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Mastering Aperture: A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding This Key Photography Concept

If you’re new to photography, you may have heard the term “aperture” thrown around but aren’t quite sure what it means. Understanding aperture is key to taking stunning, well-exposed photos, so it’s worth learning about.

What is aperture?

In simple terms, aperture refers to the size of the opening in your camera’s lens. When you take a photo, the aperture controls how much light can pass through the lens and reach the camera’s sensor. Aperture is measured in “f-stops,” with a smaller f-stop number indicating a wider aperture and a larger f-stop number indicating a narrower aperture.

Apertures are often referred to in terms of “f-stops,” but it’s important to note that there is another way to measure aperture, known as “t-stops.” While f-stops are based on the size of the aperture opening, t-stops are based on the actual amount of light that passes through the lens. In other words, t-stops take into account factors such as lens transmission and other variables that can affect the amount of light reaching the camera’s sensor. As a result, t-stops are often considered to be a more accurate way to measure aperture, especially for videographers who need precise control over the amount of light entering the lens. However, for most photographers, f-stops are sufficient for most purposes.

It’s important to note that there is another way to measure aperture, known as “t-stops.” While f-stops are based on the size of the aperture opening, t-stops are based on the actual amount of light that passes through the lens. In other words, t-stops consider factors such as lens transmission and other variables that can affect the amount of light reaching the camera’s sensor. As a result, t-stops are often considered more accurate for measuring aperture, especially for videographers who need precise control over the amount of light entering the lens. However, for most photographers, f-stops are sufficient for most purposes. This is why cine lenses are often measured in t-stops.

Why is it important?

It allows you to control the depth of field in your photos. Depth of field refers to the portion of the photo that is in focus. When you have a narrow aperture (a large f-stop number i.e. f14), you will have a deeper depth of field, meaning more of the photo will be in focus. This is useful for landscape photography or other situations where you want to keep a large portion of the scene in focus. On the other hand, a wider aperture (a smaller f-stop number i.e. f2) will create a shallower depth of field, resulting in a blurry background and a more prominent subject. This is often used in portrait photography to draw attention to the subject.

In addition to depth of field, aperture also plays a role in the overall exposure of your photos. Aperture, along with shutter speed and ISO, is one of the three factors that make up the exposure triangle. When you increase the aperture, you are letting in more light, which can help to brighten up a photo. Conversely, decreasing the aperture will reduce the amount of light coming in, resulting in a darker photo.


Now that you have a basic understanding of aperture, you can start experimenting with this key photography concept to take your photos to the next level. Be bold and play around with different f-stop numbers and see how it affects your shots’ depth of field and overall exposure. With a bit of practice, you’ll soon be a pro at mastering aperture!

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