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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk 
Thread started 17 Sep 2014 (Wednesday) 09:30
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Aperture Question

 
brycematheson
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Sep 17, 2014 09:30 |  #1

So, I have a quick question about camera aperture. And this is probably more due to ignorance more than anything, but what's the big deal about wide apertures? It seems that people rant and rave about them. Yes, I understand that they're better for low light. You can open up the aperture while still maintaining a decent shutter speed without having to bump up the ISO too high (therefore invoking noise into your shots). I also appreciate creamy, buttery bokeh in portrait shots.

The thing for me, though, is that with my 50mm 1.4, I never shoot at 1.4, because it's too soft, so it's usually stopped down to at least F1.8. If I'm correct, even if I'm 10-15 feet away from a group of people, at an aperture of F1.8 and a FL of 50mm, I've only got about 2-3 feet of objects in focus, correct? Let's say I'm shooting a large group of (60+) people in a low-light situation. There are two rows of people, standing on bleachers, with the sun going down. No flash, nothing. At F1.8, only the first row is going to be in focus, with the back row OOF.

With such a razor thin depth of field, why are people all the rage about lenses with such small apertures? I almost feel that it would almost be better to find a camera with great low light capability, and just use an F4.0 lens at say...6400 or even 12800 ISO.


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Larry ­ Johnson
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Sep 17, 2014 09:38 |  #2

although i don't own such a lens, i can see the need for one for indoor sports events where flash isn't allowed or appropriate and for outside use in low light conditions, such as wildlife photography.


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DunnoWhen
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Sep 17, 2014 10:13 as a reply to  @ Larry Johnson's post |  #3

Because with such LARGE apertures one can take shots with great blurred backgrounds. On the other-hand, one can stop the lens down to a SMALL aperture so that one has a great depth of field.

In other-words, one selects the aperture based upon the artistic feel one wants for a particular shot be that f1.4 or f22.

(Assuming we are setting the aperture first and then balancing shutter speed and ISO to match).


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mike_d
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Sep 17, 2014 10:14 |  #4

brycematheson wrote in post #17160761 (external link)
Let's say I'm shooting a large group of (60+) people in a low-light situation. There are two rows of people, standing on bleachers, with the sun going down. No flash, nothing. At F1.8, only the first row is going to be in focus, with the back row OOF.

I'd say you brought the wrong gear for the job in this case. Shooting at f/1.8 isn't appropriate for every situation.

brycematheson wrote in post #17160761 (external link)
With such a razor thin depth of field, why are people all the rage about lenses with such small apertures? I almost feel that it would almost be better to find a camera with great low light capability, and just use an F4.0 lens at say...6400 or even 12800 ISO.

High ISO isn't going to create a nice background blur the way a large aperture does. Having a fast lens gives you another option that a slower lens doesn't.




  
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Martin ­ Dixon
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Sep 17, 2014 10:15 |  #5

Great photos can be made with a phone camera, but sometimes the difference between a snapshot and art is separating the subject from the background - small DOF may do this.

One minor advantage - More light will help autofocus and composing in low light even if you set a small aperture.

One genre that works woth karge apertures: have a look at one of my favorite threads here "Show us your "Brenizer Method" shots! "https://photography-on-the.net …/showthread.php​?t=1138306


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DC ­ Fan
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Sep 17, 2014 10:28 |  #6

brycematheson wrote in post #17160761 (external link)
So, I have a quick question about camera aperture. And this is probably more due to ignorance more than anything, but what's the big deal about wide apertures? .

Actual examples of the use of large apertures.

Shallow depth of field to isolate a subject.

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Camera Maker: Canon
Camera Model: Canon EOS 5D
Lens: EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM
Image Date: 2013-08-24 20:39:05 (no TZ)
Focal Length: 170.0mm
Aperture: f/2.8
Exposure Time: 0.017 s (1/60)
ISO equiv: 3200
Exposure Bias: +1.00 EV
Metering Mode: Matrix
Exposure: program (Auto)
White Balance: Auto
Flash Fired: Yes (Auto, return light detected)
Orientation: Normal
Color Space: sRGB


Light gathering abillty with available light.

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Camera Maker: Canon
Camera Model: Canon EOS 60D
Lens: 70-200mm
Image Date: 2012-12-22 09:29:43 (no TZ)
Focal Length: 118.0mm
Aperture: f/2.8
Exposure Time: 0.0020 s (1/500)
ISO equiv: 6400
Exposure Bias: none
Metering Mode: Matrix
Exposure: Manual
Exposure Mode: Manual
White Balance: Manual
Flash Fired: No (enforced)
Orientation: Normal
Color Space: sRGB

No reason to speculate. This is how it really works in actual use.



  
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tonylong
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Sep 17, 2014 15:48 |  #7

brycematheson wrote in post #17160761 (external link)
So, I have a quick question about camera aperture. And this is probably more due to ignorance more than anything, but what's the big deal about wide apertures? It seems that people rant and rave about them. Yes, I understand that they're better for low light. You can open up the aperture while still maintaining a decent shutter speed without having to bump up the ISO too high (therefore invoking noise into your shots). I also appreciate creamy, buttery bokeh in portrait shots.

The thing for me, though, is that with my 50mm 1.4, I never shoot at 1.4, because it's too soft, so it's usually stopped down to at least F1.8. If I'm correct, even if I'm 10-15 feet away from a group of people, at an aperture of F1.8 and a FL of 50mm, I've only got about 2-3 feet of objects in focus, correct? Let's say I'm shooting a large group of (60+) people in a low-light situation. There are two rows of people, standing on bleachers, with the sun going down. No flash, nothing. At F1.8, only the first row is going to be in focus, with the back row OOF.

