Adjustment Layer

What Is an Adjustment Layer and How Is It Used in Image Editing? This is a layer containing an image adjustment or effect instead of image content. Like a red Cellophane overlay on a print, an adjustment layer will alter the appearance of layers below it, but not actually alter their content, making adjustment layers a cornerstone of reversible, ‘non-destructive’ editing. The adjustment can be altered, hidden or removed at any point. Adjustment layers allow photographers to experiment with edits to their photographs without risking permanently changing the original image content. Adjustment layers can also be copied and applied to …

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AF

What does it mean when a camera or lens has the letters AF on the side of it? Click through to find out in our photography dictionary.

AF Assist Lamp

What Is an AF Assist Lamp and What Is It Used for in Photography? An AF assist lamp is a small light, usually built into a camera body above the lens mount. It is used to assist the camera in focusing on a subject in low light conditions by lighting up the subject area while the camera focuses. AF Assist lamps only work at very short distances due to the low power of their output and in order to work correctly they must only be lit whilst the camera focuses. Were an AF assist lamp to remain on whilst a …

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AL

What Does AL Mean In Photography? AL is an abbreviation of Aspherical Lens and is often used by the manufacturer, Pentax.  Please see the aspherical lens definition page for more details.   Additional Reading What Is An Aspherical Lens? What Does DO Mean On A Canon Lens? Pentax Lens Terminology And Abbreviations  

Aliasing

What Is Aliasing and How Does It Relate to Digital Photography? In photography aliasing is a form of distortion that occurs when two elements of the signal being processed to form a digital image become indistinguishable from one another. Aliasing often appears in an image in the form of moiré or false colouring. Many digital cameras feature a built in ‘anti-aliasing filter’ to counteract the effects of aliasing by preventing high frequencies of light from reaching the sensor. This introduces a small amount of blur to detailed areas of an image that can prevent aliasing from occurring. The image can …

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Ambient Light

What Is Ambient Light and How Can It Be Used When Taking Photographs? Depending on the scene you are shooting ‘ambient light’ can be your best friend, or your worst enemy. The term ambient light refers to any natural sources of light illumination a scene i.e. any light that is not artificially created. The most obvious source of ambient light is the Sun, at sunrise and sunset it will bring a scene alive with warm tones punctuated by subtle shadows and soft detail, at high noon it will wash out your photographs with overwhelming highlights and deep impenetrable shadows. the …

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Anti-Shake

What Is Anti-Shake and how Is it Used In Photography? In photography an anti-shake system compensates for unwanted movement of the camera which would otherwise blur a photograph whilst shooting, for example hand holding a camera whilst shooting in low light conditions. There are two main types of anti-shake system; Lens based anti-shake uses a moving optical element to counteract shaking. Camera based anti-shake uses a mechanism which allows the image sensor to move to compensate for unwanted movement. Anti-shake systems are also extremely popular with videographers who’s cameras do double duty as both a stills and video capture system. …

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Apodization Filter

An apodization filter is a graduated neutral density filter that sits inside the back of a lens, and helps to smooth out the transitions in out-of-focus highlights or “bokeh balls”. Whilst the effect is most obviously seen in these highlight areas, as you can see from the Sony example below, the filter also causes a general smoothing of all OOF background areas. In short, if you want awesome, creamy looking bokeh, a lens with an APD filter is the way to go. So why haven’t we seen more of these lenses then, if they produce such a generally desirable result? …

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ASP

ASP Lens Definition ASP is an abbreviation for Aspherical Lens and is used by the manufacturer Sigma, to denote lenses which contain an aspherical lens element.  Please see the aspherical lens definition page for more details on this optical type.   Additional Reading What Is An Aspherical Lens?   Sigma 14mm f/2.8 ASP

ASPH

ASPH Lens Definition ASPH is an abbreviation of Aspherical Lens and is used by the manufacturer, Leica to denote lenses that contain an aspherical lens element.  Please see the aspherical lens definition page for more details on this optical type.

Aspherical Lens

What is an Aspherical Lens? The term Aspherical Lens is slightly misleading, although it one that is often used in the camera industry. As you probably know, camera lenses are comprised of several different lens elements. Each lens element serves a specific purpose, such as correcting chromatic aberration or field curvature. An aspherical lens element is commonly used to correct spherical aberration, though it is usually only one or two elements within a more complex lens design. A spherical lens has a constant curvature to its surface. If you could extrapolate that curve, it would eventually come back around to …

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Astrophotography

What Does Astrophotography Mean? Astrophotography is the art of photographing nighttime skyscapes and astrological objects such as stars and planets in the night sky. Successful astrophotography requires knowledge of various photography techniques such as use of long exposures for creating star trails, knowledge of camera sensitivity to avoid excess noise levels in photographs of dark skies, and the use of camera steadying equipment such as tripods to aid in the capture of sharp long exposure images. Astrophotography techniques can even be used to capture images of objects that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye for example far away stars …

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Autofocus

What Is Autofocus? Autofocus (AF) is the feature of a camera that tries to ensure that your chosen subject is sharp within the photo.  Sensors detect how far away the subject is from the camera, and this information is relayed to the lens, which then uses an electronic motor to adjusts the focal distance of the lens.  Most point and shoot cameras are autofocus only, but all DSLRs and mirrorless cameras have the option to disable AF if desired. The first autofocus cameras were developed in the late 1970’s and their speed and accuracy has been improved greatly since that time. …

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Back Button Focus

What Is Back Button Focus? Back button focus is a focus technique often used by professional photographers who want to independently control their camera’s autofocus and shutter. By default, cameras usually activate autofocus when you press the shutter button, but there are many instances where it is actually preferable to separate these two controls into two different buttons. This is a very important technique that can improve both image sharpness and compositions, so long as you understand why and when you would want to use it. To expand on this from the simple glossary entry, I have written an in-depth …

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Battery Grip

What Is A Battery Grip? A battery grip is an accessory that attaches to the bottom a camera and duplicates several of the primary camera buttons, while also increasing the camera’s battery life. The grip makes it more comfortable to hold the camera in this vertical orientation, and also provides easier access to important buttons such as the shutter button, AF-ON button for back button focus technique, as well as control wheels and autofocus joysticks. In general, the battery grip for a specific camera will perfectly mimic the buttons and the button positions as they are found on the camera body. …

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BBF

What is the meaning of BBF when people are talking about photography and camera autofocus settings?

Bokeh

What Does Bokeh Mean When Talking About Taking Photographs? When talking about photographs the term ‘Bokeh’ refers to the quality of out of focus elements of an image. When taking a photograph you may not even think of the quality of the out of focus areas, but good bokeh, often appearing as smooth circular shaped objects in the out-of-focus areas of an image can dramatically improve the overall feel of a picture. The Quality of the bokeh in an image is often determined by the lens used to capture the image. Lenses that use an apodization element produce particularly soft …

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Bounce Flash

What Is Bounce Flash? Bounce flash is light from a flash that has been bounced off another surface before it gets to the subject.  Most commonly, this refers to light that is bounced off a wall or ceiling from a hotshoe mounted flash, but it could be light from any kind of flash or strobe, bounced from any surface. On-camera flash, whether is is from a built-in flash or a hotshoe flash, is not great for photography.  It fills in the shadows on the same axis as the camera lens and this creates a flat looking image that can be …

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Bulb Mode

What Is Bulb Mode? When selecting the shutter speed on a camera, almost all cameras are limited to shutter speeds up to 30 seconds long (see shutter speed chart).  If you want to shoot a photo which has an exposure time of longer than 30 seconds, you need to use bulb mode.  Many cameras have a “B” setting on the mode dial next to the “M” for manual, and this indicates bulb mode.  Sometimes a camera might give access to bulb mode when yo try to change your shutter speed past the 30 second mark as well.  Again, if you …

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Burst Rate

What Does Burst Rate Mean In A Camera? When you camera is set in continuous shooting mode, it will continue to shoot photos as long as you hold down the shutter button.  The speed at which it takes the photos is known as FPS, or Frames Per Second.  Before photos get written to the memory card, they are first stored to a small amount of internal memory in the camera called a buffer.  This buffer memory has a very fast write speed, faster than a regular memory card which is why they do this.  Once stored in the buffer, the …

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Cable Release

What Is A Cable Release? A cable release is a shutter button on a hand unit that can be attached to a camera by a short cable. Some manufacturers have a dedicated cable release port on the side of the camera, and some use the USB port to offer the shutter control.  Make sure you refer to your camera manual to find out what kind of cable release works with your camera as each manufacturers often has several models that vary depending on the size of the camera.   Your browser does not support iFrame.      Why Use A …

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Canon RF Lens

What is a Canon RF Lens? In 2018 Canon introduced an entirely new mirrorless camera system called EOS R. This new mirrorless system has a new mount, the RF mount, which will gradually take over from the old EF mount in the coming years. Canon RF lenses are specifically designed to work with the RF mount. Due to the shorter flange distance (distance from the mount to the sensor plane) of the RF mount compared with the EF mount, it’s not possible to mount an RF lens on an older EF camera. Adapters are available to mount EF and EF-S …

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CFWA

CFWA stands for Close Focus Wide Angle, and it typically used to describe a technique that is popular with underwater photographers. The idea is to use a lens that allows extremely close focusing, but still shoot with a relatively wide angle in order to take in the surrounding underwater landscape. Popular lenses for this technique would be the Canon 8-15 fisheye, the Nikkor 8-15 fisheye or the Tokina 10-17. In the example CFWA photo at the top of the page, you can see from the image’s edge distortion that the photo was taken with a fisheye lens. The central coral …

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Chimping

What Is Chimping? Chimping is the act of looking at your camera’s LCD screen as soon as you have taken a photo.  The term is jokingly derived from the noises that photographers often make when they see a shot they like on the back of the camera (oooh ohh), followed sometimes by “ape like” hand motions for others to take a look. To Chimp Or Not To Chimp, That Is The Question….. There’s two distinct schools of thought on this.  At events, where action is not necessarily predictable, chimping can cause you to miss an important shot.  Over the years of …

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Cinema EOS

What Is Canon’s Cinema EOS line? Canon have always made video cameras, but after the introduction of video recording to the EOS 5D Mark II, the video industry was transformed.  The sensor in a DSLR is many times larger then previously typical video cameras and the leap in quality was profound. A few years after the so-called “DSLR revolution” in the video industry, Canon launched Cinema EOS with the introduction of the Canon C300.  Cinema EOS is Canon’s lineup of video cameras and lenses that use larger sensor sizes, similar to those found in DSLRs.  DSLRs that are primarily designed …

