Although I have already talked about Aperture & Shutter Speed as well as Aperture and Depth of Field, I wanted to show you what the aperture actually looks like. I used the 50mm f/1.8 as an example to show the different size of each f-stop. I shot 8 different shots of the lens opened manually with the aperture ring and compiled them into layers with differing opacities so you can easily compare the difference in lens opening at each stop.


Full stop values are actually 1.4 - 2.0 - 2.8 - 4 - 5.6 - 8 - 11 - 16 - 22 and although this lens only had 1.8 - 2.0 - 2.8… etc. (since it’s widest aperture is f/1.8), you can still get a good idea of what the openings look like. I used this lens because it has an aperture ring while my other lenses don’t.

N.B. If you’ve got a Nikkor 50mm, be sure to lock the aperture ring on f/22 on your DSLR, otherwise you will get an ‘error’ message and your lens won’t work. I learned this the hard way and I thought it was broken!

Ok, back to the apertures:


*click to enlarge

I enhanced the edges of the opening so you can clearly see the sizes.

And just for comparison sake, here are a few on their own:


So, while using a large aperture like f/2.8, you can use a faster shutter speed (less motion blur and camera shake) and you will also get a shallow depth of field.

While using a small aperture like f/22, you need a slower shutter speed to let light in longer (more motion blur and camera shake - use a tripod) and you will get a wide depth of field where pretty much everything will be sharp. Think of when you squint without glasses on and your vision gets sharper because the opening in your eye is smaller.

This lens’ maximum aperture is f/1.8.

Wide Open

Know you know what we’re talking about when we say, “I like shooting wide open!”

Oh, and have you ever wondered why the openings are not perfectly round circles? That’s because the opening is made up of blades. To show you what I’m talking about, here’s a shot where you can see the blades:


*click to enlarge

Not all lenses are created equal, so your lens may not look like this one. This is just to give you a concrete concept of aperture. By visualizing what the f-stops correspond to in your lens, you may find it easier to decide with f-stop to use and the reasons why. I’m a visual learner, so seeing this in person helped me to remember the finer points of aperture. I hope it helps you too!

Laura is a Vancouver wedding and portrait photographer. Visit laurahana.com.