With Canon cameras, it’s easy to adjust your f-stop on the fly. To change the f-stop, switch the mode dial to aperture priority (Av) and use the scroll wheel or d-pad to pick your desired number.
I’m Caleb, and I’ve spent more than four years as a photographer. As a sports photographer in specific, aperture plays a vital role in many of my shots. Because of that, I’m pretty well-versed in how it works.
In this article, I’ll explain how you can simply and easily change the f-stop on your Canon camera using aperture priority mode.
I’ll also explain how you can do this in manual mode if you want further control and what f-stop you should aim for, depending on your style of photography. If you’re interested in the full details, continue reading.
What Does F-Stop Mean?
F-stop is closely connected to the aperture. In fact, many photographers use the terms interchangeably sometimes. But what do they actually mean?
Aperture refers to how wide the lens opens to allow in light. On the other hand, F-stop is the number used to measure aperture. The lower the f-stop, the more open the lens is.
For example, sports photographers typically use lenses with low minimum apertures, such as f/2.8. These lenses can take in a lot of light, allowing the photographer to use high shutter speeds without underexposing the image.
Aperture is also relevant in low-light photography, where it’s important to make the most of what little light is there.
The rule of thumb to remember is that a lower f-stop lets more light into the lens and results in a more blurred background, while a higher f-stop lets in less light and blurs the background less.
How to Change The F-Stop on Canon Camera
There are multiple ways to change the f-stop number. We’ll start with the easier one and then look at the one that gives more control despite being a bit more work.
Using Aperture Priority Mode
Aperture priority mode is the easiest way to change your f-stop. In this mode, you choose the f-stop and the camera automatically picks the rest of the settings.
It’s similar to shooting in automatic mode, except you determine the aperture yourself. To use this mode, switch the mode dial to the setting labeled Av.
Once you’ve picked this mode, you should see your current f-stop and a slider to change it. You can raise or lower the f-stop using your camera’s scroll wheel. Alternatively, you can use the d-pad buttons to do the same thing.
A line in the slider’s middle represents the camera’s recommended aperture. This can make a good starting point but isn’t always the best setting.
After all, the camera doesn’t know what you’re aiming for creatively. It will usually give you an average recommendation that doesn’t lean too far to one side or the other.
You don’t have to do anything else after selecting your desired aperture. The rest of the settings will be selected automatically.
Using Manual Mode
Another option for setting your f-stop is using manual mode. In this mode, you have control over each part of the exposure triangle. In other words, you select the ISO, shutter speed, and aperture yourself.
Manual mode is useful when you’re going for a specific look or when the automatic settings aren’t working great.
For example, in sports photography, automatic modes might not adjust the settings correctly to freeze the fast-moving action and get a clear shot. In times like this, manual mode is the best option.
To use manual mode, switch the mode dial to M. From there, you can use the d-pad to change your f-stop, ISO, and shutter speed.
Is Higher Or Lower Aperture Better?
So, you know how to change your aperture. But what f-stop should you actually choose? The answer depends mostly on the kind of photography you’re doing.
In simple terms, you want a lower aperture for “fast” photography. A lower aperture allows for higher shutter speeds without the image getting underexposed.
This makes it ideal for things like sports, where getting a sharp image of a fast-moving subject is key.
A lower aperture also blurs the background more. This can be a positive or negative, depending on the kind of shot you’re going for.
A nature photographer taking a close-up of a bird probably wants to blur the background to keep the focus on the subject.
On the other hand, someone taking a landscape shot of an entire forest of trees might not want to focus that much on a single spot. This kind of photographer would benefit from a higher aperture.
Higher f-stops are also useful when you’re intentionally aiming for a blurrier photo. An example is taking photos of light trails at night or using motion blur to show the speed of cars on a highway.
If you want a simple rule of thumb, just remember that a lower aperture means a sharper foreground and blurrier background, while a higher aperture is the opposite.
If you’re still curious, here are some other frequently asked questions about aperture.
Can You Change The F-Stop On A Lens?
There’s no way to change the minimum or maximum f-stop of a specific lens. Physically, the lens can only open or close so much before there’s nowhere for the mechanical parts to go.
Why Did My F-Stop Rise On Its Own?
If your f-stop went up without touching the settings, you probably have a lens with a variable minimum aperture. This is common in cheaper zoom lenses. For example, the lens might have a minimum aperture of f/4.0 that rises to f/5.6 when using full zoom.
Managing your aperture doesn’t have to be a confusing experience. Using aperture priority mode, you can quickly change it on the fly. And using manual mode, you can adjust the aperture as well as the rest of the exposure triangle for greater control.
Do you have any further questions? Or any personal anecdotes related to aperture? Feel free to let us know about it in the comments.