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Circular Polarizer

What Is a Circular Polarizer When Talking About Photography? A circular polarizer is kind of filter which can dramatically effect the light entering a camera’s lens. circular polarizers are able to selectively absorb or pass certain wavelengths of circularly polarized light, reducing reflections and glare from non metallic objects such as water or the sky. The correct use of a circular polarizer for can for example transform the surface of water from a seemingly impenetrable reflective barrier to a nearly entirely translucent window into the underwater world. Circular polarizers are widely used in wildlife and landscape photography where the elimination …

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CN-E

What Is A Canon CN-E Lens? When Canon launched the Cinema EOS camera line for professional video applications, they needed a lens lineup to compliment the cameras.  Cinema lens are designed quite differently to stills camera lenses, so the Canon CN-E lens lineup was born to cater to that market.  Canon’s CN-E prime lenses are available with an EF mount, whilst the CN-E zoom lenses are available in either EF or PL mount.  The biggest visual difference between EF and CN-E lenses, is that the cinema lenses have gearing around them that allows the focus and aperture to be easily and …

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COB Light

What is a COB Light? A COB light is a type of LED light, with COB standing for Chip-On-Board. COB lights are essentially an array of LED chips that are tightly packed together and bonded to a substrate such as silicon carbide. In effect this creates one large LED chip that has excellent uniformity of brightness, thus making it ideal for photographers and filmmakers. When most people think of LEDs they probably think of the small singular lights that they experimented with at school when learning about electronics. Those types of singular round LEDs are called DIP LEDs, or Dual …

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Color Palette

What is a Color Palette When Talking About Photography and Image Editing? Also referred to as ‘palette’ the term ‘color palette’ describes the entire range of colors that can be rendered by a digital device such as a camera LCD or a computer monitor, or the range of colors contained within a specific image. A computer monitor may have a color palette of 16 million colors, an image on the other hand often contains a much smaller number, often 256. The term is also used to describe a collection of colors, usually displayed graphically in RGB triplets, which a user …

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Converter

What Does Converter Mean When Talking About Photography? A converter, also referred to as a tele-converter or extender is a secondary lens which can be mounted between a camera and main lens. The purpose of a converter is to magnify the central portion of a lenses image area, therefore increasing the focal length. Typically converters come in either 1.4 or 2.0 magnification factors. When using an extender the shooter will sacrifice a small amount of lens speed (-1 stop for 1.4 and -2 stops for 2.0) and autofocus performance will also reduce slightly. Extenders also magnify any distortion caused by …

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Cropping

What Does Cropping Mean Cropping is the process of trimming the edges of a photo, either digitally with photo processing software, of physically when a print is trimmed with a knife or guillotine.  Ideally, cropping should be used as a tool to improve upon the composition of the original photo, though sometimes it is necessary in order to make an image fit a specific dimension of photographic frame. The crop tool is one of the most important and widely used tools in any image processing software, whether it is in a mobile app, or a full-blown piece of computer software …

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Cross Type Focus Point

What Is a Cross Type Focus Point? This video from ZY Productsions does a great job of explaining this one!

DAM

What Does DAM Mean? DAM stands for Digital Asset Management and in relation to photography, it describes everything we do with our image files from the moment we begin to download them from the memory card or camera. DAM encompasses: What file format we choose to store images in Where we store our images How we back up our images How we ingest the images from the memory card How we append metadata to our images, like keywords and scene descriptions What software we use to manage our images and metadata How we decide to distribute our images File naming …

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Digital Asset Management

What Is Digital Asset Management? The term “Digital Asset Management” is a bit of a mouthful so most people refer to it by the acronym, DAM.  Please see the DAM entry in the photography glossary to get more information on what this is and why it’s important to photographers.   Additional Reading What Is Photo Mechanic? What Is Lightroom? What Does DAM Mean?  

Digital Zoom

What Is A Digital Zoom? A digital zoom is when a camera recreates the effect of zooming in with a lens by capturing the image from an increasingly smaller area of the camera’s sensor, and then blowing up that image to the regular size.  It appears as if the lens is zooming in, but in fact the effect is purely software based and has nothing to do with optics at all.  The smaller the area used on the sensor to capture the image, the larger the zoom effect appears to be.  The problem with this method is that it decreases …

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DO

What Is A DO Lens? The DO lettering seen on some Canon lenses stands for Diffractive Optics.  You can spot a DO lens by the bright green ring around the front of the lens barrel, in a similar way to the red rings seen around Canon’s L-Series lenses.  All lenses consists of a number of smaller glass elements within the lens barrel and Diffractive Optics is a technology that allows them to use considerably less optical elements in a lens design.  They do this by bending the light much more with DO lens elements than they typically do with regular …

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EF-M

What Is An EF-M Lens? With the launch of the Canon EOS M mirrorless system in 2013, came the EF-M mount.  A mount that allowed Canon engineers to create a smaller line of lenses that complimented the smaller body size of the EOS M series mirrorless cameras with APS-C sensors. There is an EF to EF-M adapter which allows you to use EF or EF-S lenses on an EF-M mount camera, and still maintain full electronic control and autofocus. There is not, however, an RF to EF-M adapter, so it’s not possible to use EF-M lenses at all on Canon’s …

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EF-S

What Is A Canon EF-S Lens? EF-S lenses are designed specifically for Canon APS-C sensor cameras.  It is not possible to mount an EF-S lens on an APS-H, or a full frame camera. Since crop sensor cameras do not make use of the full width of full frame lenses, you end up carrying around a lot more lens than is really necessary! EF-S lenses are lighter and smaller, because they don’t need to cover such a large image circle. Most popular EF-S lenses: Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM Pancake | Canon EF-S 10-22 f/3.5-4.5 | Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM   Additional Reading …

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EOS

What Is An EOS Camera? EOS stands for Electro-Optical System and it was introduced in 1987 by Canon to unveil their line of autofocus SLR cameras with the new EF Mount lens range.  Of course today, this name has stuck, and it now encompasses their DSLR lineup and their mirrorless cameras as well.  The first EOS camera was the Canon EOS 650 35mm film camera, and this was followed in 2000 with Canon’s first DSLR, the Canon EOS D30.  These days the EOS lineup has expanded to include the EOS-M Mirrorless system, the EOS R mirrorless full-frame cameras with the …

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EOS M

What Are Canon EOS M Cameras? EOS M is Canon’s crop sensor (APS-C) mirrorless camera lineup which uses the EF-M lens mount. These mirrorless cameras do not contain the mirror and optical viewfinder of a traditional DSLR, so they are much more compact, instead using either an EVF or simply liveview on the LCD for composing the image. They use the same APS-C sensors from Canon’s DSLR cameras, though, so the image quality is very similar and regular EF or EF-S lenses from the DSLRs can be used with EOS M cameras by way of an adapter. –>> These are the …

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Extender

What Is An Extender? An extender is the same thing as a teleconverter, it’s an optical accessory that sits between the lens and the camera and multiplies the focal length. One fact of note is that Canon call theirs ‘extenders’, whilst Nikon and other manufacturers call theirs ‘teleconverters’. This results in a split in terminology that you will find in books and all over the internet! Extenders can be a very cost-effective way to reach longer focal lengths that are typically useful for sports and wildlife photography.  Prices of longs lenses increase almost exponentially, but an extender can get you great results …

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Extension Tube

What Is An Extension Tube? First things first, an extension tube should not be confused with an extender! An extender, sometimes called a teleconverter, is a VERY different thing. You can read more about extenders in our feature tutorial: The Ultimate Guide to Extenders. Or catch the quick version in the extender entry of the glossary. An extension tube is simply a spacer that goes between the lens and the camera, they contain no optical elements whatsoever, so whilst they look like a lens of some sort at first glance, this is not actually the case. There’s no glass in …

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Fill Factor

What Does Fill Factor Mean When Talking About Photography? Fill factor is the ratio of the light sensitive area of a pixel to the total area of a pixel on a digital imaging sensor. The higher the fill factor, the more sensitive a sensor is to light. Sensitivity directly effects the ability of a camera to capture images in low light situations without having to use either long exposure times, which can lead to loss or sharpness, or high ISO levels which can lead to excess noise. Light sensitivity and performance is one of the most important factors to consider …

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Fill Flash

What Does Fill Flash Mean When Talking About Photography? In photography fill flash is light, produced by a flash unit which fills in a darker area of an image. Fill flash is not intended to overpower the main light, but bring out the detail lost in shadows. Fill flash is particularly useful in situations where the image subject is backlit by bright light, for example shooting a subject with the sun behind them. Without fill flash the dynamic range of such a scene would be to high to be captured in a single image, causing the subject detail to be …

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Fill Light

What Is the Definition of Fill Light in Photography? Fill light is form of supplementary light mainly used to lighten shadows in an image. Fill light is often used in portrait photography to create a contrast between the image subject and image background giving the scene a sense of depth despite the final product being 2 dimensional. In this situation the use of fill light also reduces the overall dynamic range of the scene allowing for easier selection of the exposure settings required to capture an image. When fill light is correctly applied it does not significantly impact the main light …

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Film Plane Indicator

What is a Film Plane Indicator? The Film Plane Indicator is a small symbol on your camera that looks like a circle with a line drawn through it. If you were to cut your camera in half, exactly in line with the line through the circle, you would see that it cuts right through at the front of your camera’s sensor. Obviously the naming is a leftover from the days of film, and sometimes you’ll hear it called the Sensor Plane Indicator these days, or the Focal Plane Indicator. Why do you need to know where the front of your …

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Filter Size

What Does Filter Size Mean In Photography? In photography filter size Refers to the inner diameter of the front of the lens, more specifically the threads into which a filter is screwed to attach it to the lens. Knowing the the filter size required for your lenses is extremely important as it will allow you to make sure you purchase the correct equipment, and also insure you can pack correctly for any photography outings you have planned. The filter size of a lens is always printed on the end of the lens barrel so that at a glance you can …

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Filter Thread

What Is A Filter Thread? Almost all lenses have a threaded section on the front that allows you to screw on filters to achieve certain effects.  When referring to a lens’ specifications, it should tell you the diameter of the filter thread and then you can purchase your filters in the same diameter.  Common thread sizes include 52mm, 72mm, 77mm and 82mm.  If you have a filter that you would like to use with a lens that has a different filter thread diameter, this can be achieved with a step-down ring that adapts one diameter to another.  If you do …

