Aperture refers to the opening of a lens's diaphragm through which light passes. It is calibrated in f/stops and is generally written as numbers such as 1.4, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11 and 16. The lower f/stops give more exposure because they represent the larger apertures, while the higher f/stops give less exposure because they represent smaller apertures.
How Aperture Affects Depth of Field
Depth of field is defined as "the zone of acceptable sharpness in front of and behind the subject on which the lens is focused." Simply put: how sharp or blurry is the area behind your subject. Here's the equation:
The lower the f/stop—the larger the opening in the lens—the less depth of field—the blurrier the background.
The higher the f/stop—the smaller the opening in the lens—the greater the depth of field—the sharper the background.
How Aperture Affects Shutter SpeedThe f/stop also affects shutter speed. Using a low f/stop means more light is entering the lens and therefore the shutter doesn't need to stay open as long to make a correct exposure which translates into a faster shutter speed. Again, the reverse is true: using a high f/stop means that less light is entering the lens and therefore the shutter will need to stay open a little longer which translates into a slower shutter speed.
Where to Find the Aperture
All lenses have a maximum aperture, and all NIKKOR lenses list the widest possible aperture on the lens barrel. Some zoom lenses will detail something like f/3.5-5.6 on the lens barrel or 1:3.5-5.6 (below right). These numbers, the 3.5 and the 5.6, are referring to the maximum aperture or widest opening the lens can achieve for each end of the zoom range. Some higher end lenses can maintain the largest aperture throughout the entire zoom range, so only one number is detailed (below left).
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