How to Use Aperture Priority: A Comprehensive Guide

Before we can grasp what the aperture priority mode on your camera is for, we must first understand what an aperture is in the first place. The aperture influences how fuzzy or detailed your backdrop appears in a shot and is controlled by the shutter speed.

For example, a greater aperture of f/1.4 will make your backdrop look softer than a smaller aperture of f/8. It is preferable to use this sort of aperture while photographing in low-light conditions. An aperture of f/22, on the other hand, will allow you to catch more details in the background of your images than a larger aperture.

Aperture is one of the most effective tools for experimenting with different depths of field. When you use the correct aperture, you may make your images pop out substantially more than when you don’t use the correct aperture. It is for this reason why aperture priority mode is so critical. It provides you with greater variety and possibilities when it comes to your photos.

What Is Aperture Priority?

Aperture priority is a camera setting that allows you to change the aperture, white balance, and ISO of your camera in one operation. Aperture priority, on the other hand, does not take your shutter speed into consideration. Instead, your camera will continue to adjust the shutter speed in response to changes in lighting conditions. When using aperture priority, you will not be able to manually modify your shutter speed at any point.

What is it about aperture priority that is so appealing? It provides you with total control over the most crucial settings on your digital camera. The only other option is to go to full manual mode, which gives you complete control over your aperture settings. It is critical to get your aperture settings perfect before experimenting with any other settings.

Another significant advantage of using aperture priority mode is how quickly it can be activated. It takes a little longer to properly set up for each shot in manual mode, which is especially noticeable when the lighting is shifting. It is possible to reach the best settings for your camera much more quickly in aperture priority mode when utilized properly than in manual mode.

Take, for example, a situation in which you wish to utilize an aperture of f/5.6 in the actual world. It is necessary to shoot a large number of shots with the same aperture, but the lighting conditions are inconsistent. Rather of altering all of your settings as the light changes, just switch to your camera’s aperture priority mode, choose f/5.6, and then let your camera take care of all of the other important settings on its own as the light changes. Aperture priority essentially prioritizes the aperture, so be sure to keep your f/5.6 aperture constant throughout the whole shooting session.

How Do I Use Aperture Priority Mode?

Using aperture priority mode on your camera is as simple as flipping the dial on the back of the camera. Depending on your preference, you should set your dial to either A or Av. Afterward, you’ll need to manually set your aperture in the camera. This refers to the f-stop setting that you will be employing in your photograph. Keep in mind that once you’ve manually changed the aperture on your camera, it will never alter it again. Changing the depth of field will need you to do so manually each time you want to use a different setting.

Once you’ve manually set your f-stop, it’s time to select the appropriate exposure compensation. You don’t want to make the mistake of accidentally overexposing the features in your photograph. In most cases, the exposure compensation will be between -0.3 and -0.7 stops. The exposure compensation feature adjusts the shutter speeds set by your camera in order to get the appropriate exposure.

After that, you’ll need to pick your ISO. Unless you’re in a really unusual scenario where you’ll require an unusually high ISO, it’s best to go with the default ISO setting, which is often 100 on current cameras.

As you can see, utilizing aperture priority is a straightforward process. It’s also quite rapid. For landscape photography, it is simple to select the appropriate aperture, a suitable exposure correction, and finally the appropriate base ISO for your camera. It only takes a few seconds until you’re ready to begin shooting.

Furthermore, it makes no difference what happens to the light. When shooting in and out of shadows or when encountering cloudy conditions, your settings are still ideal for the situation. You don’t have to worry about anything since your camera will figure it out on its own.

When Should I Use Aperture Priority Mode?

As a photographer, you may utilize aperture priority mode almost all of the time regardless of the genre you are shooting in. It is a very flexible and adaptable model to employ. This implies that you may utilize the aperture priority setting to capture images in virtually any condition.

The only time you shouldn’t use aperture priority mode is while photographing the night sky or the Milky Way, which are both excellent subjects for this model. If you use automatic exposure in this situation, you will get the worst outcomes possible. Your photographs will be overly dark and inconsistently exposed as a result of this. If you’re photographing the night sky, capturing shots in extremely dark environments, or trying to capture an expansive panorama, we recommend going to manual mode.

Additionally, when shooting in aperture priority mode, your shutter speed will always be limited to a maximum of 30 seconds. Additionally, if you intend to utilize your camera’s bulb and shoot long-exposure shots, you must switch to manual mode as well.

