I know about 17-55 f2.8 and the likes of it, but I am talking about something say 18-135 f2.8. There exists 70-200mm f2.8 and the range (200-70 = 130mm) is much bigger than in 18-135.

I am aware of the meaning of f numbers being a ratio between focal length and the effective size of the aperture. The key point being "effective size of aperture". E.g. 600mm f4 does not mean that the blades open up to 600/4 = 150mm.

  1. Are they impossible to make due to laws of physics?
  2. Would they be too heavy/long making them unusable?
  3. The range is not the only factor. I am hoping that this is correct, but why?

P.S. I use a Canon 60D and my questions are for the 1.6 crop factor sensors.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ People who want them can't afford them and tend to not realise what they are asking for. People who can afford them (very few indeed) do not want them as they probably prefer using CZ primes instead. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 15:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hey, have a Bigma :-) ... I heard they will offer the car to carry it (only on april 1st though). \$\endgroup\$
    – FredP
    Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 12:31

2 Answers 2


It is more about ratios than addition/subtraction. 70-200mm is less than 3x from the shortest to longest focal length. That makes it possible to place all of the moving elements that enable the lens to change focal length in front of the aperture diaphragm. 18-135mm is 7.5x. Placing all of the zooming elements in such a lens in front of the diaphragm would make the lens much longer than designs that also include some zooming elements behind the diaphragm. The downside is that the entrance pupil receives no benefit from that magnification done behind the diaphragm. The higher the ratio between the shortest and longest focal length, the more some of the magnification happens behind the diaphragm and the greater the difference between the "effective aperture", more properly called entrance pupil, for the shortest and longest length at the constant aperture.

Another consideration is optical quality in terms of things such as distortion, chromatic aberration, and vignetting. The wider the ratio between the shortest and longest focal length of a zoom lens, the more compromises must be made when designing the lens. Correcting these optical flaws becomes increasingly difficult as the size of the entrance pupil expands due to the higher angles that light from the edges of the lens strike the sensor (or film). It is not just more difficult, it is more expensive and adds size and weight to the design. At some point you reach a practical balance between the flexibility of a wide ratio zoom lens and the image quality of a prime lens. For most buyers of premium lenses, they would prefer sacrificing an "all in one" lens" rather than sacrificing image quality and size/weight.

  • \$\begingroup\$ So the ratio of max:min focal length is more important than the difference (max-min). A high ratio makes lenses complex and bulky. Thanks for clarifying that, particularly with the example of "effective aperture". \$\endgroup\$
    – BiGYaN
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 23:21

The main reason we don't have "super zooms" with a large constant aperture is size/weight/costs. Roger at LensRentals recently blogged about this in the post:

About That 25-300mm f/2.8 You Wanted

About How Big is that?

The lens is in a video housing, so that makes it a bit larger than an SLR designed lens of the same specifications would be. But it's 16 inches long, which wouldn't change much if it were an SLR lens. That's more than twice as long as a Canon or Nikon 70-200 f/2.8. It's just about an inch longer than a Nikon or Canon 500mm f/4 lens.

Those of you who shoot with filters might be unhappy with the 135mm front element, and that wouldn't be any different if it was a photo, rather than video lens.

It weighs in at 18.5 pounds. To compare with something most people have handled, the Nikon and Canon 70-200 f/2.8 lenses weigh in at about 3.5 pounds. Even the Canon 600mm f/4 IS weighs only 8.7 pounds. The Nikon 600 f/4 VR is closer, at 11.5 pounds.

It seems to me that even if I could afford one, I wouldn't want to carry it around.


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