Digital Camera and Photography Terms Explained

You want to buy a new digital camera but you wonder what all these abbreviations and strange terms are and what do they mean? Here are a few which I have tried to explain in a simple way.

Camera Optical Zoom

AE Lock. This means Auto Exposure Lock and means that you can point to your subject matter, get a light reading, then swing the camera to set up the complete picture, still retaining that setting.

Camera Optical Zoom

Aperture. Size of the variable opening in the lens that controls the amount of light that passes through the lens to the sensor (CCD) and which is usually expressed as an f/number.The higher the f/number the smaller aperture, and the lower the f/number the larger the aperture. Also controls depth of field.

Aperture Priority. This is a semi-manual setting in some cameras. The user sets the aperture for the depth of field they want and the camera sets the shutter speed to obtain correct exposure.

Auto Focus. Most digital cameras have an auto-focus mode which focuses the lens

Battery. Cameras come with different types of batteries which power the camera. Each manufacturer tends to have their own variation on this and batteries are not usually interchangeable between cameras.

Bracketing. Bracketing shots is where a photographer takes shots of the same scene three times or more at different exposures. This can be done automatically on some cameras.

Card reader. Device that is used to connect the computer with your memory card

CCD or charged coupled device. This refers to the chip inside the camera which is used to record image information (on a non-digital camera this would be the film).

Light hits the CCD when a photo is taken, and then the analog CCD converts the information to digital.

Contrast. This is the difference between the lightest and darkest part of a photo.

Depth of Field. The distance between the nearest point and farthest point, that is sharp and in focus. This varies with aperture setting. A small aperture will give greater depth of field than a large aperture.

Digital Zoom. Some cameras will provide digital zoom which really means that it "zooms" into the center part of the image and enlarges the pixels. This causes " noise" or poor resolution. Optical zoom is far superior.

DPI Dots per inch. Printers define the sharpness of an image by DPI. A figure of 1200 dpi, or higher is required for printing photographs.

Exposure. Exposure is a combination of how long the shutter is open and how wide the aperture is.

EXIF. The exchangeable image file. This is used by cameras to record data of a shot such as date, time taken, exposure etc which can be read sometimes in the camera or in software. This is useful for knowing what was happening when a picture was taken.

Exposure Control. Controlling exposure settings through shutter speed and aperture is important to serious photographers. Cheaper digital cameras will only shoot in auto mode. If you feel that you might want to take photography more seriously at some point this needs to be considered.

Focal length.Focal length describes the magnification of the lens. The greater the focal length, the greater the magnification.

F-Stop (or f/number or stop). The size of the opening in the diaphragm which allows light into the camera

Histogram.A histogram is a graph which shows image tones or a graph of brightness. Can be used to check exposure of a shot to see if you need to adjust and shoot again.

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group). A format, that that allows the camera to squeeze a large picture into a small amount of memory. This is the most common system used by digital cameras

LCD Liquid Crystal Display. The majority of digital cameras have a screen at the back of the camera which can be used for viewing shots taken or sometimes as a viewfinder. A heavy user of battery power!

Macro.This is the camera mode for taking extreme close-ups.

Manual mode. This is found on top end cameras and is used by experienced photographers as this gives full control over shutter speed and aperture.

Megapixel. This is a million pixels and can describe the sensor's capacity. Megapixels define the quality of your image. More megapixels means a better and sharper picture or that it can be enlarged without losing quality.

Memory Card.The majority of digital cameras store pictures taken onto memory cards which can be removed and the pictures transferred to your computer. Cards are of various shapes and sizes but all do the same job.

Memory Stick. Memory Stick is a removable flash memory card format, launched by Sony in October 1998 and is also used in general to describe the whole family of Memory Sticks.

Optical zoom. This is a true zoom that brings you closer to the subject without moving by magnifying the image. It is preferable and superior to digital zoom. It is recommended to get at least 3x optical zoom.

Pictbridge. Pictbridge is a standard technology that allows the transfer of images direct from a camera to a compliant printer, bypassing the computer.

Pixels. A pixel, meaning picture element, is the base component or building block of a digital image and can have color and tone.

There can be several million "building blocks" in an image.

RAW .The name is to identify the virtually raw data (has had no internal processing by the camera) image file format.

Resolution. A measure of an image expressed as picture size or pixel (megapixel) size or dots per inch on a printed image i.e. the more pixels there are in an image the sharper the picture will be. This is usually shown as, for example, 1200 x 1800 which relates to height and width.

Shutter priority. This is a semi-manual mode and the opposite of aperture priority.

The photographer chooses the shutter speed and the camera sets the correct aperture for the conditions.

Useful for action shots or the need to blur shots.

SLR. Single Lens Reflex is a camera which has a mirror that reflects the image onto a pentaprism and then on to the viewfinder screen. This means you see what the camera sees and is useful for framing your shots accurately.

The mirror reflexes out of the way when you take the picture.

Secure Digital (SD) is a flash memory card format developed for use in portable devices.

Sensor or CCD.An electronic chip, or light sensor which contains light- sensitive pixels and which records the image when you take a picture.

Shutter Speed. Speed of the shutter as it opens and close to allow light onto the sensor. It is expressed in fractions of a second i.e.1/60, 1/250

TIFF Tagged Image File Format. TIFF is an image file format that does not lose any quality when it is saved and compressed.

Tripod. If you are taking landscape or portrait photos a tripod is essential for clear, sharp photos in order to reduce camera shake and blurring of images.

USB. Universal Serial Bus. This is a standard interface on all computers that allows accessories to be connected to the computer while it is turned on.

I hope this is useful!

Digital Camera and Photography Terms Explained

Camera Optical Zoom

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Dec 05, 2011 09:32:55

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