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Flash Exposure Compensation

What Is Flash Exposure Compensation When Talking About Photography? In photography flash exposure compensation is a feature that allows the photographer to add exposure compensation to output power of their flash units. Flash Exposure Compensation can be + (plus) or – (minus) in increments of 1/3 EV (exposure value). It is important to note that flash exposure compensation effects the flash output only, the cameras exposure settings remain unaffected. This allows a photographer to reduce dynamic range by brightening dark areas of an image without effecting the exposure or brighter areas. Flash exposure compensation can only be used in auto …

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Flash Output Compensation

What Is Flash Output Compensation When Talking About Photography? In photography some cameras offer flash output compensation. Like flash exposure compensation the setting allows you to manually override a flash’s output in situations where automatic or TTL flash metering is not providing the desired results. Flash output compensation is particularly useful in situations where more than one flash unit is being used because it allows the compensation value of each flash to be controlled independently. This allows an experienced photographer to control the lighting level of a scene in multiple directions simultaneously, removing, or moving areas of shadow as required …

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Focus Breathing

What Is Focus Breathing? Focus breathing is term that is used to describe the small change in focal length of a lens that occurs as the focus is adjusted from infinity to MFD, or vice versa. If you look through the viewfinder of your camera and rotate the lens’ focus ring from one extremity to the other, you will see that the lens appears to zoom in or out very slightly.  This change is called focus breathing. For still photography, focus breathing won’t make any difference at all.  Even the most expensive professional grade lenses exhibit focus breathing, and it …

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Focus Puller

What Is A Focus Puller? A focus puller is someone who works alongside the camera operator on video productions to control the focus of a camera’s lens.  Cine lenses for the types of cameras that are often used on major motion pictures and TV commercials, do not have autofocus lenses.  Instead, the lens is manually focussed during the recording.  The focus puller’s job is to carefully watch the take and adjust the focus smoothly as the subject moves around the scene.  Focus marks are often set with sticky tape, on the floor of the set.  The distance of the camera …

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Focus Rail

What Is A Focus Rail? A focus rail is another name for a macro rail.  Please see the more detailed entry about macro rails.   Your browser does not support iFrame.      Additional Reading What Is A Macro Lens? Essential Gear For Macro Photography What Does Focus Throw Mean? What Is Focus Breating?  

Focus Stacking

What is Focus Stacking in Photography? Focus stacking is a technique that blends together multiple images that were shot with varying focal points, to create a single final image with a greater depth of focus. There are two primary reasons for focus stacking: To increase the depth of focus in the image past that which is possible from a specific aperture setting on your lens. To increase sharpness in your image by deliberately shooting your image at an aperture value which provides maximum sharpness, prior to the point of diffraction, even though it doesn’t provide enough depth of focus from …

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Focus Throw

What Does Focus Throw Mean? Focus throw is measured in degrees and represents the amount of rotation needed to turn a lens’ focus ring from its MFD (minimum focus distance) to infinity.  A manual focus lens tends to have a much larger focus than an autofocus lens because this allows a greater degree of accuracy.  Cinema lenses, which are manual focus, all have very long focus throws so as to allow extremely precise focus. In general, you’ll also find that lenses with a very wide maximum aperture also have a long focus throw.  The wider the aperture, the shallower it …

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Follow Focus

What Is A Follow Focus? Autofocus is rarely used in professional film making because the focus mechanisms are not smooth enough to be adjusted while the camera is rolling.  Instead, the focus ring on the lens is rotated manually using a geared hand controller called a follow focus.  Sometimes the follow focus is turned by the camera operator and sometimes there is a dedicated member of the camera crew called a focus puller. All cine lenses are manual focus only, designed to be operated smoothly with a follow focus and they have teeth around the focus ring that mesh with …

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Frames Per Second

 What Does Frames Per Second Mean? Often abbreviated to just FPS, frames per second refers to the speed at which a camera can capture photos.  At the time of writing this definition, Canon’s top-of-the-line pro bodies are capable of capturing up to 14 photos in a single second (14 fps).  Technology is evolving rapidly though, and the chances are pretty good that by the time you read this glossary term, things will have reached an even higher level. Lower end cameras like consumer point and shoots, tend to be much slower at around the 2-3 fps level.  Mid-range DSLRs shoot …

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GAS

What Does GAS Mean in Photography? GAS stands for Gear Acquisition Syndrome and it describes a “condition” that some people have which causes them to want to purchase new camera gear, even when their current camera setup is perfectly good. It must be noted that this is NOT a legitimate medical condition of course 🙂  It’s just a bit of fun, but it is often talked about. GAS usually occurs when a photographer’s chosen camera manufacturer releases a new upgrade to a camera or lens that the photographer already owns.  Up to that point they had been perfectly happy with …

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Gimbal

What Is A Gimbal For A Long Lens? A gimbal is a device that sits on top of your trip and holds your camera and lens in a perfectly balanced position. They are typically used by wildlife photographers to hold heavy super telephoto lenses of 300mm and above.  Big telephoto lenses are hard to hold steady, and the long focal length amplifies any camera shake so it becomes even more important to hold the camera still. Whilst you could use a ballhead, these require locking every time you want to remove your hand from the camera. The major benefit of a …

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GND

What Does GND Stand for in Photography? GND stands for graduated neutral density and is a type of photographic filter that allows a photographer to better control a large dynamic range within an image. Typically made from resin or glass, these filters are rectangular and feature neutral density that transitions from a specific amount, through to zero. GNDs are most commonly created in 100x150mm sizing, but larger sizes are also available from some manufacturers. The rectangular shape means that you can use them in a 100mm filter holder, but adjust them up and down to place the transition over the …

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Grip and Rip

What does the phrase “grip and rip” mean in photography? The phrase “grip and rip” means exactly the same thing as “spray and pray”. It means to set your camera in a fast burst mode, shooting several photos per second, and then to simply hold down the shutter button while hoping to capture the perfect image. The phrase is a bit of a dig that with this technique it could be seen as blind luck rather than skill whether you actually capture a great image. Sometimes it is used in a more beginner/intermediate manner when a photographer is not familiar …

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GUI

What is a GUI On a Camera? GUI stands for Graphical User Interface – pronounced GOO-ey. When relating to cameras, the GUI is the on-screen menu system. Essentially it’s the graphical way of showing the camera settings. Menus, tabs, sub-menus etc. It could also mean the way the camera settings are displayed on the screen during live view shooting. If someone said “Wow, the GUI on Sony cameras is a mess” they mean the user interface (menus) are hard to understand.

Hair Light

What Is A Hair Light In Photography? A hair light is a lighting term that means the same thing as “rim light”.  Please see the rim light glossary terms for more details on why you might want to use a rim light/hair light and exactly what it does.   Additional Reading What Is A Rim Light? Your browser does not support iFrame.   

Halo

What Is a Halo in Photography and Image Editing? If you’ve heard the term “halo” discussed in the context of photo editing, you might be wondering what it means. No, it’s not a ring of light around a person’s head in a photo! A halo is a bright line that can appear in areas of high contrast on a photo when the photo has been subjected to very heavy amounts of editing, particularly HDR editing. An example of a high contrast area would be a dark mountain on a bright sky. The area where the sky meets the mountains is …

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Handgrip

What is a Handgrip on a Camera? The handgrip is a protrusion on the right-hand side of a camera that is ergonomically shaped to be comfortable when held in the hand. This is almost always the primary contact point between the photographer and their camera, so it is sized to make it large enough to grip and hold the weight of the camera. As such, the size of a camera’s handgrip is highly dependant on the weight of the camera. Larger cameras tend to have larger handgrips to make them easier to hold. Small point and shoot cameras barely have …

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HDTV

What Does HDTV Mean in Camera Specifications? HDTV stands for High Definition Television and you might sometimes see this acronym listed amongst the technical jargon in camera specifications. An HDTV is a television with a 16:9 aspect ratio (compared to the older 4:3 aspect ratio) that can display a resolution of at least 720p (1280px x 720px). Most HDTVs either display a resolution of 720p or 1080p (1920px x 1080px), but some newer televisions are now capable of displaying what is commonly known as 4k or Quad HD (4096px x 2160px) – also sometimes written as QFHD (Quad Full HD) …

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Hot Shoe Flash

What Is A Hot Shoe Flash? A hot shoe flash is a flash that can be triggered to fire with the camera’s shutter when it is inserted into a standard hotshoe on top of a camera.  The hotshoe from most camera manufacturers allows two-way communication between camera and flash for adjusting the power and the other settings on the flash.  A hot shoe flash does not have to be in a hot shoe for it to operate though, they can also be triggered by using radio slaves such as PocketWizards, which can be connected to external hot shoe cables.  These cables …

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Image Browser

What is an Image Browser and how is it used in photography? An Image browser is a piece of software specifically designed to allow viewing of digital image files. Modern digital photographers often have catalogues of tens of thousands of digital photographs, an image browser can be used to quickly visually search, organize and delete image files. Image browsers allow images to be organized on the fly using information stored in the image file’s metadata. This allows a photographer to find specific images or types of images extremely quickly, a much better solution that looking through thousands of images one …

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Image Editor

What Is an Image Editor and How Is It Used When Taking Photographs? When talking about photography, an image editor is a piece of computer software which is used to edit a digital image file. Modern editing software, for example Adobe Photoshop, is extremely powerful allowing the quick application of complex editing techniques such as color mapping, masking and retouching in a non destructive environment; changes made to the original digital image file can be undone allowing a photographer to experiment with various techniques to produce a desired image. The pattern of changes made to an image can also be saved …

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Image Quality

What Does Image Quality Mean When Talking About Photography? When talking about photography  the term ‘image quality’ also referred to as ‘IQ’ is characteristic of an image that measures the perceived image degradation (typically, compared to an ideal or perfect image). Factors that affect quality include brightness and evenness of illumination, contrast, resolution, geometry, color fidelity and color discrimination of an observed image. Achieving the highest possible image quality relies not only on using the best available equipment, but also making correct photographic choices. Correct use of exposure, lighting techniques, and post processing techniques all effect the overall quality of …

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Image Stabilization

What Does Image Stabilization Mean When Talking About Photography? When talking about photography ‘image stabilization’ refers to a technique used within camera hardware to reduce the effects of camera shake. There are two main types of image stabilization, lens based and camera based. Lens based image stabilization uses floating lens elements which move independently of the lens barrel to reduce the effects shake. Camera based image stabilization allows the image sensor to move independently to the camera body to mimimize unwanted sensor movement. Image stabilization is extremely helpful in any situations which require longer exposure times, for example when hand …

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Infinity

What Does Infinity Mean When Talking About Cameras and Lenses? When talking about photography, and specifically photographic lenses the term ‘infinity'(∞) refers a focus setting where everything beyond the lens’ ‘hyperfocal distance’ will be in focus. Technically speaking, when a lens is set to infinity focus, rays of light reaching the photographic medium do so completely parallel to each other. In reality this is not quite the case due to limitations in optical manufacturing. Focusing to infinity allows a photographer to quickly ensure that an object beyond the hyperfocal distance is in focus without having to physically check focus through the …

