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Aperture-Priority AE Technique #3: The Wonders of f/2.2 in Still-Life Photography

When shooting the lovely daily objects around you with a prime lens that has a small maximum aperture, narrow the aperture to just a little smaller than the maximum and try shooting at f/2.2. Focusing is easier, a large bokeh effect can be created and sharper pictures can be taken. (Reported by: Teppei Kohno)


Increase the f-number a little for a sharp depiction

As covered in Aperture-Priority AE Technique #1, a lens with a larger maximum aperture (smaller minimum f-number) can produce a larger bokeh effect. However, if the f-number is too small, the focus range becomes too narrow, which makes focusing difficult. The background bokeh effect also becomes too large, which may cause the overall picture to lose its impact. When a lens is used at its maximum aperture, depending on the subject, the finishing may become a cause for a concern as the sharpness of the image quality may be affected by a phenomenon known as aberration. This disadvantage can be improved by narrowing the aperture (increasing the f-number) a little. The recommended f-number is f/2.2 While the bokeh effect may be slightly reduced, shooting is easier at this f-number as the focusing range becomes a little wider. Compared to a smaller f-number such as f/1.4 or f/1.8, the image quality is also markedly improved in terms of the sense of sharpness.

OK f/2.2
Shot at f/2.2. A large bokeh effect is created, plus the focus is firmly on the main subject.


NG f/1.8
Shot at f/1.8. Appealing bokeh effect but image quality has a slightly dull impression.


Key Point

Increase Picture Style "Contrast" and "Saturation" for still-life photography

When shooting miscellaneous novelty items using a bokeh effect, sometimes the texture feels too soft, making the picture seem lacking. In this case, increase "Contrast" and "Saturation" settings in the Picture Style [Detail set.] menu to make the picture livelier.

Photo taken with the "Standard" Picture Style. The photo has a beautiful bokeh effect but a somewhat dull impression with a slightly soft tone.


Shot taken with the "Standard" Picture Style , with Detail settings set to “Contrast: +3” and “Saturation: +2”. The resulting depiction has a strong impact while maintaining a beautiful bokeh effect in the background.


Setting to f/2.2 on the Aperture-priority AE Mode For EOS 700D

1. Set the camera to the [Av] mode

Turn [ON] the power supply and adjust the Mode Dial to the [Av] mode.


2. Turn the Main Dial

Turn the Main Dial to change the f-number.


3. Check that the f-number has been set to f/2.2

Check that “F2.2” appears on the rear LCD screen as circled above. Take the picture after confirming.



Teppei Kohno

Born in Tokyo in 1976, Kohno graduated with a Social Work degree from the Department of Sociology of Meiji Gakuin University, and apprenticed with photographer Masato Terauchi. He contributed to the first issue of photography magazine PHaT PHOTO and became an independent photographer after that, in 2003. The author of many books, Kohno not only shoots all sorts of commercial photographs, but also writes prolifically for camera and other magazines.