, is f/22 at 18mm and f/36 at 200mm.
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Old May 15, 2010, 1:00 PM   #3
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...forgive ma denseness, ... are you saying the actual lens ranges from:
18 (3.5- 22) - 200 (5.6- 36)....?? (no laughing, ok?!
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Old May 15, 2010, 2:21 PM   #4
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yes, that is correct
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Old May 16, 2010, 9:04 AM   #5
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...goodness knows they state that up front for any newbies trying to figure it out
...thank you for yer info.....now, anybody know if they still sell a decent MACRO-ZOOM or is there too much compromise on the quality?.
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Old May 16, 2010, 9:45 AM   #6
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Lenses are rated by their maximum magnification for macro purposes, and the term "Macro" tends to be used rather loosely for zoom lenses. ;-)

Checking the specs on a Soligar 80-200mm f/4.5, it only has a maximum magnification of 1:4 with it's macro mode engaged, which means that you can fill the frame with a subject that's 4 times the size of the film or sensor. It's interesting in that the macro mode is engaged on the wide end with that one, with minimum focus distance being quite long when zoomed in.

Most lenses rate their magnification at the telephoto end at their closest focus distance, and many zoom lenses (including most of the 18-55mm kit lenses manufacturers bundle) can do 1:4 or 1:5 magnification without using any special macro mode at their longest focal length and closest focus distance.

It looks like the 18-200mm VR you're looking at can focus as close as 20" (from the sensor in the camera, not the front lens element), even when zoomed in all the way in to 200mm (although effective focal length is a bit shorter than 200mm at closer focus distances). So, that may be good enough for what you want to shoot (depending on subject type and what you want to use the images for). Here's one page showing it's close focus ability


If you want a true (1:1) Macro lens (able to fill the frame with a subject as small as the camera's film or sensor at the closest focus distance), here are some of the Nikkor Micro lenses available (and if you want Autofocus with a D5000, you'll want to stick with AF-S lenses). You'll need a Prime (fixed focal length versus zoom) to get that much magnification (true, 1:1 macro). I'd keep working distance in mind (as you may find it's easier to use a longer focal length lens from further away to fill the frame with a given subject size, so that you're not blocking light, spooking smaller subjects, etc.).

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