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Infra-Red

What Is Infra-Red and How Is It Used When Taking Photographs? The term ‘infra-red’ refers to a frequency of light invisible to the human eye. Infra-red gets it’s name from its position in the light spectrum, between the red edge of the visible spectrum at 700 nanometers and 1mm. Infra-red light can be used to control photographic equipment, a beam of infra-red light can for example be used to trigger an off camera flash unit. Infra-red light is also used in AF assist illuminates found on flash units; a grid of infra-red light is projected over a subject which helps a …

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Initializing

What Does Initializing Mean When Talking About Photography? When talking about photography, or any activity that uses a digital storage medium, the term ‘initializing’ refers to the process the storage medium goes through to become ready to record new information. Information is stored on a storage medium by assigning values to locations within the available memory; initialization gives each of recordable locations  an initial value, usually zero. Initialization is also referred to as ‘formatting’. If you are intending to re-use a memory card which is already full of data, you would remove all data from the memory card by initializing, …

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Interlaced

What Does Interlaced Mean When Talking About Capturing Videos? When talking about cameras, and specifically recording movies and video, the term ‘interlaced’ refers to a method of capturing moving pictures by splitting an image into two ‘fields’. The odd lines of image sites on the sensors surface are captured first, followed by the even lines. The two fields are then played back as individual frames. Recording interlaced video allows for a reduction in the overall bandwidth required as each frame only contains the information from one field, or half the total image. Interlaced video was widely used in recording for …

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Interlaced Scan

What Does Interlaced-Scan Mean When Talking About Capturing Videos? When talking about cameras, and specifically recording movies and video, the term ‘interlaced-scan’ refers to a method of capturing moving pictures by splitting an image into two ‘fields’. The odd lines of image sites on the sensors surface are captured first, followed by the even lines. The two fields are then played back as individual frames. Recording interlaced video allows for a reduction in the overall bandwidth required as each frame only contains the information from one field, or half the total image. Interlaced video was widely used in recording for …

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Interpolation

What Does it Mean to Interpolate an Image? In simple terms, digital image interpolation is just digital enlargement. If you had a photo with pixel dimensions of 6,000 x 4,000 px, and you used photo editing software to increase the image size of the photo to 10,000 x 6,667 px, this would be an interpolation. In this process you have ended up with more pixels than your camera gave you in the file to begin with, so where exactly do all these new pixels come from? The interpolation process essentially moves existing pixels apart and then inserts new pixels in …

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Intervalometer

What Is an Intervalometer and How Is It Used When Taking Photos? When talking about photography an ‘intervalometer’ also simply known as a ‘timer’ is a device which is used to automatically operate a camera’s shutter at specifically measured intervals of time. Intervalometers are widely employed in time-lapse photography where they are used to record a series of images at specific intervals over a period of time which are joined together in post processing to create a moving picture. Most intervalometers can be attached to a cameras micro-usb port (although some older cameras use proprietary connections) and allow automated capturing …

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Inverse Square Law

What Is the Inverse Square Law and How Is It Used When Taking Photos? The inverse square law is an equation that relates the intensity of a light source to the illumination it produces at a given distance. Light diminishes over distance in accordance with the Inverse square law, which states that doubling the light-to-subject distance reduces the light falling on the subject to one-quarter. The inverse square law can be used to calculate the light output required from a light source when setting up a photographic scene using artificial lighting, the invention of light meters however has mostly illuminated …

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KB

What Does KB Mean When Talking About Photography? The acronym ‘KB’ refers to one ‘kilobyte’, a unit of measurement used to describe the size of a digital file. One kilobyte is comprised of 1,024 bytes of digital information. When a picture is captured on a digital camera the resulting file must be stored on the cameras memory; Depending of the resolution of the captured image, and the file format used to encode it, an image will take up a certain number of kilobytes on the cameras memory. Dividing the total size of a camera’s memory in kilobytes by the size in …

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Kelvin

What Does the Term Kelvin Mean When Talking About Photography? When talking about photography the term ‘kelvin’ refers to the unit of measurement of color temperature. Every source of light emits light at a specific color temperature which can be measured in degrees kelvin or ‘K’. The color temperature of a light source varies from red to blue: Red or ‘warm’ colours are created at low color temperature values, for example a candle which is roughly 1500K. Blue or ‘cold’ colours are created at high color temperature values, for example a camera flash unit is roughly 5000K. Adjusting the white …

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Key Light

What is a Key Light and how is it used when taking photos? When talking about photography the term ‘key light’ refers to the primary source of artificial light being used when shooting a scene or subject. In setups which comprise of more than one source of artificial light the key light is usually the light source which has the largest overall effect on the image subject, highlighting it’s dimensions and overall form. As such the term key light doesn’t refer to a specific type of lighting equipment, it can be anything from a lamp to a camera mounted flash …

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Keystoning

What Does Keystoning Mean When Talking About Photography? The term ‘keystoning’ refers to a type of distortion caused when an image projector is not placed perpendicular to the centerline of the screen onto which an image is being projected. Keystoning is caused by the Keystone effect, the image appears to lean away from the viewer as if it is being projected onto a tilted surface. Many modern image projectors feature keystone correction which compensates for the position of the projector to produce a flat image. The Keystone effect can also be witnessed in photographs; parallel objects shot from above or below …

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Kicker

What Is A Kicker In Photography? A kicker is a lighting term that means the same thing as “rim light”.  Please see the rim light glossary terms for more details on why you might want to use a rim light and exactly what it does.   Additional Reading What Is A Rim Light? What Is A Hair Light?

Kilobyte

What Is a Kilobyte and How Is It Used in Photography? The term ‘kilobyte’ or KB refers to a unit of measurement used to describe the size of a digital file. One kilobyte is comprised of 1,024 bytes of digital information. When a picture is captured on a digital camera the resulting file must be stored on the cameras memory; Depending of the resolution of the captured image, and the file format used to encode it, an image will take up a certain number of kilobytes on the cameras memory. Dividing the total size of a camera’s memory in kilobytes by …

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L-Series

What Is A Canon L Series Lens? Canon’s high-end lenses carry a red ring around the lens barrel, and the famous L Series branding.  These lenses are designed for professional usage and are built to the highest standards, with extreme sharpness and durability in mind.  Most L lenses are weather sealed, meaning they can stand to get reasonably wet before requiring a waterproof cover.  L Series lenses cover the full spectrum of focal lengths, from the incredible groundbreaking 11-24mm f/4 L, right through to the 800mm f/5.6 L IS.  Compared to Canon’s other lenses, L Series lenses tend to focus …

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Lag Time

What Is Lag Time? Lag time in photography is more often referred to as shutter lag.  For a detailed description of what shutter lag is, and why it’s important, please view the shutter lag glossary entry.   Additional Reading What Is Shutter Lag? What Is Burst Rate? What Is Burst Mode?  

landscape

What Is a Landscape When Talking About Taking Photographs? A ‘landscape’ is a specific type of photograph of the land and its surrounding natural features from a single viewpoint. Scenery is the subject of a landscape image. Landscape images are traditionally captured using wide angle lenses set for maximum depth of field, this gives an image a sense of scale. Tripods and long exposure techniques are often used when taking landscape photographs as the narrow apertures required to maximize sharpness and depth of field necessitate the use of long exposure times. Medium format and large format cameras are sometimes used when …

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Large Format

What Is a Large Format Camera When Talking About Photography? When talking about cameras and photography the term ‘large format’ refers to  a camera which records images in a format larger than 4 x 5 inches. The main advantage of large format cameras is their incredible image resolution. A 4 X 5 inch image has roughly 16 times the image area of that produced by a 35mm camera and therefore 16 times the total image resolution. 4 x 5 inches is the most common large format but cameras have been produced which capture images anywhere up to 20 x 24 …

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Latent Image

What Does Latent Image Mean When Talking About Photography? When talking about photography the term ‘latent image’ refers to the invisible image created on a photographic film when the film is exposed to light. The image only becomes visible to the naked eye once the photographic film has been removed from the camera and chemically developed. The latent image is formed by silver atoms clustered on the surface of, or within the silver halide crystals which are in turn coated on the surface of the photographic film. The term latent image has no direct meaning when talking about digital photography.

Lens Coating

What Is a Lens Coating When Talking About Photography? When talking photography and optical lenses a ‘lens coating’ is a coating that is applied to the surface of a lens element which is designed to reduce light reflection and increase light transmission within the lens. Lens coatings are used by lens manufacturers to produce optics that can render an image with the least unwanted optical degradation. The application of lens coatings can be extremely complex and costly, therefore complex multi-layer coatings are normally only found on expensive lenses. One example is the Zeiss T* coating, a multi-coat anti-reflective technology which …

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Lens Collar

What Is A Lens Collar? A lens collar is another name for a tripod collar.  Please click through to the tripod collar page for a more detailed description of what it is, what it does and why you might want to use one.   Additional Reading What Is A Tripod Collar? What Is A Monopod? The Ultimate Guide To Choosing  A Tripod   Your browser does not support iFrame.     

