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Old 10-11-2006, 21:12   #1 (permalink)
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The f stops here.

I wrote this on another forum so, for the benefit of those who did not already know (which is probably nobody) here is my explanation of the f-stop.

**Feel free to flame me if this is wrong**

The f-stop is the relationship between the focal length of your lens and the hole size formed by the aperture blades.
For example:

A 50mm lens at f1.0 has an aperture hole of 50mm dia (50 divided by 1)
The same lens at f2.0 has an aperture hole of 25mm dia (50 divided by 2)
The next whole f-stop is f4.0 and has an aperture size of 12.5mm dia (50 divided by 4), which at first may seem a bit strange until you realise these are octave spacings (doubling each time).
The reason for this can be understood if you calculate the area of the circle made by the aperture at any given stop by using the following, and the fact that light and for that matter sound, obey the four square law.

50mm lens @ f2.0
50mm divided by 2 = 25mm which equals the diameter of the hole.
Divide the diameter of the hole by 2 to give you the radius, 25mm divided by 2 = 12.5mm.
Square the radius then times it by pi, 12.5mm times 12.5mm then times 3.141 "ish"
should give you about 491 or 491 square mm, the surface area of the hole.

"So what happened to f1.4 and the likes?" I hear you say.

These can be derived from doing effectively the reverse of calculating the surface area.

So to calculate a half stop we can do the following:

At f1.0 the area of the aperture is 1963mm so, if we half that to get half a stop we get 981.5mm squared.
Divide that by pi (3.141) we get 312mm ish.
Take the square root of 312 and we get 17.6mm ish (the radius).
Double that to get diameter 35.5mm ish.
Divide the lens focal length of 50mm by the aperture diameter of 35.5 and we get, (drum rolllllllll), 1.4 or f1.4.

**********I was going to include a table of all f-stops and their relationships with each other but could not get the spacing format right***********.
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Old 10-11-2006, 21:18   #2 (permalink)
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Re: The f stops here.

ok... as some ( who shall remain nameless) already know............ sometimes im a bit slow on the uptake...... especially if it concerns numbers......... so i read the first few lines and i knew i had to stop....... it probably makes perfect sense...... but the minute i read divide........... i ran.........
thanx for posting it soup I will leave it to the more numeric people to read it all and perhaps one day when i get over my fear of numbers i will read AND understand!
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Old 10-11-2006, 22:09   #3 (permalink)
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Re: The f stops here.

I really just wanted to help people understand where numbers like f1.8 and f5.6 came from.
I obviously didn't do a very good job, sorry.
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Old 10-11-2006, 22:13   #4 (permalink)
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Re: The f stops here.

I was going to wrire a thread on DOF calculations but given what you just said, it will be difficult to get people to read the thread let alone do the math.
Ho Hum.
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Old 10-11-2006, 22:18   #5 (permalink)
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Re: The f stops here.

soup...... no it was great I was meaning its me! grrr thats the down side about type you cant inflect in words what vocals do! Soup seriously it is a great article and not for one moment did i mean it otherwise, i was just saying that i cant do numbers! sooooo sorry if you thought i meant it in any other way!
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Old 10-11-2006, 22:28   #6 (permalink)
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Re: The f stops here.

No I did not mis-understand what you were saying I just wish I had put it over in a way that would make you want to reach for a calculator and have a go.
I know with modern cameras you don't really need to know these things, I just thought people might be interested.
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Old 10-11-2006, 22:34   #7 (permalink)
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Re: The f stops here.

I amsure they will be interested Soup..... i am absolutely hopeless at it tho... ask Rob, he spent hours trying to teahc me the inverse square rule thingy before the penny finally dropped....... numbers terrify me and the last thing i wanted to do was to put people off reading it. wish i had just not replied now. perhaps the crew can remove the reply?

again u have my deepest apologies!

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Old 10-11-2006, 22:55   #8 (permalink)
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Re: The f stops here.

I take it from that the Scheimpflug principle essay i'd planned will not be needed.

People don't necessarily need to understand these principals with new instant digital cameras, but it goes a long way to helping peoples understanding of what they are doing and will in the long run give people more control over exposures and DOF and quicker handling of the camera if they have a reasonable understanding of the above. Which in my view can only be a good thing and always worth a try to teach people new things.

