The photographer’s guide to aperture vs iris.
Your camera’s aperture and iris work together to adjust exposure, sharpen backgrounds, and more.
Photographers play with exposure and sharpness to take striking photos — and they often use the aperture and iris to manipulate these elements.
Although you control brightness and depth of field with your aperture and iris, there are a few differences between the two — discover them below.
Your camera’s aperture.
If you look into your camera lens, you’ll notice there’s a hole — or diaphragm — towards the back. This is known as an aperture and it controls how much light is let into your camera and your shot’s depth of field.
The size of your aperture, measured in f-stops, yields different effects. Use a wide aperture to:
- Achieve a shallow depth of field
- Sharpen or isolate your subject
- Increase exposure or brightness
Alternatively, use a narrow aperture setting to:
- Achieve a large depth of field
- Sharpen both the subject and background
- Decrease exposure or brightness
Your camera’s iris.
An iris is a ring found around the outside of the camera lens that you use to adjust the aperture itself. Your iris also keeps track of your f-stop — or the number that measures how much light the aperture lets in.
Set your iris to a lower f-stop setting to widen your aperture and increase the amount of light. To decrease the amount of light and narrow your aperture, set your iris to a higher f-stop number.
To adjust exposure and depth of field during a photoshoot, use the iris to adjust your camera’s aperture. If you happen to forget or adjust incorrectly, you can adjust exposure after the shoot using a versatile photo editing program or browse helpful photography tips to learn more.
Want to up your photography and editing skills? Explore everything you can do with Adobe Lightroom to create stunning images.