In yesterday’s tip we talked about setting your camera in shutter priority mode and setting a fast shutter speed of 1/800 or faster if possible.
Today’s tip #2 is to set your aperture (f stop) as wide open as possible (lower number). You can find how wide your lens will open usually on the front of the lens:
In the above example it’s the numbers after 1: so in this case it’s 3.5-5.6. There being two numbers means it’s a range. The aperture of this particular lens will not stay the same at all focal (zoom) ranges– it all depends on how far zoomed in or out you are. For this lens it means when I have it set wide (18 mm) it will have an aperture of 3.5 (which is good for low light) but if I have it zoomed all the way out to 135mm it will only be 5.6 (which is so-so for low light). This above lens is a typical “kit” lens that comes with your camera if you purchased it with a lens included. Different cameras come with different lenses.
As I stated above, wider (lower number) is better for low light situations. This is my “bread and butter” lens when I’m photographing indoor sports and I can get close to the action. This lens opens all the way up to 2.8. Since there is only one number, it can stay at this opening over it’s entire range (in this case 24-70mm).
So by now you’re saying I’ll just go out and buy lenses with 2.8 aperture. That’s great and will help you tremendously BUT they are more expensive than typical lenses. But these lenses, if taken care of, will last you a lifetime for the manufacturer and camera mount they are intended for.
So in review we have Shutter priority with a setting of 1/800 or higher if possible and use your lens that opens the widest. This will let in the most light and freeze action.
But what happens if that’s not enough and your pictures are still dark? That will be tip #3.