Understanding Aperture – A Beginner’s Guide

Aperture is one of the three pillars of photography, the other two being ISO and Shutter Speed. Without a doubt, it is the most talked about subject, because aperture either adds a dimension to a photograph by blurring the background, or magically brings everything in focus. In this article, I will try to explain everything I know about aperture in very simple language.

American Robin

NIKON D300 @ 340mm, ISO 200, 1/320, f/5.6

Before reading any further, I highly recommend reading about what a DSLR camera consists of.

1) What is Aperture?

Simply put, aperture is a hole within a lens, through which light travels into the camera body. It is easier to understand the concept if you just think about our eyes. Every camera that we know of today is designed like human eyes. The cornea in our eyes is like the front element of a lens – it gathers all external light, then bends it and passes it to the iris. Depending on the amount of light, the iris can either expand or shrink, controlling the size of the pupil, which is a hole that lets the light pass further into the eye. The pupil is essentially what we refer to as aperture in photography. The amount of light that enters the retina (which works just like the camera sensor), is limited to the size of the pupil – the larger the pupil, the more light enters the retina.

So, the easiest way to remember aperture, is by associating it with your pupil. Large pupil size equals large aperture, while small pupil size equals small aperture.

2) Size of Aperture – Large vs Small Aperture

The iris of the lens that controls the size (diameter) of the aperture is called “diaphragm” in optics. The sole purpose of the diaphragm is to block or stop all light, with the exception of the light that goes through the aperture. In photography, aperture is expressed in f-numbers (for example f/5.6). These f-numbers that are known as “f-stops” are a way of describing the size of the aperture, or how open or closed the aperture is. A smaller f-stop means a larger aperture, while a larger f-stop means a smaller aperture. Most people find this awkward, since we are used to having larger numbers represent larger values, but not in this case. For example, f/1.4 is larger than f/2.0 and much larger than f/8.0.

Take a look at this chart (image courtesy of Wikipedia):


The size of the circle represents the size of the lens aperture – the larger the f-number, the smaller the aperture.

3) What is Depth of Field?

One important thing to remember here, the size of the aperture has a direct impact on the depth of field, which is the area of the image that appears sharp. A large f-number such as f/32, (which means a smaller aperture) will bring all foreground and background objects in focus, while a small f-number such as f/1.4 will isolate the foreground from the background by making the foreground objects sharp and the background blurry.

Depth of Field

As you can see, just changing the aperture from f/2.8 to f/8.0 has a big effect on how much of WALL-E is in focus and how visible the background gets. If I had used a much smaller aperture such as f/32 in this shot, the background would be as visible as WALL-E.

Another example:


NIKON D700 @ 48mm, ISO 200, 1/1600, f/2.8

In the above example, due to the shallow depth of field, only the word “Cougar” appears sharp, while everything else in the front and behind of that word is blurred. If I had used a larger aperture such as f/1.4 and focused on one of the letters, probably only that letter would have been sharp, while everything else would have been blurred out. The larger the aperture, the smaller the area in focus (depth of field).

4) Lens Apertures: Maximum and Minimum

Every lens has a limit on how large or how small the aperture can get. If you take a look at the specifications of your lens, it should say what the maximum (lowest f-number) and minimum apertures (highest f-number) of your lens are. The maximum aperture of the lens is much more important than the minimum, because it shows the speed of the lens. A lens that has an aperture of f/1.2 or f/1.4 as the maximum aperture is considered to be a fast lens, because it can pass through more light than, for example, a lens with a maximum aperture of f/4.0. That’s why lenses with large apertures are better suited for low light photography.

The minimum aperture is not that important, because almost all modern lenses can provide at least f/16 as the minimum aperture, which is typically more than enough for everyday photography needs.

Nikon 50mm f1.4 AF-S

There are two types of lenses: “fixed” (also known as “prime”) and “zoom”. While zoom lenses give you the flexibility to zoom in and out (most point and shoot cameras have zoom lenses) without having to move closer or away from the subject, fixed or prime lenses only have one focal length. Due to the complexity of optical design for zoom lenses, many of the consumer lenses have variable apertures. What it means, is that when you are fully zoomed out, the aperture is one number, while zooming in will increase the f-number to a higher number. For example, the Nikon 18-200mm lens has a variable maximum aperture of f/3.5-f/5.6. When zoomed fully out at 18mm, the lens has an aperture of f/3.5, while when fully zoomed in at 200mm, the lens has an aperture of f/5.6. The heavy, professional zoom lenses, on the other hand, typically have fixed apertures. For example, the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens has the same maximum aperture of f/2.8 at all focal lengths between 70mm and 200mm.

Why is this important? Because larger maximum aperture means that the lens can pass through more light, and hence, your camera can capture images faster in low-light situations. Having a larger maximum aperture also means better ability to isolate subjects from the background.

If you have any questions, comments or feedback, please post them in the comments section below.

  • http://lostpastremembered.blogspot.com/ deana@lostpastremembered

    I am getting my new Nikon slr this week after using a good point and shoot, I was wondering about getting that 55 lens since it is obviously part of the 18-200. I guess I wonder if I can do the macro closeup with blurred backround with this lens… or it is best to get the 55 so I can have more choices?

    Thanks so much for the tutorials, btw. They are really helpful to the novice!

    • https://photographylife.com Nasim Mansurov


      Could you let me know what Nikon camera you are getting so that I could recommend the lenses for it? If you are getting any of the entry-level DSLRs, they typically come with a Nikon 18-55mm VR lens, which is an excellent lens for everyday use.

      For food photography though, I would recommend a different lens with a much larger maximum aperture. Take a look at this Nikon 50mm f/1.4 – we use it for our food photography and couldn’t be happier.

      When you take pictures of food, having a small area of the food in focus while having the rest blurred makes pictures and the food look much more pleasant to the eyes.

      Please let me know if you have any other questions.

      • Jose Santiago

        Nasim, thanks for taking the time to write all the newbie tips for taking pictures. I have one question please. I have a Canon SX40 HS and i would like to take a great picture of my sons graduation. When he is on stage and i am about 20 30 yards away, what is the best setting so my picture does not become dark? I bought this camera as it has 35x zoom.

        Any of your great input would be very much appreciated.


        Jose Santiago

      • polly

        Hi Nasim,

        I am a beginner at food photography and I have done a couple of assignments with my 50mm 1.8 lens. Would you rather that I trade my lens for the faster 1.4? Just curious. I have mostly shot in natural light and I have not felt the need to use a tripod (it restricts my angles, surely). But sometimes my focus goes awry.I mean I noticed a portion of the food would be in focus while the other not quite. Frustrates me. I feel I am not focussing right! Any tips for that?
        I also was wondering if there is a anywhere I could read about using light for food photography. That would be great. Asking for your recommendation cause I feel then I just can’t go wrong.
        Thanks a bunch.


      • Mohamed


        I am new to photography and have found your site extremely helpful. My interests are in Landscape and Wildlife photography, which I believe both require very different lenses.which lenses do you recommend? I currently own a Nikon D3200, do you think I would be better off with an FX format camera like the D600?

        Greatly appreciate the effort you guys put into this site,
        Many thanks


      • jay vargus


        I am doing clothing photography. I am using a white seemless background as all picture need to be in a total white background. I need the entire shirt to be in focus. This will be done sometimes on a model and other times using a mannequin. I am completely lost to get the best crispest pictures. I am using a Nikon D7000 camera.

    • Gracie

      Very helpful! I just bought a Nikon D5100 and I am a beginner so your article was great! It came with the standard 18-55mm lens. I am on somewhat of a budget, what would you recommend for lens that takes good portraits and I would like to know what lens would be good for shooting landscape/wildlife. Thanks!


    • MITRA


  • shams

    Very helpful. Thanks a lot.

    Just a question, when do we need smaller than 14..15.. etc “f” numbers ?
    Average f no’s in my photos are between 6 and 10. (apart from some macros)

    • https://photographylife.com Nasim Mansurov

      Shams, you are welcome. When not using flash, smaller f-numbers are needed for two reasons:
      a) to decrease the depth of field (i.e. isolate subject from the background)
      b) to allow more light into the lens in low-light situations

  • Alisher

    Nasim, after reading the article I was playing around with my Lumix FZ 35. I was trying to get a blurry background using Apperture priority mode but was not able to get one. Everything is in focus. I was using f2.8 and zoomed out all the way. What am I doing wrong?

    • https://photographylife.com Nasim Mansurov

      Alisher, keep your aperture at f/2.8, get physically closer to your subject, then zoom in. Take a picture and your background should be blurred.

      The distance between you and your subject, along with the focal length of your lens are both important to be able to blur the background. The closer you are to the subject and the more zoomed in the lens is, the less the depth of field should be, resulting in background blur.

  • Alisher

    Actually, I was shooting from realy small distance. I thought that in order to get a blurry background the lenses should be zoomed out all the way. I will try with zoom-in. Will let you know results.

    • https://photographylife.com Nasim Mansurov

      Alisher, sounds good. Since you are doing this with a point and shoot, the background might not appear completely blurred, because the lens aperture will increase to a higher number as you zoom in. This is normal, since the only way to completely blur the background is to use fast aperture prime lenses on DSLRs…

  • Alisher

    Yeah, I’ve noticed that aperture is increasing with zoom-in. The thing is that on specialized forums dedicated to this particular model I’ve seen a lot of pictures taken by FZ-35/38 with blurry background. I was just wondering what I am doing wrong. Last night I was able to get the background somewhat blurry, but as you said it was not complete blurry. Will keep playing around with aperture, may be need to go outside to shot same pictures – will see how it goes.

    You said that you mostly shoot in “aperture priority” mode. What principle do you use to change the aperture number? Thanks for all comments.

    PS. I’ve seen “Tesha akani o’gli” today, vspominali armiyu:)

    • https://photographylife.com Nasim Mansurov

      Alisher, since the depth of field on point and shoot cameras is typically larger due to lens design, you need to make sure that there is nothing close in proximity to the object you are taking a picture of. The further the background, the more blurry it will appear. That’s probably why the background is not blurred – because it is very close to your depth of field.

      Can you post any of the samples from your camera with the best and worst case scenario?

      In terms of aperture priority mode, if your camera has that mode, set it to aperture priority, then set the aperture to the lowest number. That way the shutter speed will automatically be computed by the camera metering system. Once set to aperture priority mode, try pressing up/down buttons on the camera back to change aperture. I’m not sure how it is changed on your camera, but if those buttons don’t do anything, I would look at the manual and see how to change aperture of the lens.

      Muminovu ogromniy privet! :) I miss him dearly!

  • Alisher

    Background WAS very close to the object indeed, since I was shooting indoors at home. I will try to shoot some pictures outdoors.

    I already know what “apperture priority” mode means and how it works and I do have this mode on my camera. It is very handy to switch aperture using joystick. What I was asking for is what kind of situation or shooting object would be reason for you to change aperture, for example to increase it? Do I need to increase aperture only if I want larger depth of field?

    I will pass your regards to Sher when I see him next time.

    • https://photographylife.com Nasim Mansurov

      Aha! That’s the reason why it didn’t get that blurred :) Definitely give it a try outside, but keep the aperture at the lowest number.

      In terms of increasing aperture – yes, you are right. You should increase the aperture to get a larger depth of field (when taking pictures of landscapes, etc).

  • Alisher

    Ok, got it. Thank you for all your advices. Will be waiting for new articles! Happy holidays to you and your family, bro!

    • https://photographylife.com Nasim Mansurov

      Alisher, you are welcome! Happy holidays to you too! Domashnim ogromniy privet!

  • Hardjono

    Alisher, you mentioned about the specialized forums dedicated to FZ-35 model. May I know the address to that forum? I also own the FZ-35 and would like to learn more about all the features it has. Thanks!

  • Hardjono

    thank you! btw, I love your beginner’s guide articles!

    • https://photographylife.com Nasim Mansurov

      You are most welcome! Let me know if you have any questions :)

      Happy New Year!