In the case of flash photography, the same may be true. When it comes to balancing the flash with the ambient light, aperture priority will not provide you with adequate control. For example, if you’re using a flash to picture macro subjects, you must use manual mode for the whole process.

Aperture priority mode is ideal for the rest of the time, however. If it’s daytime, if you’re photographing sports or animals, or if you’re doing portraits, aperture priority mode is the best setting to use.

Aperture Priority & Handheld Mode

Even at night and in low light, you may still utilize the aperture priority option on your camera. It’s not the best camera for capturing shots of the night sky or the stars, but it’s still useful when it’s dark outdoors and you want to capture something special. However, there is something you should be aware of when it comes to aperture priority and handheld mode as the sun goes down.

When you utilize the aperture priority setting, your camera is forced to determine the shutter speed on its own, so it will automatically choose longer shutter speeds in low-light situations. When the lights begin to dim, your camera may pick a shutter speed of up to two seconds, which is ideal for night photography. If you’re shooting in handheld mode, this is going to be a complete pain to deal with. A shutter speed of two seconds is far too long for you to be able to hold the camera still without moving it at least a little in the process.

However, there are two solutions to this problem. It is possible to utilize a tripod. When using a tripod, the aperture priority option performs admirably. Another method is to boost your ISO setting. Forget about your default ISO and increase it to 800 or 1600. Because of the higher ISO, your camera will automatically adjust its shutter speed in order to compensate for the increased noise. Afterward, you’ll be able to return to photograph without a tripod.

Aperture Priority & Automatic ISO

When you switch to auto ISO mode, there are a few additional options that we haven’t covered yet. A shutter speed limitation is included with the Auto ISO feature. This does not affect the shutter speed of each individual shot. When shooting in aperture priority mode, it simply sets a limit on the shutter speed so that you don’t wind up mistakenly shooting with your shutter open for more than 2 seconds by accident. A more secure number would be 1/100. This will prevent your photographs from being fuzzy as a result of a fast shutter speed..

Having said that, if you’re capturing action images, you might want to reduce the shutter speed to 1/500 or perhaps 1/1000. However, while the shutter speed will continue to be adjusted automatically, it will be maintained within appropriate boundaries this time.

When you go into auto ISO mode, there are a few more settings that we haven’t talked about yet. Auto ISO comes with a shutter speed limiter. This doesn’t set your shutter speed for each photo. Instead, it simply puts a ceiling on the shutter speed so that you don’t accidentally end up with your shutter at 2 seconds when shooting in aperture priority mode. A safer value would be 1/100. This will prevent your photos from being blurry because of a wild shutter speed.

That said, you might want to bump it down to 1/500 or even 1/1000 if you’re taking action shots. The shutter speed is still being set automatically, only it will be kept within reasonable limits.

Aperture Priority vs. Shutter Priority

You might be asking what the difference is between aperture priority and shutter priority at this point. The most significant difference is that in aperture priority mode, your aperture will remain constant while your shutter speed is automatically adjusted to compensate. This is perfect for photographers who wish to maintain a consistent depth of field across their images.

However, if you are shooting in shutter priority mode, your shutter will be the one that operates at a fixed speed. Everything else is different. While doing action photography, this is a better mode to employ than the previous one.

Experimenting with a Variety of Aperture Settings

If you’re a newbie and you’re feeling overwhelmed, there’s a foolproof approach to learn how to use an aperture priority setting on your camera. Changing the aperture of your camera is the greatest way to learn about it. Because using aperture priority eliminates the need to move between shutter speeds and ISO settings, you can simply adjust your aperture when shooting with this model. Start with a large aperture and work your way down to a small aperture, taking images of the same subject over and over again until you’ve figured out for yourself which aperture is optimal for the target.


Aperture priority mode is one of the most popular shooting settings for experts, as well as one of the most straightforward for novices. Aperture priority is a fantastic option for individuals who are new to photography and do not yet grasp how to use manual mode. It is a more expedient method of obtaining ideal settings. Aperture priority may also be used as a simplified introduction to the intricacies of photographing objects in different lighting conditions.

Having said that, aperture priority should not be utilized as a crutch for photographers who are feeling overwhelmed by the rest of the camera’s settings. As you practice shooting images using aperture priority, make sure you have a firm grasp on your aperture, your exposure, your ISO, and your depth of focus before moving on. Then you may try out full manual mode and see how it works for you.

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