Maximum Aperture

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What is called maximum aperture is how wide your lens aperture can be.

A lens with wider aperture allows you to let in more light to your camera sensor, so you can take pictures in dimmed light environment better.
Wide aperture lens also called a fast lens, because of using their wide aperture you can take pictures with faster speed.
But it doesn't mean that you should always get this type of lens. Depending on your needs, don't get the lens with wider aperture than you need. It will cost you more.

Let's talk about aperture first.


What is aperture ?
In simple words, aperture is a hole with variable diameter inside the lens that control how much light that you want to let in.
It symbolize with "f/[number]". For example f/3.5, f/8, etc.
You should note that the bigger the f/ number, the smaller the hole, and the smaller the f/ number, the bigger the hole.

You can see the illustrated picture below:

When someone told you to use big aperture or small aperture, you may confuse with the word "big" and "small", you don't know which one you should look, the f/ number or the real hole opening.

Don't be confused, always remember this, when someone said big or small aperture, it means the real hole opening not the f/ number.
Using the illustrated picture above, big aperture means you should use f/2, f/2.8. And small aperture means you should use f/11, f/16.

Maximum Aperture

Like I said in the first line of this post, the limit to how wide a lens can be opened is called the maximum aperture.
All lens aperture can be set to open in f/11, f/16, f/22.
But you should know that not all lens can be set to open in f/1.4, f/1.8, f/2, f/2.8.

Most standard kit lens can be set to open maximum in f/3.5.
This limit is what is called maximum aperture for that lens.

What are the benefits of lenses with wide maximum apertures ?

Taking Photo With Natural Light

When you need to take photo in dimmed light environment you have two option, using flash or without flash but with a slow speed that can make your picture blurred.
If you use flash, you may ruin the mood of the picture. But if not using flash, your speed is very slow that you may need a tripod.

When you have lens with maximum aperture f/1.8 or f/2, it will help you take pictures in that condition. Because the aperture let in more light, you can use faster speed even with no flash. So you can take photo with natural light available and reduce the blurred image because of using slower speed.

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Faster Shutter Speeds

Like I already written above too, the use of wide aperture prevents blurred image, because you can use faster shutter speeds.
For example:
You want to take your children photo, playing in the garden, they are running everywhere.
with f/4 you get speed at 1/100s. When you switch to f/2 you will get speed at 1/200s.

Shallow Depth of Field

Lenses with wide maximum apertures have shallow depth of field.
This is useful when you want to isolate your photo subject from the crowded background.
Nature and portrait photographers usually use this the most.

Take a look at this photo:
Taking with f/1.8

Taking with f/4.5

How to Read Maximum Aperture of a Lens

When you look at the lens you will see some reading like this:
- 50mm f/1.8
- 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
- 70-200mm f/2.8

The first one is a Prime Lens, because it has fixed focal length, 50mm. And the second one is Zoom Lens, because it has variable focal length, 18-55mm.
The reading after the focal length is that lens maximum aperture.

For the prime lens above the maximum aperture is f/1.8. And for the Zoom Lens it is range beetween f/3.5-5.6.
It means when you set the focal length at 18mm, the maximum aperture ypu can set will be f/3.5.
And when you set the focal length at 55mm, the maximum aperture you can set will be f/5.6.

When using this type of zoom lens, your exposure settings will keep changing along with you zooming in or out, because the aperture constantly changing.

There are also zoom lens with a fixed aperture, such as in the example above, 70-200mm f/2.8. It means the maximum aperture won't change all across the focal length you use.
This lens will cost you more, because it combines the benefit of variable focal length that Zoom Lens have, and the fix aperture that Prime Lens have.

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So, here's a quick guidance for what maximum aperture you need:
- Daylight (outdoor) = Any apperture, in broad daylight it doesn't matter what the max aperture of the lens.
- Indoor = f/1.4 - f/2.8, If you want to take pictures indoor without flash.
- Cloudy (outdoor) = f/2.8 - f/3.5, When you want capture fast moving subject in a cloudy day.
- Shade (outdoor) = f/3.5 - f/5.6, When it is not as dim as cloudy day.

Next article is about choosing between first or third party lenses.
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Prime and Zoom Lenses

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There's two type of lens, the Prime lens and Zoom lens.
Each lens type has advantages.
Depends on what pictures you want to take with lens, you need to decide what type is more suitable.

