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Aperture vs F-Stop

Published: 06/12/2021

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Real estate photography has a broad jargon, especially the technical terms involving camera settings. Among those commonly used interchangeably are f-stop and aperture. For this article, we're discussing the basics, similarities, and differences between aperture vs f-stop, so you'll know the right time to use them.

Aperture vs F-Stop: General Overview

Lighting is among the crucial aspects of real estate photography because too much light can cause overexposure. Likewise, too little may create an underexposed image. Setting the perfect exposure requires learning which f-stop to use, then controlling how big or small the aperture will open.

There's no one-size-fits-all approach when adjusting camera settings, especially since you would encounter varying light sources when shooting properties. However, one of the top real estate photography tips to live by is to master controlling aperture.

Aperture and f-stop are two of the most integral elements you would need to practice real estate photography. They have an inverse relationship, so let's start by defining their purpose in taking photos.

Person holding a DSLR camera

Aperture

Aperture is among the primary camera settings that control exposure. It's the opening in the lens diaphragm, kind of like a person's eye pupil. However, the aperture uses blades that open and close to let more or less light fall on the image sensor.

Wide apertures create large holes, whereas narrow aperture values result in smaller holes in the lens. As the width of the lens aperture changes, the camera lens collects and focuses light on ensuring your real estate photos have the appropriate exposure.

The camera lens market expects a $6.19 billion growth by 2026. Several factors come into play, including the evolving need to accommodate users who opt for a wider aperture. This is because the maximum aperture value significantly affects how you will set the exposure.

F-Stop

F-stop is the scaling that affects the aperture. When you increase the f-number, you create a smaller aperture that limits the amount of light. Similarly, decreasing the f-stop widens the aperture to let more light enter the lens.

The f stands for focal length, while the number is the focal range divided by the entrance pupil's diameter. Each stop can either halve or double the light's intensity that enters the lens. The f-number increments exactly describe the aperture's relative size.

As you learn to control the exposure, you would encounter phrases like, "stop the aperture down a step", which means you need to cut the aperture area's opening by an f-stop. Furthermore, "stepping the aperture up an f-stop" means you need to double the aperture opening's opening.

Similarities and Differences

Learning aperture and f-stop can be confusing at times because of their reverse values. For instance, if you're using a Canon 24-70mm Lens at f/2.8, it will let in much more light than using it at f/11. However strange it may sound at first, it boils down to understanding how f-stop values get their measurements.

While you can normally use aperture and f-stop interchangeably, there are still some similarities and differences that can help you better understand their roles in real estate photography.

Similarities Between Aperture and F Stop

The similarities between f-stop and aperture come from the fact that they influence one another. Choosing an f-number directly affects how the aperture opening would function.

About 63% of consumers say that pictures are more vital than descriptions. As a real estate photographer, it's your job to present a property and highlight its features, even if you're only using a few images.

These similarities can help you understand how to control exposure to produce high-quality real estate photos and videos.

Maximum Aperture Value

The light that travels through the lens and exposes the camera sensor depends on the length and opening diameter of the lens. The aperture influences the actual process of opening the lens diaphragm, while the f-stop depends on the focal length's ratio.

The maximum aperture is among the important features for real estate photography lenses, especially if you want to have the best wide-angle lens for shooting vast interiors.

Lenses with large maximum apertures would collect more light. For instance, a lens with f/2.8 maximum aperture would capture twice as much light as opposed to a lens with the widest opening of f/5.6. This can be a big deal when shooting interiors in low-light conditions.

Amount of Light Entering the Lens

Aperture is expressed as an f-number, like f/1.4, f/2.8, f/5.8, f/11, f/22, and so on. Modifying the f-number changes the aperture's size, enabling you to control the amount of light that enters the lens.

While you can adjust the exposure when post-processing in Lightroom, it will be a lot more convenient when you use the correct aperture and lighting in the first place.

A person taking a photo in daylight

People retain 80% of the things they see. To attract buyers and help them collect more information about a property, it's essential that your real estate photos have the correct exposure. Applying the right f-stop value can help you with this task.

  • Higher f-number results in a narrow aperture and less light to pass through the lens.
  • A lower f-number creates a bigger aperture that allows more light to enter.
  • The amount of light can affect the intensity and values of colors. The lower the light, the darker and less intense the colors in a shot. When you increase the light's amount, you can intensify the color.
  • Lighting affects the mood of a scene, especially interiors. The type of illumination and aperture can determine the brightness, contrast, and highlights in a real estate photo. Collectively, these elements in visuals can evoke an emotional response from potential buyers, letting you engage with them more.

