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Tips & Tricks

How To Control Depth Of Field With Aperture | Minute Photography

By Kezhia Rodriguez on May 8th 2017

Do you love that cinematic shallow depth of field in portraiture? We’re going to show you how to use the lens’s aperture to control the depth of field in less than 60 seconds.

We partnered with CreativeLive to  bring you the tips and tricks from our
Photography 101 Workshop to help you master photography with the most basic of gear. Stay up-to-date with the latest from this series here!

What is Aperture?

Aperture refers to the diameter of the opening that allows for light to enter the lens and hit the camera sensor. Aperture size is measured in focal ratios and denoted as f/numbers. The simplest way to understand aperture size is:

  • Wide aperture = lower f/number
  • Narrow aperture = higher f/number

Because apertures are measured fractionally, the wider the aperture the lower the f/number (f/2). The narrower the aperture, the higher the f/number (f/22).

[ REWIND: How to Adjust Shutter Speed, Aperture, & ISO ]

F-Stop and Depth of Field

Depth of field in an image correlates to the size of the aperture. An easy way to remember this is, the lower your f-number, the shallower your depth of field. Likewise, the higher your f-number, the deeper your depth of field.

  • Wide aperture = f/2 = shallow/smaller depth of field
  • Narrow aperture = f/22 = deeper/larger depth of field

Typical kit lenses don’t offer wide apertures. But, simple inexpensive (varying from $100 to $2000) 50mm prime lenses is a wonderful first addition in your kit to achieve a cinematic shallow depth of field in portraiture: Canon, Nikon, and Sigma.

[ REWIND: How Lens Affects Composition ]

F-Stops and Exposure

Not only does the size of your aperture control your depth of field, but also the exposure.

  • Wide aperture = f/2 = more light and brighter exposure
  • Narrow aperture = f/22 = less light and darker exposure

Understanding aperture is one of the keys to mastering Manual exposure. Learn more about the Exposure Triangle from Photography 101 here:

 

Master Manual Mode and the basics of photography in the Photography 101 Workshop. Upgrade to SLR Lounge Premium for unlimited streaming to a collection of photography education, ranging from technical to lighting to post-processing and more!

Writer for SLR Lounge.

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