What Is A Stop In Photography | Understanding Camera Stops
What Is A Stop In Photography | Understanding Camera Stops: While it can be a bore to learn more about the technical side of photography, understanding what a stop in photography is can help move your photography to the next level. By understanding small basic concepts like this, it can help propel your progress when it comes to photography. Read on as we’ll explain what a stop in photography is.
| What Is A Stop In Photography |
| Understanding Camera Stops |
What Is A Stop In Photography
When people talk about stops in photography they’re talking about light. A stop of light is a halving, or doubling of the level of light. By either increasing or decreasing the light which enters the camera when taking a photo, you can properly expose photographs. This can be done through three methods, by increasing or decreasing the shutter speed, altering the f-stop, or changing the ISO.
In short, when a photographer ‘stops down’, they are decreasing the exposure by 1 stop of light, as they are letting in less light. When a photographer ‘stops up’, they’re letting in twice as much light, thus increasing the brightness of the photo by the same margin, 1 stop.
Controlling Stops Through Shutter Speeds
To understand how to change the shutter speed by 1 stop of light, you need to understand how shutter speeds work. The entire concept of shutter speeds all boil down to the notion of time and light. A shutter speed is the length of time the camera shutter remains open to allow light information to strike the camera sensor.
By having the camera shutter open, light is able to reach the camera sensor, and as a result expose and create photographs. The length of time for the shutter to remain open can vary greatly from 1/1000th of a second, all the way to 30 minutes. Most cases people shoot in the range of 1/250th to 1/80th of a second.
By halving or doubling the shutter speed you are changing the exposure level by 1 stop of light. When it comes to calculating the stops of light for shutter speeds, it’s rather simple when compared to it’s compatriot of aperture.
For example, if you have a shutter speed of 1/60th of a second, and you’d like to decrease the exposure level as the photo is too bright, than you can change the exposure by 1 stop of light by increasing the shutter speed. To calculate a faster shutter speed, you will need to multiply 60 by 2 (60 x 2 = 120), for 120. This will create a shutter speed of 1/125 (most cameras have 1/125 over 1/120).
Conversely if a photo is too dark and you’d like to increase the brightness by 1 stop, than you can use a slower shutter speed. To calculate one stop of light from 1/60, you will need to divide 60 by 2 (60 /2 = 30), for a shutter speed of 1/30th of a second.
Controlling Stops Through F/Stops
This is probably the most confusing aspect to understanding what a stop is in photography. Unlike when dealing with shutter speeds, when a stop of light is a doubling or halving of the shutter speed value – ie. 1/100 to 1/200 or 1/50. For f/stops when calculating a stop of light manually, you need to multiply or divide the f/stop number by 1.41.
For instance to increase the brightness by one stop from f/8, you will need to multiply 8 by 1.41 (8 x 1.41 = 11.28). Since the answer is 11.28, the number is rounded down to simply 11, making f/11.
Conversely to stop down from f/8, you will need to divide 8 by 1.41 (8/1.41 = 5.67). The answer is rounded down once again to 5.6, for an f/stop of f/5.6.
If you find this method too time consuming and confusing, which a lot of photographers do. All cameras are built in with the notion that if you turn your dial which controls aperture either left or right XXXXX times, you will either increase of decrease the f/stop.
Controlling Stops Through ISO’s
This is perhaps the easiest of the three options on changing exposure to understand how each stop of light works. Once again the same principle of doubling or halving the level counts as a stop of light for ISO. The reason why ISO is the easiest to understand, is that from the base point of 100, which is the lowest ISO setting for most cameras, the direction of change can only go in one direction.
This means in order to increase the ISO by a single stop of light you will need to multiply 100 by 2 (100 x 2 = 200), making for an ISO setting of 200. This trend continues as you want to increase the ISO by one stop of light. The reverse is true if you want to reduce the exposure by stop of light (ie. 200 / 2 = 100).
A word of warning for when using ISO to expose your photographs. The higher the ISO, the greater the amount of noise which will be introduced into the photo. Ideally it’s best to take photographs at an ISO setting of 100 for the lowest amount of noise within the photo, however sometimes it cannot be avoided using ISO to illuminate a photo.
With that in mind, the key to using ISO, is finding a setting which will not only properly expose your photo, but also have the a minimum amount of noise. Photography is a balancing act between pros and cons.
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