Just started learning photography and ordered a 35mm f1.8G ED Nikon lens. I understand it is a prime lens, and doesn't zoom in or out, but the f number there doesn't show any change from 1.8 when I look through the viewfinder and read the metrics. I start turning the thingy on the lens and it changes the focus, but still I don't see that number getting changed from 1.8 on the viewfinder metrics.

I was under impression that it should change and if I take out the lens from camera and again turn that thingy on the lens I don't see the hole getting bigger or smaller. I thought that is called "aperture" but it doesn't change. So is it a broken lens and should return it?

I was under "Aperture priority mode" of the camera for numbers above, now I switched to "Automatic mode" and the number shows as 4 now. But still when I go to "Aperture priority" mode, it is stuck on 1.8. So does it mean the lens is damaged?

2 Answers 2


The "thingy" you can turn on the lens is a focus dial. Most modern lenses don't have a separate manual aperture control, instead relying on the body for automatic aperture setting. And even if the lens supported manual aperture control, except for on very, very old lenses, the aperture diaphram stays open until you press the shutter, at which point it is quickly "stopped down" to the selected value.

It sounds like everything is fine, really. If the photos taken in automatic mode appear to be exposed correctly, I wouldn't worry. If, on the other hand, they are far too bright, it's possible that the aperture is physically stuck — but nothing you've said indicates that that's likely.

In aperture priority mode, you set the aperture by changing the dial (varies from camera to camera exactly where, of course, but on Nikon entry-level bodies, it's the dial on the back at the top right; on higher-end Nikons, it defaults to the front dial). This should change the number you see in the viewfinder, and you should also see the shutter speed change to match the meter reading. Again, if the aperture is stuck, try turning it down to a small aperture (high f number — like, f/22). This should result in a long shutter speed (unless the scene is very, very bright). If the aperture is stuck open, you'll get a very overexposed result in that case.

  • Thanks for info. Hmm now I wonder how these guys in video tutorials were showing the hole getting bigger and smaller. Nov 29, 2014 at 21:01
  • Well one question then: So when we put the camera on "A" mode, doesn't it mean we should be able to manually change the Aperture? Nov 29, 2014 at 21:03
  • 2
    @user1899082 Okay, maybe this is too obvious, but have you tried the front dial? (See page 77 of the manual.)
    – mattdm
    Nov 29, 2014 at 21:15
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    @user1899082 Heh. Glad I could help. See also page 245 — you can flip which dial does what, if you like.
    – mattdm
    Nov 29, 2014 at 21:20
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    Eventually, you'll come to know and appreciate all those various dials. Or, at least, I do. The steep learning curve pays off eventually in faster and more intuitive adjustments on the fly when you're shooting.
    – mattdm
    Nov 29, 2014 at 21:22

The hole stays wide open to let in the maximum amount of light when you're composing and focussing. The hole closes down to the specified aperture value at the moment the shot is being taken. That's a feature, not a bug.

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