Landscape photographers might all know that to control depth of field, the aperture is one of the most important factors to be taken into consideration. As most of you might also want to have the entire scene in sharp focus, high aperture values are often chosen.
When it comes to the question of what the best aperture for landscape scenes is, there are a lot of different figures given. However, in this post, we will not say or choose an exact one because to us there is nothing like one-size-fits-all. Instead, it sounds better for us that each case complements a certain aperture. And we are going to present suitable apertures for specific kinds of landscape that can benefit from.
In particular, for the standard landscape photos apart from the night and macro photography, the ideal aperture for front-to-back sharpness is from f/7.1 to f/13.
Large Apertures (low f/stop numbers)
We often use this type of aperture to blur the background of a photo to catch landscape details. It could be a cluster of autumn leaves, a stone in a tundra meadow, or light upon snow-covered trees. For example, use the open aperture of f/2.8 to shoot a flower, we place it close to the lens, then the flower will become sharp and in focus on the soft and blurred background. In other words, in those situations, you have to isolate landscape details from the cluttered background by embracing the shallow depth of field.
Nighttime is also the case that a large aperture is needed to take a picture. Normally, natural light is not available at night, so the ISO should be increased, coming with a slower shutter and an open aperture.
We also often open the aperture to maximize as taking aerial photography.
For this kind of aperture, you should pay attention to where you focus on an image, which could be the foreground, middle or background because it will affect how blurred the image will become. Also, keep in mind the distance between the foreground and your camera as well.
This aperture does work well when the distance between the foreground and background is quite huge, and we like to obtain as much as possible sharp and in focus. For instance, to the scene of the partially unclear sun, a narrow aperture fo between f/16 and f/22 is really useful to create a nice and crisp picture.
Choose to Use the Lens’ Sweet Spot
Have you ever heard the sentence: “how sharp the aperture depends on the lens you use”?. Please keep in mind that the sharpness used in this article means overall front-to-back sharpness, not the depth of field sharpness, so the overall image at its sharpest will make the sharpest aperture.
Sweet spot which is the sharpness aperture of the lens is in 2 to 3 f/stops from the widest aperture. On our 16-35mm f/4, the sharpest aperture ranges from f/8 to f/11. For a faster lens like a 14-24mm f/2.8, a sweet spot is located from f/5.6 to f/8.
For a lot of professional lenses, their widest aperture is f/2.8 or f/4, so the best aperture often defaults in two points, at f/8 and f/11. However, we still recommend the 2-3 stop formula that will help calculate the sweet spot of your lens, also it will test it in the field with some comparison shots of a single composition
To conclude, for the landscape photography with a foreground factor and background scenery, what most photo takers want is a deep depth of field and as much sharp as possible. Although post-processing step can help somehow, having the best aperture for landscape will save you a lot of time. And you don’t need to listen to anything others told you, believe in your art eyes and set your aperture for what is needed for the best landscape pictures.