How to Use Aperture

In this walkthrough, we've shared how to use aperture to bring more depth to your photography and focus on the subjects that matter.

What is Aperture?
Essentially, aperture is the "pupil" of your camera. It's the hole that allows light into the camera body, just like how our pupils expand and contract to let light into our retinas. When the aperture is tiny, less light enters the camera, and the same is true of our pupils. Aperture size is measured in "f-stops" (i.e. "f/4", "f/2.8"). The larger the number, the smaller the aperture. 

What is the Diaphragm? 
Meanwhile, the mechanism that controls a camera's aperture size is called the diaphragm. It ensures that light only passes through the aperture, and doesn't leak through other areas, so that you have total control over the camera's focus.  

What is Depth of Field?
Aperture has a direct effect on your camera's depth of field. Essentially, this is the overall distance that your camera stays in focus. With a narrow depth of field, only a small area of your image is captured in focus (such as a single flower). On the other hand, a large depth of field can capture a landscape with impressive sharpness.

To adjust the camera's depth of field, you can play around with different aperture settings until the subject is captured in full focus. As a general rule of thumb, smaller apertures increase the depth of field, but they also reduce the light entering your camera (and vice versa).  

Fast and Slow Lenses
Each lens has a minimum and maximum aperture. Having a large maximum aperture is generally more important, because it also indicates your lens speed. With a large aperture, more light is entering your camera body, so you can shoot in low light conditions, isolate your subjects, and capture images more quickly. 

How to Use Aperture
First, consider your photographic subject, lighting conditions, and how much depth of field is required. Generally, you'll need a smaller aperture to capture huge landscapes and a larger aperture for close-ups, but there are plenty of options across the spectrum. 

At extreme aperture values like f/22, you may need a tripod so that involuntary shaking doesn't happen and your images stay sharp. However, f/4 should be small enough for most situations, and you won't need to carry a tripod around when shooting at that aperture.

Every lens is different, so take the time to learn your gear and see how it performs at various apertures. Many lenses perform well at f/4, but other lenses produce better results at f/5.6 or even smaller. Likewise, you'll find that the maximum aperture isn't always the best choice for headshots and other close-ups. 

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