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Photography Tips - Aperture


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Measuring Aperture
Aperture is measured using F-Stops. F-Stop numbers represent a fractional formula representation of the amount of light allowed to pass through the aperture. In simpler terms, F-Stop numbers get bigger as the aperture gets smaller, just like shutter speed numbers get bigger as the time the shutter is open gets smaller. Each increasing F-Stop number roughly represents a halving of the light reaching the film. As the aperture closes, more of a scene will come into focus as well (as we learned in the depth of field lesson).

    F-Stop Relationship to Light and Depth of Field
  • Big F-Stop Number = More Light Needed = Larger Depth of Field
  • Little F-Stop Number = Less Light Needed = Less Depth of Field
Many photography texts over the years have attempted to drill the idea of small aperture = large F-Stop into new photographers' brains. While this is important to know, I have seen far too many new photographers become discouraged trying to remember this inverse relationship in the field. If it is easier for you to remember the F-Stop relationship to light and depth of field then by all means, use the memory method that works best for you in the field. If you miss a shot because you are trying to remember the aperture to F-Stop mechanics then it is just a hindrance.

While there is actually a huge range of F-Stops (aperture sizes) possible, depending on your lens, there is a common ground middle range that most consumer lenses are capable of operating within.
    Common F-Stop Values
  • f/4
  • f/5.6
  • f/8
  • f/11
  • f16
  • f22
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