I am only joking about my Scheimpflug principle essay, however it is something i have studied (many boring weeks of it trying to learn it without needing the formula written down) and it had vastly improved my handling of bellows cameras e.g.5x4. However it is now long forgotten.
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Old 11-11-2006, 09:36   #9 (permalink)
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Re: The f stops here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Soupdragon View Post

**********I was going to include a table of all f-stops and their relationships with each other but could not get the spacing format right***********.
First of all thanks for writing this out and with your permission I will convert and display it as one of our articles on the pixalo main site.

With regard to the layout of the table try placing it in [code] tags as that usually will help with the alignment. Even if thats not possible if you are happy with me displaying this as an article please forward it (with table) to my email addy. steve @ pixalo.com

Quote:
Originally Posted by lolyton View Post
I take it from that the Scheimpflug principle essay i'd planned will not be needed.
Same as above Lolyton, if you want to write and provide the article I will gladly format it and display it in our articles section. You will retain full credit for your work and obviously will recieve reputation points as a thank you.
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Old 11-11-2006, 15:38   #10 (permalink)
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Re: The f stops here.

I'll get on with generating the table this evening.
It will be in excel format, how do I upload it (I'm just not too hot with computers).

Feel free to re-format it or edit it in any way you see fit, I require no credit for it, it's just I thought someone might like to know.
I tried searching for other articles of this ilk here but could not find anything.
I might give the DOF calculations a miss as it is rather hard to describe without graphics.
Unless of course I start with perhaps the circle of confusion.

Last edited by Soupdragon; 11-11-2006 at 15:43. Reason: added something.
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Old 11-11-2006, 16:45   #11 (permalink)
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Re: The f stops here.

f/stop Diameter of aperture (mm) Radius of aperture (mm) Area of aperture (sq. mm) f/1.050251,963f/1.435.717.91,002f/2.02512.5491f/2.817.98.9250f/412.56.3123f/5.68.94.563f/86.33.131f/114.52.316f/163.11.68f/222.31.14f/321.50.82
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Old 14-11-2006, 12:26   #12 (permalink)
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Re: The f stops here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Soupdragon View Post
I'll get on with generating the table this evening.
It will be in excel format, how do I upload it (I'm just not too hot with computers).
from my post above

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve View Post
With regard to the layout of the table try placing it in [code] tags as that usually will help with the alignment. Even if thats not possible if you are happy with me displaying this as an article please forward it (with table) to my email addy. steve @ pixalo.com
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Old 14-11-2006, 13:01   #13 (permalink)
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Re: The f stops here.

Hmmmm! does computer illiterate spring to mind?
The data is there it just wants re-arranging, a bit, and the use of your imagination.

Do I need to put the spaces into your mail address because it did not work?

Last edited by Soupdragon; 14-11-2006 at 13:02. Reason: Missed a bit
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Old 14-11-2006, 13:16   #14 (permalink)
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Re: The f stops here.

No leave out the spaces from my email addy...I placed them in to break the link and reduce potential spam
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Old 14-11-2006, 16:36   #15 (permalink)
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Re: The f stops here.

Which of course is why you won't find a lens manufacturer offering a 500mm F1.0 telephoto lens any time soon as the aperture would need to be half a meter in diameter! Try holding that with one hand LOL.

The relationship between focal length and size of aperture is indeed where we get the f-stop from and although it may not be of much interest to a lot of people, who rightly would argue you can live your life in blissful ignorance of these things, I do think they are worth at least understanding generally.

The thing to understand is how light works generally. After all, that is what we are painting our pictures with. I think the law that people should understand always if they are to get to grips with creative usage of manual settings is the law of reciprocity. That law is the one that shows you that the following....
1/4000th @ f2.8
1/2000th @ f4
1/1000th @ f5.6
1/500th @ f8
1/250th @ f11
1/125th @ f16
1/60th @ f22
.... etc. are all the same in terms of the amount of light hitting the sensor/film. Play around with them according to the depth of field you want and you can have a perfectly lit shot but a vastly different photo because of the amount in or out of focus. Use the f2.8 setting and you'll keep a sharp subject with a very blurred background (assuming the BG is separated from the subject by a reasonable amount) whereas take a shot at f22 and you'll have a beautifully sharp landscape shot with the FG and BG all in focus.

These things are NOT for mathematics gurus, we just let them work them out for us in the first place. Once we have been told them, all we need do is use them. After all, most people can drive a car perfectly well without ever having an understanding of the internal combustion engine!

