Is 2.8 Fast Enough for Low Light?

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Indoors may not have much ambient light, or an outdoor location has scattered light sources, causing dim light. In such situations, is 2.8 fast enough for low light? We’re explaining how f/2.8 works in low-light conditions, as well as how you can maximize its abilities. 

Is 2.8 Fast Enough for Low Light? 

A wide f-stop like 2.8 is fast enough for low light because it provides a wider opening for a lens, collecting more light for the camera sensor. Due to its light-gathering abilities, 2.8 can support fast shutter speeds and stabilize focus, making the lens fast for dim-light shooting.

Low-light photography can be frustrating at times, that you might be tempted to use your flash for tricky shots. Yet that’s the beauty of photography, there are many ways for you to take pictures, and sometimes it’s all about using the correct aperture. So that’s what we’re going to explore and more.

Factors That Make 2.8 a Fast Aperture

Light is an essential element in photography because it affects exposure and focus. Without needing to use a flash, you can control light using wider apertures like 2.8, making it a fast aperture for low light.

A dark close up shot of aperture blades inside the lens

Apertures range from the broadest to the narrowest of lens openings. Furthermore, each f-stop refers to a stop of light, which influences how light would enter the lens regardless of the lens focal length.

While there are bigger apertures than 2.8, this f-stop is adequate for achieving a shallow depth of field. Besides, if you’re using a lens with a maximum aperture of f/1.4, the sweet spot of its sharpness would be 2 f-stops down, which is f/2.8.

Ability to Use Fast Shutter Speeds

The shutter speed determines how long the camera will enable the light to hit the sensor, which means it has a direct relationship with aperture. Balancing aperture and shutter speed plays a role in making f/2.8 a fast aperture.

While fast lenses have big apertures, the f-stop is just one key player. You still need to figure out how to use it properly and how it affects other exposure settings. Otherwise, f/2.8 won’t be adequate.

Basically, you must balance the f-stop and shutter speed values to achieve ideal exposure. Hence, when using wider apertures like f/2.8, you also need to increase the shutter speed, making this the correct exposure setting for low light.

Ability to Focus Swiftly

Among the challenges of low light is that it will be harder to focus, especially on subjects in motion. Fortunately, the large opening of 2.8 enables you to swiftly locate the focal point, supporting both manual and automatic focusing to ensure image sharpness.

For instance, even in broad daylight, you may encounter dim-light scenes due to shaded light sources. As f/2.8 brings in lots of light, it helps a camera’s focusing mechanism locate the subject quickly and ensure sharpness across the frame.

Tips on Using 2.8 for Low-Light Shooting

F/2.8 should be fast enough for low-light shooting as long as you use it along with other appropriate camera settings. Remember, setting the camera to 2.8 won’t function efficiently if the rest of the exposure settings are unsuitable for the shooting conditions.

The low-light imaging market expects a 12.8% growth by 2024, with manufacturers finding ways to incorporate low-light image sensors in camera lenses. As we continue to see lenses with f/2.8 as the maximum aperture value, these are some tips you can practice to maximize the aperture’s shooting power.

Aperture blades inside a lens with a reflection of light
  • Increase ISO: ISO refers to the camera sensor’s sensitivity to light, and higher ISO levels help brighten the exposure. At night or dusk, when there’s still a shroud of darkness, even f/2.8 would need a boost in ISO to make the lens fast enough to capture motion.
  • Use back-button focus: The large opening of 2.8 would create a shallow depth of field in low light. In such conditions, like when the light source is behind shaded areas, you can use the back-button focus or AF assist to light up the subject.
  • Stabilize yourself: While f/2.8 would capture as much light as possible, you can improve the light collection by stabilizing yourself. It’s either you turn on VR mode or use a tripod to prevent image blur.
  • Reposition the subject: This is where your composition techniques come to play. If you can physically move the subject, try to bring it closer to the light source. If not, you can use an external flash to support the 2.8 aperture.


Shooting in dim light might make it hard to focus on subjects or achieve the right exposure. The good thing is that 2.8 is fast enough for shooting in low-light situations. With this wide aperture, you can use fast shutter speeds to focus on subjects and shoot efficiently.

Kaitlin Cooper is an active professional wedding and portrait photographer in San Diego, California at Kaitlin Cooper Photography. She is also a contributor to many large publications, including Bridal GuideBustlePixpaWith Joy, and Hello Giggles.