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More Lens Questions

strokebloke 11 493 17 England
27 Dec 2008 10:33PM
Hi guys,
I have a Sony A200. Great camera [or at least I think so, but then I know very little about photography & even less about cameras] My questions:
With the A200 I got a 18 - 70mm 'kit' lens (whatever that is). On the body of the lens is the following designation 3.5-5.6/18-70. Does the 3.5-5.6 refer to the f stops available?
I have also bought a 75 - 300mm telephoto zoom lens. On the body of this lens is the designation 4.5-5.6/75-300.
If the 3.5-5.6 & the 4.5-5.6 DO refer to the f stops, doesn't this restrict considerably the shutter speeds I can use with such limited apertures? Plus it also bears the info 1.5M/4.9ft MACRO
What does the 1.5M/4.9ft refr to? And how can a telephoto lens be a Macro? I thought Macro is for close shots, not shots taken at a distance.
You'll probably think these questions are a bit silly, but I genuinely do not understand. Any help will be much appreciated
da_nige 16 1.2k United Kingdom
27 Dec 2008 10:57PM
3.5 is the maximum aperture at 18mm and 5.6 is the maximum aperture at 70mm. You'll probably find the minimum aperture is something like f22 so you can use everything in between. Same goes for the 75-300mm.

1.5m/4.9ft is the closest the lens will focus. 1.5m=4.9ft. When it says Macro it just means the closest the lens can focus.

That make sense?

strokebloke 11 493 17 England
28 Dec 2008 5:16PM
Thanks Neil, that makes a lot of sense. A range of from f3.5 to f22 is much greater than the 3.5 to 5.6 that I thought I was stuck with.
Again, excuse my naivety, but if I'm closer than 1.5M & consequently am unable to focus well, presumably I can simply move frther away until I can focus OK - correct?

The lens is a Sony, Chris, not a Sigma. I had no idea I would be able to fit anything other than a Sony lens to a Sony camers. When you say "switch the macro switch" do you mean the 'flower' symbol on the control wheel on the top of the camera, or is that something I need to find in the menu?
SteveHunter 12 386 1 England
28 Dec 2008 5:29PM

You are correct about the focussing, if you are too close for the lens to focus, just move further away and you should be fine.

The lens Chris is referring to has a specific switch on the lens that allows it to focus closer, I don't think there is such a switch on the Sony lens so you don't need to worry about that.

You will find that a number of manufacturers make lenses that will fit your Sony, Sigma and Tamron are probably the main 2 that you will see get mentioned a lot.

The little flower symbol on top of the camera is one of the Scene modes on the camera, which is set up for Macro photography, I would suggest reading that part of the manual to find out more about that though. I know it comes as a hardship, but reading the manual of a camera is a really good starting point to understand all the basics of what it does.

strokebloke 11 493 17 England
28 Dec 2008 7:50PM
thanks Steve.
I have read the manual - repeatedly - but as with all of these technical instructions, what appears perfectly obvious to the guy writing the chapter/section etc, is not necessarily anything like so obvious to the person reading it, especially when that person has little or no knowledge base upon which to extrapolate what's being stated, into what appears to be understandably obvious. I'm finding that the essential components of technique & understanding are beginning to gel for me as different people say the same thing in their own different way, but which out of each I can find a repeated recognosable theme of understanding. I'll get there - I'm just 62 years of age & not as sharp as I was at 22, coupled with being as green as grass concerning the subject of photography in general & cameras in particular Smile
accystan 16 132 6 Canada
28 Dec 2008 8:33PM
I highly recommend that you get a book (of find a web-site) that explains the basics of how a camera works. Firstly, I'd read about aperture (f/stops) and how it affects the pic. Secondly I'd read about shutter speeds and how they're interconnected with the f/stop. Thirdly, I'd learn about film speed (and hence its modern day equivalent - sensor sensitivity or iso settings) and light (temp. of and colour of). I think you have to learn the basics first or you're likely to struggle.

Modern day cameras are, overall, very complicated bits of machinery, mainly because everything is computerised, automated, interconnected, alarmed, 'fail-safed' etc. However the basics haven't changed one iota in over a century. There's still a lens (with a diaphragm - i.e. an iris), a shutter (to let light in for specific and finite periods of time) and a light sensing/recording device (it used to be photographic film, now it's an electronic sensor). Camera manuals (in fact all manuals) are rarely easy to read and learn from.