Here's the breakdown of each lens type.

Prime Lens

A prime lens has a fixed focal length, so it's usually also called fix lens.

Fixed focal length means the the focal length of the lens is set to one number (for example 50mm) and cannot be changed. If you want to change your angle of view, you must move back and forth with your camera.

So if you want to use different focal lengths, then you'll need to switch to other prime lens.
For example, if you want to take photos at 24mm, 85mm and 135mm, you'll need 3 lenses, one for each focal length.
So why buying more prime lenses when a couple of zoom lens could cover some or even more range ?

Here's some reason to buy prime lens.

They are High Quality

The prime lens built is from highest-quality glass so it takes very clear photos.
Since they are a fix lens and don't have a lot of moving parts like zoom lens, the glass inside a prime lens is very precise. You can get the sharpest focus possible with these lenses.

Prime Lens weight is quite light

Compared to 70-200mm zoom lens, a fix 85mm or 135mm prime lens is far more light.
So, when you need a maximum portability, just attach a 50mm or 35mm lens to your camera and you're ready to go.

The price is not too expensive

The prime lens construction is simpler than a zoom lens, because they don't have many moving parts, so the price of production these lens is cheaper.
You can also get a wide apertures prime lens with more reasonably price compared to zoom lens with a wide aperture.
These are great lens if you want to take photo in low light condition without using flash.

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Zoom Lens

A zoom lens has a variable focal length.

These are the most common types of lenses available for DSLR camera today.
When you buy DSLR, most lens kit packaged with the camera is an 18-55mm zoom lens.

Zoom lens built to offer flexibility. It's good for photographers who just starting with SLR, because he/she can experiment with the various focal length offered by the lens.
These lens also good for taking photos when you're in the crowd, when you're keep standing in one spot but still get the composition you want.

Zoom lens built is not always use the highest-quality glass and they are heavier than prime lens, and if they use highest-quality glass the price will be more expensive.

Zoom Power

Zoom power indicates how much focal range a particular lens can cover.

For example, a 28-300mm zoom lens is said to be more powerful than a 28-135mm zoom, because the 28-300mm covers a wider range from wide angle to telephoto.

You can see my article Choosing Focal Length to know what focal length that may suitable to your needs.

If you just get started, the Super Zoom lens (18-250mm or 28-300mm) maybe will suit you well, just attach one lens and you get all the focal length that you need.
But remember those lens don't offer the same optical quality as the specialty zooms (like 10-14mm, 16-85mm, etc).
And usually Super Zoom lens only have maximum aperture range of 3.5-6.3.
When you need to take a photo in low light condition without flash, it's not too reliable.

Next article is about Maximum Aperture.
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About The Author

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While still writing for the next posting, I have put About Me page.
If you want to know about me and how I started this blog, check it out.

Choose DSLR Lens - Focal Length

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Focal Length is measured in millimeters (mm) and it represents the distance from the optical center of a lens to the digital camera sensor when the subject of the photo is in focus.

With a short focal length you have to be close to your subject for getting a close-up, with a long focal length you can be far from your subject but still can get a close-up.
A zoom lens has a variable focal length, and a prime lens has a fixed focal length.

Lens Type

Each lens has specific range of focal lengths.
So, you will not find all focal length range from 10mm to 600mm in single lens only. There are no such lens.

Generally, lenses are grouped into four primary categories based on their focal lengths:
- Wide Angle: 28mm or lower.
- Standard: 35mm to 85mm.
- Telephoto: 100mm to 300mm.
- Super Telephoto: higher than 300mm.

For DSLR with 1.5x crop factor (not a Full Frame DSLR):
- Wide Angle: 18mm or lower.
- Standard: 24mm to 55mm.
- Telephoto: 70mm to 200mm.
- Super Telephoto: higher than 200mm.

Different focal lengths have different uses in the world of photography.
Generally, they are used for:
- Wide Angle: Landscapes, Architecture and Interiors.
- Standard: Portraits.
- Telephoto: Portaits and Sports.
- Super Telephoto: Widlife and Sports.

Wide Angle

Wide angle lens is good for landscape photography, because you can get all the scenery, from the foreground grass to the mountain background in the distance.
But wide angle lens is not good for taking portrait photo, because they distort the facial features, such as the noses look huge.

