If you’re not heavily into photography, the controls on your digital camera are probably a mystery to you, and the terms used in photography are likely a foreign language. One such confusing term is aperture. Here’s a helpful tip on what aperture settings mean, and how it affects your photos. Note: This assumes that you have a DSLR camera, not a fixed-lens point & shoot camera. The aperture of a lens refers to the amount of light a lens lets in when you take a photo. The aperture size is commonly referred to as the F-Stop or F-#. Confusingly enough, a smaller F-# means a larger aperture size, which allows more light in, and creates a narrower depth of field. This means that when taking a portrait photo, the subject will be in focus, and the background will remain out of focus, or blurry. A higher F-# will keep the entire frame in focus.

F-# Aperture Size Shutter Speed Depth of Field
Higher # Smaller Slower Wider
Lower # Larger Faster Narrower

Lens aperture settings are displayed as 1:X or f/X.X. So a lens with the largest aperture would be 1:1.0 or f/1.0. Because these larger aperture lenses are so desirable, they typically cost much more than a lens with a smaller aperture. Why are they desirable? Because they let more light in! That means if you typically do a lot of indoor photography and rely on your flash, these lenses will produce a much more evenly-lit image, rather than your subject being brightly lit and the background nearly blacked-out completely. For more information about camera lenses, I recommend taking a look at this excellent article at Cambridgeincolour.