Short Description

Digicam with the Widest Aperture
Leica D-Lux 6 Although most digicams do not have very wide apertures, the Leica D-Lux 6 has the widest aperture available of f/1.4.

Wide aperture lenses let in more light, letting you take shots with less blur or in more dimly lit situations. Shooting at wider aperture also narrows your depth of field, allowing you to focus selectively on your subject and blurring the background. The aperture setting is rated in f-stops (also known as f-number and focal ratio), each increment in f-stop lets in half the light meaning you must expose the photo for twice as long.

The average digicam has an f-stop of 3.2 and DSLRs can get lenses with an f-stop of 1 although those are rare and extremely expensive, affordable DSLR lenses with a 1.8 f-stop are common.

F-Stop Scale

The standard full-stop f-number scale is:

f/1.0
f/1.4
f/2
f/2.8
f/4
f/5.6
f/8
f/11
f/16
f/22
f/32

More Light

Each time you step down the f-stop one stop you gain the ability to expose the photo for the half the time. Although you can modify the ISO to achieve the same, unlike changing ISO modifying the f-stop does not degrade the image quality. Typically the lower minimum f-stop on a lens the more expensive it is and that is why most compact digital cameras do not utilize very low f-stop lenses. For example the average f-stop for digicam is around 3.2 vs say f1.8 on a reasonably priced fixed lens for a DSLR - at f1.8 vs f3.2 you need only expose the photo for about 1/3 the time which can make the difference between a blurry photo and a crisp one.

Shallow Depth of Field

Selective Focus Portrait
photo of a guy eating - selective focusThe following portrait shot at f2.8 / 24mm on a Canon 5d Mk2 DSLR demonstrates using the benefits of selective focus.

One of the trade offs of using a wide aperture is the depth of field is narrowed significantly, this means that a portion of the photo will be in focus and the objects in front and behind that focal point will be out of focus. The larger the aperture the smaller the plane that remains in focus. Although this is a disadvantage if you want everything in focus many find the results desirable providing a means to draw attention to portions of the image. The photo to the right uses selective focus to capture a portrait, you can see behind the man is out of focus and his hand in front of him is also out of focus. Although most portraits would attempt to get rid of distracting detail using simple backgrounds this photos uses selective focus to capture the individual in an environment without visual distraction. The photo was also taken at night and the larger aperture allowed a relatively lower ISO speed to be used.

Big Aperture Digital Cameras

The following compact cameras have larger than usual minimum apertures.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III
from $798
Aperture Wide aperture Help
f/1.8
True resolution High true resolution Help
20 MP
Sensor size Large sensor Help
Nikon CX 13.2x8.8mm

Learn more about the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III

Placeholder
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 II
from $584
Aperture Wide aperture Help
f/1.8
True resolution High true resolution Help
20 MP
Sensor size Large sensor Help
Nikon CX 13.2x8.8mm

Learn more about the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 II

Canon PowerShot S120
Canon PowerShot S120
from $399
Aperture Wide aperture Help
f/1.8
Touch screen Touch screen Help
Less buttons
Screen resolution High resolution screen Help
922k dots

Learn more about the Canon PowerShot S120

Canon PowerShot G16
Canon PowerShot G16
from $449
Aperture Wide aperture Help
f/1.8
Screen resolution High resolution screen Help
922k dots
Light sensitivity High ISO Help
12,800 ISO

Learn more about the Canon PowerShot G16

Green arrow See more of the top digicams with wide aperture lenses

Discussion

Showing 6 comments

George Y.I. (3:31 PM, June 02, 2013)
Why do you think it is incorrect since a narrow aperture increases the depth of field?
 
Avatar for Karen Bhamra Karen Bhamra (0:23 PM, January 17, 2013)
"Wide aperture lenses let in more light, letting you take shots with less blur or in more dimly lit situations. Shooting at wider aperture also narrows your depth of field, allowing you to focus selectively on your subject and blurring the background. "
This is surely incorrect - and the other way round?
 
Siddharth Shukla (0:39 PM, June 01, 2012)
i want to buy a Nikon L810 camera,can you please. tell me that will i be able to shoot blur background pictures with this camera.....
 
Avatar for X-Sorv X-Sorv (8:40 PM, March 11, 2012)
aweomse website. So nice and to the point differences between various cameras, makes it so easy for a consumer without spending hours and patience to  find out the real difference. Love you creators. God bless
Sourav
(twinkle_littleheart@yahoo.com)
 
Avatar for Snapsort Snapsort (4:25 PM, February 10, 2012)
Sorry we could not help you sooner. You might want to check out our new sister site Sortable.com, you can search and compare a lot of different consumer electronics. 
 
len (11:58 AM, February 10, 2012)
wish i had seen this site earlier! have spent hours,no,days searching camera specs on compacts with suitable aperatures for taking pics of the Northern Lights. The internet can be so frustrating at times.Word your search question correctly and its a breeze.Get the phrasing wrong and you can be searching forever :)