Effect on Focus and Depth of Field

Changing the f-stop affects the distance in front of or behind the focus point. Commonly referred to as the depth of field, this is the zone within a photo with acceptable focus or sharpness surrounding the subject.

  • A higher f-stop results in a broad distance in front or behind the focal point that appears to be in focus. 
  • A lower f-stop cuts the distance on the point in focus.
  • If you're photographing a chair in the middle of a room using f/22, the smaller aperture will create a greater depth of field and a larger area of focus.
  • A large aperture or lower f-stop number can blur both the background and foreground. Meanwhile, a small aperture or a higher f-stop value can only create a small amount of background blur.
  • Modifying your settings to f/2.8 would make a larger hole. As a result, you can create a shallower depth of field and a smaller area of focus.
  • If you need a shallow focus effect on your subject's face, you can use f-numbers like f/1.4 or f/2.
  • You may change from f/8 to f/16 to ensure a sharp focus across the horizon when photographing landscapes.

About 74% of homeowners are likely to list with an agent who uses videos when selling properties. Even 51% of marketers say that video content has the best return on investment.

However, you can only attract such clients when you know how to properly use aperture and the corresponding f-number to achieve the ideal brightness, focus, and frame rate for videos.

Shutter Speed

There's an increasing demand for high-performance camera lenses. The global camera lens market even expects shipments to reach 250 million units by 2027. The aperture is among the features consumers look for because it dramatically influences setting exposure, especially in relation to shutter speed.

When photographing interiors and exteriors, it's ideal to set the aperture first before the shutter speed to achieve the correct exposure. The same goes when setting the ISO and white balance.

  • A small f-number that creates a wide aperture means the shutter opens a lot, letting more light enter the lens. Since the shutter doesn't need to remain open for long, you can use a fast shutter speed.
  • A large f-number that narrows the aperture means the shutter opens only slightly, with less light entering the lens. For the shutter to stay open longer, you need a slower shutter speed.

Differences Between Aperture and F-Stop

While you can use both terms when adjusting exposure, there are still distinct differences between aperture and f-stop. 

In general, the aperture is the lens opening through which lighting passes to reach the camera sensor. Meanwhile, the f-number is the scale of the aperture value.

Scale

Apertures don't have scaling, which is why you may typically encounter photographers refer to them as wide, moderately broad, narrow, or moderately narrow.

This means that you can use particular f-stops within these ranges to adjust the exposure. For example, when shooting a kitchen interior with softbox lighting, you may need to use wide apertures between f/1.8 to f/2.6.

On the other hand, f-stop connotes a specific amount measured in fractions. It's a sequence of f-numbers that depend on the lens. Being written as a fraction, think of f/2 as one-half or f/16 as one-sixteenth.

Major Distinguishing Factor

Technically, aperture refers to the size of the lens hole that lets light hit the camera sensor. It's the physical opening of the lens diaphragm, which you would also see through the difference in the blades.

In contrast, the f-stop represents the lens focal length and entrance diameter ratio to control the amount of light. It denotes the scale that correlates the aperture to the focal range of the lens. Additionally, it's the number on the camera display when changing the aperture's size.

Overall, the aperture is the hole you see in the lens that collects light, whereas the f-stop denotes the size of the whole measured in fractions. The aperture is measured in f-stops, and the f-number represents the relative aperture of the lens.

An aspherical lens on a wooden desk

When to Use Aperture

Use the term aperture when referring to the diameter of the entrance of the lens pupil in millimeters. When combined with shutter speed, you can determine how much light will reach the camera sensor. 

It's ideal to use the word aperture if referring to a range of f-numbers. If you're pertaining to the actual adjustment of the lens blades to function, this means you're controlling the aperture's opening size.

When to Use F-Stop

Use the term f-stop to identify the ratio of the aperture diameter and focal length exactly. This influences the light's density falling on the sensor. 

If you want to refer to an exact scale, it would be better to use f-stop numbers. Describing the aperture using definite numbers makes it easier to tell how small or big you want the aperture to operate.

The Verdict

Aperture and f-stop are inversely proportional. Aperture mainly influences the lens opening, whereas f-stop determines the definite size. As long as you know how aperture affects the exposure in your shots, you can compose shots well and even identify the best lens for real estate photography.

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