Is F/1.8 or F/2.2 Aperture Better?

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The aperture is an important spec to consider, whether it’s a telephoto zoom lens or a prime wide-angle lens. Although the maximum wide apertures vary across lens brands and models, the common ones are f/1.8 and f/2.2. So, is f/1.8 or f/2.2 aperture better?

Is F/1.8 or F/2.2 Aperture Better?

An f/1.8 aperture is better when capturing in low-light conditions and when you want to blur the background and create a beautiful bokeh quality, especially when shooting portraits. On the other hand, an f/2.2 aperture is better when you want a deeper depth of field, like when capturing landscapes.

Different types of lenses

Keeping in mind that an aperture is an opening that allows light to enter through the camera lens and reach the camera sensor, many lenses come with a variable aperture. That means you can adjust this opening to make it wider or narrower.

Keeping in mind that an aperture is a ratio of the focal length, an f/1.8 is bigger than an f/2.2 because of the larger denominator in f/2.2. Regardless of your lens’s focal length, you can use either the f/1.8 or f/2.2, depending on the following. 

Lighting Conditions

Since the aperture regulates the amount of light reaching the camera sensor, it’s an important member of the exposure triangle. That means if you hold the shutter speed and the ISO settings constant, an f/1.8 aperture will let in more light than f/2.2.

Usually, this makes the photos brighter and higher quality when shooting in low-light conditions or overexposed when shooting in broad daylight. However, a wide aperture tends to cause some color fringing. 

Depth of Field

Keeping in mind that the depth of field determines the regions of an image that are in focus, the aperture allows you to control the depth of field. Usually, a narrow aperture results in a deeper depth of field where everything in the frame is in focus.

On the other hand, a wider aperture results in a shallow depth of field where the foreground or the main subject is in focus and the background is blurred. Usually, a shallow depth of field results in a beautiful bokeh quality.

Camera Sensor Size

Different cameras have different sensor sizes, some being crop-factor and other full-frame sensors. Usually, a full-frame sensor is larger, translating to a larger surface area for capturing light.

Niikon f/1.8 camera lens

That means a full-frame camera can capture brighter images than a crop-factor camera with the same aperture settings. As a result, an f/2.2 aperture on a full-frame camera might be the same as an f/1.8 on a crop-factor camera. 

When to Use an F/1.8 Aperture

Although both f/1.8 and f/2.2 apertures can be considered wide apertures, the f/1.8 is wider and might be the best choice to use in the following situations.

  • When capturing interior photos in low-light conditions
  • If you want to prevent image blur when shooting a moving subject using faster shutter speeds
  • When you pair your lens with a crop-factor camera
  • When shooting closeups or portraits and you want a shallow depth of field when applying selective focus techniques
  • If you are using a low-end camera and you don’t want to cause image graininess by using higher ISO settings

When to Use an F/2.2 Aperture

Even if most photographers might want to use f/1.8 if available, you might need to use an f/2.2 aperture under the following photography circumstances.

  • If shooting in broad daylight and you want to avoid overexposure
  • When you pair the lens with a full-frame camera
  • Although an f/2.2 is still wide for long-exposure photography, it’s a better option than an f/1.8
  • If capturing landscapes or exterior photos where you want a deeper depth of field so everything in the frame can be in focus
  • When you want to capture clear and sharp images without chromatic aberrations

Related Questions 

Is the Lens’s Aperture Variable?

A lens can have a variable aperture or a constant aperture depending on the brand and model. A variable aperture means that the aperture can change depending on the focal length, such as f/4-5.6. On the other hand, a fixed aperture means the opening is constant regardless of the focal length, such as f/2.8 throughout the zoom range. 

Are Images Shot With an F/2.2 Sharper Than Ones Shot With F/1.8?

Images shot with an f/2.2 aperture are generally sharper than ones shot with an f/1.8 aperture due to the deeper depth of field that renders a larger part of the frame in focus. Also, an f/2.2 causes minimal distortions compared to an f/1.8.

Final Thoughts

An f/1.8 is better for capturing portraits and shooting in low light conditions. An f/2.2 is better for a deeper depth of field and image sharpness. However, both apertures are versatile, and you can use them in a wide range of photography conditions.