The backbone of Lomographer Knowledge : Aperture, ISO & Shutter Speed.


Some of you may get out of focus images and some of you may experienced with dark image. Wondering why it is ? I will explain you why base on my experience.It is probably because you set the aperture and shutter speed wrongly, or it might be the ISO of the film. Don't get frustrated yet, because i'm going to share with you my basic understandings of how to work with the settings by using LOMO Smena 8m.

Let’s first define, what is aperture ? It is a measurement of how wide the hole at the back of the lens open to allow lighting. Aperture values are expressed by the numbers called f/stops. The smaller f/stop number means more light coming into the camera. For example like f/4 lets in more lights however f/16 is like a pinhole, small amount of lights coming in.

So when you shooting during sunny day, make sure you use big number of aperture say like f/11 or f/16, it allow less light to come in and by that you will not get any over exposure image. I recommend you use low ISO film, like 100 or 200 when you are shooting on a sunny day.

However, during night time, use small number of aperture for instance like f/4. It will allow more lights to come in. During night time or low light situation, please use higher ISO film for instance like ISO 400 or ISO 800. You still can use ISO 100, but make sure to have a tripod with you because you will need to use B setting (Shutter Speed) on this one. Next, i will explain what is ISO.

ISO is a measure how light sensitive the film is. So, the higher the number, the more light sensitive the film is. So with each increase of ISO value, you will notice they will be double. They count 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600 and some film up to 3200. Each becoming more and more light sensitive. So, from my experience or general rule,in darker room use high ISO like 800, on the outside or bright sunny day, use low ISO like 100 or 200. The lower the ISO, the more detail you will get in your photograph. The higher the ISO, more grain your photograph will be.

Now, onto Shutter Speed. Shutter Speed indicates the length of time the shutter is open to allow light exposure to the film. The larger the number, the faster of the shutter speed. Basically, the larger the number say 1/250 the faster the shutter close and it allow less light to come in.

Next, i will explain about connecting ISO, aperture and shutter speed base on my experience through trial and error.

This photograph was taken during sunny day. Here is the setting:
Aperture: f/16
Shutter Speed: 1/250
Film ISO: 100

Because it is on sunny day, i kept my aperture at the biggest number which is f/16 and at the fastest shutter speed 1/250 on my Smena 8m. This will allow less light to come in, and why is that ? It is because there were so much lights outside so i wanted just a little bit of light to come in, if i let more light to come in, the photograph taken will be over expose.

Photograph above used the same setting but i shoot it direct to the light, as you can see the photograph is almost over expose, however i like the flare. Imagine you set you aperture f/4 and the shutter speed 1/30 which this setting allow more lights, the photograph taken with this setting will be over expose during sunny day.

This photograph was taken indoor. Here is the setting:
Aperture: f/4
Shutter Speed: 1/15
Film ISO: 100

As you can see, i kept my aperture at the smaller f/4 number and the shutter speed at the slowest 1/15 on my Smena 8m. This setting will allow more light to come in. I always keep my aperture wide open when there is less light in the environment/place and at the slowest shutter speed because i wanted more light to come in. So when you are shooting indoor when there is not much light, you might want to use smaller number of aperture and slowest number of shutter speed if you working on, say ISO 100, 200 film.

As a conclusion and my understanding on ISO, aperture and shutter speed:
ISO: The higher the number, the more light sensitive the film is.
Aperture: The smaller f/stop number means more light coming into the camera. The bigger f/stop number means less light coming.
Shutter Speed: The fastest shutter speed, less light will come in and the slowest the number more light will come in.

Get creative with the settings and slowly you will get used to it. When you get use to it, you can use the rule “Don’t think, just shoot”, and don’t hesitate to use various kind of film. I hope these will help you guys understand the basic of photography.

written by amirulshahrom on 2011-05-15 in #gear #tipster #smena-8m #camera #camera-setting #tutorial #tipster


  1. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    Great explanations. Never forget that (even with lomography) making a good shot is not only a matter of random or chance...

    And to add to your explanations about light, the f stops, film speed and shutter speed are always in a multiplying factor of 2: f5,6 gives 2x more light than f4, f8 2x more than f5,6, etc... Same for iso: 200 is 2x as sensible as 100, which is 2x as sensible as 50, etc... and the same for shutter speeds of course...

    What you forgot to say is that the aperture is also playing an important role in the depth of field. f4 is a wide open aperture but has a very little depth of field (DOF) unlike f16 or f22 which have a very important one. So you can also play with this to compose your image betwen sharp and blur. Taking a portrait is better with f4 or f5,6 as the background will be blurry and allows the portrait to pop out of the picture. But with general scenes where you want to have an important DOF is better to be shot with f11/f16 or f22. When you shoot without having the time to compose and want to be sure to have a sharp image in foreground and background, choose a small aperture from f11 to f22...
    Most of the SLR cameras have DOF indicators on the lens barrel, some rangefinders too... Use them to compose your shot's and play with sharpness and blur...

  2. renenob
    renenob ·

    good read

  3. gering
    gering ·

    Good for the Freshmen.

  4. yabantas
    yabantas ·

    short, but useful read... thanks

  5. zoezo
    zoezo ·

    Also take note the type of camera you are using and you can reduce the amount of light by using an ND filter which can also be useful for achieving shallow depth-of-field effects in bright conditions.

  6. aprilia
    aprilia ·

    Thank you so much for sharing! *bookmark-ed*

  7. minchi
    minchi ·

    The distance is also very important however great article

  8. mishika
    mishika ·

    I've always had so many problems with my smena. This article really helped!! Thanks!!

  9. wuxiong
    wuxiong ·

    Clear enough explanation, welldone. But I think for those "newhands" still need time and practice , just remember don't be upset if your foto is not "correct" enough.....

  10. gnarlyleech
    gnarlyleech ·

    Well said @vicuna. Good lomographs for hardly ever a random event. The best ones are planned out.

  11. vici
    vici ·

    I especially like the aperture opening drawing - as I'd never tried to visualize it before. It illustrates well how each is twice as big.

  12. pomps
    pomps ·

    i needed this information :)

  13. willyboy
    willyboy ·

    I'll stop all over your F!

  14. anyasf
    anyasf ·

    thanks a lot for the info!! it helps me much :)

  15. amirulshahrom
    amirulshahrom ·

    Thank you for the likes and positive input : )

  16. hello-alexander
    hello-alexander ·

    Brilliantly useful article, many thanks!

  17. lydiap
    lydiap ·

    When using flash should I use a larger aperture?

  18. amirulshahrom
    amirulshahrom ·

    depending on what film's iso you use. But i guess, just keep it at f8 or f/11 and above.

  19. mythguy9
    mythguy9 ·

    I'm using Lubitel 166B to practice manual shutter + aperture. Good tool too.

  20. hanibale
    hanibale ·

    I use smena 8m :) I'm it's fan! ;) thanks!

  21. neurodiaz
    neurodiaz ·

    Smena 8M, the greatest thing ever :).

  22. liquorice
    liquorice ·

    Great article and great explanation from @vicuna. Thanks you so much (:

  23. lycaos
    lycaos ·

    This was really great and helpful. Thank you!

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