Extra! – Aperture

* This will be in the Extra section until Nokia (or Microsoft) build an aperture system into the lens module.

Another very important feature of a camera is the aperture.

Currently, there are no camera phone on the market that has a built-in variable aperture. This includes the Lumia 1020. The reason is simple. For the longest time, camera phone makers have been trying to allow more & more light to enter the lens because the sensors from 2011 & before just aren’t sensitive enough due to their diminutive size.

Another less important reason is the image processor on your smartphone probably doesn’t support the calculation of aperture size in relation to focus/shutter speed/ISO/EV yet.

With the advent of the Pureview 808 & Lumia 1020, and their oversized sensors, many people are seriously looking at using these devices to completely replace their digicams. But without a variable aperture, they can only fulfill the needs of the casual photographer.

This is the reason why some reviewers (especially seasoned ones) still insist the Lumia 1020 cannot replace a digicam. In order to see why, you have to know what an aperture does & how it affects your pictures.

An aperture is basically the hole that block light from reaching the lens. It can be a hole that’s masked over the lens, or it can be the maximum diameter of the lens itself. This hole is measured in F-Stop. The larger the hole, the smaller the F-Stop. Confusing? Yes it is. The F-Stop is used for mathematical calculations but that’s beyond the scope of this article.

The most important concepts to remember are:

  1. The bigger the aperture, the more light can enter. The more light available means you can use a faster shutter speed.
  2. The bigger the aperture, the shallower the depth of field (DOF) & the more bokeh effect you get.

The first concept is common sense so I wouldn’t go into it.

It’s this second concept that got many people when they shoot with their Lumia 1020, especially when shooting Macro.

If you’ve played with your Lumia 1020 enough, you’d realize that when shooting Macro, it’s very hard to get your entire subject in focus. This is because the lens on the Lumia 1020 is F/2.2, meaning it’s a very ‘fast’ lens with a big aperture.

However, when you factor in the second concept from above, you’d understand why this happened. When the  DOF is shallow, it means that your view & focus of the subject is very narrow. Only a small part of the subject is in focus, while the other parts are blur.

If you want to read up more on Aperture, go to this excellent article.

In a normal digicam or DSLR, we’ll just decrease the aperture size (by increasing F-stop) and shoot again. This basically deepen the DOF so more of the subject will be in focus, while still keeping the bokeh.

This isn’t possible on the Lumia 1020. So the next best thing to do is to step back 1m, Zoom In, Touch Focus & shoot.

Your image quality may suffer a little but because the Lumia 1020 has so many megapixels to play with, you should be able to get a very decent “Macro” shot while standing further off. This is a technique I learnt when using Ultrazoom digicams with >10x optical zoom.

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