  • Steven Tan

    Hi Mr. Mansurov,

    I’ve read ur article since I was confused what type of dslr I have to bought. Now I had D90 for my first camera, & so happy to have it :p
    I want to ask about apperture priority that u’re using mostly to take a picture.
    I’m learning to use A-mode too in my D90, what i need to ask is when I want to take a picture in a room that have less light, which stop do u usually use?
    Because the shutter speed is so slow, & I got blurry images.
    FYI, I used 18-105 lens kit
    Thx b4

    • https://photographylife.com Nasim Mansurov

      Steven, the above article should work for any DSLR, including your D90.

      When you photograph indoors or in a low-light environment, always decrease your aperture to the smallest number. That way, your aperture opens up and lets more light into the camera sensor and increases your shutter speed. For your 18-105mm lens, the aperture varies between f/3.5 and f/5.6, so try to keep it in that range.

      If you are still getting blurry images, try increasing your ISO to a larger number such as ISO 800 or 1600. You will get some noise in the pictures, but the images should not be blurry, depending on the amount of light in the room.

      Hope this helps.

  • http://www.truphotos.com gnohz

    Hi Nasim,
    Thanks for the article. I need some advice on using macro lenses if you don’t mind :)

    I’m thinking of getting a Micro-Nikkor AFS 60mm for food photography. As the pictures I’m thinking of taking are unplanned (restaurants etc) and might be low light, I’m planning on taking the photos at f2.8 or at most f3.5 to maximise ambient light.

    I understand that for “real” macro photography, I need to stop down the aperture to get more DOF, or it’ll all end up looking blurry, but most probably I won’t be using 1:1 magnification for food shots.

    Mostly I should be shooting the dishes with some background, utensils etc, so do you think f2.8~f3.5 would be enough DOF, or would it be too thin? Thanks for any advice :)

    • https://photographylife.com Nasim Mansurov

      gnohz, why are you planning to buy a macro lens for food photography? Why don’t you get a fast aperture lens like the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G instead? Lola shoots all of her food with the Nikon 50mm and she loves it!

      • http://www.truphotos.com gnohz

        Hi Nasim,

        Thanks for your reply.
        The reason for getting a macro lens is because sometimes I felt like taking some close up shots of the food and I find the minimum focusing distance to be somewhat limiting. And also apart from food, I also plan to take close ups of other subjects/still life :)

        Could you let me know what is the minimum f number you shoot for food so as not to get an overly small depth of field, but still able to shoot in slightly low light conditions (ie, indoors without flash)?

        Thanks so much for your advice.

        • https://photographylife.com Nasim Mansurov

          I see :) In that case, the 60mm macro seems like a good candidate. For food photography, the apertures that work the best for us are between f/2.0 and f/4.0, depending on subject distance.

          • http://www.truphotos.com gnohz

            Thanks for the help and information! Appreciate it a lot :)

      • Mj Photography

        Nasim, I’m using a Canon 1100D I would like to know which telephoto lens would be best suitable for an 1100D?

        And I also would like to know what does a tilt and shift lens do?
        I’m already making extra money out of the portait pictures I take of clients, your articles are very helpful thanks.

  • David

    Hi Nasim, Thank you very much for this guide. I just picked up the Nikon D5000 a couple of days back and totally lovin’ it ! So far as my reading goes, the Aperture mode seems to be the best way to play around with the settings than getting into pure play manual mode – at least from a dslr newbie point of view.

    Currently i am on the 18-55 VR lens and i hope to purchase the 35mm f1.8 lens once ive learnt how to use the camera properly.

    Thanks again.


    • https://photographylife.com Nasim Mansurov

      David, you are most welcome! Yes, the 35mm f/1.8 will open up brand new opportunities for you and you will immediately fall in love with it :)

      Congratulations with your purchase. Let me know if you have any questions.

      • https://mustang0312.wordpress.com David

        Thank you for your reply Nasim. Ive been taking pictures through the weekend and have taken some good ones and some not so good ones. However, Ive been reading your site extensively and figured the first proper foothold I could get is work on the ” aperture ” mode, Auto ISO – Max it to 1600 and min shutter speed to 1/100 and then take pictures.

        the D5000 offers many other options – The scene mode , macro and so on… Im trying to find what can be used for what.

        Another major difficulty Ive seen is taking pictures in Low Light. But after reading from your site, i guess i have quite a lot to work on.

        I will come back with further questions. As of now, Its ‘A’ mode, ISO settings, Matrix metering and click pictures..


        • https://photographylife.com Nasim Mansurov

          David, yes, learn how to use Aperture priority mode and turn Auto ISO on to get started. Min shutter speed 1/100 is good for most situations, but bear in mind that if you need to freeze action, you will need to watch your shutter speed and perhaps even increase it.

          I wouldn’t worry about other modes, since all they do is tweak your aperture, shutter speed and ISO. In some cases they might change autofocus behavior, but you should just learn how to use those yourself and make changes manually. D5000 is a great camera to get started and once you learn all the functions, you can take some beautiful pictures with it.

          In terms of low light situations, most photographers have challenges, not just you :) I have written a long article on low-light photography, which I recommend to read and learn from. Try taking pictures in all kinds of situations – from very bright to very dark. That way you will quickly understand what works and what doesn’t and your learning experience will be less frustrating :)

          • https://mustang0312.wordpress.com David

            Thanks Nasim. I did just that.. I turned on the Auto ISO setting, set it to Max 1600 and the shutter to 1/100 and I immediately started noticing the difference.

            Yes, I have been reading your article on low light photography and find it immensely useful. I, however, need to work on the standing posture as i have noticed the shake.

            I am eager to learn as riding season starts soon and I wouldnt want to take blurry pictures of the places in riding to.


            • https://photographylife.com Nasim Mansurov

              David, one of these days I need to ask my wife to take a picture of me holding the camera, so that I can explain how to properly hold a DSLR. Maybe we’ll do a video, we’ll see.

            • David

              that will be absolutely fantastic. Thanks so much.


              “David, one of these days I need to ask my wife to take a picture of me holding the camera, so that I can explain how to properly hold a DSLR. Maybe we’ll do a video, we’ll see.”

      • http://mustang0312.wordpress.com David

        Nasim – just thought id let you know.. Im swapping the 18-55 lens for a 35 f 1.8 d prime lens tomorrow… i hope this opens a whole new world of photography..


        • https://photographylife.com Nasim Mansurov

          David, it absolutely will! You will love the 35mm after 18-55mm for sure :)

  • http://www.didakta.ba Sanny

    Hello Nasim, i just love your articles, they are so helpful.
    My question is related to blurry images. i bought Canon eos 550d not so long ago and when i shoot pictures, some of them are crystal clear ( that is one out of 20 ) and rest of them are just a litle bit blurry, but enough to be bad. they look like person is moving little bit in a low light with low iso, but im shooting them on sunny afternoon. im getting blur pictures even with iso 800 or 1600. im shooting in AV mode and i would like to get pictures if its possible on iso 100, 200 or 400. if i put f to 3.5 im having problem with depth of field even on small distances ( 5 to 10cm ). im geting clear focus on one person, and other one is blurry ( even though they are standing next to each other ). is it possible that my Auto focus is not doing good job?
    i would appreciate if you could tell me how to make clear picture of my son with my wife holding him in her hands, and to make them both perfectly clear ( its not low light situation, its bright daylight shooting ). do i have to increase F and how much, and would EOS 550d do a good job on AV mode for that photo, and how much should my shooter speed be for clear photos. ( when i increase shooter speed, i need to pump up the iso, and i really hate the noise ).
    tnx alot,


    • https://photographylife.com Nasim Mansurov

      Sanny, what is the shutter speed when you shoot in AV mode? Just make sure that it stays fast enough to avoid motion blur.

      In terms of depth of field, just don’t stand too close to your wife and your son and shoot from a further distance. What lens are you shooting with?

  • http://www.truphotos.com gnohz

    if I’m not wrong, I think your shutter speed is a little on the low side and that causes the blur. Are you shooting indoors? Even if it’s bright daylight, shooting outdoors and indoors does make a difference. Generally, a prefered shutter speed is 1/n where n is the focal length. So if you’re shooting at 50mm, the shutter speed should be at least 1/50 secs so as to minimise any hand shake.

    Hope this helps :)

    • http://www.truphotos.com gnohz

      Sorry, the above post was supposed to be meant for Sanny.

    • https://photographylife.com Nasim Mansurov

      Thank you for your suggestion gnohz! I think his problem is that he is using a very small aperture like f/10 and is standing too close to his subjects, which is ultimately resulting in slower shutter speeds…

  • Trisha

    I have a question. I have the Olympus E-420 and it has an Aperture mode on it. I am taking a photography class and cant seem to get my depth of filed right. When I tried it yesterday, it worked fine, but today it just keeps taking the same picture. I have read too many articles about this until I got sick on my stomach and got a headache. Can you please tell me what I am doing wrong? I have the kit lens which is a 14-42 lens and I bought a 70-300mm lens. I wanted to use my 70-300 for close ups to show the intensity. I am stuck and at a loss. I have to turn an assignment in and I do not know what to do at this point.

    • https://photographylife.com Nasim Mansurov

      Trisha, your depth of field depends on the subject distance – i.e. how far you are standing from the subject. If you are standing very close, you will get more background blur (obviously you need to shoot at your maximum aperture such as f/1.4 or f/3.5). If you have a zoom lens, zoom in all the way to get as close to the subject as you can. If you stand far away, you subject will be out of your depth of field and the background will not be blurred.

      So, try this:
      1) Stand as close to the subject as you can
      2) Shoot at maximum aperture
      3) Zoom in all the way

      If your lens cannot focus, it means that you are standing too close. Move back a little and try again. And by the way, don’t try to produce bokeh with your 14-42 lens at 14mm. Use your 70-300mm instead.

      Hope this helps.

  • Trisha

    Thank you, Nasim. I have been reading my manual and the 1985 edition of “Photography” and finally figured a lot of it out. Sometimes I like things broken down to me as if I were in junior high though. This really helped and I appreciate the feedback!

    • https://photographylife.com Nasim Mansurov

      Trisha, I somehow missed your comment and never responded. Sorry about that!

      Thank you for your feedback!

  • http://www.facebook.com/pritam83 Pritam Karmakar

    Hi Nasim,

    I’m very new to DSLR world and I found your articles are very informative and what impress me a lot is not confusing. I see hundreds of article in internet but they have too much technical details which may confuse beginners. So many thanks to you for writing those great stuff.

    I need one help I’m planning to buy one DSLR. And I see many Canon cameras. And as per my budget I like Canon Rebel T2i (550D). Please let me know which Nikon model you want to refer me as well.


    • https://photographylife.com Nasim Mansurov

      Pritam, the T2i is a great camera and will work great as an entry-level DSLR. Go with it if you prefer Canon.

  • VJ

    In one of your posts you stated
    ” December 24, 2009 at 11:07 pm
    Aha! That’s the reason why it didn’t get that blurred :) Definitely give it a try outside, but keep the aperture at the lowest number.

    In terms of increasing aperture – yes, you are right. You should increase the aperture to get a larger depth of field (when taking pictures of landscapes, etc).”

    By increasing aperture do you get a larger depth of field? …..do you mean by decreasing aperture (or increasing F-STOP) you get a larger depth of field?
    Can you clarify? I am fairly new to photography.

    • http://www.truphotos.com gnohz

      I’m not trying to hijack the discussion, but you’re right. You need to close down the aperture (which is equal to increasing the f number) to get a larger depth of field :)

    • https://photographylife.com Nasim Mansurov

      VJ, when I said “increase aperture”, I meant “increase f-number”. Yes, to get a larger depth of field, you need to stop down to a larger f-number.

  • Maureen

    I am preparing to shoot my first “assignment” for the coming Easter Day at my Church.
    Activities under adequate light is fine but I am not too sure how to manage the low light conditions during the start of the drama e.g. Stage light only condition.

    I have Nikon D80′ lenses I will be using is 18-200mm and tokina 12-24mm.

