How Does a Camera Lens Aperture Work?

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Camera lens aperture works by changing the amount of light and the depth of field of a photograph by opening and closing the aperture. Use a more open aperture for low light photographs and a closed aperture for shooting in bright light with information from a professional photographer in this free video on photography and cameras.

Part of the Video Series: Digital Camera Technology
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Video Transcript

Hi, my name is James Flint. I'm a professional photographer, and I'd like to take a moment to talk to you about how the camera lens aperture works. First off, it's important to understand the function of an aperture. You can basically think of the aperture as, like, your camera's eye. The more it is open, the more light that is going to come into your camera, but the less depth of field you will have. The more you close it, the less light will come into your camera, but you will be increasing your depth of field. Now, it kind of gets a little confusing because the bigger the aperture is opened, the smaller your apertured number. So an aperture of, like, two or four is going to have a very wide open eye, wide open aperture, and it's going to allow a lot more light to come into the camera. This is ideal if you, you know, if you're in a low light situation, if you don't have your aperture open wide enough you're not going to get enough light in and you're not going to capture an image. You can see here, on my camera, that I have a spin dial right on the front, and this controls the aperture. The lowest aperture setting on this camera is 3.5. The highest aperture setting on this camera is 22. Aperture is also called a F-stop, so someone might call that F22. Again, there's multiple ways to say the same thing with cameras. But it's just mostly important to understand that as you decrease the number of your F-stop, like going down to, like, 2 or 3.5 you're going to make that eye wider and more open so more light can come in, and, consequently, if you close it down with a larger F-stop number, you're going to have a smaller opening. Less light will come in, but at the same time you're gaining a greater depth of field so you'll be able to shoot things and focus both, in say, your foreground and your background as opposed to being able to only focus on one. So, it's important, if you want to have manual control over your camera and adjust your own settings, to have a working understanding of the aperture. And those are the basics.


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