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What is a camera aperture? Principle of operation and aperture setting
What is a camera aperture? Principle of operation and aperture setting

To learn how to take beautiful and, not least, high-quality pictures, you need to know the fundamental parts of photography. What if you want to focus the viewer's attention on a particular area of the photograph? And what is a camera aperture? These are some of the questions beginner photographers ask.

What is a camera aperture?

Everything is simple and complicated at the same time. A camera's aperture is a small, rounded hole made up of several petals and located inside the camera's lens. The diaphragm position can be adjusted manually or automatically. But many mistakenly believe that aperture and shutter are the same thing. But these are completely different parts of the camera. The shutter is a shutter that is next to the sensor, and the iris is located in the lens.

The effect of aperture on photography

It should be highlighted here:

  • The brightness of the colors in the photo. The degree of aperture opening determines the degree of illumination and color depth in the picture.
  • The quality of the receivedPhoto. The larger the diameter of the open hole, the more edge rays enter the lens. On the other hand, too small a diameter is undesirable due to light diffraction. Both effects negatively affect the resulting image, reducing its contrast.

How it works

To better understand the principle of the shutter, you can give an ordinary household example. When a person looks at the sun, he squints his eyes to reduce the amount of light coming in. At night, everything happens the other way around. The person opens their eyes as far as possible and the pupils dilate to capture as much light as possible.

The aperture of your camera works in much the same way. When the shutter button on the camera is pressed, the hole opens and light passes to the photosensitive matrix of your camera. The worse the lighting, the more the hole should be opened.


With what a diaphragm is, it should be clear. Now we need to understand its structure. The diaphragm device consists of three special devices: iris, jumper and repeater.

In the traditional version, the iris diaphragm is a damper through which light flows easily. It is formed by thin details made of metal and similar to petals. They are located around the rim of the lens, shifting towards the center, thereby increasing or decreasing the flow of light. With the maximum open aperture, a round hole is formed, with a partially open aperture, a polygon is formed. The more open the hole, the more light will receivephotosensitive matrix of the camera. Aperture setting can be done either manually or automatically.

You can manually adjust the aperture using the ring on the outer surface of the lens barrel. On it you can see a series of numbers. To change the degree of aperture opening, you need to rotate the ring. Then the petals will either move or move apart.

The better the lens aperture, the more metal petals it will have. This is a regularity. All this makes up the iris diaphragm of every camera.

Jumping Aperture is the control system used in most modern SLR cameras. It closes the aperture to the previously set f-stop when the shutter button is pressed. This is convenient because the aperture allows for sighting and fine focusing before taking a picture.

Aperture repeater is a mechanism in the form of a button or lever, with which you can close the aperture before photographing an object. It is used to check depth and sharpness before shooting. Usually the button is located near the lens.

Differences between SLR and digital camera apertures

First, more precise aperture settings are available in a SLR.

Secondly, SLR cameras allow you to install a faster lens.

Third, digital cameras have less hole diameter regulation.

Fourthly, the reflex camera has a manual aperture setting function.

Aperture connection andexcerpts

The shutter "decides" when the camera's light sensor is open or closed to light. The shutter speed, in turn, decides how long the sensor will be open. In other words, this is the time interval during which light rays hit the photosensitive part of the camera. The exposure unit is milliseconds and seconds. It is designated as follows: 1/200. But in the camera settings themselves, only the denominator of the fraction will be displayed. If the shutter speed is more than a second, then it is indicated by an ordinary number. That is, if the shutter speed is 3 seconds, then this number will be displayed on the screen.

Exposure types
Exposure types

Shutter speed and aperture in combination make up the exposure couple. And it is these two components that determine the exposure. In this regard, the aperture is responsible for the amount of incoming light, and the shutter speed is responsible for the time interval.

Auto setting usually combines shutter speed and aperture in two ways:

  1. Large diameter and fast shutter speed.
  2. Small aperture and slow shutter speed.

When setting shutter speed and aperture yourself, you need to know what result you will get at certain settings. There are several shutter speed settings that will help you use it correctly:

  • From 1 to 30 seconds or more. Suitable for taking pictures at night or in low light.
  • 2 to 1/2 seconds. Gives smoothness to running water or softens the outlines of a scenery scene.
  • From 1/2 to1/30 second. Suitable for photographing a moving subject. This will blur the background of the image. Implies shooting without a tripod, but using stabilization.
  • 1/50 to 1/1000 of a second. Habitual handheld shooting, but without much zoom.
  • 1/250 to 1/500 of a second. Photographing a moving object. Possibly without a tripod and with high magnification.
  • From 1/1000 to 1/40000 of a second. Stopping a fast moving object.

Manual aperture setting

The main difficulty for novice photographers when considering how to set aperture is the reciprocal of aperture. Changing the diameter of the hole affects several aspects of photography at once - aperture and depth of field. Aperture - the largest amount of light received by the matrix through the hole. The photographer needs to be able to select the required hole size to obtain high-quality photographs. Sharpness refers to the distance from the camera between the near and far boundaries, in which objects are in focus. Depth of field is distributed from the center to the edges of the image. Thus, the closer to the edge, the more blurred the object will be.

