Feb 10, 2024

How To Understand Camera Aperture The Easy Way

F Stops What? Don't worry, we'll explain everything.

Hunter Scott
Hunter Scott
How To Understand Camera Aperture The Easy Way

Understanding the camera aperture is a fundamental aspect of photography. It's a concept that can seem complex, but with a little patience and practice, it can be mastered easily. In this guide, we will break down the concept of aperture, explore its functions, and how it impacts your photography.

What is Aperture?

Aperture refers to the opening in a camera lens through which light enters. It is one of the three pillars of photography, the other two being shutter speed and ISO. The size of the aperture is measured in f-stops, a term that can be confusing for beginners. But don't worry, we'll explain it in simple terms.

The aperture size is inversely proportional to the f-stop number. This means that a larger aperture has a smaller f-stop number and vice versa. For instance, an aperture of f/1.8 is larger than an aperture of f/16. The larger the aperture (smaller f-stop number), the more light enters the lens.

How Does Aperture Affect Images?

Aperture plays a crucial role in determining the look and feel of your images. It primarily affects two aspects: brightness and depth of field.

Brightness, or exposure, is directly influenced by the aperture. A larger aperture allows more light to enter the lens, resulting in a brighter image. Conversely, a smaller aperture results in a darker image.

Depth of field refers to the range of distance within a photo that appears sharp. A larger aperture (smaller f-stop number) results in a shallow depth of field. This means only a small part of the image will be in focus while the rest will be blurred. This effect is often used in portrait photography to blur the background and make the subject stand out.

On the other hand, a smaller aperture (larger f-stop number) results in a greater depth of field, meaning more of the image will be in focus. This is often used in landscape photography where the goal is to have as much of the scene in focus as possible.

How to Adjust Aperture

Adjusting the aperture is quite simple once you understand the concept. Most cameras have an 'Aperture Priority' mode (often denoted as 'A' or 'Av' on the camera mode dial). In this mode, you choose the aperture and the camera automatically adjusts the shutter speed to achieve a correct exposure.

When you want to control the depth of field, you adjust the aperture. If you want a shallow depth of field, choose a larger aperture (smaller f-stop number). If you want a greater depth of field, choose a smaller aperture (larger f-stop number).

Understanding Aperture and Lens Types

It's important to note that not all lenses are created equal when it comes to aperture. Some lenses have a fixed maximum aperture, meaning it remains constant throughout the zoom range. Others have a variable maximum aperture, meaning it changes as you zoom in or out.

Lenses with a fixed maximum aperture are generally more expensive, but they offer more consistency, especially when shooting in low light conditions. On the other hand, lenses with a variable maximum aperture are more affordable, but they might limit your options in certain shooting conditions.


Understanding aperture is key to mastering photography. It allows you to control the amount of light entering the lens and the depth of field, giving you creative control over your images. Remember, a larger aperture (smaller f-stop number) results in more light and a shallow depth of field, while a smaller aperture (larger f-stop number) results in less light and a greater depth of field.

Don't be afraid to experiment with different aperture settings. With practice, you'll develop an intuitive understanding of how aperture affects your images and be able to use it to create the photos you envision.