The Backbone of Lomographer Knowledge: Aperture, ISO & Shutter Speed


Some of you may get out of focus images and some of you may have experienced with dark image. Wondering why this is ? I will explain to you why based 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 opens to allow lighting. Aperture values are expressed by the numbers called f/stops. The smaller f/stop number means more light will be coming into the camera. For example, f/4 lets in more light however f/16 is like a pinhole, small amount of light coming in.

So when you’re shooting during a sunny day, make sure you use a higher number of aperture say f/11 or f/16, as it allows less light to come in and by that you will not get an over exposed 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 a small number of aperture for instance like f/4. It will allow more light 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 a 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 the shutter speed. Basically, the larger the number say 1/250 the faster the shutter closes and it allow less light to come in.

Next, i will explain about connecting ISO, aperture and shutter speed based 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 a 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 was so much light 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 exposed.

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

This photograph was taken indoors. 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 your 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 slower the number more light will come in.

Get creative with the settings and slowly you will get used to it. When you get used 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 basics of photography.

written by amirulshahrom on 2011-06-21 #gear #tutorials #smena-8m #camera #tutorial #tipster #lomography #news #camera-setting
translated by optimus_fabrica


  1. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    why is tis tipster published again as a "translation" while the original one was already in english??????…

  2. amirulshahrom
    amirulshahrom ·

    This is weird.

  3. analogmonolog
    analogmonolog ·

    couldn't agree any less with both of you... How can this happen? Any explaination from the LSI?

  4. analogmonolog
    analogmonolog ·

    couldn't agree any less with both of you... How can this happen? Any explaination from the LSI?

  5. anapevo
    anapevo ·

    wow thank u for this article i was starting to get frustrated im an amateur lomographer and i own a smena 8m haha

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