    Appreciate some helpful pointers from u and recommended settings for white balance, and ISO.
    Many thanks

  • JX

    Hello Nasim,

    I recently stumbled upon your website and have enjoyed reading your articles thus far. I am new to photography and recently got my D90 + 18-55mm. I have read the manual and your Beginner’s Guides to ISO, Aperture…however, I am still at a loss as to where to start! Coming from a point-and-shoot, it suddenly seems like I have many variables to play with and although I can understand how each of those settings affect the photograph (from your guides), I have no idea how they should come together to make a great picture. I’d like your advice on how I should actually go about getting started with my camera [apart from shooting in Auto mode ;) ]. I have tried messing within each of the modes but all my pictures turned out worse than what I got with Auto mode; I must be doing something wrong somewhere and I hope you can lead me in the right direction.

  • Mamta

    Hi Naseem,

    I am very new to DSLR world and have a basic DSLR for now (18-55mm/f3.5-5.6). I want to buy 50mm/f1.8. Also, at the same time I want a zoom lens as well (18-200mm). Let me know if I can use both the lenses together? Also, is there another lens that I should go for instead of buying two seperate lenses (one for wide angle and another for zooming).

    Appreciate your help,

  • Andrea M

    Hi Nasim,
    I am really hoping you still check this! I am really trying to understand aperture, but the one thing that keeps getting me is HOW a larger opening/aperture means LESS stuff, forward and back, that is in focus… and a smaller opening/aperture makes more things forward and back in focus… it just does NOT make sense to me.
    I would think a larger opening would give a lot more, in foreground and background, in focus. Why does it not?

    Also, I have the Nikon D5000 with the Kit lens (AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6G)
    Based on the last paragraph of this article I am a little confused – can I still take pictures that have a lower aperture?? Nevermind on this. I just played with my camera and realized that NO, I can only go as low as 3.5 or 5.6 depending on whether I am zoomed out or in respectively. Very interesting!

    I am asking all this b/c I am doing photography of infants and children and would like to not only be able to achieve a shallow depth of field, but also to UNDERSTAND it.

    Will an aperture setting of f/3.5 or f/5.6 still give me a shallow depth of field when doing children and infant photography? If not, what type of lens would you recommend??

    Thank you!!
    Andrea M

  • kulpuia

    very informative :P

  • Rose

    This information is amazing. I have ordered a canon 1100D with the standard 18-55mm lense and have been reading up info on getting started in photography and have learnt more from your page than all the others put together. Thank you SO much!

  • Tammy

    Ok I have a Nikon d5000. Just got a new lens 18-105. Tried to take action shots in action mode…they were blurry. I have a 55-200 and take action shots with it in same mode and they come out great. Why???

  • pragadeesh

    hello sir ,
    I’m so much interested in photography that I would like to know about aperture settings for zoom lens.
    There is also a setting like ‘point focus’, can it be possible to point focus on a subject by having more aperture? or achieve depth of field?
    Can the aperture be changed for a zoom lens the is set up to the maximum focal length?As you said that “……while when fully zoomed in at 200mm, the lens has an aperture of f/5.6″
    Just a question out of curiosity-Would this type of setting be helpful in focusing on the background rather than foreground ?
    And What does ‘G’ refer to in ‘f/1.4G’ ?
    I’m naive in photography and someone who hasn’t started eperimenting with the SLR(not owning one)…
    Thanks !

  • Anatoly

    Hi Nasim,

    Thank you very much for sharing your extensive knowledge with the rest of us.

    I was just wondering if you could recommend a good inexpensive lens for indoor portraits. I’m trying to capture my 4.5 yo daughter with 18-55 kit lens on D5100 Nikon and results are passable but not very impressive. Also could you maybe post a listing of default settings that you would use on DSLR such as max ISO, WB offset, max/min f stop etc. that you would use for 90% of the time, meaning daily photography of kids family parties for both indoors and outdoors environments. Scene modes are great but one of the reasons I have SLR is to have more control of my settings vs letting computer make all the decisions.
    Thanks again for a great site.

  • Anbu

    Great tutorial for Bokeh and Aperture settings..The way you explain is tooo good.. thanks a lott for eye opening…:)

  • Lisa

    Hi! I have a Canon Rebel T3i EOS 600D which came with a Canon Zoom 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 IS II lense.
    I am wanting to increase the blurred background on my portraits of people, bugs, etc. am thinking of purchasing the EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM. Is that a good idea? the best idea?
    how much of an increase would I see in the blur? I don’t want the camera shake – so am interested in lenses that have the IS option, but am not sure if I am going to see much of a difference in the blur for the amount of money I’ll be spending on the 2nd lense. please advise.

    • Mayowa Obigbesan

      For people portraits, if you already own the EF 50mm f/1.4, you should be fine getting blurred backgrounds. A point of note is that the subject should be quite distant from the background.

      For Macro Photography, I will advise you invest in a good tripod and and not rely on the IS function of the lens you purchase.

      I suspect you don’t have the EF 50mm f/1.4 lens and you are thinking the EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM will cater to both portraits of people and bugs. On this note, I am curious as well.

      I hope I have helped you some.

      • Tokunbo

        I just finished taking some pictures with my Nikon D90 on its 18 to 103mm and most of the pictures came out blurry. What could be responsible ?

  • Rajkumar Mundel

    Hi Nasim Mansurov,

    I am going to photo shot at Holi festival(which is full of colors + water) in India.

    I have Canon 550D 18-55mm(1:3.5-5.6) IS II lens.

    Could you please tell me what will be the best camera setting to click this event.

    Rajkumar Mundel

  • Mayowa Obigbesan

    Nasim Mansurov,

    I would like to say thank you for a well written post providing clarity to my Aperture and DOF issues.
    Finally I have gotten rid f the confusion that has been plaguing me for a while.

    Here’s to great photographs.

    Best Regards

    • Olumide

      Hi Mayowa, I am still absolutely confused about DOF ! The alternate between aperture numbers and aperture. What affects DOF? What makes a large Or small DOF ? What causes blurry background?

      • Mayowa Obigbesan

        Hi Olumide,

        Are you familiar with the Canon 50mm f/1.8 II prime lens? I would like to use it as an example in aiding me answer your questions.

        1a. This lens has f/1.8 as its maximum aperture ‘value’ and f/22 is its minimum aperture ‘value'; the smaller numbers apparently represent higher aperture values.

        1b. At its max. aperture value (f/1.8), the aperture (lens opening) will be wide open, which allows in a lot of light. Whereas, at its min. aperture value (f/22), the aperture (lens opening) will be really small, which allows in less light. I’m sure you’ve experienced how this affects your shutterspeed i.e. faster shutterspeeds at max. aperture value against slower shutter speeds at min. aperture value.

        2. At its max. aperture (f/1.8), it will have the smallest DOF (area that is sharp and in focus) and at its min. aperture (f/22), it will have the largest DOF ( a wider area that is sharp and in focus).]

        3. At its max. aperture (f/1.8), since the DOF is small, your subject will be in focus and the background will be blurry; provided that there is adequate distance between your subject and the background. At its minimum aperture (f/22), the focus area is wider and therefore your subject and his/her/its background will all be in focus. Nothing will be blurry irrespective of the distance between your subject and the background.

        I hope I have answered your questions adequately. If there’s more you’d like to know, feel free to send a reply.

        Best regards


        • Oluide

          Hi Mayowa. That was a splendid explanation. I got it now. How can I connect with you personally ? Need some other assistance. Thank u

          • Mayowa Obigbesan

            Hi Olumide,

            Glad I was able to help. I’m available via m4y0w4@hotmail.com

            Best regards,


  • Shibu

    so how to improve light in a 55-200 mm when zoomed in at 200 mm? Would appreciate it! Ta

  • Gan

    Great article and a great job! keep it going.
    Im upgrading from a point and shoot to my first DSLR. I would fit in between the amateur and semi pro category. I have to decide between nikon D5100 Vs D7000. What would u suggest and what lens would u suggest for taking pics of my toddler and landscapes.
    Best Regards

  • anya

    Hi. Thank you so much for sharing all this information and being available to answer questions! I am working with a Nikon D90 and a 18-105 lens (f-3.5-f29). My problem is that I am trying to take pictures with a large aperture but I can’t seem to get close enough to the subject. When I try to get close everything is blurry and my camera won’t focus. When I pull back however, I lose the whole effect I am going for. Any suggestions? Much appreciated.

  • Aharon Yosef

    Thanks Nasim for your great tutorials.
    I have a Nikon D5100 with the 18-55mm f/3.5-f/5.6 lens, and a 55-200mm f/1.4-f/5.6 lens. However, I am not able to set the aperture to less than f/4. What might be the cause of this issue? I am new to DSLR’s.

  • http://www.eatpayrove.com Shibu

    Ta Nasim! Very informative,in fact sometimes we need someone to reiterate points we have learnt before but tend to forget! Thanx again!

  • http://www.eatpayrove.com Shibu

    Asking again.. so how to improve light in a 55-200 mm when zoomed in at 200 mm? Would appreciate it! Ta

  • https://photographylife.com sushil

    hi nasim…thanks for articles i read them n i like it so much.
    here is my condition i like photography and planning to enter in this field.I will join commercial photography(fashion photography) course in next month and i m going to buy my first DSLR camera so plz suggest me which camera should i buy and my range is 1 lakh to 1.25 lakh (in Indian rupee) and also if possible suggest me some good institute for photography in India ……..plz reply me soon

  • cyndi

    does the iso increases (gets faster) does the aperture increase or decrease in size

  • cyndi

    as the iso increases (gets faster) does the aperture increase or decrease in size

  • Tarun Gupta

    Hi Nasim.

    I am Tarun from India, a beginner in the field of DSLRs. Your blog is just amazing for people such as I to understand the basics in the most understandable and hassle free explanations. Keep it up.

    Thanks. :)


  • Regina Mannings

    Hi, I have a Nikon D2Xs and doing a wedding next month for a friend. What kind of lenses are best for this camera.I have a 70 300mm . 50mm 1.4 . But I need to by a good lens, any ideas please? thank you so much

  • Regina Mannings

    and another question please? Dont have the book, do you know anythink about the settings?

  • Hillary

    So I have a canon sx40 and I’m tring to figure out how to focus on one image and blur the backround I put it on av and they say to put it on f2.8 but it won’t let me do that I can see that but I can’t scroll to it any advice? I really want these types of pictures and I hoping my camer that I spend a good deal of money on can achieve this.

  • Alberto

    I still have an old D40x but I’ve equipped with 16-85Vr and a 70-300Vr. I’m pretty satisfied by the results although I would buy a brand new camera. Do you think that my lens are fine?

  • Joy

    Good day sir. Im new into photography and im very much eager to learn all the basics. I keep on surfing the net til i came across your website. I have a nikon d5100 and i love taking pictures my 4 kids. I want my background to be blurry but i cant get a lower aperture. Sometimes it just sticks to F5, i keep on clicking to make it lower but to no avail. Another thing is, i have to take 2 to 3 pictures before i can be satisfied with the results. The first pic would always be dark. And Im wondering why?. im using an A mode..AF-S. Do i still have to set my ISO to 1600 or leave it to 200 only?. How about the shutter speed? I still have hard time understanding the shutter speed. Please, let me know. Thank you so much for this very informative articles of yours. More power.

  • Siva

    Hi, excellent article. Very easy to understand in a simple language.
    Very usefull.

    Thanks a lot.

    Siva Visveswaran

  • Lynn Cooper

    Hi there
    First I would like to say thank you soo much for this article it was very easy to understand for someone who is trying to teach themselves! I look forward to reading your other articles as well!
    I have a problem with my Nikon D5000 and I am having such a hard time trying to find any answers online as I don’t know exactly what to ask :(…I shoot with my camera daily including today and when i went out to take some pictures this evening of the kiddos I realized my camera wasn’t working right. What I mean is that my flash was up but doesn’t seem to be working even thou it is on. I also am having a problem with I guess it would be my shutter speed. When I take a picture no matter where I am at or what setting (I really like the child setting right now) It clicks to take the picture then its about 7-10sec before it actually takes the pic…I am not sure if this has something to do with the flash or not! The pictures come out blurry and infocused…i am so frustrated b/c I dont know how to fix it let alone where to begin! I reset the camera just on a whim and that did nothing. Also even though the flsh is up it clicks everytime I am getting ready to take a pic like it is popping up? I am sorry I may not be making much sence but this is the best way I can describe it! Please let me know if you can help point me in the right direction! I am open to any suggestions! Thank you so much for your time and I look forward to your reply!


