Everything You Actually Need to Know About Aperture and F-Stops

In this exciting installment of EYANtKAP we tackle the “F” word.

The first thing you need to know about aperture is that people use the word interchangeably with f-stop. Though technically they are not the same thing if you drill down deep enough, for our purpose they are essentially the same. Changing the F-Stop is the same as changing the Aperture and has the same effect on your image.

Now that is out of the way lets get down to the daunting task of learning everything you need to know about the complicated, scientific conundrum that is aperture.

  • An aperture is the opening in the back of the lens that lets light through.
  • You adjust the aperture to let more or less light through.
  • A lower number aperture means a larger hole, letting in more light.
  • A higher number means a smaller whole which lets in less light.

I know it sounds backwards that a smaller number means a larger hole, but that’s the way it is folks. There is a reason, but you don’t actually need to know why in order to take great looking photos. Just know that that’s the way it is.

Letting in more or less light via the lens aperture dramatically effects your image in a way other than brightness.

  • A lower number (like say f/1.4) lets a lot of light in and in exchange you have a shallower depth of field. And a a higher number (like say f/22) lets in very little light but makes almost everything in the image be in focus. Numbers in the middle split the difference.

So, if you need more light to get the exposure you want and you can’t or don’t want to raise the ISO and can’t or don’t want to slow down the shutter, or you want a shallower depth of field for aesthetic reasons you lower the number of your f-stop. Want less light so you can use a slower shutter speed or want a deeper depth of field? Go for a higher number f-stop.

That’s it. Not really that complicated after all.


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