Why F/4 Lenses are GREAT Compared to Faster Options (VIDEO)

This video may be controversial because lenses with maximum apertures of f/2.8 or faster tend to get all the love. That’s because they typically fall into the “premium” or pro category and are so useful for shooting in low light. But slower lenses with f/4 maximum apertures have a few significant benefits too.

This episode comes from our friends at Park Cameras, a popular retailer in the UK that regularly posts very useful tips and techniques for photographers of all skill levels. This one is more of a discussion than a shooting tutorial, and offers an interesting perspective on lenses some photographers ignore (unless they’re forced to economize).

It turns out that instructor Gareth Evans has a love affair with f/4 glass, and in barely six minutes he discusses the “beauty of these lenses, and how much they have to offer for certain types of photography.” He also explains why a lens in this category may be the best choice for your next purchase.

According to Evans, who owns fast lenses too, “shooting with an f/4 lens in certain situations “makes as much sense or a bit more sense than shooting with an f/2.8 optic. And as alluded to above, the slower lens is significantly less expensive.

But, as you’ll see, there’s much more to this comparison than cost. One benefit for photographers on the go, either on the streets or in the field, is the much smaller form factor of f/4 lenses, which are significantly lighter as well. Depending upon the focal length and the other gear you’re carrying, that can be a huge benefit to your back and shoulders on a daylong shoot.

Evans also corrects the misconception that "you can’t get a blurred background or some beautiful bokeh in your shots with f/4 lenses” as long as you do things properly. He offers a few helpful tips in this regard, including how to maximize depth of field.

Gareth offers a few other reasons for “what makes f/4 lenses so great,” and he lists some of his favorite choices in the description beneath the video. There’s no reason to feel bad if you’ve already invested in a fast lens or two, because for certain applications they can’t be beat. But you can also pick up an f/4 lens, new or used, at very low cost.

There’s much more to see weekly on the Park Cameras instructional YouTube channel, so check there frequently.

And for another pros/cons comparison that could also save you some cash, check out our earlier post explaining the differences between APS-C and full-frame cameras and what’s best for you.