    Dear Mr. Mansurov,
    First of all, I am so grateful to you for the much valuable information about digital photography shared on this website. Its really wonderful! I am a doctor from India, working in the state of Rajasthan. I used to shot with my Kodak Easyshare compact camera till now. Also posted my images on TrekEarth (http://www.trekearth.com/members/vishaal/ ). Now, I want to upgrade to a DSLR. And I like the Canon Eos. Please tell me if I am right in my decision. I planned for Caon Eos 550 D. Is it going to fulfill my needs to get better quality pictures? Please also tell me about the best lenses which can be used with 550 D to get a bluured background with my camera. Is the blurred background is same with “Bokeh” ?
    Is Canon Eos 550 D compatible with all interchangeable lenses ?
    Please help me to get a right DSLR. I will be so thankful to you !
    Best regards,

  • Anand

    Hi Nasim,

    I own a Nikon D5100 for over 6 months now. I have 18-55 VR kit lens and Tamron 70-300 macro lens. I am planning to add 50 F1.8 lens to my arsenal. But things start getting confusing from here on.
    There are 2 versions of the same lens available from Nikon, G and D. With the G version costing almost twice of that of D. Although the D version would not auto focus on my camera I am perfectly all right with that. Also would get the aperture ring with the D version, which would help me with the extension tubes and lens reversal. I would like to know if there are any major differences as far as the image quality is concerned, so that I should spend double the amount and go for the G version.


  • Mandy

    I just got a Nikon p130 which has a f/1.8 lens but I can’t get my backgrounds to blur. When I bring it as low as 1.8 everything is still really sharp. It’s set to single autofocus. Is there anything else I need to change?

  • Alexsandra

    Tenho que comprar uma lente, mais estou na dívida se compro:
    nikon 105mm 2.8
    nikon 85mm 1.8
    nikon 85mm 1.4
    A finalidade é para mim fazer ensaios de noivos durante o dia, gosto muito de fotos abertas com o fundo desfocado, qual lente vai me atender melhor
    Desde já agradeço

  • Alexsandra

    That Tenho Buy UMA lens, NA estou Mais Dívida if I buy:
    Nikon 105mm 2.8
    Nikon 85 mm 1.8
    Nikon 85 mm 1.4
    A MIM paragraph Finalidade and Fazer Ensaios of Noivos During or day photo Muito gosto Abertas com or desfocado Fundo, qua lens vai meet me Melhor
    FROM JÁ agradeço

  • Hamza

    Respected Sir, I’ve bought the Nikon D7000, and am trying to get get any results with the DoF button below the lens.
    I haven’t been able to figure out how to get the expected ‘blur’ results from my 18-105VR Kit lens.
    I try pressing the DoF button. It produces a loud click sound but i don’t get any different results.
    Is this because the camera won’t support it, of does this have to do something with the capability of the lens ?
    And what lens should I invest in, in order to get the desired blur results, like the ones you’ve demonstrated with the WALL-E picture ?
    Waiting for your response !
    Thank You.

  • Naveen

    Hello Everyone

    verry useful article..thanks for that..

    Now my question..in day light we need to have aperture setting closer to f/8 and in night closer to f/2.8
    Agreed..but what is the concept of having f/2.8 in day light for dept of field…pls explain

    thanks in advance

    • Fraidy

      Hi Naveen..

      It’s explained before, that bigger aperture also means more bokeh.. with f/2.8, it can ‘warp’ your subject with blurry background…

  • Sibasis Dhar

    Understanding aperture is a very useful article.


  • Allen

    I am a bit puzzled. Yesterday I entered a question here believing I had followed all the prompts and done all the right things, this morning it came up blank. I will re ask my question. Is there a step by step guide for raw beginners on how to learn Photoshop and Photoshop Light Room on a Windows 7 platform. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you

  • Virginia

    Thank you for your tips…..I am really enjoying the simple way in which you explain everything for a beginner such as I! I am using a Canon 400D while my husband who is far more experienced than I but doesn’t explain things as simply as you, bless him :o) uses a Nikon D 7000. I can’t wait to try out the moon photo’s just as soon as I figure out how to change all the settings, as I usually just used Automatic! Sort of PHD (push here dummy!) usually works best for me…….up until now!

  • Jeannette Aracri

    Greetings, I just stumbled across your web site and have to say that for the first time I can understand the three important settings on the camera, (ISO, SHUTTER, APERTURE) I shoot with a D700 and love the camera, don’t know why I have a mental block about the three things above. So glad that I found you.
    Ciao Jeannette

  • ravs

    How to calculate subject distance based on lens , or f ,ISO and shutter speed for better crisp shots.

    Most of the modern canon lens is not having distance meter , can you help me to explain.

    Kind regards,

    • Fraidy

      i wonder what do you mean by ‘calculate subject distance’?

  • mgmjtech


    the site is very helpful. I have less than 1 week to decide if I should keep the Canon 60D with 18-200MM lens or Nikon D7000 with 18-105mm lens. I have been readying and alot of expert indicated the nikon body has a better camera but 18-105mm on the D60 is a better lens. Any thoughts from the Pros.

  • Shriram

    Great artical, Thanks for indeep understanding for aperture.

  • Kim

    Hi, I have a Canon sx40. I have been taking pictures at my sons Varsity football games. We are playing at night under the lights. Almost all of my actions shots are blurry. When I take these pictures during a day game they come out crystal clear. I usually set the camera to the burst mode. I have tried sports, night time, just reg automatic. None of them are giving me clear pictures. I am not familiar with the programmable settings with the ISO, aperture, shutter speed and all that yet. But I do want to learn how to utilize the camera to get the most out of it I can.
    Thanks for any help you can offer.

  • Sundar

    I really liked the way you clearly explained about the aperture, depth field.
    I’m a newbie to DSLR camera. My interests include our day to day general photography and video. I would like to buy a DSLR, and thinking to buy Canon EOS T4i 18 MP camera. Can you recommend me a single good lens that serve purpose of long shots, in motion shots, focusing shots like the Wall-E in your pictures, and video purpose ? I don’t know if i’m asking too much for a single lens to perform, the thing is i’m not a professional photographer and don’t like to carry bulky lenses along with me.
    If you suggest a complete new body all together ( Alternative to EOS T4i, please let me know).
    One more question about the raw images DSLR captures, do we need to process all the images in some Adobe photoshop kind of software ?
    Any suggestion will be highly appreciated.

    • Sundar

      One more additional requirement for the lens….I like wide shots as well. Please suggest me a lens than can serve my interests. Thank you

  • ruchi

    i have a nikon d3100 and i want a zoom lens for this camera for landscape photogarphy….is nikkor 55-300 ed vr a good lens for my purpose?can u please suggest me….thnak u

    • Fraidy

      Hi Ruchi..

      55-300 is a zoom lens.. you should go to the wide lens one for landscape..

  • irenalana

    Hi i just got canon 550d with kit lens and i want to take food pictures with blurred background. What setting should i chose. I am totally beginner in photography so i need detail instructions

  • Pankaj


    First of all this article helped me a lot, being totally layman to these technical terms of photography, you simply written article helped me to understand a lot about aperture.

    I have a doubt, when you say low aperture setting say f/1.2 allows more light to come inside the camera on the other hand it focus more at object on the foreground and blur the background. When it allows more light inside then how does it blur the foreground object, ultimately it allows all light including background or foreground object.

    Please clarify :)

    thanks again

    • Fraidy


      “allows more light inside then how does it blur the foreground object?”…
      Light and the blurry object were not stand together.. you can also blurring the images in low light condition… the aperture condition can change the depth of field of the images, that depth of field can make your background sharp or blurry…
      f/1.2 can blurry your images nicely, but more than f/11 your background images will sharp.

      with f/1.2 you can blurring your images even in low light condition, but f/11 couldn’t do that. that’s why panorama or landscape images use f/10 or more to get the sharp background…

      hope you can understand…

  • Nadine

    Hello –

    I live in the Yukon in Canada, and I am getting a new lens soon, which I would like to use for landscape photography, as there are vast and very beautiful scenery up here.

    I am wondering about photographing Aurora Borealis, Northern Lights?

    Might the SIGMA 8-16mm 4-5.6 EX DC HSM be a good lens for me to buy?

    Thanks for the ‘easy to understand’ language!

  • https://photographylife.com zeeshan

    respected naseem,
    thanx for giving informative replies, i want to buy a canon camera,but i m low in budget,i want the camera which take blurred pictures of people,scene,flowers and so on,what about canon EOS 1100D,
    and tell me is this DSLR camera,can i change its lenses prime or zoom,and tell like 16 mega pixels are important or like 8X zoom,what should be prefferd while buying a camera.pixels or x zoom,

  • Mo

    Hello Nasim,

    First I must thank you for your tutorials. They are truly helpful and your photos are truly amazing and beautiful. I have only recently been getting into the more technical side of photography and I was lucky enough to come by this wonderful website by chance.

    At present, I have just 1 question that has been puzzling me: I realize that a smaller aperture results in a greater depth of field. However, I have come across many landscape photos that display their EXIF metadata showing larger apertures of f4 & 5.6 and yet the whole photo is sharp and in focus from the foreground to the horizon.

    I would truly appreciate and be grateful if you could explain how this is possible, when I thought only apertures of f16 or so could achieve such DoF.

    Thankyou greatly

  • Nafeeza Lieb

    Hello Mr. Mansurov,
    I have a simple Nikon coolpix s2600, and I’ve been wondering if it’s possible to even change the aperture settings on it as to render an image with a blurred background? All my images are sharp, however at times I wish to focus so as to remove background distractions. I believe the widest aperture it has is f/3.2, and from some internet research it seems thats wide enough to decrease the clarity of the background. Im not sure, though. Im quite clueless about cameras and am just wondering whether I can manipulate the settings on my camera, and if so, how. Thanks in advance

  • amey

    Hi ,I am using canon 550d with default lens 18-55mm ,how to take foreground subject blur and background in focus…..

  • Janelle Knight

    I recently received a Nikon D3200 as a gift from my husband to start pursueing my photography passion. It only goes down to f/5.6 and to create the blurred background from everything that I have read I need a lense that goes to at least f/1.4. I just wanted to make sure this is correct before I purchase the lense. Thanks for the help:)

  • Renee E.

    First time writing and reading your blog. Thank you for so much information very helpful. I have a Nikon d5100. My 55-200mm lens says: 1:4-5.6G. Does this mean my highest f-stop is only 4-5.6? Very disappointed if so. I just got my camera a few months ago and the lens at Christmas. Do i need to buy ANOTHER lens in order to get the lens foreground crisp and background blurred? I’m a newly professed professional photographer picking up new tips here and there.
    Thank you so much.

  • SS

    Thank you so much for the information you provided, it was really very helpful! It helped me a lot understanding my new dslr camera. Thanks again!

  • Marcie Wilson

    I am new to the DSLR world just purchased a Cannon Rebel T3. I took some pictures a few days ago out side making changes to the apature from f4-f22 trying to get used to the different settings. Today I went to take some more pictures again outside and all of the pictures are coming out white. I dont know what I did to cause this. If I put the settings an auto it does not do this. I have the ISO set at 100 as I was outside on a sunny day. WB was set to AWB. What am I doing wrong.

  • Raju

    Excellent article, made my eyes open and think about this..


    Hi Nasim,

    I just came across your article regarding the basics terms used in photography and these are very helpful to me, as I am a novice in the field of photography. Moreover, I bought myself a Canon 600D with 18-55 Is lens recently and trying my hands in taking some nighttime photography (esp. low-light condition), but the pictures taken in low light are not as not clear as I have desired with enhanced ISO value and faster shutter speed with aperture fully open preferably in AV mode, TV mode (for moving vehicle, etc.), and manual mode…..I used all these modes while taking the pics but something is going wrong and i dont know where it is. Could you help me solving these issues and explain me the protocol at length for low-light photography with 18-55 mm IS lens…..Thanks and would be expecting a good input on this…Take care.

