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How-to's

Understanding DOF and Aperture & Shutter Speed Relationships

Darrell Young (DigitalDarrell)


Keywords: fundamentals, dof, depth_of_field, camera, basics, guides, tips

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Notice also that the shutter speed changed as you stopped down your lens. At f/1.8 you needed 1/6000th of a second to keep the light from overexposing your image. A large, fast aperture lets in a LOT of light, so you can only let it in for a short time -- by using a fast shutter speed. As you stopped down to f/8, your shutter speed moved to 1/500th of a second.

50mm f/1.8 AF Nikkor

50mm f/1.8 non-D AF Nikkor

The aperture opening is smaller at f/8 than at f/1.8 and less light is getting in through a smaller opening, so the light needs to come into the camera for a longer period of time. 1/500th of a second is a much longer time than 1/6000th of a second.

Then, notice how your shutter speed dropped to 1/40th of a second when you stopped down to f/22. At f/22 very little light is coming into the camera, so you have a long shutter speed at 1/40th of a second.

 

 

Conclusion

As you make the aperture opening smaller (f/22), you must let the light come in longer. As you make the aperture opening larger (f/1.8) you must let the light in for much less time. Does that make sense?

Aperture => Quantity of Light
Shutter Speed => Duration of Light

These two things work together to help you control the exposure and look of your image. With a fast aperture (large opening, f/1.8) you have very little depth of field, so you can isolate your subject from her surroundings. With a slow aperture (small opening, f/22) nearly everything in the image is in focus.

Experiment with your camera in M (Manual) or A (Aperture Priority) modes and learn how these relationships affect depth-of-field and the subsequent image's appearance.

Keep on capturing time...

 

(8 Votes )
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Originally written on June 24, 2010

Last updated on May 28, 2016

1 comment

Kim Norton (krn) on October 25, 2013

So glad I figured out I can change the background to white. With my aging eyes it is hard to see a black screen with white text.

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