Digital Camera Aperture

What are the F-Words regarding Digital Camera Aperture?

When you buy your digital camera, you need to study the manual to find out as much about it as you can. If you have worked with another make or model, you may understand the basic principles of digital camera aperture, although not all models have the facility for manually controlling this function. Generally the cheaper the unit, the less likely it is to have a digital camera aperture that you can control manually. But it's not a bad idea to understand the way digital camera aperture works, even if you can't control it manually.

Professional photographers normally talk about F-stops or F-numbers when they talk about aperture (for example F2.8, F6, F8, F11 and F16), which is basically an opening that allows light to enter the camera. The lower the F-number, the larger the opening will be, and therefore the more light you will get.

The relevance of all this is that the light affects the depth of field of any photograph, which is the size of the area in the picture that is in focus. If you have a deep depth of field, the whole photograph will be in focus. This is often what photographers aim for when they take landscape photographs. If you have a shallow depth of field, your foreground (or subject in the foreground) will look crisp and sharp, but the background will look blurred. This is not necessarily a bad thing, depending on the affect you are aiming to produce.

At this point remember that you will get a shallow depth of field with more light. By controlling the light with your digital camera aperture, you will effectively increase the depth of field.

Here's a hint: Another way to get the effect of a deep depth of field is to use a wide-angle lens. Using a zoom lens will have the opposite effect.

Of course if you don't have the ability to manually control this function, you will need to familiarise yourself with the built-in modes that will enable you to get similar effects. For example you can use a landscape mode to get a deep depth of field, and a macro (or close-up) mode to focus on something close to you. With manual controls you might use F16 for the landscape shot and F2.8 for a close-up. This is how you would control digital camera aperture.

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