  • hannah

    hi. i enjoyed reding this and understand a little more about apeture. i just wanted to ask you a little more.
    im planning on going to iceland in december, and im hoping to be lucky enough to get a glimpse of the northern lights. everywhere i have read tells me i need an apeture of f1.4 or f2.8. i already own a fujifilm camera and its apeture is f3.1-5.6. when i eventually track down a lens to fit my camera, how would i go about setting the apeture to the right lenght. is it a case of zooming in and out or will i have to go through a menu settings.

  • Sammie Hight

    I am setting my aperture and it is at its lowest and i am trying to get my middle object focus and the rest blurry but everything seems to be blurry. Am i doing something wrong?

  • Devaney

    Could i still use aperture priority mode without blurrying it out all the time? sometimes,i just love how crisp and in focus it makes my photos. sometimes,i just dont care about a photo being blurry

  • Komal Ganatra


    Love your articles and I’ve been hooked on to them since quite a few days now.

    I have a Nikon D40 with 18-55mm lens. I’ve been trying to achieve these image results but haven’t reached there yet.
    I keep my camera on Aperture Priority and accordingly select different apertures as you mentioned. But i end up getting very bright and blurry image. Could you help me out with this?

    And could you also tell me that if i try this on Manual Mode then what should the aperture and shutter be?

    Thanks =)

  • anoop k

    I am new to the photographic field, and i have greater interest in that. I bought a new SLR last week canon
    60D with 18-55mm IS lens .. I got a few ideas regarding aperture, ISO and shutter speed from various blogs and all. From that tips i got many awesome snaps. But i don’t have any idea about manual settings regarding an object that moves continuously in low light . i tried many times. but it fails. All the images i got are scattered .. can you help me in that..


  • jemma

    Hi, I’m wondering if you could help, I am new to photography but will soon be purchasing the Nikon D600. I will be using it mainly for portrait photography and I hoping you could recommend a few lenses, possibly a cheap one, a medioka priced one and an expensive one? I was thinking the 85mm f/1.8 or the 85mm f/1.4 but wondering why the it seems the f/1.8 is more expensive when sure the f/1.4 is the better lens for background blur? Also the Nikon AF DC Nikkor 135mm f/2D but would appreciate any advice, I guess there would be the odd occasion where I might like to do just head and shoulders but as I will mainly be doing children and familys it will be mainly sit down or stand up poses or any pose with half body or full body in the photo so I’d assume anything 85mm or above lense wise would be best?

  • Pappu

    Hi Naseem, Thank you for the excellent tips you have shared. It is wealth for us trying to learn on our own.

    I am currently using a point and shoot Cannon SX30IS. I am trying to experiment with the aperture mode. I used the Av mode and started playing with the lower “f” number , the max it makes me go below is 2.7, but i dont get the depth i want.

    Am i trying to do much with my simple point and shoot or am approaching it in a wrong way. Will the light factor during the time i was experimenting it affect how much low I can go ( since it was cloudy and quite dark outside)

  • Sandeep Prasad

    Hi Nasim

    Your articles are simply amazing , for the fact that you have explained the details in such a easy to understand manner .

    I have purchased a Nikon D5100 and currently thinking about the type of lens which I need to buy . Will be shooting portraits /landscape and interest in low light photography ..

    Can you suggest ??


    • https://photographylife.com Nasim Mansurov

      Sandeep, for low light photography, check out my response below to Janet – the 35mm is a great lens for the D5100. For landscapes, the 18-55mm kit lens will do just great.

  • Janet

    Hi Nasim,
    I just bought the Nikon D5100. I am a beginner. I want to buy a new lens, I currently have the 18-55mm .I have children who play sports and would like to take pictures from far and get a clear phone of their funny face expressions. LOL. I am also looking for something to use an everyday basis but also looking for good sharpness. I was comparing and debating in between the 35mm and 50mm. Which one would you recommend, also is there any other one you like and recommend for beginner?
    Thank You,

    • https://photographylife.com Nasim Mansurov

      Janet, get the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G lens – it is a superb all around lens for your camera.

      • Janet

        Hello Nasim,
        Thank you for your time. I will buy the Nikon 35mm. A friend suggested to also buy the 55-200mm or 55-300mm, she said either one with the 35mm will be the best kit for me as a starter. What do you recommend?. Will any of those two lens help zoom and take good photos of my kids while playing soccer? I also like to take pictures of close flowers and making the background blurry (like you did on the mailboxes and wall-e), what lens do I need to take a photo like that?. I am new at this :)…… I will appreciate any information or suggestions you might have.

  • Vrushali

    Hello Nasim,
    I have a nikon d5000 camera and the basic lens 18-55mm. i want to know that how much larger aparture can i set for this lens?
    also if you can advice me on how to take portraits of kids. i have a 2 year old daughter who is very active and keeps moving all the time. so if you could give me some guidlines on how can i take very good pictures of her with the basic lens i have, it would be very helpful for me.

  • Janet

    Hello Nasim,
    Thank you for your time. I will buy the Nikon 35mm. A friend suggested to also buy the 55-200mm or 55-300mm, she said either one with the 35mm will be the best kit for me as a starter. What do you recommend?. Will any of those two lens help zoom and take good photos of my kids while playing soccer? I also like to take pictures of close flowers and making the background blurry (like you did on the mailboxes and wall-e), what lens do I need to take a photo like that?. I am new at this :)…… I will appreciate any information or suggestions you might have.

  • Sarah

    Hi Nasim,

    Thank you for being so generous with your knowledge. =D
    I am a beginner and Im trying to understand the language of photography. I have a Nikon D40 with a 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 lens. I have been practicing with friends and family for portrait shooting, but my photos are not as sharp and clear as I would like. I do most of my shooting outdoors and would really like to see better results. What is your advice? What settings should I have or must I purchase another lens?
    Thank you,

    • Yvon

      I have the same camera with the 18-55 and the 55-200 and i get the same problem. I am still trying to align the back ground and foreground on the same level. I get the foreground right and the background blurry. I am a landscape photographer but not professionally. The D40 is a great camera; I’ve had it for about 6 years.

  • http://www.apertureschool.com/2013/05/14/better-understanding-of-aperture/ aperture

    thanks for sharing your knowledge about aperture. hope to read more about photography in this blog in the future :) kaycee mcnally

  • http://www.apertureschool.com kim

    is a d5100 a good dslr for beginners?

  • Yvon

    I understand aperture a lot better after reading this article but when i practice it, i still get a blurry picture. I have a Nikon D40 with both Nikkor lenses 18-55mm and 55-200mm and when i try to take a picture on A mode, it takes a long time to process it and it comes out blurry. Do I have to have the camera on a tripod when i am taking the picutre on A mode? or is there something else that i have to do or put the camera on different features? I have always taken pictures on automatic mode and now, I am trying to learn the features of the camera.

  • Manmohan Deep Singh

    Ultimate knowledge

  • Joe

    Dear Nasim,

    I had a wonderful time reading above article, it is indeed helpful and makes it very motivated in improving photo skills especially for beginners. I myself very new in photo-shooting field and honestly, I have learned so much from what you have elicited using simple and easy to understand language.

    Since you are professional photo-shooting guru, I would like to ask you a question if that’s not a problem. I appreciate your time and effort. My question is, I bought a Nikon Camera to take product photos as I am about to start an online business. I came across few articles in regards to different lenses used for various purpose such as for weddings and so forth. I was wondering if there is any lens exist for taking product photos that you know and can recommend me?

    As I am extremely new in this photography voyage I would also appreciate if you could recommend me useful links, equipment that a beginner would need, software and so forth. Thank you. :)






  • Mervin Joshua

    Dear Nasim,

    Having taking photographs for more than a decade on point & shoot I finally got my canon 700D with basic kit lense 18-55 & also got a 55-250. The main reason for me in getting the camera is to capture my kids.

    From reading your materials I can say that the quality of pictures have improved very much. At this point I want to know how to take good portrait shots of my kids who are 6 months and 3 years old.

    Any advise please

  • ebru

    Hi is Nikon D3200 (basic lens kit 18-55mm) a good camera to do this effect?

  • http://Www.flickr.com/taz911 Casey

    My question is for anyone who can answer. I consider myself intermediate. I know alot and feel like I am beyond the basics. My question is when I am shooting indoors on my canon t3i in low to moderate light I have the ISO at 3200 shutter 1/60 and I am shooting with a canon 17-55 2.8 with the aperture wide open at 2.8. Now the exposure is spot on and my center focus point is crisp sharp but the rest of the image is not clear, not really blurry or motion just doesn’t look as clear as the center. The subject for these pictures is the entire room for a real estate shot, so I want everything in sharp focus, I know to get the most light I need the biggest aperture, but to get better all photo focus am I going to have to lower it to 4.0 or smaller? Then I guess I’ll no longer be able to hand hold it and will just have to bite the bullet on pull out my tripod? Any advice greatly appreciated.

  • http://blog.pedromendes.com Pedro Mendes

    I found the post very informative. Here’s my take on aperture: http://blog.pedromendes.com/aperture/

    All the best,

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/38400952@N02/ Dan Thompson

    Hi ,
    I have recently picked up my first proper camera, a Lumix-G3 with the standard lens.
    The reason is I have started following the Ladies football, and really enjoy taking pictures of the action.
    My first two weeks are here ;
    I used the sport mode for anything <50yrds, and a cheat for extra zoom on far shots from this site ;
    I am fairly happy with most results, and very happy with a couple. I have defo got the bug now.
    I believe that I need to work on improving the focus, and reduce the white.
    Any tips and tricks for a beginner in nailing action shots would be greatly appreciated.
    Happy snapping

  • nagi

    hi, this article is very helpful specially for beginners like me. I just bought a Nikon D7100 a few days ago. Can you give an advice on what lens is suitable for micro and portrait photography.

    thanks a lot

    • http://blog.pedromendes.com Pedro Mendes

      Hello Nagi,

      for macro photography I’d say a 100mm lens wound be good. For portrait you can get a 50mm 1.8 very cheaply, and that should get you started. 50mm is considered a ‘normal’ lense, tha one that photographs like the eye sees.

      • nagi

        thanks alo Pedro..as of now i am practicing with the 18-105mm kit lens..

    • nagi


  • Louie

    I have never read an article/blog like this as simple as easy to understand! I have been trying & keep searching about photography as a begginer but yours made me understand what it is for!
    I have a Nikon D3100 & been a self taught reading online since my husband bought me one.
    I think I have found “the one” that I would stick to it till I master the beginning phase.
    Can you give any tips on camera setting? My sister in law are due to have a beach wedding & Im trying search a good tips on manual setting with my camera to get good ones online. Its an outdoor ceremony & so am trying my best to make most of the image as possible.

  • Louie

    Wow! I have never read an article/blog like this as simple as easy to understand! I have been trying & keep searching about photography as a begginer but yours made me understand what it is for!
    I have a Nikon D3100 & been a self taught reading online since my husband bought me one.
    I think I have found “the one” that I would stick to it till I master the beginning phase.
    Can you give any tips on camera setting? My sister in law are due to have a beach wedding & Im trying search a good tips on manual setting with my camera to get good ones online. Its an outdoor ceremony & so am trying my best to make most of the image as possible.

  • sajeer

    hi nazim,

    your article reallyinteresting & helpfull.

    im a beginner im having nikon D90 with 500mm-1.4D & 70-300 lenses. which one i should use for outdoor portraits ?

    and sould i use extra flash light light for the outdoor portrait ?and which mode i should use for the same ?

    your supprot will be more helpfull.


  • Paras Jatkar

    Hi Nasim,

    Thanks a lot for such a nice explanation. I just got a Canon 600D and dint know anything on photography.. your post helped for using the camera and clicking awesome shots. It created intrest in me.. thanks again.