If you have ever taken shots where the results were not lit the way you had anticipated, understanding these light principles gives you both the reason why and the wherewithall to fix the problem. If you really want to understand all the background mathematics, go ahead. For some it's fun, for others it is tediously boring. But if you understand reciprocity, inverse square law etc then you will feel more confident about utilising the extremely advanced technical gadget in your hand known as a camera :o)

That's the beauty of this wonderful hobby: you can get into it at any level you want and still enjoy it to the full. If you want to focus entirely on composition and nothing else you can use a point n shoot and be happy as a sand boy yet if you have the motivation to do so, you can set up multiple lighting systems at precise luminances and distances and do all the calculations to get you the perfect shot.

Boy I LOVE photography. But then, I guess you knew that already <g>

Cheers,
Rob
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Old 14-11-2006, 18:47   #16 (permalink)
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Re: The f stops here.

I notice you are just down the road from me (well not that far in car time).
Have you taken any shots of Lulworth Cove? that's just a spit away from you.
I have tried a dozen time but never really caught the feel of the place.
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Old 14-11-2006, 18:50   #17 (permalink)
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Re: The f stops here.

Lulworth needs a panorama. I've seen a couple of good ones, not mine, though!
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Old 14-11-2006, 18:52   #18 (permalink)
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Re: The f stops here.

I stayed there for two nights in a camper van and still got up too late for the classic sunrise shot.
That'll learn me to take Cabernet Shiraz as a nightcap.
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Old 14-11-2006, 20:54   #19 (permalink)
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Re: The f stops here.

Must admit I could blame the odd bottle of Red on a few things also
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Old 14-11-2006, 23:26   #20 (permalink)
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Re: The f stops here.

Yes, I have done a few of Lulworth, definitely need the wide angle for that though. Durdle Door is the one everyone wants to get up for... you sometimes find more snappers there at 5am than people there at 9am LOL

I see Dab that you live where I used to live, Dunstable. I lived in Edward Street, parallel with the High Street and just off West Street. Long time ago now.

Cheers,
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Old 14-11-2006, 23:35   #21 (permalink)
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Re: The f stops here.

Small world, Rob. I've been here for over thirty years now. When did you escape? I'm originally from London. Elephant & Castle / Walworth / Peckham / Southwark. Saaahhffff London boy.

I still work in London, and Dunstable is an easy (relatively easy) commute. Mind you, I'm on the road at around 5.30 most mornings (when i'm on earlies) to stay in front of the traffic, and sometimes, I don't get home the same day!!
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Old 15-11-2006, 20:10   #22 (permalink)
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Re: The f stops here.

Dunstable is very convenient for the M1 though the junctions around it from Luton Airport and the L & D hospital are often very busy indeed. I would often come off the motorway early and drive up tino Dunstable along the A road (A5?) which comes straight into High Street North and South. I have a few good memories of my days there but we are talking 23 years ago now as I moved to Poole when I was 22 and will be 45 next month.

Sorry but after enjoying this delightful town for just about half my life now, I can't imagine ever wanting to move back to Dunstable... or anywhere else for that matter. My wife, a Somerset girl originally, lived in London for 13 years, around the Shepherd's Bush area. Now that is a city I could NEVER live in, it gives me a headache just visiting for a day!

I can understand entirely why you would commute in and out from Dunstable rather than live in Del Boy country!

Cheers,
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Old 25-11-2006, 04:06   #23 (permalink)
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Thumbs up Re: The f stops here.

If you really want to understand exposure in general including f-stop go here
Ultimate Exposure Computer
this really helped me hope it helps everyone else.....
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Old 25-11-2006, 06:32   #24 (permalink)
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Re: The f stops here.

EVs are very handy, when I was a Hasselblad toting man, all the CF lenses had an EV coupling button.
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Old 27-11-2006, 00:48   #25 (permalink)
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Re: The f stops here.

Rob mentions that you can have a nice sharp landscape at f22, which is correct in terms of depth of field, but unfortunately, most anything f16 or narrower will suffer from too much diffraction, resulting in an overall softness. It will also show up any dust on the sensor a lot more.
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Old 27-11-2006, 06:31   #26 (permalink)
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Re: The f stops here.

After about f16 you are entering the realms of reciprocity failure so yes, landscape can be a problem for 35mm/medium format system.
That said, it is possible to buy tilt and shift lenses that will enable you to effectively tilt the plane of focus.
This is why landscape photographers and product photographers still use large format technical cameras.
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