Leveling Head

What is a Leveling Head on a Tripod? A leveling head is something that sits between your tripod head and a tripod, to help you level the head extremely quickly. Without a leveling head it can be tedious and time-consuming to perfectly level a tripod by adjusting the length of the individual legs. For normal photographic purposes, you don’t actually need a perfectly level tripod because you can simply use the ball head of your tripod to level the camera. The difficulty arises when you need a camera to rotate. If the tripod isn’t perfectly level when you rotate a …

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Light Meter

What Is a Light Meter and How Is It Used When Taking Photographs? A ‘light meter’ is a handheld device that used measure or ‘meter’ light. A light meter can read the ambient light in a scene, or the direct light from a light source and calculate the correct shutter speed and aperture values required to capture an accurate exposure. These days nearly all cameras have built in light meters and a number of metering ‘modes’  to calculate exposure settings. A handheld light meter might be used when shooting with older photography equipment or when scouting a location before shooting …

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Light Painting

What Is Light Painting and How Is It Used in Photography? A ‘light painting’ is an image that is created by capturing a long exposure of a dark scene that contains a moving light source. By moving the light source within the scene whilst the photographic medium is being exposed the photographer is able to produce an effect which resembles the brush strokes made by an artist’s paint brush, only composed entirely of light. A classic example of a light painting is writing your name using a sparkler at a firework display. Light Paintings can be created by capturing any …

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Light Tent

What Is a Light Tent and How Is It Used When Taking Photographs? A light tent is a translucent fabric tent which diffuses incoming light, any objects placed within the tent will not exhibit surface reflection. If you have ever wanted to take a photograph of a highly reflective object without capturing any reflections from the object’s surface then a light tent would help you to achieve the image you require. Light tents are often used when photographing jewellery or precious stones for product catalogues. Using macrophotography techniques along with a light tent can produce extremely detailed images without distracting surface …

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Light Trail

What Is a Light Trail When Talking About Taking Photographs? The term ‘light trail’ refers to the phenomenon caused by photographing a moving source of light using an exposure setting which is to slow to freeze it in place. The result is a point of light with a trail stretching from its final position within the image to its point of origin. One example of a light trail is the ‘star trails’ captured when taking a long exposure of the night sky in astrophotography. Light trails give an image a sense of speed and movement and require the use of …

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Live View

What Is Live View and How Is It Used When Taking Photographs? When talking about digital cameras the term ‘live view’ refers to a mode which allows a photographer to view the photographic sensor output in almost realtime on the camera’s LCD screen. In live view mode the photographer sees what the lens is seeing, including the effects of any changes in exposure settings. In DSLR’s live view requires the camera’s mirror to be lifted, this can limit autofocus functionality in cameras with dedicated phase detection autofocus sensors. This is overcome to some extent in cameras that use dual pixel …

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Long Exposure

What Is Long Exposure Photography? In what you might term ‘regular photography’, with your camera in an automatic or semi-automatic exposure mode, you’re likely working with a shutter speed of somewhere between 1/60 of a second and 1/4000 of a second.  These kind of shutter speeds tend to cover most normal situations, from bright sunlight at midday, to occasional indoor shooting. Long exposure photography is when we are using a much longer shutter speed, and it’s usually used as a specific technique to achieve a certain effect.  There’s no defined transition point at which a shutter speed becomes slow enough …

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Lossless

What Does Lossless Mean When Talking About Image Editing? The term ‘lossless’ refers to a form of non-destructive compression which can be applied to a digital file so that it takes up less space than it would in its original format. This allows for more images to be stored on a storage medium. The advantage of lossless compression, and where it gets it’s name from, is that no data is lost during compression. This is particularly important when storing digital photographs as they contain a lot of data which is required to render them correctly.  One example of a form …

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Lossy

What Does Lossy Mean? Lossy is the opposite of lossless and it means that when a digital image is compressed, some of the image’s data and detail is lost.  JPEGs are a type of lossy compression, and whilst we can control how much a JPEG is compressed by when we save it, there is always a loss.  Sometimes the loss is imperceptible if we use high quality settings, but it’s there!   Additional Reading What Is A JPEG? What Does Lossless Mean?     Example JPEG save screen that allows the choice of how lossy we want the image saving process to …

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Low Key

What Does Low Key Mean When Talking About Taking Photos? Have you ever heard a photographer describe a photograph as being ‘low key’ and wondered exactly what they meant? When talking about photographs a low key picture is a picture which contains a lot of shadows and darker tones, and therefore very little in the way of highlights and visible detail. Low key images often appear dark and brooding with an almost palpable sense of menace, but can also be extremely powerful. Low key images also often leave a lot of detail hidden in the shadows, allowing the viewers imagination to …

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Low Pass Filter

What Is a Low Pass Filter and How Is It Used in Photography? A low pass filter, also known as an ‘anti-aliasing’ filter or a ‘blur filter’ is a filter used by camera manufacturers to combat the effects of moiré in photographs. Moiré is caused when a a scene contains closely spaced repeating patterns, camera manufacturers combat this phenomenon by limiting the amount of light that is allowed into the camera, thus reducing the detail recorded in the resulting photograph. A low pass filter allows low frequencies of light to enter the camera, whilst limiting the amount of high frequency light …

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LR

What Does LR Stand For In Photography? LR is an abbreviation for Adobe Lightroom, a powerful image organization and editing software.  You may also see it referred to as LR5, LR6 and so on, depending on which version of the software they are using. Lightroom allows you to import and organize your images, then process them with Adobe’s Camera Raw Engine from Photoshop, and export the files to galleries or custom printed books.  It’s available as a standalone piece of software, or as part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud photography package for about $10/month including Photoshop CC as well. If you …

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Macro Lens

What Is a Macro Lens Used for When Taking Photographs? A macro lens is lens designed for macro, or close-up photography. Macro lenses feature extremely small minimum focusing distances meaning they are capable of focusing on objects that are extremely close to the lens. A good Macro lens should feature a 1:1 magnification ratio for taking highly detailed, life sized images of subjects. Macro lenses use optical formula specifically designed to render close objects in extreme detail and as such are not particularly versatile; Due to the small minimum focusing distances macro lenses have an extremely narrow depth of field, …

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Macro Photography

What Does Macro Photography Mean When Talking About Taking Photos? The term ‘macro photography’ describes the art of taking close-up photographs of subjects. Traditionally for a photograph to be considered a true macro photograph the subject should be rendered  as life-sized or larger than life-sized. A lot of modern cameras feature a ‘macro mode’ which allows the camera to achieve focus on an object at extremely short distances, but this generally doesn’t allow for the minimum 1:1 magnification ratio required for a true macro photograph. True macro photography requires the use of a macro lens which combines high levels of …

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Macro Rail

What Is A Macro Rail? A macro rail is a mechanical rail system that allows you to move a camera fore and aft, or left and right, in extremely small and precise movements.  Depth of field can be incredibly thin when working at close distances with a macro lens.  Precise focus can be tricky to achieve, but with a macro rail, and the help of live view, it’s easy to fine tune the exact point of focus.  A system of gears ensures that you have incredibly precise and repeatable control.  Given the shallow depths of field in macro photography, focus …

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Magnetic Storage

What Is Magnetic Storage When Talking About Photography? When talking about photography, magnetic storage refers to a form of storage in which information is recorded on a magnetised plate within a storage device. The data is stored by applying different levels of magnetism to different areas of a magnetic plate using a write head. This information can then be read at a later time by a read head which can measure the levels of magnetism applied to the plate. Magnetic storage is non-volatile and can be found in the hard drives which you use to store your digital images. Magnetic …

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Manual Mode

What Is Manual Mode For On A Camera? Manual mode on a camera allows the photographer to determine the exposure of an image by letting them select an aperture value and a shutter speed value.  This give you ultimate control over the look of the photo, but you must have a deep understanding of exposure, and how shutter speed and aperture affect it. When most people start out with photography, they let the camera work out the correct exposure in a fully automatic mode.  On a DSLR, this mode is often labelled with a P, for “Program”.  As knowledge of …

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Masking

What Is Masking and How Is It Used When Editing Photos? When talking about editing and processing images the term ‘masking’ refers to the practice of using a mask to protect a specific area of an image, just as you would use masking tape when painting your house. Masking an area of an image protects that area from being altered by changes made to the rest of the image. Using masks in image editing allows you to preserve portions of an image that you are satisfied with whilst simultaneously altering aspects of the rest of the image such as overall …

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Maximum Aperture

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 …

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MB

What Is an MB and How Is It Used in Photography? The acronym MB stands for ‘megabyte’ and refers to a unit of measurement used to describe the size of a digital file. One MB is comprised of 1,024,000 bytes, or 1,024 kilobytes of digital information. When a picture is captured on a digital camera the resulting file must be stored on the cameras memory; Depending of the resolution of the captured image, and the file format used to encode it, an image will take up a certain number of MB on the cameras memory. Dividing the total size of …

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Medium Format

What Is Medium Format When Talking About Photography? In photography the term ‘medium format’ refers to a type of film or digital image sensor that is larger than 35mm ‘full-frame’, but smaller than 4″x5″ ‘large format’.  the majority of medium format film is produced in what is known as ‘120 roll’ measuring 6cm x 6cm. Medium format cameras are favoured by some photographers due to their extremely high image quality, often seeing use in military intelligence applications.  Traditionally medium format cameras are much larger than their 35mm counterparts but 2016 saw the release of the relatively small Hasselblad X1D, the …

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Megabyte

What Is a Megabyte and How Is It Used in Photography? the term ‘megabyte’ or MB refers to a unit of measurement used to describe the size of a digital file. One megabyte is comprised of 1,024,000 bytes, or 1,024 kilobytes of digital information. When a picture is captured on a digital camera the resulting file must be stored on the cameras memory; Depending of the resolution of the captured image, and the file format used to encode it, an image will take up a certain number of megabytes on the cameras memory. Dividing the total size of a camera’s …

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Metadata

What Does the Term Metadata Mean When Talking About Photography? Metadata when related to digital photography refers to a set of data that describes an individual image file. Metadata is stored when an image is taken and can contain information on where and when an image was captured, specific exposure information, and even information related to image ownership and copyright. The amount of metadata captured alongside an image can be defined within a cameras settings allowing a photographer to taylor the metadata recorded to their specific needs. In post processing and image storage metadata can be used to filter and …

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Metering

What Is Metering and How Is It Used in Cameras? When talking about cameras and taking photographs ‘metering’ describes the process a camera uses to automatically determine the correct exposure settings for a capturing a photograph. Incoming light is read or ‘metered’ by the camera’s onboard software and exposure settings are calculated based on the read values. A camera can usually be set to one of three of metering methods; Matrix Metering, Spot metering and Center-weighted metering. Each will produce a different exposure so selecting the appropriate metering method for a given scene is extremely important when considering how you want …

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MF

What Does MF Mean On A Camera? MF is an abbreviation for manual focus.  When a camera or lens has MF written on the side of it, it’s usually indicating the position of a switch that will change the camera or lens from manual focus mode to autofocus mode.  In manual focus mode, you must rotate the focus ring on the lens to achieve correct focus on your subject.  In autofocus mode, the camera will attempt to focus on the correct subject for you. Secondary meaning: Medium Format (MF) – This refers to film or digital cameras where the image capture …

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MFD

What Does MFD Stand for in Photography and What Does It Mean? MFD stands for ‘Minimum Focusing Distance’. It is the minimum distance between a camera sensor or film, and image subject, at which a lens is able to focus on the image subject. MFD can be measured in meters or inches and is often marked on a lenses barrel. Knowledge of the MFD of a lens allows a photographer to make the right creative choices when positioning himself in relation to close subjects ensuring the required image sharpness is achieved. In situations where capturing the image you want requires …

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Mic (microphone)

