I am interested in landscape photography and a common point I hear thrown around is that a higher aperture (f11-f22) is best for landscape photos. However, every blog, YouTube video and photography forum suggests that the best lenses for landscapes are wide angle lenses with apertures of around f2-f5.6. I am thoroughly confused. How can one get an aperture of f11 on a lens that has a maximum aperture of f5.6?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Wouldn't that be bad for diffraction at those apertures? photo.stackexchange.com/questions/8304/… [I don't want to add as a separate question, it feels like it could be handled as part of the answer to this one] \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 11:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Tetsujin You are right. I would never shoot landscape with 135 film at f11 or a smaller aperture. Especially with a wider angle lens and most landscape motifs being further away, achieving the required depth of field is usually not a problem even with larger (and therefore sharper) apertures. \$\endgroup\$
    – jarnbjo
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 12:03
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Tetsujin possibly, but there’s a balance to be struck with getting everything you want in focus. OP needs to also look into hyperfocal distance and see how that will affect aperture selection. \$\endgroup\$
    – OnBreak.
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 14:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Maximimum" (size of) aperture = smaller number because F-numbers are the denominator of a fraction. That is why you see it written f/3.5. If you don't want to use the fraction notation, then you should write it with a capital-F, F3.5. You may also see it written as a ratio, 1:3.5. Larger numbers = smaller aperture (size) = stopped down. \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 17:55

2 Answers 2


When buying a lens, you want to check its maximum aperture (the f/2.0 to f/5.6 recommandation you heard of). But to achieve maximum depth of field required in landscape photography, you have to stop it down (f/16 for example).

A lens that can open widely (f/2.0) can also close down (f/16). But a lens that can open moderately (max aperture of f/4.0) cannot open widely (f/2.0).

The smaller the aperture number, the larger the aperture. Check the aperture wiki page for more information.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you, couldn't find an answer that I understood elsewhere. \$\endgroup\$
    – Domhnall
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 11:52

• The aperture of the lens works in a similar way to the iris of your eye.

• Just like the iris which expands in the dark and contracts in bright light, so does the aperture of the lens

• However, unlike your iris which automatically reacts to light all the time, the Aperture ring of your lens can be manually adjusted.

• Within most modern camera lenses, there is a diaphragm which the user of the camera can use to open and close and control how much light is being allowed in.

• This opening created by the diaphragm is referred to as the Aperture and these are given the F-numbers you refer to. Also known as f-stops because this is the aperture setting that limits how much light is let in and therefore, limits the brightness of the image as the pupil size is restricted.

• Most Lenses today use a standard ADJUSTABLE f-stop scale. I.E f/1.2. f/1.4, f/1.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16/, f/22, f32. (Some lenses will have even a wider range)

• f/1.2 will be the largest opening and therefore letting in the most light and f/32 being the smallest and therefore letting in the least light.

• However, f/1.2 will have a shallow depth of field and as you close the aperture, the depth of field will increase. (f/8-f/16 is often a good choice for landscapes) Smaller apertures can result in refraction

• People prefer to purchase a lens with the biggest aperture possible as it makes the lens a more versatile option especially when in low light or when a very shallow depth of field is required or to simply create a blurred out background.

Therefore, whatever lens you decide to buy, you will be able to adjust it from its maximum Aperture Value to its smallest Aperture Value simply by using the aperture control within the camera.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.