Lenses For SLR and DSLR Cameras - Aperture and Depth of Field

Aperture and Depth of Field

The aperture of a lens is the opening that regulates the amount of light that passes through the lens. It is controlled by a diaphragm inside the lens, which is in turn controlled either manually or by the exposure circuitry in the camera body.

The relative aperture is specified as an f-number, the ratio of the lens focal length to its effective aperture diameter. A small f-number like f/2.0 indicates a large aperture (more light passes through), while a large f-number like f/22 indicates a small aperture (little light passes through). Aperture settings are usually not continuously variable; instead the diaphragm has typically 5–10 discrete settings. The normal "full-stop" f-number scale for modern lenses is as follows: 1, 1.4, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22, 32, but many lenses also allow setting to half-stop or third-stop increments. A "slow" lens (one that is not capable of passing a lot of light through) might have a maximum aperture from 5.6 to 11, while a "fast" lens (one that can pass more light through) might have a maximum aperture from 1 to 4. Fast lenses are typically larger than slow lenses (for comparable focal length), and typically cost more. The aperture affects not only the amount of light that passes through the lens, but also the depth of field of the resulting image: a larger aperture will have a shallow depth of field, while a smaller aperture will have a greater depth of field.

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