What is Aperture

I have been hearing the term aperture for years now. I knew it was something to do with a camera’s lens and in particular its iris. But that is as far as my knowledge on the subject extended. With the daily use of a smartphones’ camera, which has a fixed aperture, I was not interested in finding more on the subject!

More recently, though, I have become more interested in photography and videography. Thus, I have been asking myself – what is aperture? In short, the topic deals with the focal point – your subject; depth-of-field – what you see around your subject; and focal ratio – the amount of light that can get through depending on the type of lens you are using – prime vs zoom, and the available aperture of the iris. Put all those together and you can end up with either great vibrant photographs or flat boring ones, which might not help you convey the effect you were going for.

After watching several videos explaining and demonstrating how aperture and f-stops work, which I am going to embed below, I have created the following reference table for myself. Keep in mind that each side is the extreme and there are progressions between them. It is not a case of either or.

My short aperture guide:

  • Open (large) – Aperture State – Closed (small)
  • Fast – Shutter Speed –  Slow
  • 1 – f-stop – 22
  • Focused with blurred back/foreground (pop) – Focus Subject – Flat (everything)
  • Daytime – When to Use – Nighttime

Below is an image illustrating most of what is in the guide.

Aperture ratio to amount of light and depth-of-field.

I am including several of the videos which helped me understand aperture better.

Camera Basics – Aperture
A Simple Explanation of F-Stop
Aperture and Depth of Field made Easy

Regarding smartphones – even though the cameras on smartphones have fixed aperture, you can still manipulate them some by using mobile lenses. There are many different options on the market when it comes to removable mobile lenses, the ones I use with my Google Pixel 3XL are by Moment, more specifically the Moment M-Series.

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