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Photography Question 

Shutter Speeds and Apertures

I am a young keen person who wants to learn more about photography and taking good photos. My question is, can I get a general idea on what kind of aperture settings I need for what kind of photos and what shutter speeds I need to use with it?

I know aperture lets in a certain amount of light but I'm really not sure how to set one in a certain situation.

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1/2/2004 3:26:41 AM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
In addition to letting in light, your aperture setting determines your depth of field,... or how much of what you are shooting will be in focus. The higher the f-stop number... the more depth of field you will have.

As a rule, the lower the aperature number (f-stop), the less light is needed for exposure. Hence, the wider f-stops (lower numbers) require a faster shutter speed than when the lens is stopped down (higher numbers).

As an example, let's say that your in-camera meter calls for an exposure of f-8 at 1/60 second. Each change in aperature setting must be met with a corosponding change in the shutter speed to maintain proper exposure. F-11 becomes 1/30 second, f-16 becomes 1/15... etc.
With that knowledge in mind, you should choose your aperture and/or shutter speed to suit the situation you are are faced with. A faster shutter speed might be needed to freeze action, so you would require a wide aperature (low f-stop number). Conversely, when shooting a landscape, you want as much in focus as possible from the foreground to infinity, so you would choose a higher aperture number (f-22 for example), and a slower shutter speed.
Once you've determined what f-stop the scene requires, you can usually trust your in-camera meter to guide you toward the corresponding shutter speed, (and vice-versa).

You should also try shooting the same scene using different settings and compare the results.

Hope this helps.

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1/2/2004 2:39:04 PM

Greg McCroskery
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/27/2003
If you're interested in learning more about photography basics I would highly recommend taking a beginning photography course such as those offered on this site. A good analogy for aperture/shutter speed is to compare light with water. To get a proper exposure you need a certain amount of water(light). Your aperture is the hose diameter, and your shutter speed is the faucet. To get the proper amount of water you can either use a small diameter hose and leave the faucet on longer, or you can use a larger diameter hose and turn the faucet off sooner. This is simplistic, but a good example of the relationship. Hope this is helpful.
God Bless,

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1/5/2004 7:51:30 AM

David T. Burke   Jeff,
I recommend taking Bryan Peterson's Understanding Exposure course through this website. He covers EVERYTHING for basic exposure. I learned a great deal from his course.

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1/5/2004 1:54:04 PM

Buddy Purugganan   First---you gotta inform us if you use either a manual or autofocus camera. Or if you are a digital user. One good book/magazine I highly recommend is The Big Book of Photography (FROM Photographic magazine). Its very educational---my friends even borrowed it from me! Enjoy your new cam and try the contests you see here!

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1/6/2004 1:09:18 AM

Tom Walker   It might help to know that f stops are the reciprical of the relationship of the lens opening to the focal length of the lens,ie: 50mm lens f2, the opening is 1/2 the length or 25mm, f4 is 1/4 the length or 12.5mm, f8 is 1/8, f16 is 1/16, etc,etc

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3/13/2004 5:48:30 PM

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