by ʇolɐǝz ǝɥʇ qoq

Submit your Photo
Hall of Fame

Please participate in Meta
and help us grow.

Photography Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional, enthusiast and amateur photographers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have only noticed this for a handful of lenses so I am probably wrong in saying that all Nikon and all Canon lenses follow suit. But from those I have seen, Nikon tend to close the iris when removed from the camera, whilst Canon lenses open up when removed from the body.

Why do different lenses open different amounts when removed from the body? Is the reason mechanical or traditional?

share|improve this question
Perhaps it is to do with Nikon aperture being mechanical and Canon aperture operating electronically? Learned about this from an answer to Nikon-Canon lens differencies question. – Esa Paulasto Jul 24 '13 at 12:21
up vote 12 down vote accepted

Both systems (and all others that set the aperture via the camera body) will set the aperture wide open when a lens is attached to the camera, to provide the brightest view possible in the viewfinder and to facilitate manual focusing.

Canon EOS lenses uses an electronic iris. A signal is sent to the lens to close the iris when taking a photo or using DOF preview. Since the aperture is wide open most of the time, the camera or lens would have to detect removal of the lens and send a signal to the aperture control motor, which is extra work for no benefit.

Nikkor lenses use a mechanical coupling which is spring loaded. Removing the lens means the camera body coupling is no longer pushing the aperture control lever, meaning it springs back, closing the aperture. Designing the system to avoid this would probably have been additional work, again for no real reason.

In summary any slight advantage to having the aperture open or closed when the lens is not mounted is dwarfed by he design effort involved due to the different approach of mechanical vs electronic control, so the manufacturers did what was easiest.

share|improve this answer
It's worth noting that if you stop down a Canon lens, and then remove it from the camera body while stopped down, the iris stays at whatever f-stop it was at when you removed it. This fact is actually commonly exploited for setting the aperture on canon lenses when being used in non-electronic adapter mounts. – Fake Name Jul 25 '13 at 8:40

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.