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Lens Properties - Aperture
Category: Lenses
Updated 6 months ago by renan


Aperture - is the hole or opening in a lens system where the rays of light passes through. The size of the opening determines the amount of light that enters the sensor of a camera. It is measured in f/number as a ratio between the focal length of the lens and the diameter of the opening. For a 50mm lens for example, with an opening of 28mm the aperture is 50/28 or f/1.8. This means that a larger f/number will have a smaller opening.

lens aperture

By changing the aperture, photographers are able to control the amount of light that enters the sensor, thus managing the exposure of a photograph.

The aperture in photographic lenses can be varied using a mechanical diaphragm composed of thin sheets of metal that are linked together. It acts like an iris in the human eye. The opening can be varied within fixed values that are a factor of the square root of 2 or 1.414 since this is the ratio between the diameter of a hole and the diameter of the resulting hole if you double its area. The increase or decrease of the opening using this factor, doubles or halves the amount of light that passes through accordingly. Each step is called a "Stop".

Standard aperture values in most scales are rounded off and are spaced a stop apart: 1.0, 1.4, 2.0, 2.8, 4.0, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22, etc. Most digital cameras are able to control the aperture in much finer steps to allow more precise adjustments.

Changing the aperture of a lens not only changes the exposure of a shot, but it also has an interesting effect on "depth of field" which could be controlled to provide artistic options to your photography.

Depth of Field - is described as the range of distance at which the subject is in relatively acceptable focus. This varies depending on the focal length, the distance of the subject and the aperture. At the same distance and focal length, a large aperture will provide a shallow depth of field while a small aperture will make it deeper.

depth of field and aperture
The objects within a photograph that are in front or behind the focused zone will be blurred. The farther away they are from the focused zone, the blurrier they get. The aperture used also determines the size of the spread of each detail of the object. This effect is used intentionally by portrait photographers to provide separation between the subject and the background and make the subject appear to "pop out" of the photograph.



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