Aperture, how does it work?

Of all the different manual settings of your camera. The tool that is responsible to make a creative photo is the APERTURE. By simply adjusting it, you can create a very big effect in your picture. These suggestions apply proportionately to both compact cameras like SLRs. The only difference between the two types of cameras is the extreme features that they can generate.

What Is Actually The Diaphragm?

The aperture is one of the pillars of photography wherein it has a huge impact on the picture. The other components that determine this are the shutter speed and the light sensitivity (ISO). The aperture is the part of the camera that determines how much light reaches the film or digital sensor.

It is a trouble-free mechanism by simply click and turn buttons you can already operate it. Here’s a simple illustration how you will figure it out. If you put your thumb and forefinger on each other you have a large aperture. But if you let your index finger glide from the inside of your thumb. The hole through which light falls becomes interminably smaller.

Now let’s go back in our Anatomy class. DIAPHRAGM and APERTURE of the camera is like the pupil and iris of our eyes. They both work together wherein the light enters the eye through the pupil (diaphragm). And the iris (aperture) regulates the amount of light by controlling the size of the pupil.

Depth Of Field

The amount of light that falls on the sensor determines how much depth there is in the picture. Depth of field is the distance within which the subject appears sharp on the picture. By playing with the aperture value you get a full background blur. Or, a fully sharp one and everything in between. And that is just some of the magical possibilities that offers you in the world of creative photography.

The Aperture works in steps, each step has a bisecting of the light. And has a one-to-one relationship with the shutter speed. If you make the aperture smaller (less light). You need to get the same exposure of the subject in the shutter speed.

Let more light through the aperture, the shutter speed will be shortened, in order to get the same exposure. So you have the ability to choose for a certain depth of field of a scene you want to create in your picture.


Aperture is denoted by the ‘ f-number. This is the focal length (f) divided by the diameter of the aperture (D). It follows an F-scale that describes the steps of the aperture:


f/1 | f/1.4 | f/2 | f/2.8 | f/4 | f/5.6 | f/8 | f/11 | f/16 | f/22 | f/32 | f/45 | f/64


Every step in the right (in photography expressed by the term stop or ‘ exposure value, EV “) means dividing by the amount of light that falls on the sensor. Each step to the left is used to double the amount of light hitting the sensor. To reduce the size of the aperture is a no sweat technique, for example, from f/2.8 to f/4, means you need to set the shutter speed one step longer for the same amount of light on the sensor to drop (see also the exposure triangle).

Which aperture you can achieve is largely determined by the lens. The Aperture f/2.8 of a bright lens, this is often the most expensive lenses in the range of a manufacturer. The maximum of a lens can vary from f/22 to sometimes even f/32.

Build-In Aperture

Modern cameras, wherein the aperture in the camera body is set up, have a scale with smaller steps of half a stop – but more often 1/3 stop. To a whole step to jump is the aperture than 3 places to the left or right. For 1/3 is chosen, because the ISO light sensitivity also with 1/3 stops. On modern cameras you see so often this scale:


f/1 | f/1.1 | f/1.2 | f/1.4 | f/1.6 | f/1.8 | f/2 | f/2.2 | f/2.5 | f/2.8 | f/3.3 | f/3.5 | f/4 | f/4.5 | f/5 | f/5.6 | f/6.3 | f/7.1 | f/8 | f/9 | f/10 | f/11 | f/13 | f/14 | f/16 | f/18 | f/20 | f/22


How much depth you can achieve is also determined by the amount of light present. The higher the f-number, the more of the scene will be in focus.

If you want to shoot at f/18 to the scene from start to finish to capture sharp, then you will find that you get to dark conditions soon a long shutter speed and a tripod than requisite. This is also the reason why landscape photographers actually almost always work with a tripod. The circumstances that are of interest to them (sunsets, light in a storm) are always limited the circumstances in which the amount of light and landscape photographers are always looking for maximum sharpness in a scene and so require the smallest possible aperture.

Small Aperture (high f value)

At a smaller aperture (expressed in a high f/value), there is little light on the sensor and the depth of field. This means, for example, that you are in a landscape also having the back row trees sharp. Because the smaller opening in less light falls on the film or lens, shutter speed.

The lens should drop the light longer on the sensor to the photo to highlight, there must be enough light from further field in the image the lens. This also increases the likelihood that you’ll get if you move the camera motion blur. For example, a very small aperture is f/11 and f/22, but we spoke already about small at around f/10.

