Getting Started with Aperture

Getting Started with Aperture

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Aperture is one of the very basic things to understand in order to master your camera. In this article, I will show you how to getting started with aperture for your photography. This is part of understanding and mastering photography: Exposure Triangle.

What is Aperture?

Aperture is a camera setting that allows you to control the opening in your camera’s lens in order to control how much light can be inserted into the camera when the picture is taken. The simplest way to understand aperture, by imagining it as the same as your eye’s pupil. To be able to see with your eyes normally, the pupil will become bigger (dilate) in a brighter location; and the pupil will become smaller (constrict) in a darker location.

Understand and Mastering Photography Aperture - aperture1


It’s the same as opening, A.K.A aperture, in the camera’s lens. When the lighting is too bright, the aperture can reduce the size of the opening in your lens to receive fewer lights; and when the lighting is too dark, the aperture can increase the size of the opening your lens to receive more lights. Both are done in order to control the amount of light received when the camera takes a picture. Thus, a picture can have a controlled exposure, neither too bright nor too dark.

How does Aperture Work in Camera?


If you are new to photography I suggest using your camera’s semi-auto mode, aperture value (AV).

Understand and Mastering Photography Aperture - aperture

Aperture numerical value is in f/. For example f/10, f/12, f/13, and so on.

The way of reading aperture is in reverse. So the higher the number is, the smaller the aperture or the opening of your lens is, vice versa. Which makes aperture f/9 actually higher than f/13.

The aperture value range will depend on which lens do you use, from the highest value normally f/22 to the lowest can up to f/0.8. Lens aperture value range can be a guide to understanding the quality of the lens.

Normally, the higher the aperture a lens has, the more expensive that lens is. Of course, it also depends on the type of lens you have.

Read: a guide for camera lens

Depth of Field

Other aspects, besides brightness, you should understand when controlling aperture is also the depth of field (DoF). Basically, DoF means the distance between the camera and the objects in the pictures.

In order to have a sharp and crisp picture, a camera should be able to focus on the scene in the picture. If not, the picture will end up blurry. The problem is a camera can’t always focus on the entire scene in the picture. It all depends on DoF, the distance between camera and scene taken.

Imagine there are 3 objects inside the scene taken by the camera, each has a different distance between the camera, object A the nearest, object B is farther, and object C the farthest. Normally camera can focus only on one object.

For example, focusing on object A can cause object B to be blurrier and object C to even be less blurry. Of course, it all depends on the distance between each object. If all of the objects are near each other, the camera can be focused on all of them.


Understand and Mastering Photography Aperture - dof

This is where aperture settings work on the depth of field. the higher the aperture is, the less the range of focus is; and the lower the aperture is, the bigger the range of focus is. Take a look at the picture below each, the distance between the object (pool sign) and background (building) is pretty big.

Both focuses mainly on the object, but with the different aperture setting. The left picture was taken with a higher aperture appeared more focused only on the object and the background appear more blurry. And the one with a lower aperture appears more focused both on the object and the background.

Use this cheat sheet to learn more.


How to Pick a Camera Lens based on Aperture

Aperture range always depends on the lens. For a compact or rangefinder camera, which has a fixed lens, the options are limited to the camera itself. But, for an SLR or mirrorless camera, which is an interchangeable lens camera, there are many options of the lens to choose from.

Usually the bigger range of aperture available in a lens, the better the lens is. Thus, the more expensive the lens is. Of course, that is not always the case. It will depend on which type of lens do you want.

The prime lens usually has a high aperture and a cheaper price. For example, Sony FE 50mm F1.8 has a price of around $198.

For telephoto or wide-angle lens with a high aperture range is usually more expensive. Like Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM which has a price of around $1,299.


Also Read: Getting Started with Shutter Speed

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