Zoom Lens Ranges


TPF Noob!
Apr 18, 2021
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Could anyone help clarify to me in simpler English what these Zoom Lens ranges mean to the end user, and what the Camera and Lens' capabilities are:
38-140 mm f/3.7-9.9
38-105 mm f/4-7.8
35-70mm f/4.5-6
38-76mm f/3.8-7.2
38-115mm f/3.6-8.5
Depends on the camera's sensor, but IMO and assuming you're full frame below 20mm is an ultra wide angle, 20mm-35mm wide angle, 35-85 short telephoto then above 85mm is telephoto.

Ultrawides emphasise foregrounds, and ave a very wide field of view but squish verticals. The 24-35mm range is traditional wide angle territory, as you get to 50mm proportions are more similar to your perception, and above that you get increasing levels of very short depth of field, but the background is magnified (ie the opposite of a wide angle where the background is far away).

Apertures are pretty much a topic in themselves, but f4 and below is good, above that is generally a bit medeocre (except when you get to above 300mm).

There's a bit more subtlety to it but generally: ultrawides for flat landscapes or star photos, wide angles for regular landscape shots and possibly group photos, short telephotos up to 50mm for group shots, full body and 1/2 body shots, 50-200mm sports, portaits, macro some detailed landscape shots, abd above 200mm sports and wildlife, maybe a portrait of a single person if you have room.

There'll be stuff I missed out and it's roughly how I think about focal length. There will be exceptions and you can use focal length creatively so it's not simply a matter of X lens should be used for Y type of shot

You'd probably be better off telling us what camera you have and what you want to photograph, then we can advise what lenses would be good to consider, as the actual answe depends so much on your use case.
I'll back up and tell you what the numbers mean. If I've gone to simple and you already know this please forgive me.

Take the first lens in the list as an example.
38-140mm is the range of focal length the lens can zoom over. Smaller numbers give smaller looking subjects in the photo and wider fields of view. Larger numbers increase magnification and make the subject bigger and closer, and the field of view smaller.

The next two numbers f/3.7-9.9 tell you what the largest aperture the lens has at each end of its focal length range. So for this lens at 38mm the largest aperture the lens will open to is f/3.8. At 140mm the largest aperture would be f/9.9. And between 38mm and 140mm the largest aperture will vary between f/3.8 and f/9.9. In evaluating a lens the last two are pretty important because they tell you how much light will get through the lens to the sensor. The larger the number under the "f" the less light there is reaching the sensor. In my mind f/9.9 is pretty limiting.

The kit lenses that came with my camera are:
18-55mm, f/3.5-5.6
70-300mm, f/4.5-6.3
More often than not I'm wishing I could get more light (larger aperture, smaller number) than less light.

Hope this helps and good luck.
To find out what a camera and lens are capable of it will take a little research. The first place I go is DxOMark.com, but it will take a little bit of playing around and reading to use the site effectively and while they have a fairly comprehensive database of cameras and lenses, it does have some gaps. Another source I use is PCMag.com. I really like Ken Rockwell’s reviews as well.
You seem to have a lot of overlap
Meaning one lens covers a or cover laps some of the range another lens does
Your 38 140 covers the range all your other 38 to # lenses cover
Ill take a stab.

The lenses listed (minus one) has 38mm listed as the first number
That is the focal distance of the lens.

The focal distance is NOT what you see, but a distance from the focal point (where the light converges in the lens) to the focal plane (film or digital). As previously stated it also depends on the size of the image area. (Format size: APS, Full Frame, Med. format etc. )

The second number is obviously the same thing just longer distance.

The smaller the number, the wider the Field of View (FoV) That means that the smaller the number the more area you see. So a picture taken of a person seen completely with the 38mm side would only show their face at 140mm from the same distance. This is part of the magnification factor involved with lenses.
the larger the second number the more magnification of the lens and further out you would see.

The aperture setting if a single number (F2.5 for example) means the lens has the ability to shoot at an aperture of F2.5 all through the range of the zoom.

If the aperture listed has multiple numbers (F4.5-5.6 for example) then it means the lens changes the size of the aperture RATIO all through the range.

There is a great deal more ont he subject and many mechanics involved.
Could anyone help clarify to me in simpler English what these Zoom Lens ranges mean to the end user, and what the Camera and Lens' capabilities are:
38-140 mm f/3.7-9.9
38-105 mm f/4-7.8
35-70mm f/4.5-6
38-76mm f/3.8-7.2
38-115mm f/3.6-8.5

Sorry for late respond just to be brief "the smaller number of lenses the wider the image, the bigger number of lenses bigger the subject"

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