What Is a Mic and How Is It Used When Capturing Digital Video? A Mic, or Microphone is a device designed to capture and convert sound into a digital signal so that it can be recorded to a storage medium. A digital camera which is able to record audio must have  built-in mic in order to do so, built-in mics are generally low quality but allow the simultaneous recording of audio and video without the need for external equipment. Many higher end cameras now have a dedicated mic input port which allows the for use of higher quality, external audio …

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Micro Lenses

What Are Micro Lenses When Talking About Photography? When you think about a digital camera you probably imagine a body mounted with a single lens, the truth however is that a modern camera actually uses many (sometimes tens of millions!) of tiny lenses called Micro Lenses to help the camera sensor capture light. Micro lenses are normally mounted on top of the light-gathering portion of pixels on the camera sensor to direct light onto the individual pixels. They can also be angled along the edges of a camera sensor in order to capture and redirect light back into the sensor’s …

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Midtone

What Does Midtone Mean When Talking About Photographs? When talking about photographs and photography there are three areas of ‘tone’ within the total range of color in an image, The Highlights contain the brightest tones, the Shadows contain the darkest, and the midtones contain everything in between. In general terms the midtones usually account for the middle 50% of the total tonal depth of an image (25%-75%), with highlights and shadows accounting for the 25% each each end of the tonal range. Altering the balance between the three tonal areas of an image can have a dramatic impact on the overall …

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Minimum Aperture

What Does Minimum Aperture Mean When Talking About Cameras and Lenses? The term ‘minimum aperture’ refers to the smallest possible hole that can be formed by the aperture blades in a photographic lens. Generally at it’s minimum aperture a lens will produce extremely sharp images with a wide depth of field, but will allow a much reduced amount of light to strike the photographic medium. A lens with an minimum aperture of f/64 for example would produce extremely sharp images with a very wide depth of field. The minimum aperture of a lens is usually listed in the lens’ specifications …

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Mix-Minus

A mix-minus is a term that is often used in a podcast or live video production. It refers to a specifically mixed audio signal that is sent back to a remote guest or caller on the podcast or live stream. The mix-minus allows them to listen to any other hosts or guests, without hearing themselves as a delayed echo. While the audio mix for the show must contain all the audio tracks from all hosts and remote guests, the mix-minus that gets sent back to the remote guest does not contain their own incoming audio signal. It is essentially the …

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Monopod

What Is A Monopod? A monopod is a camera support that has just one single leg.  They are collapsible, and usually come in different heights with different numbers of collapsible sections.  Most popular are 3-section or 4-section monopods, but you can sometimes find ones with even more.  The more sections a monopod has, the smaller its full collapsed length is, but this is at the expense of some rigidity as the sections get thinner and thinner.   Your browser does not support iFrame.      Monopods are an excellent way to support a camera when it isn’t practical to carry …

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Movie Clip

What Is a Movie Clip When Talking About Cameras and Photography? A ‘movie clip’ is motion sequence captured in AVI, MOV or MPEG formats. Movie clips can be recorded on most digital cameras using the camera’s ‘movie mode’ which is usually accessed by pressing a dedicated button. When recording in movie mode a camera will capture both video and sound to a digital video file stored on the cameras onboard memory. Most point and shoot cameras do not allow control of exposure settings whilst recording video and often suffer from the recording of unwanted sound such as lens zoom and focusing motors. …

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Movie Mode

What Does Movie Mode Mean When Talking About Cameras and Photography? When talking about modern digital cameras ‘movie mode’ refers to a camera mode specifically designed for capturing moving pictures. Movie mode can be found on most digital cameras, from basic point and shoot cameras all the way up to professional DSLR’s and is usually accessed by pressing a dedicated button. When recording in movie mode a camera will capture both video and sound to a digital video file stored on the cameras onboard memory. Many point and shoot cameras do not allow control of exposure settings whilst recording video and …

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MP-E

What Is An MP-E Lens? There is but one MP-E lens in Canon’s lineup at the time of writing this glossary, and that is the MP-E 65mm f/2.8.  It is unique in that it is the lens highest magnification DSLR lens on the planet, reaching a staggering 5x, compared to a standard 1x on a regular macro lens.  In other words, objects can be displayed on the sensor at 5 times their relative size.  It makes it a perfect lens for insect photography and has the ability to turn everyday objects into extremely interesting photo subjects. Only MP-E lens: Canon 65mm f/2.8 …

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MTF Chart

What Is An MTF Chart? MTF stands for Modulation Transfer Function and an MTF chart is a chart that plots the optical performance of a lens across the the image, from the centre to the corner. Various lines on the chart depict the lens’ performance in both contrast and resolution, and it’s the combination of these two things that give us what we might call perceived sharpness. A lens only looks sharp when there is a good balance of both contrast AND resolution, even though most people don’t typically think so much about the contrast side of things. The x-axis of …

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Multi-Pattern Metering

What Is Multi-Pattern Metering and What Is It Used for When Taking Photographs? ‘Multi-pattern metering’ refers to a metering mode selectable on a camera which is designed to meter a scene accurately in challenging lighting situations. Multi-pattern metering reads light levels in multiple areas or ‘zones’ within a scene and compares the results to calculate exposure settings that will produce the clearest exposure of in focus areas. Multi-pattern metering is particularly useful in challenging lighting situations, for example backlit subjects. In this situation multi-pattern metering can ‘sense’ the difference in light between the subject and background and compensate for a …

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Multi-Point Focusing

What Is Multi-Point Focusing and How Is It Used in Photography? Modern cameras often have multiple focus points spread across an active area of the cameras frame. This allows a photographer to compose a scene and then select the single focus point closest to the position to the scene subject, or alternatively to focus on the subject using the center focus point and then recompose. Multi-point focusing allows the shooter to select a starting focus point, but the camera will automatically track a subject within a frame as they move, thus utilizing multiple focus points. This technique is particularly handy …

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Multi-Zone Focusing

What Is Multi-Zone Focusing and How Is It Used When Taking Photos? ‘Multi-Zone focusing’ is an auto focusing mode which determines which zone within a scene (center, upper left, right, lower left, right) should be used for determining an images focus point. Multi-zone focusing is often used in point and shoot cameras to determine where in a frame the image subject is, the camera will then perform auto focusing based on a point in the zone within which it determines the subject is located. Multi-zone focusing is not always completely accurate, often becoming confused when a scene contains multiple objects …

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MultiMedia Card (MMC)

What Is a MultiMedia Card and How Is It Used in Digital Photography? A MultiMedia Card, also known as an MMC, is a form of solid-state memory introduced by SanDisk in 1997. Measuring 24 mm × 32 mm × 1.4 mm a MultiMedia Card is similar in size and shape to an SD card. MultiMedia cards have been used in many digital cameras since their introduction. The introduction of the SD card has seen a decline in use of the MultiMedia Card, but many devices with an SD card slot support the use of MultiMedia Cards so there is no need to throw …

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Multiple Exposure

What Is a Multiple Exposure and How Is It Used When Taking Photographs? A ‘multiple exposure’ is a type of photograph that is created by exposing the same frame of film to light more than once. Multiple exposures allow a photographer to superimpose one subject or scene over another on the same frame of a photograph. Think of the classic ghost photograph, often caused by forgetting to wind on an analogue camera between shots thus creating a ghostly multiple exposure image! Multiple exposures can also be created digitally, although this is done during post processing by overlaying multiple photography over …

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Narrow Lighting

What Is Narrow Lighting and How Is It Used When Taking Photographs? Narrow lighting is a lighting technique commonly used in portrait photography, and is used to control how wide a subject appears to the viewer. For the technique to work the main light source of a scene must be illuminating the side of the subjects face which is facing away from the camera, doing so places the side of the nose facing the camera in shadow which creates the illusion of the subject being narrower in appearance. Narrow lighting can be achieved by careful placement of supplementary light sources or …

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Natural Light

What Is Natural Light and How Can It Be Used When Taking Photographs? Depending on the scene you are shooting ‘Natural light’ can be your best friend, or your worst enemy. The term natural light refers to any natural sources of light illumination a scene i.e. any light that is not artificially created. The most obvious source of ambient light is the Sun, at sunrise and sunset it will bring a scene alive with warm tones punctuated by subtle shadows and soft detail, at high noon it will wash out your photographs with overwhelming highlights and deep impenetrable shadows. the …

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ND

What Does ND Stand for in Photography? ND stands for neutral density and is used to describe a type of photographic filter that diminishes the amount of light transmission through a lens.  A neutral density filter is designed to be as close to color-neutral as possible, so the only effect that it should have is to cut down the amount of light that is hitting your camera’s sensor or film. You might want to do this in order be able to use a wider aperture on a sunny day, to maintain a shallow depth of field, or you might do …

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Neutral Density Filter

What Is a Neutral Density Filter in Photography? A filter used in front of the lens that absorbs all visible wavelengths and significantly reduces the amount of light that reaches the sensor. Neutral density filters are particularly useful in situations where excess ambient light does not allow you to use the shutter speed and aperture you require to achieve a desired photographic effect. One example would be photographing daytime seascapes where you wish to use a long exposure time to allow blurring of the water to create a sense of dynamic movement.   F-Stop Reduction Optical Density Filter Factor % …

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NiCad

What Does NiCad Mean and How Is It Related to Cameras and Photography? When talking about cameras and photography equipment NiCad is the name given to a common type of rechargeable battery. NiCad batteries were one of the first successful standards of rechargeable batteries used in digital cameras. NiCad stands for ‘nickel-cadium’ and relates to the materials used within the battery to provide an electrical output. Nikel-cadium batteries have now widely been superseded by NiMH batteries which typically hold two or three times the charge capacity of their NiCad counterparts. NiCad batteries are however still available for equipment originally designed …

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Nifty fifty

What does Nifty Fifty mean when talking about cameras and photography? The term ‘nifty fifty’ is a photography colloquialism for a cheap 50mm prime lens, usually with a maximum aperture of f/1.8 or faster. Lenses in this range are fast, lightweight and extremely versatile for street and portrait photography. The ‘nifty’ feature is the price; These f/1.8 and f/1.4 50mm lenses often have a relatively simple optical formula with fewer elements than their more complex counterparts. This makes a ‘nifty fifty’ one best value pieces of glass you can add to your kit as a beginner who is looking to …

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NiMH

What Does NiMH Mean and How Is It Related to Cameras and Photography? When talking about modern cameras the acronym NiMH is the name given to a common type of rechargeable battery found in many digital cameras and flash units. NiMH stands for ‘nickel-metal hydrate’ and relates to the materials used within the battery to provide an electrical output. NiMH batteries typically have two or three times the charge capacity of their NiCad counterparts making them an excellent choice for power sapping equipment such as speedlights. NiMH batteries are available in common battery sizes such as AAA or AAA and …

