What is Aperture?

Simply put, the aperture refers to the opening of a lens's diaphragm through which light passes. It calibrates in f/stops and it is generally written as f/#. Aperture is the hole or opening through which light travels, it determines how much light will be in your photo. Depending on what photography genre and style you are looking for, you will eventually find an aperture that works for you.

  • Aperture decides how much of your photo is in focus,

  • The smaller the aperture number the more light comes through.

  • The larger the aperture number the less light comes through.

  • The variation in your aperture depends on your lens, it has nothing to do with the camera/base.

  • Just because your lens goes as wide as f/1.4 doesn't mean you have to shoot that wide.


A larger aperture allows a greater amount of light to reach the DSLR camera (Digital Single-Lens Reflex), a small aperture reduces the amount of light to the DSLR.



Aperture Priority

Av or A is a camera mode in which you manually set your aperture and ISO while the camera automatically selects a shutter speed. This is great if you want the same depth of field in your pictures.


Portraits

It is recommended to use a wide aperture to capture a shallow depth of field, for close up facial or full body shots. However, if you want to shoot portraits as I do, experiment with narrow apertures and increase your ISO.


Landscapes

With landscape or nature shots you want to keep your f-stop higher than f/8-10, we want to see the entire landscape you're seeing.


Wildlife

In low light conditions, you set the widest aperture on your lens to either f/2.8, f/4, or f/5.6, be aware your ISO will be high in low lighting.


Family pets

F-stop is the same with wildlife, ISO will be lower in bright light.


Marco

The ideal depth of field for macro photography or close-ups is usually always shallow, the common aperture value for macro photography is between f/5.6 and f/11. Small aperture settings are required to ensure that all of your subject's details are sharp and in focus.


Still Life

An f/1.8 aperture will blur your image, making it more difficult to achieve good focus. I'd recommend starting at f/2.8, but f/4.5 is a good mid-range option.


Sunsets / sunrises

When photographing sunsets, most people will use a large aperture, such as f/11, f/16, or greater. This allows for a wider depth of field, allowing for sharp focus from the foreground to the background.


Street

For street photography, the aperture should be between f/5.6 and f/8. That's the quick answer, but it doesn't account for the light condition you're in or what you want to accomplish because of the big depth of field, street photographers prefer F/5.6 and F/8.


Sports

The wider the aperture, the more distinct your subject will become; use f/2.8 to f/3.5 aperture settings. However, sports photographers typically use shutter priority.


Night time

The best settings for night photography are a high ISO, usually starting at 1600 and an open aperture of f/2.8 or f/4. Depending on the photography you are doing at night time, you should capture the night sky with the longest shutter speed where there is no external light.