Possible Duplicate:
How can aperture be f/11 on a lens with an aperture range designation of 3.5-5.5?

I am a recent (and so far quite pleased) owner of a Nikon V1. I am in the process of voraciously learning everything I can about photography, for fun, and I am enthralled by the geometry and optics in particular. I'm trying to reconcile what I've learned so far about aperture, focal length, f-stop, and lens speed with the actual specs of the V1, and I've found something that is either contradictory or which I'm simply misunderstanding.

Here is a shot of the front of the 10-30mm zoom lens for the V1: V1 10-30mm zoom lens specs

And here is a screenshot of the specs as stated on the Nikon website: http://imaging.nikon.com/lineup/acil/lenses/1_nikkor_vr_10-30mm_f35-56/ enter image description here

I note that the lens shows an f-stop range of 3.4-5.6. Yet the website states a minimum of 16.

Am I reading this wrong? Is there an equivalency between the two which can be derived with a third number? Or is this just a typo?

  • \$\begingroup\$ aaaand mattdm swoops in with the correct duplicate, thanks Matt! Although I do like the pictoral examples of this question a bit better. Maybe I should get 24 votes up like on the other question?! Ha. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Commented Jul 13, 2012 at 3:15

1 Answer 1


This 10-30mm lens has a variable maximum aperture. If you are at 10mm it will be f/3.5, if you are at 30mm it will be f/5.6, and if you are in between, it will be somewhere in between as well. The minimum aperture is f/16, which isn't as important so it isn't stated on the lens, but is in the spec sheet.

This site has much more information on the topic, just search for "variable aperture" and you can find a great deal.

Some good info can be found here(the second topic is on constant aperture lenses):

  • \$\begingroup\$ When is the minimum aperture used, if the maximum is used at all levels of zoom? \$\endgroup\$
    – SG1
    Commented Jul 13, 2012 at 3:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ The aperture is just one variable that can be adjusted to your desire. If you are at 10mm, you can use anything from f/3.5 to f/16. If you are at 30mm you can use anything from f/5.6 to f/16 - it is up to you and the photo that you are trying to capture. The bigger number(smaller aperture) will let in less light but also produce a larger depth of field. This gets more into the question of "what is aperture" which we have a great deal of questions that address already. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Commented Jul 13, 2012 at 3:10
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ To put it another way, the maximum is available at all levels of zoom, but you only use one aperture value per picture taken. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Commented Jul 13, 2012 at 3:11
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, thank you. Of course "aperture" is way beyond the scope of any question :) - I didn't consider that it could be controlled independently of zoom and the fixed glass of the lens; I now realize there is an iris within the lens to adjust the actual aperture diameter. \$\endgroup\$
    – SG1
    Commented Jul 13, 2012 at 3:16

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