f/2.8 vs f/3.5: Understanding Aperture Differences

f/2.8 vs f/3.5: Understanding Aperture Differences


In this article, we will explore the differences between f/2.8 and f/3.5 apertures in photography. We will explain what aperture is, how it affects your photos, and the key differences between these two common aperture settings. By the end of this article, you will have a clear understanding of how to choose the right aperture for your photography needs.

What is Aperture?

Aperture refers to the opening of a lens’s diaphragm through which light passes. It is one of the three factors that determine the exposure of a photograph, alongside shutter speed and ISO. Aperture is measured in f-stops, such as f/2.8, f/3.5, f/5.6, etc. The lower the f-stop number, the larger the opening, and the more light that enters the camera. Conversely, a higher f-stop number represents a smaller opening and less light.

Additionally, aperture also affects the depth of field in a photograph. A wider aperture (lower f-stop) results in a shallow depth of field, where the subject is in focus while the background is blurred. On the other hand, a narrower aperture (higher f-stop) creates a wider depth of field, keeping more of the scene in focus.

What is the Difference Between f/2.8 and f/3.5?

The key difference between f/2.8 and f/3.5 lies in the size of the aperture opening. As mentioned earlier, the lower f-stop number represents a larger aperture. Therefore, an f/2.8 aperture is larger than an f/3.5 aperture. This means that f/2.8 allows more light to enter the camera compared to f/3.5. As a result, f/2.8 is often preferred in low light situations or when a fast shutter speed is needed to freeze motion.

However, it’s important to note that the choice between f/2.8 and f/3.5 is not solely based on the amount of light needed. The depth of field also plays a crucial role in the decision-making process. Photographers may opt for f/2.8 to achieve a shallower depth of field for portrait or macro photography, while f/3.5 may be chosen for landscape or architectural photography where a wider depth of field is desired.

Which Aperture Should I Use?

Deciding between f/2.8 and f/3.5 depends on the specific requirements of your photography. If you are shooting in low light conditions or need to separate your subject from the background with a soft, blurred background, f/2.8 may be the better choice. On the other hand, if you want to capture a landscape with sharp detail from foreground to background, f/3.5 could be the more suitable option.

It’s also worth considering the capabilities of your lens. Some lenses may only have a maximum aperture of f/3.5, while others can go as wide as f/2.8. Additionally, the quality of the lens will impact the sharpness and overall image quality when shooting at different apertures. A higher quality lens with a wider maximum aperture typically produces better results, but it also comes with a higher price tag.

Can I Achieve the Same Results with Different Lenses?

While it is possible to achieve similar results with different lenses, the maximum aperture of the lens will play a significant role in the outcome of the photograph. Lenses with a wider maximum aperture, such as f/2.8, offer greater flexibility in low light and depth of field control. They also tend to produce sharper, more visually appealing images.

That being said, a skilled photographer can still create stunning images with a lens that has a narrower maximum aperture, such as f/3.5. The key is to understand the limitations of your equipment and work within those constraints to maximize the potential of your photography.


In conclusion, understanding the differences between f/2.8 and f/3.5 apertures is essential for making informed decisions in photography. Both apertures have their own advantages and are suited for different shooting scenarios. By considering the amount of light needed and the desired depth of field, photographers can select the most appropriate aperture setting for their specific needs.

Ultimately, the choice between f/2.8 and f/3.5 should be based on the creative vision of the photographer and the technical requirements of the photographic subject. With practice and experimentation, photographers can harness the potential of different apertures to capture stunning and impactful images.


1. Can I achieve a shallow depth of field with f/3.5?

While f/3.5 is not as wide as f/2.8, it is still possible to achieve a relatively shallow depth of field with this aperture. By carefully selecting your focal point and controlling the distance between the subject and the background, you can create a pleasing separation between the two.

2. Does using f/2.8 or f/3.5 affect the sharpness of my images?

The maximum aperture of a lens can indeed impact the sharpness of your images. Generally, lenses with wider apertures, such as f/2.8, are capable of producing sharper images, especially when shooting wide open. However, the quality of the lens and the photographer’s technique also play a critical role in achieving sharp results.

3. Can I change the aperture on any camera lens?

Not all lenses have a variable aperture. Some lenses have a fixed aperture, meaning that the maximum aperture remains the same regardless of the focal length. However, most interchangeable lenses allow you to adjust the aperture using the camera’s controls or a dedicated ring on the lens itself.

4. What are the benefits of a wider maximum aperture?

A wider maximum aperture, such as f/2.8, offers several benefits, including improved low light performance, potential for a shallower depth of field, and greater flexibility in creative expression. These lenses are often favored by portrait, wedding, and event photographers who require fast, reliable performance in various lighting conditions.

5. Is it worth investing in a lens with a wider maximum aperture?

Investing in a lens with a wider maximum aperture can significantly enhance your photographic capabilities, especially if you frequently shoot in low light or desire greater control over depth of field. While these lenses may come with a higher price tag, the results they deliver can make them a valuable addition to any photographer’s toolkit.


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