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Non-Volatile Memory

What Is Non-Volatile Memory and How Is It Used in Photography? Non-volatile memory is a type of memory that is not erased when the system within which it is contained is powered down. As such non-volatile memory makes an excellent medium for long-term storage of digital data. Volatile memory such as RAM is the other primary type of memory and is erased when powered down. As a photographer you will encounter types of non-volatile memory all the time; the computer hard drives, SD and Compact Flash memory cards that photographs are stored on are all forms of non-volatile memory, digital …

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Normal Lens

What Is a Normal Lens and How Is It Used When Taking Photos? A ‘normal lens’ is a Lens with a focal length approximately equal to the diagonal of the film format or of a digital camera’s image sensor. A scene viewed through a normal lens appears to have the same perspective as the way your eye sees it. Most 35mm cameras normal lenses have a focal length of approximately 50 mm. Normal lenses are extremely popular with street photographers because the perspective captured in an image shot with a normal lens will be extremely true to life, having the effect …

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NTSC

What Is NTSC and How Does It Relate to Photography and Video? NTSC is an analogue video standard widely used in the Americas and Japan before the coming of the digital television era. Named after the ‘National Television System Committee’ NTSC dates back to 1941 when the first black and white NTSC system was implemented, NTSC color followed in 1953. The NTSC standard features a refresh rate of 30 frames per second, with each frame being composed of two fields consisting of 262.5 scan lines. NTSC was extremely popular until the late 1990’s when it began to be superseded by …

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OOF

What Does OOF Mean In Photography? OOF or Oof stands for Out Of Focus and it means that the area of the image is not within the depth of field for your given combination of aperture, focal length and distance from subject.  Sharp, fine details will be lost and your image will look ‘soft’ or blurry, at least in part. If your subject is OOF then you’ve got a problem!  But OOF can also be used to describe the background or foreground of an image as well.  For example, someone might say “the image has a pleasingly OOF background”, meaning the area behind …

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Opacity

What Does Opacity Mean When Talking About Photography? Opacity is the measure of an objects impenetrability to electromagnetic radiation. When talking about photography the term is used to describes exactly how much an object blocks light from passing through it. An object that completely blocks light is called opaque, no light is able to pass through it. The opposite of opaque is transparent. Many opaque objects will reflect light which can be problematic when taking photos. Knowing the opacity of objects is also very important when designing lenses; lens elements despite very low opacity values will still block small amounts …

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Open Up

What Does Open up Mean When Talking About Taking Photographs? When taking photographs to ‘open up’ or ‘opening up’ refers to the practice of allowing more light to be recorded by a photographic medium for example a camera film or sensor. Opening up can be done in one of two ways; By selecting a larger aperture setting on a lens, or setting a longer exposure time on a camera. Both methods allow more light to be captured by the film or image sensor but have different creative effects. The challenge of of capturing a good photograph is knowing which method …

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Optical Resolution

What Does Optical Resolution Mean When Talking About Photography and Cameras? When talking about cameras and photography the term ‘optical resolution’ describes the total resolution that a digital camera, or optical device such as a scanner is able to capture. The optical resolution is expressed in megapixels or MP, with each megapixel being a total of one million pixels. A camera with an optical resolution of 24.2MP therefore is able to record an image which contains a total of 24200000 pixels. Shot in an image ratio of 3:2 a 24.2MP image would have a resolution of 6016 x 4016  and …

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Optical Storage

What Is Optical Storage and how Is it Used in Photography? Optical storage is a storage medium where information is stored on a material that is able to be read optically. Information is stored by marking the optically readable material, and can then be read by shining a laser onto the previously recorded areas. Measurement of whether the light is reflected of absorbed allows a digital readout to be produced which can then be converted back into the original data. Examples of optical storage are CDs and DVDs which you might use to store digital images. Optical storage formats are traditionally …

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Optical Viewfinder

What Is an Optical Viewfinder and How Is It Used When Taking Photographs? When talking about cameras and photography the term ‘optical viewfinder’ (or OVF) refers to a component of a camera which a photographer looks through to view the scene in front of the camera. In a rangefinder the optical viewfinder uses its own lens to display an offset image of the scene being viewed, in an SLR type camera a mirror and system of prisms are used to allow the shooter to see the scene as it appears through the lens of the camera. An optical viewfinder is …

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Optical Zoom

What does Optical Zoom mean when talking about photography? When talking about photography the term ‘optical zoom’ refers to a specific type of lens which allows a photographer to alter the magnification ratio by changing the distance between groups of optical elements within the lens. The zoom ratio of an optical zoom lens is often controlled by rotating the front portion of the lens, this manipulates a mechanism within the lens which moves elements within the lens barrel. On smaller cameras the zoom ratio may be controlled electronically using a motor. Importantly, the focus settings of a lens are not …

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ORF

What Is and ORF File and How Is It Used in Photography and Image Editing? The acronym ORF stands for ‘Olympus RAW file’ and is Olympus’ proprietary version of a RAW photographic file. As such an ORF file contains only uncompressed or lossless photographic data with no editing. ORF files are what are captured on a compatible Olympus camera when a photographer wants to capture the highest levels of photographic information for manipulation in post-processing. ORF files are compatible with Olympus’ own image editing software and major editing suites such as Photoshop using the ORF plug-in. Due to the amount …

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Orientation Sensor

 What Is an Orientation Sensor and How Is Is Used in a Camera? When talking about modern cameras an ‘orientation sensor’ is a sensor within a camera which can detect when a photographer switches the camera from a landscape to a portrait orientation. An orientation sensor us usually a type of basic accelerometer which can only detect major changes in orientation. They allow camera display information to be rotated to remain readable by the shooter regardless of whether they are holding the camera vertically of horizontally. Orientation sensors are also used during image playback to allow the user to switch …

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Overexposure

What Does Overexposure Mean When Talking About Photography? When talking about photography the term ‘overexposure’ describes what happens when a photographic medium is exposed to incoming light for too long. The resulting image will be ‘overexposed’ and appear extremely bright with highlights appearing ‘blown’ and detail often being completely lost amongst patches of pure white. Overexposure is problematic in situations where a scene contains detail in both light and dark areas; Exposing the image to capture detail in shadows will often result in overexposed light areas, often exposing for both light and dark is impossible without using some form of …

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Palette

What Does Palette Mean When Talking About Photography and Image Editing? Also referred to as ‘color palette’ the term ‘palette’ describes the entire range of colors that can be rendered by a digital device such as a camera LCD or a computer monitor. A computer monitor may have a color palette of 16 million colors, an image on the other hand often contains a much smaller number, typically 256. The term is also used to describe a collection of colors, usually displayed graphically in RGB triplets, which a user can select when editing images and re-touching photos. A palette, or …

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Panning

What Is Panning and How Can It Be Used When Taking Photographs? When talking about shooting still images ‘Panning’ refers to a technique that is used to capture a moving subject against a blurred background. By setting a relatively slow shutter speed and tracking a moving subject with the camera a photographer is able to freeze a moving subject in motion, the sideways movement of the camera and the slow shutter speed cause the background to appear blurred. One example would be a race car travelling at high speed, by panning and allowing the background and turning wheels to blur, …

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Parfocal

What Does Parfocal Mean When Talking About Camera Lenses? When talking about photography and photographic lenses a ‘parfocal’ lens is a zoom lens that maintains focus when the focal length of the lens is altered. The opposite of a parfocal lens is a ‘varifocal’ lens. Parfocal lenses are extremely convenient because they allow a photographer to quickly alter their perspective of a scene without having to refocus. The advent of autofocus lenses and digital cameras has somewhat overcome the problems caused by using varifocal lenses as camera software is able to quickly and automatically refocus an image when lens focal …

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PC Card

What Is a PC Card and How Is It Used in Photography? A PC Card or ‘Printed Circuitboard Card’ is a credit card sized card which can be used to expand the available memory or storage space in a digital device such as a computer. When talking about photography PC Cards could be used in a number of ways. If your computer has PC Card slots then you could use PC Cards to add extra storage space to your device, this could then be used to store your photographs. You could also use a PC card to move photographs between …

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PCMCIA

What Is a PCMCIA Card and How Is It Used in Photography? A PCMCIA (Personal Computer Memory Card International Association)  Card or ‘Printed Circuitboard Card’ is a credit card sized card which can be used to expand the available memory or storage space in a digital device such as a computer. When talking about photography PC Cards could be used in a number of ways. If your computer has PC Card slots then you could use PC Cards to add extra storage space to your device, this could then be used to store your photographs. You could also use a …

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Perspective

What Does Perspective Mean When Talking About Photography? When talking about taking photographs the term ‘perspective’ describes the positional relationship between the photographer and the subject or scene being captured. The angle at which the photographer views the scene is called their perspective. If you were to stand on the roof of a building and shoot a subject below you you would be shooting from a high perspective, if you were lying on the ground shooting a subject above you you would be shooting from a low perspective. Choosing the best perspective when setting up a scene is a key element …

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Perspective Control Lens

What Is A Perspective Control Lens? Perspective Control is the name that Nikon gives to its tilt-shift lenses. For more detailed information on how they work and why you might want to use one, please view the tilt-shift lens glossary entry. Your browser does not support iFrame.      Additional Reading What Is A Tilt-Shift Lens? What Is A Macro Lens?  

Photo

What Is the Meaning of the Word Photo and How Is It Used When Talking About Photography? The word ‘photo’ comes from the Greek word for light, and when talking about photography it is used to describe a single image. When you take a picture using a camera you are capturing a photo. A photo may also be referred to as a ‘photograph’, this is a combination of the Greek words for light and drawing; A photograph is a drawing made of light. Someone who takes photos using a camera is a ‘photographer’ or someone who draws with light. The …

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Photo Slave

What is a photo slave is and how it is used when taking photographs? When talking about photography, specifically lighting, a ‘photo slave’ is a flash unit set to slave mode which will fire when it detects the output of another flash unit. a photo slave can be triggered by a cameras built in flash unit, or another flash unit in a group when you don’t have enough flash receivers for the lighting setup you are using. The biggest limitation of photo slaves and slave mode is that they require direct line of sight between the slave unit and another flash, this …

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PictBridge

What is PictBridge and How It Is Used in Cameras and Photography? When talking about cameras and photography the term ‘PictBridge’ refers to a photography industry standard which allows digital images to be printed directly from a digital camera without having to first be uploaded to a PC. PictBridge was introduced in 2003 and has been widely adopted by both camera and printer manufacturers; Digital images are printed by connecting a camera to a printer using a USB cable, the image is then selected by the user, which is in turn retrieved by the printer and printed.