How does aperture work

If you want to have a large aperture (expressed in a small f/value), there is a lot of light on the lens and you get much faster blur in the background of your picture. As a result, the subject jumps forward to the Viewer, as it were, and thus give you extra attention to the subject. The more you zoom in, the greater the effect will be. How big the effect is, depends partly on the lens you’re using.

What is the maximum aperture of the lens? How bright is the lens?  In General, how light stronger (the lower the f value, the greater the aperture opening) the more expensive. Many manufacturers supply an f/4 and f/2.8 lens a variant of the f/2.8 is always more expensive.

Large Aperture

With the large aperture it is very vital to focus on the good place, the part that is out of focus is determined by the point at which you focus.  With a small f/value it is critical to focus the good part of the image, because of the limited depth of field is sometimes (especially in macro photography) only a few millimeters that are in sharp focus. Good focus is very important. For example a full open aperture is f/1.4 or f/2.8.

How does aperture work

In the example below you can see the difference between different aperture values. Left with Aperture f/1.4 is only the subject (just) sharp, the background is out of focus. With Aperture f/5.6 the background is extensively visible in the background, the tomato stands out less.

How does aperture work

Photographers have a term to indicate that the depth of field (actually the blurry part of the photo) is beautiful. They are talking about a good or bad bokeh, but better you can speak of a pleasant or unpleasant bokeh. Bokeh originates by the Japanese, it is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens. Generally it is most appreciated when you get to a big blur where you can see small circles.

The Aperture uses fins to a larger or smaller opening. These lamellae are over each other, the more panels are used the higher the quality of the blur. If there fewer blades are used you’ll see this in the book, the buttons are then more angular.


Based on the previous guidelines about Photography and Camera’s, a photo from the camera is determined by three factors. Providentially now a days, many cameras have an aperture priority mode. In the case of Canon cameras is called this function AV, at Nikon at (check the manual of your camera).

To enable this feature you can setup with a wheel or via the menu, select an f value which the camera itself will make the good shutter speed so whatever you wanted to your photo if it is not underexposed (too dark image) or is overexposed (too bright picture). If you like the background out of focus, then opt for values smaller than f/5.6 (depending on how far you zoom). For much depth of field, choose the conditions from f/8-10.

If you will have a full zoom in, you will have a low f value. Then the effect strengthened. For example, try to find a row of Poles, set the lowest f value of the lens. Then you will then see the following posts in the row be out of focus very quickly, depending on how far they have been removed from the camera. As with anything to do with photography, the effect that you can achieve is very dependent on the situation, so do try some experiment. Try the same photo on differentiation of values and view on your computer the differences and learn how you can best achieve the desired effect.


The f values are reflected in the specifications of the lenses (in the case of compact cameras, they also came with the camera) they give the maximum opening and minimum opening of the diaphragm to. Generally the lower the number the heavier and more expensive the lens will be. The tradeoff is cost versus the longer by hand (as opposed to a tripod) can shoot with low light and the amount of blur you want to reach. Like everything else with photography you can make it as expensive as you want and everything is a compromise.

In addition to the qualities of the lens, the focus when purchasing a lens is very important to know the brightness of it. Fortunately the manufacturers put this clearly on the box and the lens itself. A 28-135 mm lens is known, for example the addition f/3.5-5.6. This means that at the largest angle of 28 mm the maximum opening of the aperture 3.5 is, at more drill-down on this is just 135 mm f/5.6.

Zoom Lenses

There are also zoom lenses with a fixed value across the entire range. An 80-200 mm f/2.8 lens has a maximum aperture of f/2.8 at both 80 mm and 200 mm. The advantage of this system is that when zooming in nothing will be reduced regarding light. A disadvantage is that they are more expensive, bigger (more glass) and therefore also weigh more (glass is heavy). Many manufacturers supply an f/4 and f/2.8 variant of the lens, especially at telephoto lenses depending on your budget and requirements, allowing you to choose from.

The sharpness of the image is also partly determined by the aperture. No single lens has the same sharpness from the maximum to the minimum opening. If you draw a graph then you will see a spike in the Middle, the wider the peak, the better the lens. There is a certain part of the lens which gives you the best results. Photographers often choose to stop a lens ‘ AF ‘ they go a few steps above the maximum opening (for example f/4 instead of f/2) to maximum sharpness. The same is true for limiting lens errors such as vignette and chromatic aberration (purple edges along the topic, particularly visible at high contrasts).

Chapter 1.3: Lenses, investing in the future, expands on lenses.

As you can see there is a lot to tell about the aperture, it is one of the main principles of photography. It is, in addition to composition, an enormously powerful tool for your photos a creative value.

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