  • Olumide

    Hello Nasir, I notice you have not responded to most post yet and wondering if this will be attended to. First let me thank you for this articles. They are really very good. I am not a beginner though but I dropped out for a while! I am trying to get back full time. I am into events and stuff ( weddings etc). I also do studio fotography too. Now my question, most times I have to use external flash as one can’t rely on internal flash of the camera so am wondering what settings will be appropriate for outdoor shoots when its sunny and when it isn’t. Also, general advise on taking excellent shots will be appreciate. I have Nikon D90 , D60 and canon 600D. Looking forward to hearing from u. BTW my flash is a canon430 EX and works fine wt all cameras

    • http://www.pedromendes.com Pedro Mendes

      Hello Olumide,

      Do you mean using flash outdoors when it’s sunny? The main thing is using a flash strong enough to overpower the sun. A simple speedlight may not be able to do it. Also, flash or no flash, keep your subject out of direct sunlight, especially in the midday sun. Get them in the shade so the light isn’t so harsh. If you’d like, take a look at my blog, where I share photography tips (http://blog.pedromendes.com). All the best!

      • Olumide

        Well, yes. Are u saying the 430 EX isny strong enough ? There is a way flash light makes the picture extra sharp. And talking about sunglight, does the subject face the sun or otherwise ? I notice when they back the sunlight the picture becomes dull but when the face the sunlight and I back it it becomes clearer but they all have a squint in their faces !

        • http://www.pedromendes.com Pedro Mendes

          It will depend on how strong the sunlight is. You will have to experiment. As you’ve said, if the subject faces the sun they will probably squint, and that’s not a good look :) If the sun is to their back, you may have flare (direct sun entering the lens). Flare can be a nice creative effect if you want it. Maybe the easier option is for the sun to be at their side. But you can try having the sun to their back, using fill flash if you need it, and using a lens hood to prevent flare.

  • http://www.ijailphone.com Salvador

    Hey man, very nice, but, i would like to know why the aperture is affected when zooming? i think this is not like that on all cameras but at least on my Sony RX100 it is, but why? why would the lens not be able to get all the way open when zooming? How thoes it affects?

  • Sunny mAHALE

    Hey awesome i finally understand the meaning of aperture
    And its really nice tute for like beginners

  • Bahar

    I just wanna say big thakns to u Nasim , well done man !

  • Chandana

    great explanation

  • Selah Sue

    Hey, thanks for the information. But your picture at the top (white man with black men surrounding in awe) is quite offensive to many. A camera isn’t so foreign to Africa as you may think. Many African cities are cosmopolitan and the people deserve more respect/dignity. They are not children.

  • Lindsey Bricker

    Looking to buy a canon t3 or t3i. I want a regular lens and a zoom lens that creates good bokah (for personal use not professional). Best I can get for $500 budget.

    Any lens suggestions?

    Looks like a lot of packages come with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II Zoom Lens
    Not sure if I should get the camera with or without that as regular lens? Plus an extra telephoto zoom lens that creates good bokah.

  • Arijit

    I am using a Canon 1100D and am a beginner in photgraphy. Currently i am having a 18-55 and a 55-250 lens.
    can you please some good tips for daylight photography and also landscape.


  • sandy

    Hi Nasim,
    I read maximum of your posts.. its very much helpful.
    I bought a Nikon D5200, I am a beginner to photography. Will post some good pics soon.
    Thank you

  • Mingxiong Huang

    Hi Nasim,

    I enjoy reading your article a lot. The information you posted is clear and helpful. Thank you so much!


  • Mischelle

    Very helpful!
    Thank you!

  • jon

    very helpful and in terms a beginner can understand. Thank you :)

  • sam

    awesome ..great tutorial indeed.. Thanks a ton. :)

  • Nupur

    I’m using canon 55mm-250mm lens. I’m not able to make it 3.5 or less then that. Its got fixed at f/4 not going below that.

  • Masud Ali

    Hi Nasim
    thank you so much for explaining with such simple clarity.
    Understood the basic like never before,



  • Aslan

    Thanks for the nice informations. I just have one small questions you didn’t answer or more probable you did and I just didn’t get it…

    The first one is: If a lens has 15-55mm and f/3.5-f/5.6 how can I get a f/18 (as you stated “almost all modern lenses can provide at least f/16″?

    Probably I totally misunderstood something? Thanks a lot in advance.

  • Ben

    Hi Everybody,
    I have a Nikon D3100 with 18-55mm lens 1:3.5-5.6G. I need to photograph original paintings. I will be using a tripod and lighting. The paintings will be from 20cm square to 2 metres square. Can anybody tell me if this camera is suitable and if so what settings to use, or should I get a different lens and if so which one. I am not a photographer so dumb it down for me please. Many thanks. Ben.

  • Swarnava Ghosh

    Hi Nasim,

    All that information above helped me a lot. But one thing I couldn’t understand, i.e., the use of “prime” lenses. I have often heard of them but I don’t actually understand why, how and on what purpose they are used. I would very obliged if you could explain it to me.

    Thanking you,
    Swarnava Ghosh

    • Anand Jakati

      It is already covered in the various articles. Request you to browse the website

  • Ashok Mela

    Well Explained.. Thanks for the article

  • http://N/A Alison

    Hello, I am a beginner, I own a canon 600D. I’ve had it for 2 years and feel comfortable with using the lens it comes with and am now looking to buy a new lens – one with lower appature. My question is are there any you recommend for a beginner to improve my skills? I am looking to take some photos with the blurry background that is quite popular these days.
    Thanks in advance!

    • Anand Jakati

      a 50mm prime should help

  • Charles

    Good morning Nasim… I am new to the photography world and love taking professional shots of my wife and children so that I don’t have to pay high prices for such… I am starting to get the hang of things and am being asked to do shots for others… Many of my shots are of children and families… Which lens would you recommend for my next purchase as I am using the Nikon D3200 and have an 18-55mm lens and a 55-200mm lens? Thanks again for all you do…

  • Martyn

    Hello Nasim,
    I have a Canon Eos 1100.
    I understand F-stops and how they work with shutter speed for exposure, however I have bought an OEM 650mm-1300mm zoom with a T2 Canon adaptor. The lens is fixed aperture F8-F16, depending on degree of zoom.
    When I switch to Aperture Priority, the F-stop reading on the screen is 1.6, and I cannot change it. I would like to make use of the TTL metering to automatically set the shutter speed (I have been using manual with the correct F-stop and then taking several shots with a variety of shutter speeds, hoping that one of them is right. The results are fine, but it wastes a lot of time, and I’m using the lens for wildlife, so the framing often changes whilst I am doing this)
    Do you have any suggestions on how I can get auto shutter speed setting?
    Many thanks

  • Abby

    I am in a fix between Canon 1100D, Canon 600D and Nikon D90 cameras. Can you suggest me whihc one is the best one among these three ?

    • Anand Jakati

      I guess you first need to decide which ‘brand’ you want to stick with.
      For Canon series, xD is better than xxD which is better than xxxD which is better than xxxxD

  • http://domainnameistaken.com Hitender Thejaswi

    Great article !
    You can find some more information about Aperture and other pillars of photography at domainnameistaken.com

  • Aruj

    Hi Sir,
    Firstly i would like to tell you that i really do like your hard work and i follow it carefully..I am new to photography and i do want to know that which camera would you recommend me in the budget of Rs15000/- or 250$….DO sensors Cmos and CCd have any difference between them…??
    Please do answer my question

  • Carina

    If I had a camera 1 with f/2 and max ISO of 6400 in comparison to camera 2 with f/2.8 and max ISO of 12800, which will be the camera that will perform better in low light scenarios without flash? Would they cancel out as I am slightly confused..

  • Vinoth

    I took 2 photos with same aperture, shutter speed and ISO in aperture mode using my nikon d3200. But in one photo the background was blurred, but on the other, foreground was blurred. what could be reason?
    f3.5, 1/4000 sec, focal length: 18mm.

    The only difference I can see is ISO 283 in the image where background was blurred, and ISO 200 in the image where the foreground was blurred.

  • Denise

    I want you to know that in all I have read to learn about Aperture, I have never understood better, then by the way you teach it. Please keep up the wonderful work! I belong to a photography forum with many pros, and I am a beginner. I don’t want to just snap, shots anymore, I want to be more then a mediocre photographer, I love beautiful photos, and want to learn.

    Thank you soooooo much, and I will continue to read your tutorials because they are so excellent for me!!

    Denise in Oregon

  • jake

    I wanted to know how to increase a quality of a picture. I have canon eos t3….what modes do u prefer that shall increase the quality ..?

  • devang patel

    It is very helpful.. thnx for such easy explaination..

  • Rajesh Dharmaraj

    Hello Sir,
    I’m very interested in wildlife photography. as i’m new to photography, can you suggest me which type of aperture suits, higher or larger? and also which range of ISO…?

  • Nikhil V Menon

    sir i got the new canon sx50 Hs …idk a lot about photography….so sir cud u pls help me in making my cam perfect for taking pics in group meetings(by making changs in my values of cam) and also bird pictuures…..sir pls do rply.
    im just a beginner in dis field

  • Norman

    Very clear explanation! Thanks!

  • Hovsep

    Dear Nasim,
    thanx for your explaination. Now I understand what is apperture. Before it was not clear to me, I had read many articles, but still could not understand the meaning of apparture mode.

    I have one small request: I have purchased a new Nikon D5300 DSLR with 18-55 standard lens. After your explaination I understood that I need another lense with maximum f-number. Could you please advise what type of lense is the most suitable and affordable for my camera if I want to use it friquently with zoom in/out and maximum f-number.

    And it would be appriciated if you had explained alsi what is shutter speed and where it can be used as well.
    Kind regards.

  • Hovsep

    I must correct myself i nmy previous message…
    I need lense with maximum aparture, not maximum f-number.

    I am a beginner, so, please forgive me for my non-professonalism. :)

  • sukanta paul

    I got a • AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G lens….what does this 35 mm means..

  • karthik

    Thanks a lot, this article helped me lot in understanding basics of photography.

  • Debbie

    I am a novice when it comes to photography. I just purchased a Canon EOS Rebel T5. Did I make a mistake with this purchase? The photos I plan to take are just for my pleasure. Thank you….

  • sejal

    Hi nasim
    I have purchased Nikon P-520. Im new to photography . I’m not ggetting how to blur background wwhile taking pic though I tried all aabove steps u told. Plz poz plz guide

  • Arun Kumar Gaur

    This is a wonderful article, easily explained.

    Thanks a lot.

  • Suresh Vinapamula


    Thanks for your article. It really helped. I have a quick question on your article. You mentioned, “For example, the Nikon 18-200mm lens has a variable maximum aperture of f/3.5-f/5.6. When zoomed fully out at 18mm, the lens has an aperture of f/3.5, while when fully zoomed in at 200mm, the lens has an aperture of f/5.6.”

    My question is, in manual mode or Av mode, I can configure aperture right? What if I configure aperture as f/3.5 and zoom in at 200mm, will my aperture be f/3.5 or f/5.6? Similarly, I sometimes find higher aperture to be good, as subject surroundings are not blurred. Consider subject with a background of Niagara falls. I wouldn’t want Niagara falls to blurred, while my subject is focused. So, in manual mode, if I set aperture to f/5.6 and probably zoom to 55mm or so, will my foreground and background be in focus?

    Sorry, if it s a basic question. I will definitely give a try with the above configurations as I learnt about their significance, but would really appreciate if you could comment on it.



    I am buying a Nikon D3300 Black with following:
    1. Lens 18-55mm VR II f3.5-5.6G
    2. Lens 50mm f/1.8G
    3. Lens 55-300mm f4.5-5.6G ED VR

    Do you recommend any other lens?
    Is a Filter necessary?

    Will be glad if you could suggest how I can get the best out of the camera and the lenses.

    I am an amateur and like to take panoramic pix, portraits and being an Architect I love taking pix of historic and Modern structures. As such many times shoot detailing of Historic structures as well as modern at great heights and distances. Kindly recommend optimum lenses.

    Will appreciate your reply. Have a great day.

