Understanding Camera Aperture and Depth of Field in Photography

In Artwork Skills, Photography Skills
Camera Aperture

To improve your skills in using a camera, Aperture and Depth of Field (DOF) are two terms in photography that you need to understand. This post will discover more about camera aperture and depth of field as obvious and as brief as possible. Camera Aperture is one of the Exposure Triangle elements, in which the other two elements are Shutter Speed and ISO. After reading this post, you’ll know what is aperture and depth of field and what is the relation between aperture and depth of field in capturing an image using a camera.

Understanding Camera Aperture

The definition of Camera Aperture is the measure of how large a camera lens opens when capturing an image. In capturing an image using a camera, if you press the shutter button, the hole in front of the camera sensor will be opening. Then, the aperture setting determines how large the hole opens. The wider the opening hole of a camera lens, the more ray of light will enter the hole that will be read by the camera sensor.

Aperture or the camera lens openness is expressed in a term as “f-stop”. You’ll also often find other photographers express the aperture/openness as decimal numbers such as 5.6. But the formal term of the aperture in photography is expressed as f per decimal numbers such as f/5.6. As what we have read above, the main function of the aperture setting is to determine how large the opening hole in front of the camera sensor. The smaller the f-stop size means the wider the opening hole, and the more the volume of incoming light enters the hole. Conversely, the more the f-stop number, the smaller the opening hole.

So, it doesn’t mean that if you increase the camera aperture setting the wider the hole of camera lens opens. You’ll often novice photographers interpret the camera aperture setting it as such. If you set the camera aperture to f/2.8, it means a much wider the hole of camera lens if comparing to camera aperture setting at f/22. For example (you will often read a term “fully open” in photographers discussions). So, a wide aperture means the smaller the f-number her and a narrow aperture means a higher the f-number.

Understanding Depth of Field (DOF)

The Depth of Field is a measure of how wide the focus area in a photo. A wide Depth of Field means most of the picture object (from the nearest object to the furthest object towards the camera) will look sharp and focused. While a narrow depth of field (shallow) means only part of the object gets sharp at any given point. While the rest will blur / not focus.

The Relation between Aperture and Depth of Field in Photography

Camera Apperture Settings
Image credit: BeeBright/Shutterstock.com

To get a wide depth of field, use a small aperture setting. For example f/22 (the smaller the aperture the wider the focal distance). Take a look at the left photo below. Meanwhile, to get a narrow depth of field, use an aperture setting as large as possible, e.g. f/2.8. Take a look at the right photo below.

Not Focus Photo

A Focus Photo

The concept of depth of field will be very useful, especially in portrait photography and macro photography. But actually, all specialties would also need it. May this post helpful for you to improve your photography skills.

If you know more about aperture, you can share your knowledge in the comment box below. You can also share your photography skills at Skillonpage.com through our guest posting session.

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