Standard Lens

Standard lens is good for a wide range of photographic sbujects, but better at portraits.
Standard lens create very natural-looking portraits without the distortion.

Telephoto Lens

Telephoto lens is good for portraits but also have some distortion, in the term of distance between objects. This lens have less depth and three-dimensionality than lenses with wider focal lengths.
They good for getting you up close with subjects that are far away.

Super Telephoto Lens

These lenses are extremely expensive. And usually used only by professional photographers.
Wildlife photographers used them, where getting up close is not an option. Also you can see them in professional sporting event.
This lens requires a lot of skill to use effectively.

Next article is choosing Prime Lens or Zoom Lens.
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Choosing DSLR Lens

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If you already have a good DSLR camera, you will need a good lens that suits your photography needs.
Digital SLR lenses come in various shapes and sizes, and also vary massively in price.
Some lens are built for the professional photographer that have a lot of specific needs and others are built just for the everyday snapshot photographer.
So, which lens that will suit your needs ?

There are 5 steps that I will mention here to help you find the lens that will suit your needs.

Brand of Your DSLR

Before we go to the 5 steps, depends on the brand of your DSLR, you need to look for lens with the same brand. Why ?
Because lenses are not interchangeable.

A Nikon lens will not work for Canon camera, and vice versa. What makes the lens are not interchangeable is the "lens mount". The lens mount is the point of connection between a lens and your digital SLR.
Each camera brand has it's own lens mount design, that's why it's not interchangeable. Keep this in mind when later you want to get a lens from a third party manufacturer (I'll write about this later).

5 Steps To Choose The Lens

 1. Choose focal length
 2. Prime Lens (Fix Lens) or Zoom Lens
 3. Choose maximum aperture
 4. First or third party lenses
 5. Extra features in the lens

Continue to Step 1 - Choose Your Focal Length.
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DSLR Exposure Modes

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Unlike point and shoot camera, DSLR's are equipped with several different automatic exposure modes as well as a manual mode that lets you to capture almost any kind of subjects. It depends whether you are a beginner or intermediate or advanced photographer, each of these modes offers different advantages. You can use each advantages to support your creativity in a photograph. With practice and experience, you will learn which mode works best under any condition.

There are 5 main exposure modes, Auto, Program (P), Aperture Priority (A), Shutter Priority (S) and Manual (M).
In other camera brand Aperture Priority (A) also called Aperture Value (Av), and Shutter Priority called Time Value (Tv).
There are also some other modes that usually called Scene Modes. The Scene Modes is different from one DSLR Manufacturer with another one. The most common Scene Modes are Portrait, Night Shot, Landscape, Sport and Macro.

Lets start with the simplest ones.


As the name suggest, this mode make your DSLR turns into a point and shoot camera. The DSLR processor will set everything for you, even pop the flash automatically if the camera feels necessary. So, basically it will become point and shoot camera with the image quality of a DSLR. This mode is useful when you want to emphasize on capturing the fast moment regardless the camera setting used.
Maybe you won't get the best speed / aperture setting in this mode, but it's designed for simplicity and to make sharp, well exposed photographs almost in any lighting condition.


In Program mode the camera automatically selects a suitable shutter speed and aperture depending on subject data and lens focal length. Usually this mode is ideal for taking snapshots or candid shots and anyone who wants to make images without worrying about camera setting. So this mode can provides instant readiness for those unexpected moments and surprises.

So what's the different between Auto mode and Program mode ?
The difference is, in program mode you can do some modification to the shutter speed or aperture setting that the camera given to you. This lets you control depth of field or action-freezing settings.
You can also alter exposure by using the camera's Exposure Compensation control that's usually indicated by a button with plus and minus signs and it's adjusted in positive or negative directions by some kind of wheel or control.

Exposure Compensation is not officially an exposure mode, but it's one of the most important parts/function of a digital SLR. You'll realize that the camera automatic settings won't always produce a "perfect" exposure under all lighting condition. So with the Exposure Compensation it lets you increase or decrease the automatic exposure by one-half or one-third stops depending on your camera and what its Custom Functions/Custom Settings allow, until you can achieve what you consider "the correct" exposure settings.
I recommend using the one-third stop option because it allows a more detailed increased or decrease in exposure.

