For Eye-Opening Photos, Learn All About Aperture

Apr 09, 2013

Understanding how aperture—the opening that lets light into a camera—affects your final image is key to taking professional-quality photographs. Learning the basics of aperture settings (and choosing the right camera) will go a long way toward helping you take eye-popping pictures.

 

The aperture can be considered the pupil of the camera’s “eye”—it’s the opening that lets light into the camera so that an image can be captured on the digital imaging surface (or film). Understanding how aperture affects your image results is one of the keys to taking professional-quality photographs.

Improve your pictures by learning all about aperture—and see how a high-quality camera from the Samsung Smart Camera NX system can help you take better photos.

How Aperture Works With Shutter Speed

The aperture, like the pupil of your eye, can grow large (to help see in the dark) or get small (like when it contracts in bright light). This flexibility allows the correct amount of light to enter the camera.

With that in mind, you can think of the shutter as the camera’s eyelid. Shutter speed, then, is a measure of how quickly the shutter “blinks” open and closed when you’re capturing a particular image. It controls how much light is allowed in through the open aperture. A slow shutter speed means lots of light has been let in; a fast shutter speed lets in only a quick blink of light.

F-stop, the Measure of Aperture

F-stop (the F stands for focal ) is a measurement of the size of the aperture opening. The smaller the F-stop number, the larger the aperture. One of the most important things for a photographer to know is how aperture size (F-stop) affects the “depth of field” of the finished photograph.

How Aperture Affects Depth of Field

Depth of field refers to how much of the background of a photographic image is in clear focus. Let’s say you want to take an outdoor portrait photograph of a friend. What you see in your viewfinder (your “field of view”) might include her shoulders, neck, and head, as well as foliage in the background, several feet behind her. A large depth of field would mean a greater focus area. You’d be able to clearly see your friend’s face, as well as the leaves on the foliage—in other words, you’d see clearly deep into the field of view. Greater depth of field is achieved by using a smaller aperture opening—that is, a higher F-stop number, such as F11.

Conversely, a shallow depth of field would mean a shorter focus area. You’d see your friend clearly, but the foliage behind her would be out of focus, which would bring more attention to your friend’s face. Shallow depth of field is achieved with a larger aperture opening (a smaller F-stop number, such as F2). In other words, using a smaller F-stop means your photo will have less depth of field.

Aperture Practice

If you’re looking to take your photography skills up a notch, practicing with the various F-stops on your camera will give you first-hand insight into how aperture affects depth of field. Choose a subject and a background, and then experiment with different F-stops to see the varying results.

Many professional photographers like to control all their camera settings—aperture, shutter speed, and others—to ensure that the resulting image is exactly what they want. The Samsung Smart Camera NX System allows for such control with a full-manual control option. But if you’re still learning about aperture or just want a simplified process, the NX system also lets you select Aperture Priority mode. This gives you full control over F-stop while the camera automatically adjusts shutter speed and other settings, letting you experiment with aperture without worrying about other variables.

The NX System’s Custom button can give you an approximation of what your photograph will look like given your depth of field settings, even before you shoot. The camera adjusts the aperture to the predefined settings and displays the results so you can preview your picture.

The Custom button is a perfect tool for experimenting with your newfound aperture knowledge—and it’s only one of the many features and functions of the Samsung Smart Camera NX that can help you take your photography skills to the next level.