Sunday, September 8, 2013

Aperture - VidGeeky Word of the Day

Let there be light and enough of it. If you have a recording device the one this you need to understand knowing when you have enough light to record video.

Before you can answer that question, you need to understand about aperture and f/stops. This is a brief introduction.

I am going for concept and not necessarily the most technically accurate explanation. In addition, there are a lot a factors that can affect the quality of a recording. The size of the image sensor, distance, the type of light and the diameter of your lens all play a factor in making a quality video.

Example of an adjustable aperture in a lens

I want to focus on this one aspect of recording that can solve a lot of video exposure problems.

What Is Aperture?

Aperture is the opening your camera or recording devices lens uses to allow light to make contact with film or an image sensor.

Sometimes aperture is referred to as the iris of the lens but no matter which term is used the concept is the same; it is the size of the opening that allows light to pass through to make a recording.

This is where it gets a little confusing but it will make sense in a moment.

F/Stop Scale from Wikipedia

The wider the aperture the more light comes into the device. The smaller the aperture the less light comes into the device. That makes sense.

The scale used to describe the opening of the aperture is called an f/stop. This is where it gets a little dippy.

The smaller the f/stop number the bigger the opening.  f/1.4 is twice as large as f/2.8. Or the other way to think about it, f/2.8 allows half as much light as f/1.4.

F/2 allows twice as much light as f/4. Or f/4 allows half the amount of light as f/2.

Fixed and Adjustable Aperture

There are two types of apertures; a fixed aperture and an adjustable aperture.

On smartphones and tablets it is a fixed aperture; generally around f/2.4 and higher. Consumer level camcorders also have a fixed aperture. Camcorder users might have a work around that  smartphone/tablet users do not have but you still need to be aware of your lighting conditions.

Standard digital cameras that record videos, Micro 4/3 Cameras and DSL Cameras have adjustable apertures. You can select the most appropriate f/stop for your situation but some of those cameras don't allow adjustments as you are recording video.

Yeah, So?

Be aware of the light around you and your recording device ability. It will help you make a better video. If your smartphone has an aperture of f/2.8 and your are recording indoors with a single light bulb that isn't going to be a very good recording.  At f/4 it might not even be visible.

Standard camcorder outside in bright sun with an f/2 lens might be too much of a good thing. On a cloudy day it could be perfect. You might have to make location or other types of adjustments.

Digital cameras that record video, Micro 4/3 Cameras and DSL Cameras have adjustable apertures. You can select the most appropriate lighting for your situation but some of those cameras don't allow adjustments as your are recording video.

Know what your equipment can do.

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