The difference between low and high aperture

Discover the basics of aperture, the different settings and how each affects your photos.

“Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise” - Michael Jordan

The automatic mode on your camera is an excellent place to start your photography journey, but using the manual mode lets you be more creative with your photos. The three settings you need to master in manual mode are aperture, ISO and shutter speed.

How does aperture work?

An aperture is a small hole in the lens that controls how much light enters the camera. Apertures are denoted by a number called an f-stop, and are written as follows: f/2.

Every lens has a limit for how big or small the aperture can get. For example, a standard lens might include the following f-stops:

Effects of low vs. high apertures

Low f-stops (also known as large apertures) let more light into the camera. High f-stops (also known as small apertures) let less light into the camera. This may seem confusing at first, but it will make more sense as you practice taking photos with varying f-stops. Experiment with different f-stops and compare the results.

Aperture doesn’t just affect light — it also affects depth of field. As you decrease your f-stop, the background of your photos will become more blurry with a reduced depth of field – the amount of your shot that is in full focus. Increase the f-stop, and you’ll get a greater depth of field and sharper background as a result.

Try other photography tips and tricks as you experiment with aperture and begin to master depth of field.

To perfect your images, you’ll need some creative photo editing software like Lightroom. Whether you shoot with a low or high aperture ― or anything in between ― with an editing program like Lightroom you can transform your raw shots into stunning photos.