In a way, cameras are like cars. All the bells, whistles, safety devices, back-ups etc. have made them seem complicated. But they're not. Basically they're the same as they were a hundred years ago. You start by understanding the basics and then learn how all the peripheral stuff helps, or over-rides, or compensates etc.

I used to know an electrical engineer who told me that if you struggle in the second, third and fourth years of a course it's because you didn't understand the basics which you should have learned in the first year. He was right on!

Good luck,

Dave D
strokebloke 11 493 17 England
28 Dec 2008 8:35PM
Thanks for the Simcam. It's brilliant, isn't it? I've only had a quick look at it so far but I've 'bookmarked' it so that I can get to it easily when I have time to sit and digest it. What I honestly find difficult to get my head around with 'settings' side of cameras is that almost everything appears to be back to front, relative to my 62 years of living so far.
The smaller the f stop number - the larger the aperture.
The smaller the f stop number - the less the depth of field
The faster the shutter speed ( the more it's expressed as increasing fractions of a second) the more it 'freezes' the image.
The reversal relationship between f stop numbers & the length of the shutter opening to achieve the same exposure.
It's all a bit bewildering to a brain as old and addled as mine Smile Smile
I shall sit down with tomorrow, when I've got the house to myself - I'll look forward to that. Thanks again (to each of you)
28 Dec 2008 10:56PM
Just study one topic at a time strokebloke and as Accystan suggests, start with aperture. If you try to read too much manual, you'll end up confused like I do, and I'm only a wee lad of 58. I firmly believe manuals make no sense until you've struggled for 6 months, then light starts to dawn!
Elemobe 12 36 1 United Kingdom
28 Dec 2008 11:35PM
I highly recommend "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson - he explains the basics in such a simple and clear way using analogies that make a lot of sense.

Here is the link to the book on Amazon

accystan 16 132 6 Canada
29 Dec 2008 12:49AM

Quote:The smaller the f stop number - the larger the aperture

I'm not sure you'd want to know this at this time but if you follow the sequence of f/numbers back you'd get to f/1. The f stop number is not just an arbitrary number. In an f/1 lens the diameter of the aperture is equal to the focal length. i.e. in a 50 mm f/1 lens the aperture dia. (and hence glass dia.) is 50mm. An f/1.4 has an aperture which is half the area of an f/1 and hence lets in half the light. This sequence works very nicely with shutter speeds which increase and decrease in the same ratio.
f/1 lenses do (or used to) exist. I have a 1960's Wallace Heaton catalogue illustrating a Canon slr with a f/0.95 lens. Not cheap either! This focal length to aperture dia. ratio explains why 200 mm, 300mm lenses get horribly expensive if they're f/2.8 etc.


Dave D
Just Jas Plus
18 26.3k 1 England
29 Dec 2008 12:58AM
I am sure that a lot of this stuff is covered by the sites Tech series, but a lot of it seems difficult to locate.

Seems a shame that it is not made full use of as a result of this shortcoming.
SteveHunter 12 386 1 England
29 Dec 2008 2:03AM

Quote:I am sure that a lot of this stuff is covered by the sites Tech series

The site has a Tech Series !!!! Where ????????
Carabosse 17 41.5k 270 England
29 Dec 2008 2:15AM
Here . Smile
strokebloke 11 493 17 England
1 Jan 2009 10:29PM
Well, I've had an evening with Chris's SimCam. And I've taken the advice from you guys literally and had many hours, during the last 36 or so, with the camera set up to Aperture Priority. I've used my 18 - 70mm lens & my 75 - 300mm zoom to enable me to experiment.
My wife thinks I've finally fallen out of my tree - I've been locked away in our small lounge, subject to various lighting conditions, photographing all manner of mundane objects at a whole variety of shutter speed & light settings; on the tripod & hand held; with flash; with fill flash & without flash. All of the images are on Elements, where I can view the metadata, & I'm beginning to get the idea. Patterns are emerging. Confidence is growing & I feel as if I'm getting somewhere. Once I feel that I have some solid foundational understanding of Aperture Priority, I'll switch to Shutter Priority & do the who thing all over again. By that time I hope that I will have the confidence to go out with the camera & keep away from Auto modes. [the good thing about doing this in the spare lounge is that no-one gets to see my awful blunders (& I can save the good shots that remain on Elements)] Smile

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