Stops and Aperture Diameter

Aperture is measured using the "f-number", sometimes called the "f-stop", which describes the diameter of the aperture. A lower f-number relates to a wider aperture (one that lets in more light), while a higher f-number means a narrower aperture (less light).

Because of the way f-numbers are calculated, a stop doesn't relate to a doubling or halving of the value, but to a multiplying or dividing by 1.41 (the square root of 2). For example, going from f/2.8 to f/4 is a decrease of 1 stop because 4 = 2.8 * 1.41. Changing from f/16 to f/11 is an increase of 1 stop because 11 = 16 / 1.41.

As with shutter speed, most cameras let you control your aperture in 1/3 stop increments.