Shutter Speed, Aperture (F Stop) & ISO Explained!

Shutter Speed, F-Stop, ISO, Aperture, DSLR, camera, film camera, RED, Arri Alexa, Sony, Canon

Aperture (F Stop), Shutter Speed & ISO Explained!

For beginning filmmakers and camera peeps there’s a bunch of confusion about three areas of the camera:

  1. Shutter Speed
  2. Aperture (F Stop)
  3. ISO

What is Shutter Speed?

Shutter Speed is one of the three pillars of cinematography, the other two being ISO and Aperture (F Stop). Shutter speed can help you create dramatic effects by either freezing action in front of the lens or creating motion blur.

Shutter Speed, F-Stop, ISO, Aperture, DSLR, camera, film camera, RED, Arri Alexa, Sony, Canon

What is ISO?

Basically, ISO is the amount of sensitivity your camera has to available light. The lower the ISO number, the less light is allowed to get to the censor, while a higher ISO number increases the amount of light to your camera. Check out the example below.

Shutter Speed, F-Stop, ISO, Aperture, DSLR, camera, film camera, RED, Arri Alexa, Sony, Canon

What is Aperture?

The F-Stop or Aperture is a hole within your lens, through which light passes through onto the camera’s sensor. If you are confused, imagine this concept like it was your eye.

All cameras in today’s world are designed like the human eye. The cornea in your eyes is like the front element of any lens – it gathers all available light, then bends it and projects it onto the iris. Depending on the amount of light, your iris can either shrink or expand, changing the size of your pupil, which is the opening that lets the light pass further into the eye.

Shutter Speed, F-Stop, ISO, Aperture, DSLR, camera, film camera, RED, Arri Alexa, Sony, Canon

The pupil is essentially what people refer to as the aperture in cinematography and photography. The amount of light that enters your retina (which works just like the camera sensor), is limited to the size of your pupil – the larger the pupil, the more light enters the retina.

Think what happens when you walk into a room and you turn off the lights. For a moment you can’t see anything but as your iris opens you begin to be able to see better in the dark. Your retina soaks you all the available light to create an image because your iris (aperture) is wide open.

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Check out the videos below to get a more detailed explanation of Shutter Speed, F-Stop (Aperture) & ISO.


Aperture (F Stop), Shutter Speed, ISO, & Light Explained
Understanding Exposure & Camera Settings



What is Shutter Speed, Shutter Angle and How to get the Film Look


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