F Stop Chart – Lens Apertures for Full Stops, 1/2 Stops, & 1/3 Stops

This F Stop Chart shows full stops, 1/2 stops, and 1/3 stops when setting the aperture of digital camera lenses.

Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM Lens
Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM Lens
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Filed Under: Jargon, Lenses
Topics: ND Filter

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Aperture refers to the size of the opening in a lens that lets light through. The larger the opening, the more light that comes through to hit the sensor or film.

Back in manual cameras days, most lenses only let you set the f-stop at defined increments, usually of a full stop at a time. So you could choose ƒ/4 or ƒ/5.6, but there was no way to choose ƒ/5.

With today’s digital cameras controlling the aperture, we have much more fine-grained control. Even lenses that still have an aperture ring, such as the Sony FE 24mm ƒ/1.4 GM, the available increments are often much smaller than a full stop.

So we’re not limited just to these larger steps but can instead now set the shutter in 1/3 stop increments. But because of the way aperture is denoted, with figures such as ƒ/1.6 or ƒ/1.8, it’s not particularly self-apparent what the jump between one value is to another–unfortunately it’s not as simple as a basic decimal system. So if you’re trying to calculate the effect on other parts of the exposure triangle. Of if you’re using a neutral density filter, for example, it can involve some head scratching to work out what aperture you need to factor in an 8-stop ND filter–at least, it does for me. (If you find yourself in this situation working with very dark ND filters, there are some good phone apps that can help–search for something like “nd filter calculator.”)

I’m posting this F-stop chart here partly for my own reference and partly in case others find it useful. It covers the working aperture range of the majority of digital photography lenses on the market, which typically falls somewhere within the ƒ/1.2 through ƒ/32 range.

The column on the left represents full stops. So the jump from ƒ/5.6 to ƒ/8, for instance, is a full stop.

The second column shows 1/2-stop increments. So a 1/2 stop down from ƒ/5.6 is ƒ/6.7.

The third column shows 1/3-stop increments. So going from ƒ/1.4 to ƒ/1.6 is a third of a stop.

Full Stops1/2 Stops1/3 Stops

11 thoughts on “F Stop Chart – Lens Apertures for Full Stops, 1/2 Stops, & 1/3 Stops”

  1. Thank you for making this chart available!
    I’m starting out and I’m using continuous light modifiers. I’ve read that 1 fstop is lost when using nylon diffusers. What I quickly learned from the chart is that with my 50mm 1.8 lens, a full stop for me would mean closing (or opening) the aperture by 3 clicks (each a third as you already know).
    Again thank you, this makes my photography life a little easier!
    I’ve been doing the photography for my daughter’s online jewelry boutique for that past 2 years and once a year I photograph her friends modeling the jewelry and I also do all her product photography. It’s been thrilling, challenging and so much learned!

  2. Hey David,
    Thanks for making this table available. I just bought the B+W variable ND filter to allow me to shoot portraits outdoors using studio lighting and discovered that it did not come with an exposure comp table to translate it’s filter ring “dots” into ƒstops or even T stops. Kinda weird huh? So I made one (thanks to your table sir) and learned why there’s no table included. It’s not quite a “precision” tool but I figured it out thru exposure testing with my other tools that ARE precise. Glad to share it with you if you like? Email me if you like. Thanks David. Will Crockett

  3. There are so many other variables that come into play, that if it was me, I’d be inclined to start with one or two and adjust some of the other variables first. Things like distance, etc. And then if I needed more punch in some situations, I’d be inclined to switch to softboxes or diffusers, etc. I tend to favor softboxes over umbrellas most of the time–and there’s a huge variety of options available for all sorts of requirements. I’ve also had too many instances outdoors where umbrellas catch even the slightest breeze and move around. Softboxes do that too, but there a more compact, less sail-like options available.

    Also, unless you specifically need the SB5000’s advanced features, there are some excellent but much-cheaper alternatives that can be used as slaves if you need third, fourth, or fifth light sources. That’s a much cheaper way to punch up the light than using full-featured SB5000s.

  4. Hi. I hope you are doing well in these times. I am going to start using umbrellas for outdoor portraits and want to use three speed-lights with an umbrella. I understand that using three will give me 1/2 more stop of light. I am using two sb5000’s. Is it worth the cost of a third 5000 or would the two be sufficient. I was just trying to even out the light with the umbrella. Thanks for your time.

  5. Do professional photographers use full stops on there controls or use 1/3 stops on ISO , speed , aptures, If so wot is the advantage.

    • I’m not sure that there’s one “right” answer. Different photographers have different preferences and needs. I personally use the smaller increments on cameras that support them because I like the potential for fine-tuned exposure. It’s especially convenient when using a partially automatic mode like aperture priority or auto-ISO, and even for settings like exposure compensation, where having partial stops available gives you much more control to get it just how you want it. Older cameras and lenses–especially manual ones–often only work in full stops. And in situations with fast manual shooting or repetitive settings are required, using only full stops can be convenient. With video, having the smaller increments available can provide smoother transitions from one aperture to another. And some of the newer lenses, such as ones from Sony, have a switch that changes the manual aperture ring from being a smooth rotation with small aperture increments to a rotation that includes tactile clicks as you rotate–partly as a matter of preference and partly because the smoother rotation is better when shooting video (quieter and smoother).

  6. hello. I have a question.In aperture i have two values: f/1.8 and f.8 . And now i want to delete “f” and convert these values without f. could you please me what is value for these two values without f?
    thanks before your helping

    • Not sure I follow what you’re asking. ƒ/8 f/8 f.8 and ƒ.8 all refer to the same thing, and the f simply indicates that it’s referring to the f-number of the aperture (technically, ratio of the lens’s focal length to the diameter of the opening). ƒ/8 is almost five stops from ƒ/1.8 (it’s four stops from ƒ/2 and five from ƒ/1.4).

  7. Hi

    I am and amateur camera guy looking at getting in to the industry focusing on hi quality video work to the future
    I currently have the Nikon D750 / Sony PWX-F7S (Which I am trying to learn) and looking for an Smaller camera more so for video. I am tired of watching comparisons and not understanding the full tech jargon
    I am looking at the Sony A7III and Sony A7RIII with a FE35mm f1.8 lens for either camera – I would love to have you opinion

    Any comments appreciated – Thank You

    • You can’t go wrong with either of those two cameras–they’re both excellent. Their video features are pretty similar, although the a7R III does have a slight edge, as you’d expect with the more expensive model.

      Another one worth considering if you’re focusing on video is the Panasonic GH5.


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