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Hi there,

This post is the first of a serie of tutorials which will answer questions such as: “How do you achieve this effect ?” or “What are those P, A, S and M mode on my camera ?” or even “What software do you use to manipulate your pictures ?”.

 

Today, we will talk about the aperture and how to set it right for different styles of pictures.

But first, What does aperture mean ? Here’s a quick definition from wikipedia:

In optics, an aperture is a hole or an opening through which light travels.

So, why is a hole important in photography ? This opening is very important because we can achieve completely different pictures by changing the size of it. It changes how the rays of light enter your camera.

Basically, a narrow aperture (number 2 in the picture beside) will give you a picture focused on almost every subjects. Whereas a wide aperture (number 1) will let you make the focus on only a certain object.

This means that when you want to shoot a landscape, you will usually want to use a narrow aperture but a portrait will require a wide aperture. Bellow is an example to show you how aperture affects a picture: On the left side, the flower is shot at f/32 (narrow aperture) and you can see details in the background. On the right side, the same subject but shot at f/5.6 (wide aperture).

flowers at f/32

flowers at f/5.6

Aperture can be set manually on most of today’s cameras. A wide aperture has a small number and a narrow aperture has a big number. Here is a diagram to show you how it works:

Different aperture values

Aperure changing

You often find the aperture as “f/n” where f is the focal of your lens (its length) and n is your focal divided by the diameter of the hole (D). You can adjust this hole by a mecanism called diaphragm.

Every step is called an “F-Stop” and reduces by 2 the amount of light passing through the diaphragm. On certain lenses, you can set it as low as 1.2. You can also make it go as high as 32 and more.

f/D gives you the aperture value

A lens which can go as low as f/2 will be twice longer than wide. That explains why telephotos with a wide aperture are very expensive (for example a 400 mm at 2.8 will have a front lens of 150 mm!). You can get a peak at the Canon lenses here. You will notice that the 70-200 mm f/4L USM costs about $700 and the 70-200 mm f/2.8 USM costs more than $1400.

So do I really need a lens with a wide aperture ? It really depends on the kind of pictures you are making. But if you want to isolate a person or an animal or anything else from the foreground and background, you will want to open the diaphragm as wide as possible.

Another advantage of that kind of lens is that it lets more light through to the film or sensor. That means the posing time can be quicker and therefore reduces the risk of blur or noise (wide aperture lenses are often called quick lenses). Therefore this kind of lens is quite usefull when it comes to wildlife pictures or astronomy pictures such as northern lights.Hi there,

This post is the first of a serie of tutorials which will answer questions such as: “How do you achieve this effect ?” or “What are those P, A, S and M mode on my camera ?” or even “What software do you use to manipulate your pictures ?”.

 

Today, we will talk about the aperture and how to set it right for different styles of pictures.

But first, What does aperture mean ? Here’s a quick definition from wikipedia:

In optics, an aperture is a hole or an opening through which light travels.

So, why is a hole important in photography ? This opening is very important because we can achieve completely different pictures by changing the size of it. It changes how the rays of light enter your camera.

Basically, a narrow aperture (number 2 in the picture beside) will give you a picture focused on almost every subjects. Whereas a wide aperture (number 1) will let you make the focus on only a certain object.

This means that when you want to shoot a landscape, you will usually want to use a narrow aperture but a portrait will require a wide aperture. Bellow is an example to show you how aperture affects a picture: On the left side, the flower is shot at f/32 (narrow aperture) and you can see details in the background. On the right side, the same subject but shot at f/5.6 (wide aperture).

flowers at f/32

flowers at f/5.6

Aperture can be set manually on most of today’s cameras. A wide aperture has a small number and a narrow aperture has a big number. Here is a diagram to show you how it works:

Different aperture values

Aperure changing

You often find the aperture as “f/n” where f is the focal of your lens (its length) and n is your focal divided by the diameter of the hole (D). You can adjust this hole by a mecanism called diaphragm.

Every step is called an “F-Stop” and reduces by 2 the amount of light passing through the diaphragm. On certain lenses, you can set it as low as 1.2. You can also make it go as high as 32 and more.

f/D gives you the aperture value

A lens which can go as low as f/2 will be twice longer than wide. That explains why telephotos with a wide aperture are very expensive (for example a 400 mm at 2.8 will have a front lens of 150 mm!). You can get a peak at the Canon lenses here. You will notice that the 70-200 mm f/4L USM costs about $700 and the 70-200 mm f/2.8 USM costs more than $1400.

So do I really need a lens with a wide aperture ? It really depends on the kind of pictures you are making. But if you want to isolate a person or an animal or anything else from the foreground and background, you will want to open the diaphragm as wide as possible.

Another advantage of that kind of lens is that it lets more light through to the film or sensor. That means the posing time can be quicker and therefore reduces the risk of blur or noise (wide aperture lenses are often called quick lenses). Therefore this kind of lens is quite usefull when it comes to wildlife pictures or astronomy pictures such as northern lights.

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