How to Set the Aperture on a Digital Camera

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Updated July 26, 2022

If you are new to the world of digicams, you may be wondering how to set the aperture on a digital camera. Most highly-rated digital cameras allow for minute aperture adjustments. Keep reading to find out.


  • A camera’s aperture setting refers to the amount of light that is allowed to pass through the camera lens and into the digital image sensor.
  • Aperture is measured via an f-stop number. The higher the number, the smaller the aperture opening. The reverse is also true.
  • You can manually set the aperture number or allow the camera to do it for you by accessing the automatic mode.

What is Aperture?

Before you can learn how to adjust the aperture setting, you should probably learn a bit about the aperture and how it works. Aperture refers to the amount of light being allowed to pass through your camera lens and to your digital image sensor. Aperture blades pull apart and close similar to how the human pupil operates, controlling the light source in the process.

Insider Tip

Experiment with aperture, depth of field, and shutter speed combinations via the shutter button to create some unique effects, such as motion blur, the bokeh effect, and more.

How to Set the Aperture on a Digital Camera

The process here will differ depending on your camera lens and the make and model of your camera itself. Still, these guidelines will help you become familiar with aperture adjustment, which can come in handy when you want to learn how to shoot a wide-angle lens with a digital camera or perform other feats of photographic splendor.

Automatic Mode

If you are just starting out, you may not need to manually adjust the aperture at all. You can rely on your camera’s automatic mode. This mode will allow your camera to make minute adjustments to the aperture, the shutter speed, and the ISO setting. These three settings combine to form the exposure triangle. While you are in the settings menu, you can learn how to remove the IR filter from a digital camera and how to operate a digital camera in P mode.

Manual Mode

Automatic mode is a great way to quickly and efficiently snap some photos, but it does rob you of some creative decisions. Control your photographic destiny by manually adjusting the aperture in the settings menu. The actual process here will differ depending on your camera, but here is some crucial information.

Aperture is measured in number increments called f-stops. Each f-stop, otherwise known as the f-number, illustrates how small or large the aperture opening is. The trick? These numbers operate in contrast to how you might think. The higher the f-stop number, the smaller the hole. The smaller the f-stop number, the larger the hole. In other words, set a small f-number to increase the amount of light allowed through the lens.

You should also learn how to take a double exposure with a digital camera and how to add an old manual camera lens to a camera, especially if you want an even better image quality.


Some older lenses will require the aperture to be set via the lens itself and cannot be controlled by the camera’s settings menu.


What are the uses of different apertures?

Wider apertures, including the maximum aperture, will be good for low light scenarios with a shallow depth of field. This larger aperture maximizes aperture priority, letting lots of light in. Narrow aperture settings, accessed via the mode dial, can be mixed with slower shutter speeds to create unique visual effects.

Should I use flash or increase ISO?

This really depends on what you are taking a photo of and your creative intent. Mixing up settings can result in a correct exposure with experimentation.

How do I decide which settings to use in manual mode?

This is up to you. Feel free to experiment with depth of field, including shallow depth, maximum aperture, the shutter button, a faster shutter speed, aperture priority mode, a wide aperture, and more.

STAT: A low f-stop number (such as f1.4 or f2.8) means the aperture is wide open, and lets in a lot of light. A high number (such as f8 or f11) means that the aperture is small, and does not let in as much light. (source)

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