Recently there was a question on Reddit about variable aperture zoom lenses. The answers given were correct, but I wanted to add a bit more details and context.
Question: “So, I’ve noticed that the max and min aperture for my G VARIO 14-42 lens reads f/3.5 – f/5.6. However, when I look at my camera body screen, the f-stop range reads f/4.0 – f/22. Please help explain what I’m getting wrong about the aperture/f-stop.”
The f/3.5 – f/5.6 is a variable aperture range and it shows the minimum ranges. As you zoom the lens from 14mm, the minimum aperture (f/3.5) increases until you get to 42mm focal length (f/5.6). You can’t go below that minimum number. You can go larger, but not smaller. So you can go up to f/22, but you can’t go down to f/2.8.
What does the aperture mean: the smaller the f-number, the more light gets to the sensor. The f-number is also referred to as the “f stop”. Physically look down at the lens at f/3.5 and again at f/22. You’ll see the lens opening is smaller at f/22 than at f/3.5. Also, the more light on to your sensor due to lower f-stops, the lower your ISO and faster your shutter can be.
Does this variable aperture happen on all lenses: no. This happens on variable aperture zoom lenses only. There’s also constant aperture zoom lenses like the Lumix 12-35 f/2.8. From 12mm to 35mm, the minimum aperture is f/2.8.
What else? Aperture is also one of the factors when it comes to depth of field. When a photo can produce a blurry background. The other two factors are how close you are to the subject and the distance of background to the subject.
Photography can be a lot of fun, especially when you understand all these factors and apply them creatively to your work. Great to see that you’re on the right path. Keep going!