Nikon CoolPix P510 Lesson in Aperture

My quest to understand Aperture.....

I bought the Nikon Coolpix P510 because it is described as a "bridge camera". To me that means I can do a bit more manually then with my old point and shoot.   I decided it was high time to get started in my attempt to understand more about digital photography. I went to a beginners class on Saturday to begin my adventure with my focus being on Aperture and Shutter Speed.  I will start with Aperture. I find the f# confusing because in my mind they are backwards but I will have to get over it:-)
First off what is the definition of aperture? Here is what Destination Scuba has to say about it...


Graphic Description of Aperture sizes for digital photography basics
It is indicated by f stop numbers f1.4, f2, f2.8, f5.6 and so on.
Just to confuse us – the larger the aperture the smaller the f stop number f22 is a very small aperture, f5.6 is big.
This is the control of how much light reaches the image sensor in the camera and has a direct relation to shutter speed.Generally the larger the aperture the faster the shutter speed. 

It can be easier to understand if put the other way around –The faster your shutter speed, the larger your aperture must be to allow an equal amount of light through.
If you have the aperture wide open, a lot of light is going to come through so to avoid a very ‘white’ picture you are only going to want to open the shutter for a very short time to avoid burning or ‘over-exposure’. So a faster shutter speed is needed to maintain equilibrium.
At the risk of going overboard with the explanations, wide aperture has to have a fast shutter speed to avoid flooding the picture with light.
All of this would be dependent on the light conditions prevailing - low light conditions larger aperture and perhaps a slower shutter speed than in normal bright daylight conditions.
Aperture will control your depth of field – how much in your picture, near or far, is in focus – a small aperture (high number) will mean more will be in focus – objects behind the subject will be in focus as well as the object your picture is focused on. A large aperture (low number) focus will be restricted to the area of the subject.
Here are my practice shots...
These I took before the class...
Aperture f/6.7   Shutter speed 1/60

Aperture f/4.8 Shutter speed 1/500

f/4.8  SS 1/800
Now to practice on Aperture Mode...
f/3.7   ss1/1000

f/3.7 ss 1/1250 

 f/7.3 ss 1/400

 f/8.2 ss 1/320

f/4.9  ss 1/500
I must try to get this in my head...."Aperture will control your depth of field – how much in your picture, near or far, is in focus – a small aperture (high number) will mean more will be in focus – objects behind the subject will be in focus as well as the object your picture is focused on. A large aperture (low number) focus will be restricted to the area of the subject."
One more attempt to try to get this in my head...
 f/3 (low f#=large aperture = focus is restricted to a smaller area)

f/8.3=small aperture but larger f/number 
Which means more of the photo will be in focus.
Ok, I almost have this down.  Now I will use it in a sentence "I like to use a larger aperture in other words a lower f/number when I take photos of flowers.  That way I can keep the flower in focus while the background is blurred"  I know, that was two sentences:-)
I hope I said that right.  I don't even know anymore...I have a headache.
I do want to share a picture I took and love.  I did not think about aperture or anything else, just thought "oh how cute I must take a picture:-)
Happy picture taking everyone!
Enjoy Your World:-)


  1. Thanks!...I am just learning the whole shutter speed/aperture thing myself!

    PH from Howard, Ohio

    1. Hey Pam,
      Hope it helped. Thanks for stopping by:-)

  2. Hi
    I want to take sports pics (rowing) but he subject is normally about 1/2 mile away. I also want to take cluster shots.
    Got the camera yesterday - what do i do??
    Many thanks


  3. I have not been able to figure out how to adjust my aperture/shutter speed on my coolpix p510

    1. Turn the PSAM button to A for aperture priority and turn to S for shutter priority, if you don't have it, you can get the pdf version of the manual here,

  4. Hi Kathiey,

    I am also currently learning aperture and shutter speed as well. I purchased the same camera - the Nikon Coolpix P510. I love it so far but noticed the aperture only goes to 8.3. I think most cameras go higher and this is restricting in the photos. Does your camera reach a higher aperture?

  5. Nikon 510 has the highest f 8.3. Its a big draw back of the camera

  6. So, on the picture at the end of a chipmunk, did you just take it while the camera wason the 'auto setting' or was it set on something else.?

  7. Great!!
    Nice explanation. I feel like understand now. Thanks.

  8. You have some great pictures and this made me feel a lot better about buying this camera. I just have one question, I am having trouble taking pictures inside on manual, no matter what combination I do, the picture comes out dark. Any suggestions?

    1. Use the flash? the camera can only work with the light available and the restrictions of the maximum aperture, this is at it's widest (letting in the most light) at the wide angle setting.
      You can also set the ISO setting higher, depending how large the photo will be when being viewed i'd not go any higher than ISO 800 but you can go as high as 6400 if you wanted to try it and see the results

  9. Thanks Kathley! I took photography in high school (many moons ago) where there was film in a this was a great brush up for me!

  10. Does the Nikon Cool Pix 510 have Tracking and if so were would you set or find it?

  11. This is so helpful, thank you!! Trying to get my head aroung this as I have just started a blog and my photo's are far from perfect but hey I am very trying :-)

  12. How do you control manual focus. I have read the instructions and tried to do the focusing manually. Maybe I am just not understanding what to do correctly. A lot of pics are blurry too as the auto focus seems to want to focus on something else in the picture. Enjoyed you info and pictures. Second time reading through this.

  13. Thank you Kathie so much. I want to catch flying birds but dont know how, pls pls help me. Thx in advance

    1. I just found this website and I have owned my Nikon p510 since it first came out. There is a setting called pre shooting cashe which works awesome for birds in flight. It takes continuous shots but the cool thing about the setting is while you hold your finger on the shuttter button, watching it focus, keep your finger pushed down half way down and as you see the slightest movement ,press it all the way down and hold it down and hold it still. The camera take 3 pictures in advance and is able to capture all of the movements of a bird in flight. I use it all the time on eagles and hawks and have caught some spectacular pictures that would have otherwise been missed and the clarity is awesome! If you want more info email me at

  14. what are the ideal configurations of Apperture, ISO, and shutter speed in Nikon P510 coolpix camera for better results.

  15. This is the first time we owned a camera that the pictures come out blurry with any movement. The camera is on auto. The Sports mode doesn't seem to help. Please help!

  16. I purchased the Nikon Coolpix 510. I want to be able to take my son's senior picture. I need help understanding some of the settings to pick. It seems like all my pictures are blurry. I want to do outdoor settings

  17. Hey! I have the Nikon Coolpix L110... do you know if I can control the aperture on this model?

  18. Hey I too have Nikon p510 do you have any idea if I can zoom in or out while I keep the shutter open.. I wa trying a zoom burst but I am not managing to do that..

  19. I wish I knew. Let me know if you figure it out. I have gotten many great shots with that camera. I bought the Nikon P610 but I like the 510 better.


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