What exactly is variable aperture?

How the Galaxy S9 could upgrade your photo skills…
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What exactly is variable aperture?

Get to know camera jargon

Being able to take photos on your smartphone is great. You can you record your memories wherever you are, and in photo quality to rival even some DSLR cameras. However, even the best smartphones can struggle in low-light settings when compared to the average dedicated camera.

Thankfully – if rumours are to be believed – that could all change. The incoming Samsung Galaxy S9 is said to feature variable aperture camera skills when it launches in March.

The feature could transform the way you take photos using your phone, but what is variable aperture? And why should you care? Read on...

What is aperture?

Aperture refers to how much light the camera lens lets in. The critics at Expert Photography explain aperture by comparing it to the way our eyes work. The wider our iris’ open - the more light they let in.

Aperture is measured in f stops, followed by a number. So, you’ll see numbers such as f/1.4 up to f/22 whenever aperture is being described. Most professional DLSR cameras will have a larger range of aperture settings going all the way up to f/22.

These numbers affect the exposure and depth of field. The larger the number, the more exposed your photos will be. And the Galaxy S9 is said to have at least two apertures: f/1.5, and f/2.4.

What are the benefits of variable aperture?

The key thing here is how low these rumoured aperture settings are. It’s at these lower aperture settings that you’ll be able to take better photos in low-light conditions, and achieve the desirable bokeh photo effects previously only achievable with DSLR cameras, and only the very latest smartphones, such as iPhone X.

As you can see in the image below, the lower the aperture, the more detail you’re able to focus on. Whereas the larger aperture numbers focus on capturing the whole scene. The rumoured Galaxy S9 aperture settings would let you create the kind of shots seen in the first six examples seen here:

By letting you change the depth of field in your photos, you can blur the background to focus on your subject. Being able to adjust how much light the camera lets in means your photos won’t be overexposed. Variable aperture gives you more control over how you take photos.

You’ll be able to take shots with less distortion and adjust the camera settings to match your surroundings. Smartphones haven’t quite mastered night-time shooting, but with variable aperture, they’ll be getting closer than ever before.

Have a look at the pictures below for an example of how switching between different aperture settings affects how much light is in the shot. The lower end of the aperture range lets in just enough light to make out clear detail, even in a dimly lit setting.

Out of focus, and oversaturated photos will be a thing of the past. With better exposure in dim lighting conditions, variable aperture will encourage us all to experiment even more with smartphone photography. Here’s hoping the Samsung Galaxy S9 rumours are true.

Will you be looking to pre-order the Samsung Galaxy S9 when it comes out? Got any low-light photography tips? Then let us know in the comments below.

Images sources, one and two.

What are your thoughts? Join the conversation here…

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