Introduction to Digital Photography PART 2

lensIn Part 1 of our “Introduction to digital photography” we looked at the importance of megapixel ratings and manual vs automatic settings. In Part 2 we examine the most important manual settings and how to use them easily.

Digital Camera Settings and Modes

As we discussed in PART 1 using a camera’s automatic settings is sufficient to take pictures of a good quality. However, the main advantage of using the manual settings is that one can adjust the amount of light that reaches the sensor of the camera. The technical term for this is light exposure.

In order to vary the amount of light that passes through the lens, one can basically adjust two variables:
● How wide the lens opens – this is called the aperture – and

● How long the lens stays open, or how quickly it closes again. This is called the shutter speed.


The principle of aperture is very easy: The wider the lens opens, the more light can pass through and reach the sensor.
When you read the specifications of a digital camera, aperture is measured and given in a unit called f-stop.Aperture

You need to know, that the higher the number of f-stops the smaller the aperture. In other words, if you want the lens to open widely, you need a larger aperture. Hence, you need to look for smaller f-stop numbers. The opposite applies if you want only a small lens opening, i.e. a small aperture.

However, aperture does more than just influencing the amount of light. Aperture also influences the depth of field, i.e. the percentage of the photo that will be in focus.

A higher f-stop means a smaller aperture. This leads to less brightness but a longer depth of field. This can be useful if you want to take a picture of a person in the foreground but you also want the group of people standing a few meters behind him to be in focus.
A smaller f-stop equals a larger aperture. This means more light getting through but a shallower depth of field. This is normally used for portraits and close up shots.

When choosing a digital camera you should check to what extent you can manually adjust the aperture of the camera.

This concludes Part 2 of our “Introduction to Digital Photography”. In Part 3 we will examine the second important variable that determines the amount of light that reaches the sensor of the camera.  That variable is Shutter Speed.