How to work with digital camera aperture?

So what is aperture – you may ask? Most of the technical specification for a digital camera begin with the aperture – minimum and maximum aperture. So what is it? What range do you need? What does aperture have to do with choosing a digital camera?

Find the aperture setting on your camera. If the setting is adjustable then most digital cameras use ‘A’ as the symbol for aperture on your camera. Usually it is a wheel near the camera’s shutter button. Check your manual if you are not sure as some manufacturers may use a different symbol.

What is Aperture?

Aperture is what controls the light entering your camera. The main function of a camera is to gather light. Aperture is the diameter of the lens opening controlled by an iris. The wider the lens is open the more light that reaches the image sensor.

Have you ever wondered what the F-stop on your camera is? The F-stop measures the aperture. The smaller the number; for example, F/2.8 (F2.8) the larger the lens opens and more light will be let into your camera.

The aperture range in your camera’s manual will be expressed as follows:

· Aperture Range F/2.8 – F/8.0. This gives the minimum and maximum aperture range and assumes there are increments of the measurement in between.

· Maximum Wide-angle and Zoom Lens F/2.8 – 3.5 or F/2.8(w) – F3-5(t). This tells you that the maximum aperture for the wide-angle lens is F/2.8 and for the telephoto lens has a F3.5 focal length.

If you are looking for a fast lens then look for one that has a maximum aperture of F/2.4 for a digital camera.

What is a good Aperture Range?

A good range for aperture is one that is between F/1.8 (maximum) and F/16 (minimum).

There are normally five stops between the minimum and maximum range; for example, if your digital camera’s aperture is set at F/2.8 and you move it to F/1.8 then you have opened up the aperture one F/stop. Or, if it is set at F/8 and you close it two stops then you would select F/16.

Look for the f/stops that are between the aperture range – F/2.8, F/3.2, F/3.6, F/4.0, F4.5, F/5.6, F/6.3, and F7.1. Different or less numbers may be available on different digital cameras. When you start at F/2.8, each F/stop increment decreases the amount of light the aperture allows in by half, sometimes less. Most digital cameras have their aperture settings set to default to between F/3.5 and F/5.0 in Auto mode. They automatically adjust in accordance with the light levels you are shooting in.

Aperture setting on Digital SLR camera

Aperture setting on Digital SLR camera

Using Aperture to Focus

The larger the maximum aperture the more flexibility the photographer has in what conditions they can take photos. In low-light situations a large aperture will give good results as the lens open enough to let more light into your camera in low-light situations.

Use F/2.8 to get a sharp focus on your subject in the foreground and to blur the background. Use your camera’s aperture setting to blur or sharpen the focus – this is known as depth of focus.

At maximum aperture you can use faster shutter speed to get great action shots with your subject in sharp focus and the background blurred.

And most digital cameras have an Auto mode where you can select the Sports mode. Selecting Auto mode, the camera will automatically select the right aperture and shutter speed.

Use a small minimum aperture rather than a larger one as it will give you more flexibility in the type of photos you can take. This setting lets in the lowest level of light and is used for landscape photography for example.

If you want to take a photo of running water slow down the shutter speed to blur the motion.

Use F/8.0 to get a clear, sharp image photo and change the setting if you need more light in low light or action shots.

Get to know and understand your aperture settings and use them to blur or sharpen different areas of you photos.