What’s Your Favorite F-Number?

In previous polls we’ve discussed topics such as your favorite focal length, camera modes, autofocus modes, exposure modes, and types of cameras. So this time around, we’ll dive into the f-number.

What's Your Favorite F-Number?

The f-number directly affects the depth of field in your shot. It’s also one of the three exposure controls, in conjunction with shutter speed and ISO. Based on our previous polls, I see that most of us are using a dSLR in aperture priority mode, so I’d expect that most of us have a “favorite” number or range of numbers. Personally, I favor F/2.0 on a ~50mm lens on a full frame camera. The DOF isn’t as crazy-shallow as F/1.4, but it still gives a nice amount of separation between background and subject at the distances I’m used to shooting at.

Now, I realize that your choice of f-number will vary depending on focal length, sensor/film format, subject distance, and subject matter. But try to answer the poll with the number that you usually gravitate toward. And feel free to elaborate in the comments!


And be sure to check out the last poll on the topic of “Why Are We So Compelled?” Lots of good thoughtful discussion there with 27 comments (and a few of them are quite lengthy)! As always, I appreciate the participation in these polls and discussions.

16 thoughts on “What’s Your Favorite F-Number?

  1. Janne

    f/8. At or near the sweet spot for most lenses, pretty decent depth of field but still open enough that you don’t get into too much trouble with the light. My second place would be f/11 since that’s the f/8 for MF format.

  2. jerry deese

    I went with f/4. It’s pretty much a sweet spot for my 1.4 and 1.8 lenses, and I do like me some blurred backgrounds (and good shutter speeds).

    My other go-to would be in the f/8 range when I am working with speedlights outdoors.

  3. JasonP

    According to my Lightroom browser, 5.6 is my most used, but that’s due to a lot of low light shooting with my zoom lenses, most of which are limited to that at their far end. When not shooting zoomed all the way in in the dimmest of light, I’m usually at f/8 for the sweet spot.

  4. Arjun

    I love f/1.4 for general indoor, available-light portraits. On the Leica Summilux D 25mm f/1.4 lens, the DOF is deep enough even at f/1.4 due to the smaller 4/3rds sensor.

    If I’m doing street shots with the Zuiko 25mm pancake or environmental/landscape shots with the Zuiko 11-22mm wide-angle zoom, I use shutter priority set at around 1/100th or 1/200th so that my aperture closes down as much as it can go… f/10 or f/11 even. That way I can get as much depth of field in situations with lots of light.

  5. Dustin

    I voted f/4 since that’s wide open on my “beercan” lens and my wide angle zoom. I just got the beercan and have been using it every chance I get I also love the look of my 50mm at f/1.7, but i really don’t use it much on my DLSR which I’ve been using a lot lately instead of film. It always seems that when I get out to take photos it’s around sunset, so I’m usually shooting wide open on whatever lens I’m using.

  6. the_wolf_brigade

    What, no f0.95 option? That’s certainly my favourite f number, and considering Leica recently released their version things can only get better…

    In terms of what I actually shoot at though, it’s mostly f2, or at a stratch f4. I’m ususally using my Jupiter 9 85/2 and I like to shoot wide open. I don’t shoot much medium format these days, but I generally shoot around the f4 mark there, and f5.6 for large format. I guess my answer is as wide open as possible!

  7. D. Travis North

    Wow – I’m surprised how many people favor f/2.8. I mean, it’s what I selected – but I like shooting details and I like a narrower depth of field. My lens goes to f/1.8, but f/2.8 seems to be the sweat spot while giving me the DOF that I like.

    I’m also surprised to see so few selecting f/16. I guess the landscape photographer’s haven’t gotten back from their morning shoots to weigh in. But when I do landscape photography, it’s usually around in that range that I like to shoot.

  8. Cody Redmon

    I, too, am really surprised to see so few votes for f/16. Right now it’s at 2 people out of nearly 200…or roughly 1%. I wonder if this is a symptom of tight quarters… :-)

  9. Kathy Burkman

    I chose f22, having learned that as part of hyper-focal focus, years ago in my first photography class. F22, at 18mm and 5 feet, gives perfect DOF for landscape work. If I am not doing landscape work, then f16 to f11 would be my choice for outside work. Indoors, f5.6 for most closeup work. This is a good question, and good discussion. Thanks!

  10. jeremy

    I voted for 1.4. I like to do available light photography, and that gives me more options though I have only two lenses that fast. As I also use med format, the fastest I have for that is f2 but the DOF is insane, probably equivalent to that of the Noctilux but with a much nicer bokeh. I am also trying to use slower film when I can so need the extra wide aperture.

    In reality I use smaller apertures more often, f4 is better for portraits close up to avoid blurring the nose & ears for example.

  11. Wilson Bell

    Favorite f/stop # is the one that works. The old pros said f/8 and be there. Unusual question for an amateur.

  12. Eric W

    I really couldn’t answer this – it depends on the situation too much, and the effect that I may be going for.

    I marked f/8, though. I don’t really use that one much, but that’s where I leave my camera when I’m *not* shooting – leaves me ready for most situations if I have to be ready at a moment’s notice…

  13. Manop

    I usually use f/4. I really want to use a larger number, but I don’t have a good tripod. I think I should buy one now. By the way, it’s kinda surprise me that most people prefer a large hole at f/2.8.

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