With such a razor thin depth of field, why are people all the rage about lenses with such small apertures? I almost feel that it would almost be better to find a camera with great low light capability, and just use an F4.0 lens at say...6400 or even 12800 ISO.

Totally valid points, in fact, for much if not most "active" shooting, there is no "need" for the wider apertures. The widest apertures (f/1.4 or f/1.2) can be nice "creative" settings but only if you have some skills in working with those apertures and a "vision" that you are after. In practice, my "walk-around" lens is an f/4 lens and I typically shoot at a narrower aperture, say f/5.6 for street shooting and, of course, narrower for landscape/scenic shots.


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20droger
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Sep 17, 2014 20:19 as a reply to  @ tonylong's post |  #8

There's a reason for the old saying, "f/8 and be there."




  
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tagnal
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Sep 18, 2014 20:33 |  #9

brycematheson wrote in post #17160761 (external link)
If I'm correct, even if I'm 10-15 feet away from a group of people, at an aperture of F1.8 and a FL of 50mm, I've only got about 2-3 feet of objects in focus, correct? Let's say I'm shooting a large group of (60+) people in a low-light situation. There are two rows of people, standing on bleachers, with the sun going down. No flash, nothing. At F1.8, only the first row is going to be in focus, with the back row OOF.

With such a razor thin depth of field, why are people all the rage about lenses with such small apertures? I almost feel that it would almost be better to find a camera with great low light capability, and just use an F4.0 lens at say...6400 or even 12800 ISO.

Just because a lens has a large aperture of f/1.4 doesn't mean it can ONLY shoot at f/1.4. You choose the aperture you are shooting at based upon the needs of what you are currently shooting. For groups of people (especially when there are multiple rows) you should always stoop your lens down to get the required depth of field. In your example where you had no flash and the sun was fading, I am assuming you thought to open up your aperture to let in more light. I would rather bump the ISO. I'd rather have a slightly noisy image with everyone in focus than one with no noise but half the people are blurry because my depth of field was too small.

What is all the rage about lenses with such small apertures? I think you meant large apertures? Well, the reason is simply because you can do more with it than you can with a lens with a smaller aperture. It is useful in more situations and can bring more artistic effects to an image. For example, let's use the ef-s 18-55 and the 17-55 shooting at 55mm and even just ignore the IQ differences of the two lenses. The largest aperture the former can use is f/5.6 while the latter is f/2.8. Now, when shooting the group of people, both will work just fine. The 17-55 can be set to shoot at f/5.6. But wait, someone wants you to take a quick portrait of them right after the group shot. Now which lens is going to do a better job. It is now even darker as the sun continues to set. for the 18-55, you are still forced to shoot at f/5.6, but the 17-55 lets you shoot at f/2.8. It gives more background separation, and allows you to lower your ISO. I assume you already had a sufficient shutter speed to prevent motion blur.


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Larry ­ Johnson
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Sep 18, 2014 20:59 |  #10

20droger wrote in post #17162050 (external link)
There's a reason for the old saying, "f/8 and be there."

Don't mean to high jack the thread, but what does this saying mean.


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gonzogolf
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Sep 18, 2014 21:11 |  #11

Larry Johnson wrote in post #17164268 (external link)
Don't mean to high jack the thread, but what does this saying mean.

Its an old maxim for photojournalists. Be there is self evident. F/8 is safe, it might not create art, but it does get you enough depth of field in a news setting to cover all sorts of minor sins. In the film days there was less reliance on shallow DOF shots because you couldnt confirm the results immediately.




  
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Sep 18, 2014 21:29 |  #12
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"Tri-X, f/8 and be there", is the actual adage.


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MattPharmD
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Sep 18, 2014 22:09 |  #13

gonzogolf wrote in post #17164297 (external link)
Its an old maxim for photojournalists. Be there is self evident. F/8 is safe, it might not create art, but it does get you enough depth of field in a news setting to cover all sorts of minor sins. In the film days there was less reliance on shallow DOF shots because you couldnt confirm the results immediately.

It is still the most common piece of advice for street photographers. Although on a crop camera, F/5.6 and be there usually works. Never heard it with the Tri-X part. That almost sounds like a Kodak ad.


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20droger
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Sep 19, 2014 06:11 as a reply to  @ MattPharmD's post |  #14

Back in the good old days of film, many photographers learned to "Brownie" their 35mm walk-around cameras. What this meant was that you set up your camera so that it had f/8 to f/16 on the aperture (depending on the film used), 1/125 sec for the shutter speed, and the hyperfocal distance for the lens focus. This gave the camera the ability to quickly capture a scene without further control adjustments, just like a Kodak Brownie.

If anything occurred, you just pointed and shot, no adjustments or focusing required. If you had time, then you would fiddle with the controls for a better shot.

Those quick "Brownie" shots captured quite a few moments that would have otherwise been lost. Some quite famous shots were captured this way. Sometimes you just don't have the time to mess around.




  
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hollis_f
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Sep 19, 2014 07:47 |  #15

20droger wrote in post #17164852 (external link)
If anything occurred, you just pointed and shot, no adjustments or focusing required. If you had time, then you would fiddle with the controls for a better shot

Hmmm, it sounds like I re-invented the wheel when I came up with the great idea of setting C3 on my 7D as a 'capture anything' mode. If something pops up I can just slam it into the last position on the mode dial (no need to look) and it'll be in Av Mode, ISO800, f5.6, etc.

Good enough to let me grab a couple of instant shots before deciding on 'proper' settings (assuming the bird/beast/whatever is still about).


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