What Does Maximum Aperture Mean When Talking about Photography?

When talking about photography and more specifically photographic lenses, the term ‘maximum aperture’ describes the widest hole that can be formed by the aperture blades within a lens. At it’s maximum aperture a lens will allow a lot of light to enter the camera, therefore allowing the use of faster shutter speeds when capturing images; Lenses with large maximum apertures, for example f/1.4 are therefore often referred to as ‘fast lenses’. The trade off when using a lens’ maximum aperture is that images will be softer and have a very narrow depth of field. The maximum aperture of a lens is always included in the lens’ description for example 35mm f/1.4.