The cream of my latest adventures!

Photographic Experiment: Effects of Different Aperture Settings


Education while having fun is great! My question is how does the aperture setting affect the photography? Photographers with some experience will know that aperture has a direct effect on the depth of field, but what other effects do you get?

I don’t have a macro lens, which is a bit stupid. Not deterred by that setback, I used the Canon 70-200mm F4 IS USM lens on my 400D instead. I set the zoom to 200 to get a real good close-up so I could compare the details. The object was a decorative candle, a gift from my dear brother and his fiancee.

The studio used is the one seen in the previous post, inside our living room cupboard. I shot a range of pictures with the same frame, with only aperture and shutter speed being the relative variables. To show the difference below I’ve shown two pictures; Left: F32 Aperture & 1/5s Shutter Speed; and Right: F4 Aperture & 1/320 Shutter Speed. ISO: 100

F4 Aperture & 1/320 Shutter

Left: F32 Aperture & 1/5s Shutter. Right: F4 Aperture & 1/320 Shutter

Initial Observations about the F4 shot:

  1. The F4 shot has a shallower depth of field (as expected).
  2. Everything except the in-focus area is darker on the F4 shot. While capturing enough light to make the in-focus area, the shutter speed doesn’t appear to be sufficient to capture enough light for the background. Any views on why this is the case are welcome! I’ll try to find out myself.
  3. The light feels more saturated on the F4 shot than the F32 shot, probably helped by the darker background and shallower focus depth.

With those observations in the bag, I’m interested to know which shot has the best details. I know that F32 will capture a greater depth of detail but what about in the focused area?

Zoomed Area

Zoomed Area

The below images are the two same images only zoomed in on a small part as shown above.

F4 Aperture & 1/320 Shutter

Zoomed in: Left: F32 Aperture & 1/5s Shutter. Right: F4 Aperture & 1/320 Shutter

The focus point is just below the big indentation in the middle. Despite the whole area being in focus in both shots, we can see that the F32 image is clearly sharper! Unless there’s something wrong with my lens (and it cost too much for there to be something wrong!), I think the conclusion needs to be: Unless you’re looking for a view with limited depth of field or are shooting moving objects, then a narrower aperture is better (the larger number the narrower right?). So make sure you bring that tripod for the longer shutter speeds! I will.

I could probably have read this in some magazine, but hey! Much more fun finding out yourself right?! Stay tuned for more Photolicious experimentation!

One response

  1. Pingback: Photo Experiment: Macro Photo Studio « Torstein’s Photo Blog

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