How to Change Aperture (F-Stop) on the Sony a6000

Hi folks, this is a quick and concise guide on how (and why) to change the aperture on your Sony a6000 series camera. (this applies to the a6100, a6300, a6400, a6500, and a6500 as well)

Below will be a brief explanation of what aperture (and F-stop) means and what it can be used for. Let’s dive in!


Where to find "A" mode on a Sony a6000.
Where to find “A” mode on the Sony a6000.

How to change aperture on a Sony a6000?

To begin, you’ll want to spin the mode dial on your camera to “A”. This stands for aperture priority. What aperture priority allows is for you to be able to manually adjust the aperture, and, if you desire, the ISO. Shutter speed will continue to adjusted automatically by the camera.

At this point, you can change the aperture by spinning either of the other two wheels/dials on the camera (you can customize the functions of these wheels/dials in the settings menu).

When shooting in manual mode (“M” on the mode dial), aperture can still be adjusted but in additional to all other settings (shutter speed/ISO) as well. However, full manual mode is a whole different complicated subject that we won’t touch on in this article.

Lights photographed with a wide aperture.
Lights photographed with a wide aperture.

What is aperture?

So what is “aperture”? To put it in simple terms, aperture is just the adjustable opening in your camera lens that allows light to pass through to the image sensor.

If you look closely into your lens, and then adjust the aperture setting on your camera, you’ll see small blades (aperture blades) moving. As the blades “retract”, the aperture opens up, allowing more light through. As the blades “tighten”, the aperture gets smaller, restricting the flow of light.

A street scene thrown out of focus.
A street scene showing bokeh.

What does F-stop mean?

The term F-stop (or F-number) may sound complicated, but it’s really quite simple. The F-stop is the ratio of the lens’s focal length in relation to the diameter of the “entrance pupil” (the aperture “hole”).

In other words, the concept of “F-stop” is really just a numerical way to help photographers understand how large their aperture is. When you hear someone say, “shoot with a wide/large F-stop”, they mean shooting with a low number, such as F1.8.

On the flipside, a “small” F-stop can mean something more along the lines of F16 or F22.

A portrait photographed with a wide F-stop.
A portrait shot with a wide F-stop.

Why would I want to change my aperture?

Low Light Situations

There are multiple reasons you may want to change your aperture.

First, a wider F-stop allows more light into the lens, meaning you can shoot in darker environments without having to push up your ISO setting (which would cause digital noise thus reducing image quality).

Depth of Field (Background Blur)

The second reason is to create depth of field, also known as background blur. Adjusting the depth of field opens up entirely new creative elements.

For example, when taking photographs of people, you generally want a blurred out background in order to create a sense of subject isolation. This is easily accomplished by opening up your aperture to something wider, such as F2.8.

Bokeh, the way a lens renders out of focus points of light, is another artistic concept that can be explored by adjusting aperture. A tight focal length lens combined with a wide aperture can create beautiful “balls” of out-of-focus light.

More in Focus

On the flipside, there are situations where you’d want to “stop down” or tighten your aperture. A tighter F-stop allows for more of the scene to be in focus as more light is able to reach the camera sensor.

For example, when photographing something like landscapes or cityscapes, you’d want to use a small F-stop (high number) to ensure that the entire scene is sharp. Keep in mind that pushing your aperture higher will often require you to compensate with a longer shutter speed.

A window photographed with a wide aperture.
A rainy window photographed with a wide aperture. Notice the “bokeh balls”.

What about lenses?

If you’ve done any lens shopping, you’ll notice that they’ll all list certain F-stops. This is considered their “maximum” aperture. For example, a Sigma 30mm F1.4 can be opened up to F1.4 at the widest (note that all lenses have adjustable aperture).

If you’re in the market for wide aperture (bright) lens for your Sony a6000, I’ve got a few suggestions below.

Thumbnail
Rokinon 12mm F2.0 NCS CS Ultra Wide Angle Lens Sony E-Mount (NEX) (Black) (RK12M-E)
Sigma 30mm F1.4 Contemporary DC DN Lens for Sony E
18-50mm F2.8 DC DN Contemporary for Sony E
Title
Rokinon 12mm F2.0
Sigma 30mm F1.4
Sigma 18-50mm F2.8
Summary
The best option if you want a super bright ultra-wide lens. F2.0 is enough for most situations.
An incredibly bright lens that renders incredible images. Perfect for many situations and also quite cheap.
An awesome all-rounder. Not quite as bright of an aperture as the other options, but very versatile.
Thumbnail
Rokinon 12mm F2.0 NCS CS Ultra Wide Angle Lens Sony E-Mount (NEX) (Black) (RK12M-E)
Title
Rokinon 12mm F2.0
Summary
The best option if you want a super bright ultra-wide lens. F2.0 is enough for most situations.
Full Review
Thumbnail
Sigma 30mm F1.4 Contemporary DC DN Lens for Sony E
Title
Sigma 30mm F1.4
Summary
An incredibly bright lens that renders incredible images. Perfect for many situations and also quite cheap.
Full Review
Thumbnail
18-50mm F2.8 DC DN Contemporary for Sony E
Title
Sigma 18-50mm F2.8
Summary
An awesome all-rounder. Not quite as bright of an aperture as the other options, but very versatile.
Full Review

Hopefully this gave you the absolute basics about aperture. My biggest advice would be to get out your camera and start practicing. Adjust your aperture and watch as backgrounds blur in and out.

See how lights in the background turn bubbly, watch as the aperture rings open and close (in the lens itself). Practice makes perfect!