Aperture Basics | Aperture | Photography Equipment

Aperture is one of the three main controls you can use when you are taking a picture.

with shutter speed and ISO, aperture controls how light will hit the sensor (OK, old schoolers -
hit the film).
In ery simple words, aperture is the !si"e! of the hole the light goes through when it passes the
lens. So large apertures will let more light go through then small apertures. #oing $ack to the
pipe allegory analogy , we can see the following% If we use smaller aperture, then to keep our
e&posure unchanged we hae to use longer shutter speed, or higher ISO.
Sink image $y Andrew 'ason.
Measuring apertures - Aperture alues are gien in incremental ( stops. starting fro )*).+ up to
)*,+ (there are more ( stops out there in the world $ut )*).+ to )*,+ are the most common ones).
-he ( stop is related to the diameter of the hole though which light comes through. Actually
most lenses hae a diaphragm (hey. you. in the third raw. I was you laughing) that can change its
diameter. 'uch like the Iris in our eyes. An ( alue of )*).+ will let more light in then an ( alue
of )*,+. -his is where ( stops come into play
F stops - As I said $efore, we use ( stops to note the aperture si"e. Since each aperture alue
dou$les the amount of light that gets to the sensor, you will need half as fast shutter speed to get
the same e&posure.
/ere is a list f the more common aperture alues - each lets dou$le amount of light in. I also
wrote the shutter speed needed to get an e0uialent e&posure of f1)*2.3 with shutter speed of
aperture f*).+ f*2.5 f*2.3 f*+ f*4., f*3 f*)) f*), f*22
)*2555 )*)555 )*455 )*245 )*)24 )*,5 )*65 )*)4 )*3
-his ta$le is handy for knowing how to set your camera for different situations and use cases%
• Say you want to do a panning shot, and your light meter shows )*245 7 f*+. 8ut for
panning shot you need to hae a shutter speed of around )*+5. 9ou will push up three
stops on shutter speed and get to )*65. -o maintain the same e&posure, you will need to
stop the aperture down three stops to f*)).
• Say you want to free"e water in your shot, and your light meter shows )*)24 7 f*3. 8ut
for free"ing water you need to hae a shutter speed of around )*455. 9ou will push down
two stops on shutter speed and get to )*455. -o maintain the same e&posure, you will
need to stop the aperture up two stops to f*+.
Aperture and Depth Of Field - $esides controlling the amount of light that gets in your camera,
aperture also control something called Depth Of Field (or :O(). :epth Of (ield is the area in
which things will look focused in your image. -he larger your aperture is the less depth of field
you hae.
;ow depth of field image $y glo$al-<et (Aperture 1 f*4.,)
-he following two images demonstrate how aperture and depth of field are connected (Images $y
shallow depth of field great depth of field
Aperture and the Sweet Spot - sweet spot is the place where the lens is in its sharpest point. (or
most lenses (that go on :S;=s) this is somewhere $etween f*3 and f*)). =emem$er that when
looking for sharpness in your picture.
Aperture and Bokeh - 8okeh is an adaptation from a >apanese word meaning $lur. In
photography this term is used to descri$e the 0uality of the areas in the picture which are not in
focus. -he thum$ rule a$out aperture and $okeh is that the $igger apertures create smoother
Image $y $okchoy$oy (Aperture 1 ( )*).3)
9ou can also e&periment and create your own $okeh.
Aperture and landscape - for landscape photography, you want as much of the scene in focus.
According to what we hae learned a$out depth of field, you need to select a small aperture.
Image $y oneeighteen (aperture 1 f*),)
Small apertures will make stars - one of the nice effects of small apertures is that $right lights
will create stars. -he stars are created $y the light passing the diaphragm.
Image $y elana ?@;IA (aperture1f*22)
I said it $efore, and IBll say it again% One of the key factors to understanding photography in
general and aperture in particular is practice, trial and error, so go out and
take some shots. -ry something different eery time. -ry small apertures. -ry shooting close
o$<ects, far o$<ects and night photography with small aperture. -hen go $ack home
and analy"e your pictures. Is a picture $lurryC Is it sharpC :o o$<ects hae the same sharpnessC
-he more you will ask your self those 0uestions,
the $etter grasp you will hae oer the aperture control.
Self Assignment
And here is a little self assignment to get you going - D&plore the relation $etween aperture and
depth of field. -he o$<ectie of this assignment is to get you familiari"ed with aperture, so you
are not re0uired to shoot anything fancy. 9ou can start shooting something as un-fancy as a
$ottle. Seeral $ottles one $ehind the other is een $etter.
Set your camera to aperture priority. Start $y focusing on the $ottle and take a picture with the
widest aperture you can (say f*).3 or f*2.3).
Eow without changing the focus select a smaller aperture and take another picture. ('anual
focus and tripod work $est for this e&ercise, $ut hand holding is OK).
-ake three of those pictures (-he last one with the smallest aperture you can), and compare them.
Fhat happened to the $ackgroundC Is it sharpC 8lurryC
Gost links to your results on the comments section (you can link to flickr, picassa or any other
image hoster out there). State the aperture you used for each shot.
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?onnect with the community% (ace$ook Gage, :iscussions
Share Ideas, Setups, Images and Gro<ects on :I9GBs (lickr, isit =eaders Ghotos

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