Part of becoming a great photographer is understanding the science behind how photographs are captured in the first place. Dylan Bennett makes that task a little bit easier with his simple explanation of the f-stop. In a brief video, Bennett teaches us all about f-stops by using handy visual aids such as charts and drawings. His approach really takes the tediousness out of learning the math and science side of photography. Take a look here:

Basically, the f-stop settingĀ determines how much light is coming through lens into the camera. The larger the f-stop number, the smaller your aperture will be. A smaller aperture means less light gets into the camera. Pretty basic stuff. What’s really great about this video is how Bennett explains the focal length also plays a part in determining how much light gets in.

Next time your toiling over f-stop settings, remember that depending on the focal length, two different apertures can actually let in the same amount of light. You may want to keep that handy bit of information in mind!

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Good and informative….but…I think there’s probably a better way as regards terminology and mathematical operations. We all learned in our first class of algebra that in solving equations, what you do to one side of the equation, you must do the same to the other, in order for the relationship (equality, unequality…) to remain true. So if you multiply one side of the equation by factor y, you must do likewise to the other side. You can’t multiply one side by factor y and divide the other side by factor y; no, both sides must be multiplied by factor y. So I’m not sure yet where the confusion is as regards definition of terms, but it’s buried in there somewhere…

First I would like to thank Tiffany M for the amazing explanation. I have been taking photos for the last 35 years and I have used the f-stop “principles” in the correct manner but I have never understood these numbers and where do they come from. It is very important to understand the theory behind them but I guess it is sufficient for a photographer to know that by changing the f-stop for instance from 2.8 to 1.4 he/she is doubling the amount of light and reversely changing from 2.8 to 1.4 the light is cut by half.

Hillel, I believe he was multiplying one side of the equation by the same number that he was dividing the DENOMINATOR of the Other side by. That would be the same as multiplying that side. At least that’s how I saw it.

how does this relate to camera’s with different sensor sizes. i.e. an Fstop on a full frame sensor e.g. Nikon vs the same Fstop on a e.g. olympus 4/3 sensor?