Shutter Priority / Time Value

This mode is ideal for photographing subjects in motion, such as sports and action photography.
In this mode you set the speed that you want to use, and the camera will automatically set the aperture for you.
You can freeze fast moving subjects with high shutter speed or you can create a motion effect with slower speed.

For example, if it's raining in the day and your children that still playing out in the field getting wet, you want to capture their fun activity in detail including each rain drops and water splash, use high speed setting.
Another example, if you want to take photo of a waterfall or flowing river, and you want to give a motion and smooth effect to the water, use slow speed setting. And remember to use tripod if the speed is too low, to reduce the camera shake that can make a blurred image.

Sometimes due to lighting condition that too dimmed or too bright, even with the smallest or widest aperture that the camera can offer you, the in-camera light meter still read under exposed (-) picture or over exposed (+) picture.
In this case you should adjust your ISO. If it's under exposed, raise the ISO, if it's over exposed, lower the ISO.
It's also applied to Program mode as well.

Aperture Priority / Aperture Value

In this mode you set the aperture you want to use, and the camera will automatically set the shutter speed for you.
This mode is ideal for taking a portrait picture, snapshots, candid shots and landscape pictures.
The main reason for using this mode is to help control the "Depth of Field". With controlling the Depth of Field you can make a portrait picture with the blurred background to isolate the subject/Point of Interest or sharp background.
Use small aperture (large f numbers, 11, 16, 22, 32) to make a wider range of Depth of Field, result in sharp background. Good for landscape photography that needs to be sharp from front to infinity range.
Use bigger aperture (small f numbers, 4, 3.5, 2.8, 2, 1.8, 1.4) to make a shorter range of Depth of Field, result in blurred background and foreground. Good for portrait/snapshots/candid shots photography, to isolate the subject.

But please note that the Depth of Field is not controled by Aperture only. There are other factors that affected the Depth of Field, such as the range between the photographer and the subject and the background, etc.

It's same with Shutter Priority mode, if the lighting condition too dimmed or too bright, you may need to adjust your ISO.


This is the last and most powerful mode of a DSLR.
When all the automatic modes (Auto,P,A/Av,S/Tv) failed to satisfy you, this is the last mode that you can choose.
In this mode, everything is set manually by you. The camera won't do any automatic set of aperture or shutter speed. You will decide everything, whether you want to take the picture "purposely" under exposed or over exposed, or get sharp background or blurred background or fast shutter speed or slower speed, it's all up to you.

This mode work great if you work in the studio where you have complete control over the light source, light intensity and light angle or when you want to make a creative shots where can't be achieved by using other automatic modes up there. It gives you maximum control over everything in the scene.

Make sure you have basic knowledge in photography to make use of this mode.

So, that's all about DSLR Exposure Modes, hope this writing will be useful for you.
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Some Things You Need To Know Before Taking a Picture

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Taking a picture is a fun activity. All people around the world loves to take pictures.
If you go on a holiday, you can capture all your full day activity.
It's so much fun.
But, besides all the fun, you surely want that all the picture that you take is good.
So, here's some things that you need to know to help you taking a good picture.

Know your tools

You need to know what your tools capable of and how to use it efficiently.
What is your camera ISO range, what is the speed range. For the lens, what is the maximum and minimum aparture.
The more you know about your tools, the more efficient you can use it.
You may also need to prepare tripod for slow speed shooting, or flash light when you need additional light source.
If it's rainy season you may need to prepare plastic bag to cover your camera.

Choose the best time

If you want to take landscape view, you need to know that the best time to take landscape picture is early in the morning (around 6-9 AM) and early evening (around 4-6 PM). At that time the lighting condition and the lighting angle is good. It's possible for you to get beautiful picture at that time range.

Composition and angle

Arrange and compose the picture well before taking a shoot, the lighting angle, the background, the object placement, subject pose, etc. Consider to use unusual angle to make your picture unique and interesting.
Don't forget to check your light meter too, so your picture won't be over expose or under expose.
Use the "Rule of Thirds" to help you composing your picture. The "Rule of Thirds" is the most common composition rule in photography.

Lastly, do your shooting calmly, don't harsh.

Hope this writing will be useful for you.

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