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    Default Photography jargon explained.

    OK, I've not seen a topic like this around here (this was originally intended for another forum, but I like to share ) so the purpose of it is to explain all the 'jargon' (or fancy/unheard of words/letters) to the inexperienced user. The idea is that you post some things that you think may help people, I'll start...

    SLR camera: (single lens reflex) A camera whereby you can change the lens, the reflex area comes from the action of the mirror inside. these tend to use physically larger sensors than other cameras.

    Point and shoot camera: A physically smaller camera by which you cant change the lens, these tend to have small image sensors.

    Super zoom camera A rendition of the above camera where you cant change the lens, these cameras allow you to zoom in close on subjects.

    Micro four thirds camera/mirrorless camera: A smaller version of an slr camera, these combine a large sensor and a small body, and feature inter-changeable lenses

    focal point: the area of a picture that is in focus.

    foreground: what is at the front of the picture, this tends to be the focal point.

    background: Opposite of above.

    In/out ofFocus: how sharp/soft a part of an image is, e.g "the foreground is out of focus" meaning the foreground is soft/not sharp.

    ISO sensitivity: how sensitive the sensor is in your camera to light, so a high ISO (say, 3200) will be able to achieve a faster shutter speed in lower light, so you avoid motion blur, but you will achieve noisy pictures (see below). On the other hand, ISO 50 would give you a slower shutter speed, but would be free of noise.

    Image noise: Grains that can appear on your pictures when using higher ISO's, for an example

    aperture: how much light a lens lets enter into it, apertures will look something like A wide open aperture will be around f2.0, this will brighten the picture and blur out the background, and a more closed aperture will be around f16, this will darken the picture and keep more things in focus

    shutter speed: how long the sensor is exposed to light, fast shutter speeds are used for sports photography, and slow shutter speeds are used for things like waterfall pictures. note: when using fast shutter speeds in low light, the picture will turn out very dark unless using a high ISO.

    P: found on the mode dial on top of most digital SLR cameras and some compacts, it means programme, and gives you a bit more control over your picture than using automatic.

    A: found on the mode dial on top of most digital SLR cameras, it means aperture priority, so you manually select the aperture, and the camera will choose the right shutter speed.

    S: found on the mode dial on top of most digital SLR cameras, it means shutter priority, so you manually select the shutter speed, and your camera will choose the right aperture.

    M: found on the mode dial on top of most digital SLR cameras and some compacts, it means you have FULL control over your camera, so you can select the shutter speed, aperture etc...

    Optical zoom: How far a lens can zoom without having to use digital zoom (see below)

    Digital zoom: when the lens on a compact camera cant zoom in any further, digital zoom may be used, all it is doing is zooming in on the pixels and reducing the resolution and image quality of the picture (basically cropping it), so STAY AWAY FROM IT!

    Post processing: Adjusting a photo in a computer programme such as photoshop or lightroom.

    Panorama: a picture consisting of any number of images that are 'stitched' together to make a much wider and more detailed image (see

    Depth of field (DOF): The area of the photo that is in focus. DOF is influenced by aperture size, focus distance and focal length.

    Focal length: The term for the length a lens, or in simple terms how far it wil zoom in/out, 18mm is considered a very short focal length, and 400mm is considered very large. this I find is hard to explain, so hopefully picture will help

    digiscoping: the action of attaching a telescope to your camera to acheive a huge focal length

    thanks to henry peach from another photography forum (I cant say which) for all of the following:

    Bokeh: Bokeh does not mean 'out of focus', as it is often used. Bokeh refers to the aesthetic quality of the out of focus areas.

    Stop: A doubling or halving of the amount of light or exposure.

    Reciprocity: There are 3 controls for exposure. ISO determines how much exposure is necessary. A doubling or halving of the ISO is one stop. ISO 200 is one stop more sensitive (needs 1/2 the light) than ISO 100, and one stop less sensitive (needs twice the light) than ISO 400. Shutter controls the length of the exposure. A doubling or halving of the shutter speed is one stop. 1/30th of a second is twice as much exposure as 1/60th. 1/60th is twice the exposure of 1/125th. Aperture controls light intensity, and is designated with a f-number or f/stop. Each doubling or halving of the f/# is two stops. F/4 is a quarter (2 stops means 2x2=4) of the exposure of f/2 and four times as much exposure as f/8.

    ISO in 1 stop increments: ... 25 50 100 200 400 800 1600 3200 6400 12800 25600 ...
    shutter speed in 1 stop increments: ... 1sec, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000, 1/2000, 1/4000 ...
    aperture in 1 stop increments: ... f/1, f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22, f/32, f/45, f/64 ...

    Reciprocity just means that as you adjust one control to get a desired visual effect (DOF, freeze or blur motion, fine or coarse grain) you can change one or both others to even out the exposure. All of the following settings are the same exposure. As one change increases or decreases the amount of exposure the others are adjusted to even it out.

    1/125th @ f/4 @ ISO 400
    1/250th @ f/4 @ ISO 800
    1/500th @ f/4 @ ISO 1600
    1/125th @ f/5.6 @ ISO 800
    1/60th @ f/4 @ ISO 200
    1/30th @ f/5.6 @ ISO 200

    The above (in my [R0B's] opinion, this is the most confusing thing about photography, and unless working in manual mode then this is definitely not a necessity)

    Negative space: The areas of the three dimensional world that your eyes and mind perceive as empty space. In the real world we tend to ignore this. In a two dimensional image they become shapes that can have just as much influence (good or bad) on the appearance of the image as the shapes of actual subject matter.

    Flash sync speed: The fastest shutter speed which can be used with normal flash. The flash sync speed is the fastest speed where the shutter is fully open. Focal plane shutters don't open fully at faster speeds, and if normal flash (a very short, high power flash) were used only part of the scene would be exposed by the flash. Fancier flash models offer high speed sync (longer lasting, lower powered series of flashes) which extends the duration of the flash so it lasts as long as the shutter is open.

    Okay, before you say this is all tooo technical to understand, I'm 15 and I wrote it (well, actually did it when I was 14, but hey ho) so give it a bit of time and it will all come to you

    One author that I have found to be incredibly helpful is scott kelby, so it might be worth having a gander at some of his books (of course there are other great authors out there, and the what digital camera magazine is just awesome.)

    I've spent a good couple of hours on this, so I hope you'll appreciate it

    If anyone has any that they would like to add then be my guest
    Last edited by R0B; 11-09-10 at 10:42 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    samsung sc-hmx10c charger


    thank you share

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