November 3, 2014 at 12:12PM


Maintaining Aperture Values Throughout a Film

I keep hearing about the value of maintaining the same aperture throughout the shooting of your film (maybe going up or down a stop). Choosing instead, to adjust ISO, adding ND filters, etc. to maintain a properly exposed image. I can understand that it will create consistency if you keep the aperture level virtually the same, but I'm curious if anyone has some more insight into this technique and why people choose to do it.


This would only make sense if you shoot everything with the same focal-length lens at roughly the same distance from your subject, because as soon as you go to a wide shot or a telephoto shot or move the camera far away or close to your subject the look will be very different than the previous shots.

I think what people are getting at with this constant aperture issue is more about maintaining the look of your shots, so if most of your shots have deep focus or shallow DOF, then you will probably want to maintain that look with the rest of your shots. ( I've seen lots of Indie shorts where it's all shallow DOF when shooting indoors, but then it becomes all deep focus shots when shooting outside, which looks kind of weird when cut together. )

November 3, 2014 at 1:50PM, Edited November 3, 1:50PM

Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer

I think that depends of your scene. Not all scenes is good maintain the same aperture values.

November 4, 2014 at 12:46PM, Edited November 4, 12:46PM

Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director

A lot of professional cinematographers will do this on lower budget shoots, often sticking with f/2.8 or f/4, usually also sticking with the same ISO, using lighting and NDs to adjust exposure. Sure, you're gonna get a different look with different focal length lenses, that's the point of them. The point of consistent aperture is to not only streamline the production, but to provide a consistent look at each focal length. It's weird to see a shallow wide in one scene and a deep one in the next, even though it might have been easier to shoot that way.

Maybe check out Upstream Color for an example of this. Shane Carruth stuck not at one specific aperture, but rather used very fast lenses wide open at every focal length. It gives the world an extra hazy feel to it, as well as a sense of isolation and an inability for the characters to put their fingers on what's bothering them.

November 4, 2014 at 2:55PM

Jacob Floyd
Writer / Videographer

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