Aperture is denoted by the letter f. The number after the letter is its value. But the proportion is inversely proportional. The smaller the number, the larger the aperture will be. For example, after the letter F is the number 1, 4. In this case, the camera aperture is wide open. If the number is 16, then the aperture is opened minimally.

Aperture sizes
Aperture sizes

What reallywhat's going on with the numbers? If you need to reduce the amount of light flux, then the hole will become exactly two times smaller. In this case, the diameter changes by a factor of 1.41. Aperture values are directly related to the diameter of the hole, so in the resulting series of numbers, each subsequent number is 1.4 times larger than the previous one.

What is DOF

Before choosing an aperture, you need to find out what DOF is. This is an important aspect of any professional photography. This abbreviation is understood as the depth of the sharply depicted space. In other words, the DOF is the place in the photo where the subject will appear as clear and sharp as possible.

FLU example
FLU example

This option will allow you to focus on the desired object in the picture. Also distract your eyes from secondary objects.

Aperture priority mode

In the camera menu you can find letters like A or Av. They designate this aperture mode. In it, you can configure its parameters yourself. Knowing how to use this mode will help save time, because you do not have to turn on the menu every time to find the desired shooting mode. The shutter speed will be adjusted depending on the selected aperture.

Also in the menu you can find the mode marked with the letter M. This is the mode of manual, or manual setting of parameters. In this mode, you will need to choose the aperture and exposure parameters yourself.

Aperture Selection

Before you start taking pictures, you need to select the required hole diameterdiaphragm. Here, many beginners have a question - how to choose the appropriate degree of aperture opening? In fact, there are no clearly fixed rules, but there are some well-established values:

f/1.4. Usually used in low light conditions. But with this aperture setting, the depth of field will be very small. Therefore, if you want to create a soft focus or to photograph medium-sized objects, it is better to opt for it

f/1.4 example
f/1.4 example

f/1.2. The scope is approximately the same as with the previous diaphragm. However, a lens with such an aperture is more affordable

f/1.2 example
f/1.2 example

f/2.8. Also used for taking pictures in low light conditions. But this aperture is usually used for portraits. All the sharpness of the photo will be focused on the face

f/2.8 example
f/2.8 example

f/4. Minimum aperture setting for photographing subjects under normal lighting conditions

f/5.6 example
f/5.6 example

f/5.6. Usually used when there is more than one object in the picture. If there are several objects in the photo, then the sharpness will be focused on them, and the background will remain blurry. The same will happen with one object in the photo. In case of poor illumination, it is better to use additional lighting. For example, a flash

f/4 example
f/4 example

f/8. Used for shooting a large number of people, as it provides the necessary depth of field

Example f8
Example f8

f/11. This degree of disclosure differshigh sharpness. This quality makes it the most suitable for portrait photography

f/11 example
f/11 example

f/16. With this degree of opening, the pictures are characterized by deep sharpness. Therefore, it is well suited for photo shoots in bright sunlight

f/16 example
f/16 example

f/22. You need to opt for this aperture if you are creating a photograph of a large space with many details. For example, panel shots of the city, a crowd of people or landscapes. In such pictures, there will be no clear emphasis on certain small details

f/22 example
f/22 example

Aperture setting modes

Portrait mode. The camera selects the smallest hole diameter that is possible under the given conditions. This results in the smallest possible depth of field.

Landscape. The camera selects the largest degree of aperture opening. Thus providing the greatest depth of field. Some cameras set the focus distance to infinity.

Sporty. The camera sets the most accessible shutter speed. Ideally, this is 1/250 of a second or even shorter. The minimum f-stop is also used.

Night. Long exposures are preferred. Some cameras use foreground illumination, i.e. flash.

Tips for Choosing Aperture

As with aperture selection, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to setting aperture. Everything will depend on the specific situation, the level of lighting, personal expectations and the need for visual effects. Photo. But there are some tips that can help:

  1. Image sharpness is achieved using medium apertures. If you choose a large value, photos will be brighter and more saturated.
  2. If the photo is taken at night, then the aperture must be clamped and the shutter speed increased.
  3. Open aperture is best for portrait photography. If it occurs in nature or against the background of other objects, then you need to give preference to a medium or closed aperture. If you want to focus not only on the main subject, but also on the surroundings, use a small aperture.
  4. When shooting a city, it is recommended to close the aperture as much as possible.
  5. To achieve a deep depth of field when shooting nature scenery, use f/16. If the image does not suit you, then try f / 11 or f / 8.
  6. When taking a group portrait, do not open the aperture too wide. There is a chance that one face will be sharp and the other blurry.
  7. It is important to consider the distance between the subject of the photo and the background. If the background is too close to the object being photographed, then it may fall into the sharpness zone, due to which it will not be "blurred". If you want the background to be blurry, try to make the maximum distance between the object and the background.

You should now have a clear idea of what an aperture is. This knowledge should help you create images that will fully meet your requirements. TherebyWith the help of the device, the photographer himself chooses what needs to be focused on in the picture, and where it is better to look away from the viewer.

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