f/3.4 vs f/4.5. How much difference would it make for the maximum aperture in a nikon zoom lens?

Question by AS: f/3.4 vs f/4.5. How much difference would it make for the maximum aperture in a nikon zoom lens?
Looking for wildlife photography , some even in dawn and dusk. Debating between – AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED and AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II. Have a previous kit lens with nikon D90 in the range of 18-105 so not sure if would be satisfied with 18-200 range so was leaning towards 70-300 range but confused if the maximum aperture of f/3.5 be more practically useful.

Best answer:

Answer by retiredPhil
The f/3.5 is on the wide end of the lens, 18mm. It is not the same as the wide end of the other lens, 70mm. So you cannot compare them. You would have to see what the 18-200mm aperture is at 70mm to compare them. Just running the numbers in my head, they would be very similar.

Since you already cover 18-105mm, it only makes sense to get the 70-300mm. I have used that lens on my D90 and it is very good.

When it gets dark, you will have to use the other two legs of the exposure triangle. If you use a longer shutter speed, it probably will be necessary to use a tripod. Upping the ISO to 800 is no problem, and I’ve gotten some good results at 1600. I avoid anything more than that.

Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!

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One thought on “f/3.4 vs f/4.5. How much difference would it make for the maximum aperture in a nikon zoom lens?”

  1. In the sense of light gathering, not really a lot of difference between f/3.4 and f/4.5… about 2/3rds stop. Since aperture obeys the inverse-square law, the difference is not going to be too much to worry about.

    Besides, if you are looking to do wildlife, you will probably be at the long end of the range (i.e. 300mm for the 70-300 and 200mm with the 18-200). At this end, both lenses are f/5.6.

    I have both of these lenses. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, and they are really both good lenses.

    The 18-200mm is a Dx lens, but it is a pretty large and heavy lens – at least compared to your kit lens. But being a “superzoom” or nearly so (11x), this lens does have some optical issues, so it is best used at f/8. I mean to say, the optical issues pretty much clean themselves up at f/8.

    I also consider this lens “best of class” (of the superzooms), and even though there are a few issues, it is the best of the DSLR “superzooms”.

    I consider this lens a vacation lens as on vacations I am willing to sacrifice low-light quality for the convenience of only having one lens. And mostly I am in daylight conditions anyway when on vacation.

    The 70-300mm is a superb lens. But since it is a Fx lens, it tends to be a bit on the big and heavy side. It does not have the optical issues the 18-200 has. It is not the best lens for sports though, as you would want something faster.

    Here is some testing on both lenses:



    As I see it…

    the 70-300 is going to give you a bit more reach. 300mm is really not a whole lot more than 200mm, so don’t expect a really significant difference. The webpage below compares 200mm to 300mm:


    The 18-200mm might be the lens you use the most often. When I had a D90, that lens was on my camera maybe 75% of the time. But when I bought a D7100, I found that lens a bit lacking, so I bought a Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8, which is a far superior lens – both optically and low-light capability.

    After buying the 17-50, I bought the Nikon AF-S 70-300 to replace the range from the 18-200. Although I also have a Nikon AF 80-200mm f/2.8 (also a superb lens), I use it for sports only as it is a really heavy lens (even more than the 70-300). I bought the 70-300 as a “lightweight” alternative to the 80-200 for non-sports situations.

    I still use the 18-200 on vacations, but only for that purpose – when I only want to take a single lens.

    I am about to go on a cruise, and I am taking the following lenses:

    Sigma 80~16mm f/4.5~5.6 (I absolutely love this lens)
    Nikon AF-S 18-200mm f/3.5~5.6 (for excursions only)
    Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 (for my daily use while on shipboard)
    Nikon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5~5.6 (my long reach lens for shipboard use while in port, etc).

    I also take a Nikon V1 as a spare, and with the FT-1 adapter, I can use the 70-300mm for birds, as it gives me an equivalent of 189~810mm on the V1.

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