  • Qaiser

    Thanks for such guidance. Let me tell you that i sells gemstones and minerals. I usually sell on internet sites, so prime concern is picture quality. I have used Cannon D550 and now i am using Nikon D5100 but still my picture quality is poor. I always have worst result while capturing close up pictures especially the pictures of very small gemstones. Could you please suggest me the best lense for my Nikon D5100. And also tips as well setup of camera. Your help will highly be appreciated. I will be waiting for your response. Thanks and stay blessed

    Best regards

  • Samar

    awesome and simple artical

    Thanks man

  • Muhamedp P.B

    Nasim sir,

    I want to purchase nikon d3200 with a Kit lens 18-55 vr f3.5 f5.6

    This is my first camera.

    Week-end holidays we, including my 6 friends, are spending time in parks and beaches.

    is it possible to take our good and sharp pictures( group and single) with the kit lens?

    if not , please inform me what type of lens i have to buy.

    Please reply,


  • Umay

    First, I would like to thank you for being so kind to help people and spread your knowledge.
    So the problem is, I can’t get the background blurry enough. Unter the photo of Wall-e you’ve written that the aperture was f/2.8 but when I use the same aperture, my background looks just slightly blurry. I don’t know how yourses look so blurry like edited, but mines look like I have shaky hands.

  • Mike Tyburski

    I purchased my first digital camera about a month ago and the manual was helpful, but I started going online for additional information and this article was really helpful. I printed it off and highlighted certain things, as a guide for myself. Thank you very much for explaining the three main aspects of cameras, it was easy to follow!

  • Deb

    Thank you, Nasim! I just finally got it! Thank you for explaining the concepts so clearly and concisely. Keep up the great work. Thanks again for all your informative and knowlegeable articles, but also because you write them for all of us, amateurs and professionals alike, making it easy for us amateurs to understand, too, so we can keep learning and become pros.

  • syed naqhib bareed

    Thanks a lot for the Info; it was very helpful:-)

  • Earnie

    I am new to all of this. I’m trying to gain an understanding of cameras, lens setting, etc. I have a Canon EOS Rebel (1100D) T3 camera and using a Quantary 70-300mm (1:4 – 5.8 Tele-macro 1:2) lens. I am shooting night football for my son’s team. I get the best results with the camera in FULL AUTO mode. However, i still get blurr, red eye and not very good overall images of the players in action. Should I go to Manual mode on the camera, or maybe aperture priority and make adjustments , then adjust the lens. And if so, what settings would i choose on the camera and on that particular lens?. What i’m looking to do is zoom in as close as possible (from the sidelines of course) and get some decent pictures with decent lighting of the players. Thanks so much!

    • Sunshine Deb

      HI, Earnie,
      Nasim has so much good informaiton on this site of his that I’m thinking there’s one for that, but let me put in my two cents, as well.

      I am no expert, but I’ll do my best to help.

      Full auto setting should be able to make the proper adjustments on it’s own to get the picture at it’s best, but if you want to play with the controls and go into aperture priority mode or Shutter priority mode, here are a few things to consider:
      1. zooming action is fun, it’s what I love best, but you need to know that when you zoom your lens to bring things closer you lose some light (called f stops) going through the lens to the camera’s sensor. And you camera’s sensor needs light to make sense of what it sees, which means you have to get light from somewhere else since you’ve lost some by closing up your len’s shutter when you zoomed in.

      2. the way to bring more light into the situation is to try a couple things: raise your iso number. If you are trying it on 100, then raise it to 200, in small increments one at a time. And in that way you’ll figure out which one gives you what you need to get enough light to the camera’s sensor.

      Sometimes, in a well lit stadium and aiming just the right way, an iso of 350 or 360 will be good, sometimes you have to go higher. Keep trying to see which one works best.
      : and that’s the other thing, see if you can use some of the light in the stadium. Sometimes all it takes is the right aim and you will get so much more light than you could before.

      3. Now you also need to know that you have two things you nave to work with here: speed and light. In order to catch the speed you need the camera’s shutter speed to be fast enough BUT the catch is that you also need enough light to be able to have that.

      So you have to keep practicing with it, especially for low light photos. so practice it at home, or go to a park and shoot stuff in the evening to get more of a feel. If you practice before the game itself then you’ll feel better about the photos you are able to get. Also, there might be a setting in your camera specifically for night photos. That’s worth a shot.

      Good luck!

  • James

    I have a D3300 Nikon Camera . The kit len provided 18-55 G doesn’t do the justice to my camera (mega px provided ).
    Can you recommend me a lens that would be good for my camera and get me good pics in low light . Fix length primes are not an option to me since I’m on a budget . Will need Zoom also .
    And Please do a segment on different lens we can upgrade to when moving up from beginner level .

  • Huh?

    I dont get it

  • Shafi

    I’m planning to buy a Canon 600D camera with EF-S 18-55mm IS STM lens.
    I want to buy another lens for bird/nature photography. Which one of following will be better ?

    Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III USM or 55-250 mm IS II ??

  • Bruwah

    Hi Nasim,
    I am new in photography…I want to set up my studio after i am done and i want to do weddings, animals and kids. Kindly recommend a camera for me with good lenses. Thank You.

  • Sachin Kuttappan

    No more words to express that “FANTASTIC EXPLANATION”…God bless you

  • Kala


    I have a Canon T3i and interested in baby/kids photography. What lens would you recommend?

    • Nev

      An 18-55 mm lens should do the trick very well. It’s the best all around!

  • Amal Latheesh

    Very helpful. Simple n easy to understand

  • David

    please, i am new on photography,can anybody help me.
    Please, i need somebody to coach me on photogrphy…u can reach me with this uklyfe1@gmail.com

  • Zelda P.

    Hello Nasim,

    Thanks for this very clear article.

    I need to buy a new camera and have a question regarding the ISO/Aperture relation: with a maximum aperture of say f/3.5 – f/4.0 (which seems to be quite common on lenses sold together with entry level DSLR, I’m thinking about the Nikon D3200/3300) and max ISO range at 3200-6400, would you say it is possible to take decent photos in low light situations like dawn or dusk ?

    I am mainly interested in wildlife photography, so ideally I’d like a camera/lens combination that allows me to shoot early mornings/late afternoons. The problem is I have a limited budget!

    Thanks in advance for your help! And for all the interesting content of this website :-)

    • Dave

      First of all, I’m no expert on this subject, but I will try to help from what experience I’ve had. Feel free to ignore any of this if you so wish!

      I have had a D3200 for 6 months or so now and I am very happy with it being my first DSLR. It performs very well for the price, but I would say that it begins to struggle with increased noise at ISO 3200 (or even 1600). I personally get around this when doing street photography by using my 50mm with f1.8 in low light situations so I can keep the max ISO at 1600. But that being said I often use it in VERY low light situations.

      Early morning/late afternoon would probably still be okay to function at ISO 1600 or lower with a f3.5 lens mounted to a D3200/D3300, but of course it depends on the location and the exact time of day.

      It sounds like you have two choices. Either spend a bit of cash on a high aperture zoom lens (maybe fixed, and obv. not 50mm), or choose a higher end camera (if Nikon then FX) for that low light capability. Personally if you’re starting out, then I’d recommend a lower level camera and high apperture zoom. But each to their own.

      All of that being said, I have a lot of praise for the D3xxx series – just not for high ISO photography. I also know what it’s like to pursue photography on a tight budget, so good luck to you!

      • Yalakom

        Hey Dave, thx for taking the time to answer me and share your personal experience! This is funny: I see your response today and I just received my first-ever reflex this morning, a very exciting day!

        I truly hesitated between the 3200 and 3300, but I did choose the latter for the much higher ISO sensitivity. This was important to me because for now I need flexible focal length and none of the affordable lenses have high aperture like your 50mm – f/1.8. Weight is also an issue, some lenses are just killers… It’s all about compromise isn’t it :-)

        So with my D3300, I bought the 55-200mm VR lens for which I had only read positive to very positive reviews online. I haven’t tried it much yet but I would think it’s worth trying for the price anyhow. This lens is ridiculously cheap for 200mm with VR. For now, all I can say is that the weight is just amazing at approx. 330g and the size very decent, mounts perfect on the small reflex. Given that the camera body is super light too, everything together is less than a kilo.

        I may consider the fixed aperture in the future, but for now, I have enough to play with for quite a while!

        Thanks again Dave, have a good night :-)

  • Kirsten

    First off thank you so much for this article! Could you recommend a lens for me? I bought the Panasonic DMC GH4 and will be using it for stills but mostly for videos online.

    Right now I have the Panasonic H-FS014045 Lens f/3.5 lens.

    Thank you so much!!

  • michael

    Thank you so much for the article. It really helped to understand how the pillars of photography work together. My question is, If you have a really large backdrop that you want fully in the picture how do you take away the depth of field without losing the light. Or would I need to buy a specific lens for that. I use the 50mm f1.8 and whenever I increase the aperture I lose the light, have to up the ISO which causes lots of noise. and sometimes i can’t even get the shutter speed below a second without losing light completely. Even the stock 18-55 f4.5 blurs the background and again closing the aperture takes too much light away.. thanks for your help

    • Sunshine Deb

      Michael, not sure if this is too late, but are you using shutter or aperture mode? In aperture you can control the aperture and is a great place to start. Indoors, believe it or not, can be a difficult place to find sufficient lighting in.

      If you can add some lighting to the room (it doesn’t have to be expensive, just what you have on hand– a lamp that you move around, etc. ) then you will be able to lower your iso back to a low number and thereby not get the noise and yet you can then use a larger f number like 32.
      The 50 mm f1.8 lens is excellent for low light situations, whether indoors or in the low light of evening. 1.8 is a lot of light, and I have one, too, and I learned that even with that much light being allowed to come in, you have to sometimes play with it in a room indoors. You’ll see why in the next paragraph:

      I know, it seems like indoors you would have the best lighting but what your eyes see and what your camera sees are two different things.
      So play around with it, move some lighting around, aim it different places for different effects (like aim at the ceiling, etc, or another wall instead of directly at the subject) and soon you’ll take off and have lots of fun again.

  • http://chrohme.tumblr.com/ nicole

    hi, i’m a beginner to photography, but I’ve done my homework and researched what the various terminology, types, and uses of cameras and photography were. I live in New York City, and I aspire to be an urban photographer. i know its not the easiest type of photography, but i’m up for the challenge. I’m interested in a wide-angle dslr – NOT COMPACT. I’m on a budget since I’m fifteen and don’t have a job. so I can’t go over $350. My settings would probably be a lot of low light, urban, sometimes landscape, candid, etc.

    ISO – at least 6400
    A high optical sensor size
    A minimum of 30 sec shutter speed
    At least 14 MP sensor resolution (a higher resolution would be preferable)
    What’s the best focal length for the type of pictures I’d like to take, with my budget?
    i know of 18-55mm, 24-55mm and up, etc
    the zoom would preferably be at least 2-3x

    I’ve looked at various cameras, but i want to see if anyone professional or has had more experience in photography could recommend me a dslr camera in my budget/ give me tips and advice for urban photography and getting a camera. I’d like to get the camera for Christmas and since I don’t have a lot of options and my parents can’t spend more than $350, I’d like to get the best thing for my money. If anyone could help me I would really appreciate it!!

    • Sunshine Deb

      nicole, i just saw your note and hope you found the camera you are happy with. If you haven’t gotten one yet, let this forum know and I’ll do my best to give you some feedback.

    • Martin Jang

      Hi Nicole!

      It seems like your budget is quite limited compared to the functions of the camera you are aiming for.

      My suggestion is to buy a used camera, perhaps a one that doesn’t go over 10000 shots. (The shots are the equivalent measure of age in human age. Once it goes too high, the function in the camera starts to malfunction.)

      Cameras with high ISOs such as 6400 or higher include Canon EOS 5D mark II or III, Canon 6D or 7D. I recommend the 6D because the 6D has a full framed sensor while the 7D has a cropped sensor. That means, whenever taking a shot, the 6D has a wider range that you can cover with the same lens compared to the 7D.

      Of course, full framed cameras are much costly than cropped cameras, so if you are looking for a camera within your price range, you might look into the cropped sensor camera a little more.

