Beginner’s Guide to Aperture

What in the world is aperture?

Aperture refers to the size of the opening in the lens through which light enters your camera. When you take a picture, you can specifically choose the size of this opening by adjusting the f-stop. When you change your f-stop, you change the size of the opening. Doing so results in two main things: 1) it changes the light entering your camera and 2) it affects the depth of field. Take a look at the illustration below:

This illustration represents the lens opening. You can see how as the numbers get bigger, the opening becomes smaller.

How Aperture Affects Light

Wide Apertures

Wider apertures (small f-stops) allow more light to enter the camera. So if you take a photo and it’s too dark, one of your options is to choose a smaller f-stop to brighten it.

Narrow Apertures

Narrow apertures (large f-stops) allow less light to enter the camera. So if you take a photo and it’s too bright, you can choose a larger f-stop to darken it.

f/2 | 1/60th | ISO 400

f/4 | 1/60th | ISO 400

f/8 | 1/60th | ISO 400

How Aperture Affects Depth of Field

Wide Apertures

Wider apertures (small f-stops) create a shallow depth of field. This means that only a small portion of the image is in focus while the remainder of it is blurry. Shallow depth of field is good for isolating a subject, focusing on details, or shooting portraits.

Narrow Apertures

Narrow apertures (large f-stops) create a deep depth of field. This means that more of the image will be in focus. Deep depth of field is good for landscape photography.

Overview

Wide Apertures

Wide apertures | small f-stops (ie. f/2) | more light enters camera | shallower depth of field

Narrow Apertures

Narrow apertures | large f-stops (ie. f/22) | less light enters camera | deeper depth of field

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