Should I Use a Wider Aperture for Interiors?

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18
Name
James
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#1
Hi all

I have recently been looking at a few videos on interior photography - something I do for the company I work for - and I'm not sure if I need to use a wider aperture. I mainly take photographs of offices and, generally, I use the narrowest aperture available with my lens (around f/20) in order to get that wide depth of field. I use this as a default setting for all room sizes, whether it be a small meeting room or large office. BUT, I noticed one guy recommending f/8 for a smallish room, which leads me to believe I could improve my images by doing the same.

I guess what I really want to know is what is the benefit of adjusting the aperture so it is wider? Why can't I just use f/20 the whole time? Does every room size require a different aperture?

Any help would be much appreciated.

Cheers!

James
 
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17,952
Name
Steve
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#2
I wouldn't use F8 as it's a little wide - you might lose some front to back sharpness and a little side to centre sharpness as most lens do see a fall of in sharpness in the edges - even at F8 - some are unusable at apertures wider than this due to this problem. Even when there is no need to in terms of DoF I stop down to ensure a better center to edge sharpness as this is equally important.

I would use around F11-F13 myself - as the sharpness is most uniform center and edges and also that bit more DoF than F8 which helps get details closer into focus. Beyond this you really see the affects of diffraction and whole image softening.
 
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Alan
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#3
Diffraction could be an issue and it can affect image quality. So there's that.

I can see how you'd want front to back depth but even so f20 does seem a little extreme especially as, I assume, you'll be using a wider lens rather than a longer one?

I think one good idea is to give it a try as it only takes a few seconds once you've taken your f20 shot to set the kit to f8 and shoot again. If you can do that you'll have two pictures to directly compare :D

I suppose another consideration is how big a final picture you're producing and how it will be viewed. If all you want is to fill a screen or an A4 or smaller to view normally then maybe depending upon your lens and it's FoV you could go wider than f8 and still get a final image that looks like you've got everything in the DoF. If however you're going for a very large print and if it's going to be viewed closely you'll see what's in the DoF and what's not.

Maybe taking your usual f20 shot and then opening up the aperture in a series of shots will give you something to think about.
 
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3,309
Name
Mark
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#4
A lot is going to depend on what camera (sensor) you are using.

On full frame around f11 will give you a good compromise between depth of field and sharpness.

On a crop camera around f7.1 will achieve the same.

f20 is well into the realm of diffraction and will cause image softening.
 
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6,522
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Terry
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#5
When I shot shop and store interiors professionally. I used mostly F22 or F32 on large format.
in most cases depth of field is more important than any lack of sharpness due to diffraction. A minimal loss of general sharpness usually gives a smoother looking result to interiors.
However one must always be aware of exposure and light coming through windows. but that is another issue.

The use of larger apertures to control depth of field when shooting detail can be very effective, but rarely for wide views.
 
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23,899
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Alan
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#6
Another thing.

I suppose it'll also depend where you're focusing. Point the camera into the room and half press the shutter button and I suppose it could focus on something on the far wall waaaaay over there... or it could hit a vase on a table a foot away.

Sorry if you already appreciate the effect the point you focus on and the distance it's at and the distances between objects in the frame have on the way the end result and the depth of field looks but if not it's well worth thinking about.

One good thing with mirrorless, if you're using mirrorless, is that you can see the DoF and magnify the view and look around the frame checking everything before you press the shutter button.
 

LongLensPhotography

Th..th..that's all folks!
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15,122
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[Censored]
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#7
I do this for a living and f9-11 is the default range I use, but occasionally im forced into 4-5.6 range (due to flares which go away here) and they have been fine. It depends on your lens. 16-35 f4 is canon is great, 17-40 or old 16-35 are utter trash before f13. Also it depends if everything is some distance away or you have bits really close. I try to avoid latter as it introduces too much distortion anyway
 
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Alan
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#9
Personally I check my camera for contamination before going out for the day. It only takes seconds.

If you're swapping lenses getting new contamination on the sensor could be an issue but surely it makes sense to at least set out with a clean sensor.
 
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J
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18
Name
James
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#10
Thanks for your replies guys. Some really helpful tips there. It's definitely something I will have to play around with on my next project!
 
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#11
You could also find out the sweet spot aperture for your lens and if it's not got the DOF required for the whole room then do a focus stack with one image being for the front to middle of the room and the other for the middle to rear of the room. I've never done interiors but this is something done in landscapes. I'd imagine this is done much easier within interiors than landscapes because you're in control of everything in that room unless it's light coming through a window whereas for landscapes you have no control of the weather. Food for thought.

f/20 does seem a lot but the others have covered the reasons for this.
 
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Richard King
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#12
I shoot a lot of real estate

Typically I'm at f8 to f11 on a full frame sensor

Bear in mind that most real estate images are composites

Typically I'm blending 3 ambient bracketed frames with 1 or 2 flash frames

So there is no reason at all why you can't refocus one of the frames if the room is big and you want to include something in the forground

I typically do this if I'm shooting through a kitchen into another room.
 
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#15
You should do some testing, but you should rarely need to go with anything smaller than f/8 with a wide lens. Anything smaller than this and you will start to experience softening due to diffraction, you will also need a lot more flash and it will expose all the dust on you sensor.

Providing you know something about hyperfocal distances and don't have anything too close to the camera you can also shoot at much wider apertures if needed.
 
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#16
What size are the images going to be and what are they for ? We see a lot of work go into images, and I mean a lot, and they end up on a website at 600x600 ! The front page of Cheshire Life Monthly is a different workload to a Purple bricks listing :)
 
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23,667
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Phil
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#17
Just in case it’s not clear from the above:
The critical factor is the format, the smaller the format the larger the suitable aperture.
5.6 - 8 on M4/3 up to f11 for FF and f22 for large format
 
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