      The thing is, if you are looking for urban photography, you will need to take photos with high shutter speed but still have a bright shot. That will only be done by changing the ISO value, however the problem is the noise the high ISO will give you. The 5D mark II and III has an awesome technology of noise reduction. The 7D mark II is specifically designed for wild photography, since wild photography requires focusing on fast moving objects.

      As the number of the camera series gets higher, the quality drops with it. The canon with three digits are for beginners. The camera has a small size and low technologies. While you might be able to get a camera with high ISO values thanks to technolgy, the camera will have a poor noise reduction level at low light situations.

      The lens prices are also a problem. Canon has three levels of lenses, starting from EF-s lenses, normal EF USM lenses and EF-L USM lenses. The L on the last one stands for luxury, and they definitely have the best quality. They have fast auto focus (AKA AF) speeds and sharp images on the object you want to focus on. But they all cost over a thousand dollars, which is basically too expensive. The EF USM lenses are slightly lagging compared to the L lenses, but they also have good qualities. Take the EF 28-135mm f/3.5- IS USM lenses for example. They cover a large focal length, the aperture isn’t too bad and it has a good AF feature followed by the Image Stabilization system that covers your hand trembles when you are taking photos with low shutter speeds without a tripod. The lens costs about 300 dollars and up, but used lenses will have a lower price. The least recommended, the EF-S lenses are the most basic lenses you can find. While they might take good shots, the general quality of the lens is noticeably low compared to the aforementioned lenses. The image qualities are not shop nor the apertures are wide enough to take bright photos at dark weathers. And always keep in mind that the better a camera gets, the better the lenses should be.

      So my suggestion is, wait until your budget gets higher. Gain some more money, probably up to maybe 5-600 dollars or more, and buy a decent camera and a lens kit.

      If you do, I recommend buying a standard zoom lens that covers the focal lenght of slightly wide range, the standard range of 50 mm and over. The 28-135 mm lens will do a good job. Then, after you get used to everything in your camera, get a better one and so on.

      I recommend spending some money on the camera itself. The image quality fluctuates very much with the lens quality, so photographers buy a variety of lenses for specific purposes. If you are looking towards majoring in photography, I say buy a good new camera, probably 5D mark II or III at the minimal, and find an okay lens to start with. That way, you can stick with your camera and just develop your lens when you can.

      The difference between Nikon and Canon strictly depends on personal preferences. While I enjoy the colors that the Canon cameras give, some people enjoy the sharp and honest colors that the Nikon gives. Make sure you choose the right one for your taste, since the lenses from Nikon and Canon are not compatible with each other and when you decide to change cameras, you would have to buy new lenses again.

      And just for the record, there are alternatives for the high priced lenses. Companies focusing on lenses, such as Sigma and Tamron certainly give good quality shots, but certainly lower than the canon L lenses and so on. However, they are certainly good alternatives for the high priced lenses and you should definitely put consideration on these.

      I hope you make a good decision.

      Regards, Martin

  • Laurielle

    My boyfriend is in a band, and they usually play in low light venues. Since its low light, and the band members are moving, what would be a good aperture?

    • http://www.facebook.com/faddie.k Fahad Khan

      Try playing with ISO.

    • Sunshine Deb

      Laureille, what lens are you using and what aperture range does it have? i would shoot in aperture mode because light is the issue. I would try with the biggest aperture first because you always want light to use with your photos. So if you are using a lens with an aperture of 1.8, then go with that first. the smaller the number, the bigger the aperture. and it will focus in your subject so much. i prefer to keep my iso as low as possible, usually 100 or 200 but it depends on all the circumstances. sometimes you just have to raise your iso. 400 iso is good, too, for low light situations, and even up to 800. but i always begin with my iso at 100 or 200 and my aperture wide open then I experiment from there.

    • http://Woodslodgestudios.co.uk John A

      My set up is Raw lens 24-70 2.8 ISO 1600 Shutter no less then 125 Matrix meter
      and continuos focus

  • https://www.flickr.com/photos/128995896@N03/ Will Stone

    Hi there, I am a beginner with all of this and found this article extremely helpful to understand the mean of the f-number. I am looking to start plane-spotter photography and am still unsure as a beginner whether to go for a Bridge camera (the extra large zoom is extremely handy as it would mean i could take shots of aircraft overhead from my home, rather than travelling always to an airport to get my shots!) or spend a bit more on a SLR. I do want to keep to a £350 budget and this is at a really stretch so couldn’t go any further over this.

    I do want something which will lasts as I dont have the money to replace it every couple of years which is why I started looking at a few SLRs but after looking at and watching some reviews of bridge cameras they seem to be much better than a few years back. The bridge camera I was most interested in was the Panasonic FZ72 due to its incredible x60 zoom and a small £230 price tag. There was however a good package with the CANON EOS 1200D which came with both a 18-55 mm + 75-300 mm Telephoto Zoom Lens so I presume the upper zoom of the 300mm wouldn’t be too bad for capturing images of aircraft 10000ft up? I dont have much clue so more of a question i suppose!

    I did also read somewhere about SLRs having built in 1x or 3x optical zoom? I really dont know how reliable this information was, neither do i know a clue of what it means so maybe someone here can shed a bit of light on it for me?

    Just want to see what peoples opinion is on this.


  • ronnie aouad

    hello Nasim I want to ask a question
    I can’t find the”f” in my cannon 600 D camera, everytime a take a picture of a group of people I get the persons standing a little backward of the others blurry I don’t want to get that, I want the most of my background to be in focus, how can I get that, I will attach an example here
    I appreciate if you can help me in this
    Thank you!

    • deraldgrimwood-ws

      Actually I like this photo very much the way it is but I understand what you mean I think. Your problem is managing your depth of field. I could not find your exif information in your photo, so I’m guessing. First, I’d try going to Aperture mode and setting the aperture to f/8 or f/16 (see the Wall-e example above? that’s what they are talking about). Next you could change your ISO to something faster. It looks like you’re shooting between 100 and 400. You could try 800 and above too. You can vary your shutter speed. Lastly you could use an external flash (designed for your camera that supports e-ttl).

  • Yashar

    Thanks , Nasim. It is a great help. Greetings from Boston… Yashar

  • Tejas

    This is a great article. I ordered my first DSLR and am trying to learn a bit as I anticipate it being delivered. This explains aperature really well! Especially with the pupil reference. Now I can sound like I know what I’m talking about- and hopefully will fully know in time!

  • rikki247

    New member. I would just like to say how easy this is to understand. i have a Canon 50D DSLR and looking at buying a compact digital camera and this information has provided me with what i should be looking for when comparing cameras.
    Does anybody have any recommendations for which compact. As an idea i am interested in something like the Canon G1X MKi.
    I will post this also into the review section

  • Aby

    Thanks for the easy explanation.
    I Would like to know, for what is a small aperture useful? Or is the smallest Aperture the best?

  • Sunshine Deb

    Nasim, your advice and lessons are absolutely the best lessons for photographers, and I have searched and read many articles and books on photography. Yours ranks highest in my book. You make everything so easy to grasp and to learn. Thank you Nasim! I always come back to this and when I do I learn something new.!

  • Jesse

    I want to camera operate so bad & be good at it.. But there is soo much detail & Can’t take it all in lol

    • Sunshine Deb

      Jesse, don’t give up! You’ll catch on. Take it one step at a time, really, ONE step at a time. You will catch on and you will be so happy you stuck with it! Good luck!

    • deraldgrimwood-ws

      Use your camera on automatic until you feel comfortable with control. Don’t try new things at important times when you’re under pressure like at a wedding or graduation. The key for me is to try new things one at a time until I understand it. I might take 100 pictures 50 different ways of a brick. Not to get a picture of a beautiful brick, but to learn how to get one in focus in my depth of field, or in low light etc. and to do it when I have time.

      • Sunshine Deb

        exactly, derald! that’s how I do it, too. take it one at a time so that you get the hang of it in your own time.

  • Charles

    Your explanations are giving me life

  • 2ndcc

    hi i’m just getting into photography and have a Canon T2i with a lens 18-55mm 3.5-5.6. why is it that i can adjust the aperture to F22? i thought the smallest aperture would depend on the lens, which in my case is 5.6? In aperture priority mode why am i able to go to f22? thank you for your feedback. this is a very helpful site.

    • deb

      the aperture capabilities of your lens are this: at 18 mm, the best aperture is 3.5 and as you zoom your lens in up to 55, the best aperture decreases to 5.6. Now, that may not make sense, but the smallest aperture holes have the largest numbers (see above) so 3.5 is the most light your lens will let in. it will let you go to f22, but that is less light than f3.5 (see chart above.) and lenses only list the best possible apertures for the whole zoom of the lens, which is what the 3.5 to 5.6 means. (it took me forever to figure that out because no one explained that fact to me, although it would seem a fundamental thing to be told.)

      • deraldgrimwood-ws

        Thanks, thanks, thanks Deb. The same issue was driving me insane. Now I understand.

        • Sunshine Deb

          You’re very welcome, Derald! I just saw your question above and I’m glad this answer was there for you! Always happy to help.

  • Rebecca

    Great article, big help for a beginner :). Thank you

  • Anny

    I am an amateur photographer. I love to shoot at night but due to low light I dont understand what correct aperture should I use. Could you help me with this?

  • Ronit

    I am quite new in photography. Please suggest me, which mode should I select to to start photography?

    • deb

      HI, ronit,

      I’m hoping that you were able to get an answer by researching it online? If not, send a message here and I’ll be happy to pitch in. thanks

  • puneeth

    Is F/2.2 aperture for a mobile phone good, average or excellent?

  • Missyrissy415

    Hello there, I recently purchased a Nikon D5300 and a Nikorr AF-S F /1.4 , I am really confused as to how to get great portraits shots with a completey blurred background without the photo being over exposed! I’m just a beginner but really determined to take great portraits of my children and other subjects, but can’t seem to get it right when talking pics outside on a sunny day. Please help!

    • deb

      Missy, if you check out the link I suggested to Craine, above, I think you’ll find tons of useful info about it right there. I would explain it but they do a better job with less words. :)

  • Craine

    Whereis the depth of field? I photography birds and use single point of focus, is that point at the front, middle, or back of the depth of field?

    • deb

      http://digital-photography-school.com/understanding-depth-field-beginners/ check out that link, craine. it explains it well.

      • Craine

        Thanks Deb that link explained it in stright forward words and helped me a lot.

        • deb

          you’re welcome, Craine :) I’m glad I could help! I tried to explain it, was typing it out, and realized that that website would explain it so much clearer. I’m so glad it helped! :)

  • Vikum Warnakula

    Itz really useful for me.. thankz a lot editor.. Um a beginner for this field.. Um getting involved.. Anyway Great Job…

  • Payal Rao

    while taking photos on f/36, why is the image gets darker?
    what adjustments should be done?
    i tried taking photo of an object in f/3.5 and then changing it into f/36, the image gets darker and the shutter speed gets slower and i have to keep iso 6400. but still it becomes darker
    please help me out with this.

    • deb

      Payal, as your f number goes higher, less light gets to the sensor. So, the more light you want, you want a lower number. See the diagram above, it explains it perfectly. Try a setting of f/8 and iso 100 to 200 during the day, in aperture mode. (A on your dial). Good luck, hope that helps!

  • Garsi RM

    thank you soo much for your explanations.
    For beginners , it is really helpful.

  • deraldgrimwood-ws

    This makes sense except other people almost make it sound like there are two apertures. One for the lens and one for the camera. Most of my lenses have a narrow range like 3.x to 4.x that’s only one full stop isn’t it? Or is that the maximum high range for a zoom? I thought it was max and min.

    If its only the lens that controls aperture, how is it that we have all of these aperture choices when the lens itself reports something like maybe f4 for a prime and that’s it.

  • TJ

    This was incredibly helpful for this beginner. Thank you!

  • sekar

    I have Nikon5200 DSLR. How do I get Date and time with every shot? This feature is available by default in Sony cameras.

    • Sunshine Deb

      Hi, Sekar,

      If you go into your settings menu, go to D6 and that will give you your options to put the date and time on your photos. good luck and happy shooting!