PIM

What Does PIM Stand for When Talking About Photography? When talking about photography, and more specifically printing photos the acronym PIM stands for ‘Print Image Matching’. Print Image Matching was developed by Epsom in the early 2000’s to overcome differences between the appearance of images as seen on a digital display, such as a camera LCD, and their appearance once printed. The PIM protocol allows manufactures to provide camera specific information to enable PIM compatible printers to render a print of the highest possible quality for specific cameras and exposure settings. PIM information is stored in an image’s EXIF metadata file …

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Pin-Cushioning

What Is Pin-Cushioning and How Does It Effect Photography and Photographs? When talking about photography and taking photographs the term ‘pin-cushioning’ refers to a kind of distortion which makes images appear ‘pinched’ in the middle. The term gets its name from the effect pushing a pin into a pin-cushion has on its appearance. Pin-cushioning is a problem associated mainly with cheap telephoto zoom lenses such as those found on point and shoot cameras. The effects of pin-cushioning can be corrected in post-processing or by using higher quality equipment. The opposite of pin-cushioning is ‘barrel distortion’ which causes an image to …

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Pixel

What Is a Pixel and What Does It Mean When Talking About Photography? When talking about digital images, or methods of displaying digital images a ‘pixel’ is the smallest component within a digital image. Pixel stands for ‘picture element’, they are the individual components that collectively recreate the image captured with your digital camera on a computer monitor. Image resolution is measured by the total number of pixels within an image; A VGA image for example has a resolution of 640×480 pixels  (total of 307200 pixels), the higher the number of pixels the higher the resolution of an image, or …

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Pixel Density

What Is Pixel Density and How Does It Relate to Photography? Pixel density is a measure of the number of pixels contained in measured area. Often measured in PPI ‘Pixels per Inch’ or DPI ‘Dots per Inch’ pixel density in photography is a measurement of an image or sensor’s resolution and is dependant on the size of the pixels being measured. Pixel density is especially useful when printing an image. If we were to rely on the true image resolution, for example 640 x 480 pixels, but printed two images of different sizes, the true resolution of 640 x 480 …

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Pixel peeper

What Does Pixel Peeper Mean When Talking About Photography? No, a pixel peeper isn’t a fancy device used to examine the quality of individual pixels! It is in fact a type of photographer, specifically one who spends the majority of their time examining their images at pixel level, searching for the tiniest instances of noise and softness or image defects whilst completely overlooking the image as a whole. Pixel peeping has its place, but an image perfectly exposed and rendered down to the level of each individual pixel will still look crumby if it is incorrectly composed, or contains a …

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Pixelization

What Does Pixelization Mean When Talking About Photographs and Photography? When talking about photography, specifically digital photography and image processing ‘pixelization’ is the deterioration of a low-resolution image caused by a lack of enough pixels to render an image smoothly. When an image becomes pixilized the human eye is able to determine individual pixels within an image, making the image look fake or overly digitized. Printing an image at a low DPI will result in the image becoming Pixelated, as will aggressively up-sampling an image. Pixelization does however have a useful function; It is often employed to censor images so …

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PocketWizard

What Is A PocketWizard PocketWizard is a brand of radio slaves that was instrumental in emergence of the “strobist” movement of off-camera flash photography. Their products became so ubiquitous that, like companies such as Hoover and Coca Cola, their brand name is often used to describe the product genre and not necessarily just the brand and their own products. Radio slaves allow a flash to be fired remotely by attaching a radio transmitter to the camera’s hot shoe, and a matching receiver to the remotely positioned flash or studio strobe.  The range of a PocketWizard can be several hundred metres, …

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Point And Shoot

What Is a Point and Shoot Camera and How Is Is Used to Take Photographs? When talking about cameras and taking photographs the term ‘point and shoot’ refers to a camera which employs high levels of automation to make the process of capturing a photograph as simple as possible for the photographer. The ideal point and shoot camera only requires the shooter to compose the shot and then capture the scene by firing the camera’s shutter. The camera determines exposure, auto focus, and flash settings automatically based on the light entering the camera’s lens. Point and shoot cameras often allow …

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Polarized Light

What Is Polarized Light and How Does It Effect Photography? When the vibrations effecting a wave of light are restricted to a single plane the light in question is referred to as being ‘polarized’. Light can become polarized when reflecting off a non-metallic surface or passing through certain mediums such as water. When taking photographs polarized light can often produce unwanted glare from reflective surfaces, prevent the observation of underwater objects within a scene, or cause skies to appear to overly bright. The issues associated with unwanted polarized light can be controlled by using a ‘polarizing filter’ which absorbs polarized light …

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Polarizing Filter

What Is a Polarizing Filter and How Is It Used When Taking Photographs? When talking about photography a polarizing filter is a kind of filter which is used to absorb polarized light as it enters a lens. Light reflected of certain surfaces and a portion of the light coming from the sky is ‘polarized light’, a polarizing filter can absorb this light and dramatically reduce the appearance of reflections, or darken the sky within a photograph. Polarizing filters are usually attached to the filter threads on the end of a lens and have a rotating layer which is adjusted to control …

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Portrait

 What Is a Portrait When Talking About Photography? In photography a portrait is an image of a person, or the likeness of a person. Portraiture is one of the oldest forms of photography, dating back as far as the early 19th century. The art of capturing a portrait involves placing the subject in a pose, either within as scene or against a plain backdrop, and then exposing the image in such a way that the image is a clear representation and likeness of the subject. Taking pictures of a person is easy, capturing a good portrait that includes fine details …

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Posterization

What Does Posterization Mean When Talking About Photography and Image Editing? In photography and image editing unwanted posterization, also referred to as banding, occurs when the bit-depth of an image is lowered enough to have a negative impact on an image. posterization can be caused by any process which ‘stretches’ an images histogram for example applying excessive compression. Posterization gets it’s name from its visual effect on an image; Distinct bands of individual colour will appear which make it look like the image has been converted into an old fashioned graphic poster. Another tell-tale sign of posterization can be spotted …

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PPI

What Does PPI Mean When Talking About Photography? When talking about photography the acronym ‘PPI’ stands for ‘pixles per inch’ and refers to resolution of a printed image. Printers measure printing resolution in ‘DPI’ or ‘dots pre inch’ and it is important to understand the difference between PPI and DPI if you wish to print high quality images. If you print an image with PPI which is less than the DPI of the printer then you may notice a loss of sharpness in the final print. This occurs because the printer will have to render each pixel with more than …

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Preview Button

What Is a Preview Button and How Is It Used in Photography? When talking about cameras and taking photographs a ‘preview button’ is a button found on most cameras which allows the shooter to preview the depth of field that will be captured at the current aperture setting. When you look through a camera viewfinder you see a view of the scene with both the foreground and background in focus. This allows a shooter to compose an image accurately but does not show you how your aperture settings will affect the depth of field. Depressing the preview button, usually found …

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Programmed AE

What Is Programmed AE Mode and How Is It Used in Photography? When talking about photography the term ‘programmed AE’ refers to an automatic image metering mode which a camera can be set to when taking photographs. In programmed AE mode the camera evaluates the scene and automatically sets the shutter speed and aperture to values which will capture a correct exposure. Unlike fully automatic mode however programmed AE mode allows the shooter to choose between, or ‘program shift’ between various combinations of exposure settings for the current scene, thus allowing for more artistic control over the final image. A …

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PSD

What Is A PSD File? PSD stands for Photoshop Document and is the native file type created by the Adobe image editing application, Photoshop.  Photoshop is a powerful editing tool that allows for a totally non-destructive editing workflow (if used correctly!).  Much of the workflow centres around the use of ‘layers’ to selectively apply adjustments and add or remove content from the image.  A PSD file saves all of this layer content, as well as other content such as saved selections of specific areas in your image.  A PSD file can be as simple as a single image, or as …

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QD Socket

A QD socket is a Quick Disconnection system that was initially designed for the firearms industry and then later adopted by the photography industry.  The QD system is a 2-part system that featured a QD socket on the camera plate, and a QD Swivel that mates with the socket once the button is depressed. The system is extremely strong and robust, thus able to hold even the largest cameras and super-telephoto lenses with ease. Photography industry companies such as Really Right Stuff, Kirk Photo, Hejnar Photo and Blackrapid all make products that are designed around the QD system. All QD …

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QVGA

What Is QVGA and What Is It Used for in Photography? In photography the term ‘QVGA’ refers to a video resolution of 320×240 pixels. QVGA stands for ‘Quarter Video Graphics Array’ and is named as such because the resolution 320×240 pixels is a quarter of the size of the standard VGA resolution which is 640×480 pixels. The QVGA resolution was often used in the LCD viewing screens of older digital cameras, but has now been superseded by units capable of displaying images at higher resolutions. the QVGA resolution may also be found on some basic cell phones with low resolution cameras. QVGA displays, …

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Reflector

What Is A Reflector? When it comes to photographic lingo, a reflector actually refers to two distinct pieces of equipment.  Most of the time when people refer to using a reflector, they are talking about using a piece of reflective material to bounce light in a certain direction.  This piece of material usually contains a frame that keeps it taught enough to angle in a specific direction and therefore control the direction of the bounced light.  It has many uses because bouncing light gives it a much softer look.  That means we can bounce artificial light off a reflector to …

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Reflex Camera

When Talking About Photography What Is a Reflex Camera? When talking about photography, specifically types of camera, the term ‘reflex camera’ refers to a camera which uses a mirror to direct light entering the camera via a lens into a viewfinder or onto a viewing screen. Reflex cameras first appeared in the mid-1800s and the basic design principle remains nearly unchanged today. The advantage of a reflex camera is that the image being viewed by the photographer is the same image being seen by the lens. The mirror must be raised when a photograph is taken to allow light entering …

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Remote Capture

 What Does Remote Capture Means When Talking About Photography? In photography the terms ‘remote capture’ refers to the action of operating the camera’s shutter remotely, i.e. without physically depressing the shutter button on the camera. Remote capture can be achieved using either wired or wireless remote controls. Remotely capturing an image can be useful in a number of situations for example when taking a selfie where you don’t want to obviously reaching for the camera in the final image, or in situations which require a long exposure time; In this situation, with the camera mounted on a tripod operating the …

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Render

What Does Render Mean When Talking About Digital Photography? When talking about photography, specifically post-processing and image editing the term ‘render’ or the process of ‘rendering’  refers to the application of algorithms to a digital image file which convert the image information contained within the file into a viewable format on a viewing device. Rendering is also constantly occurring within digital cameras. In mirrorless cameras with an EVF or electronic view finder the information being received through the image sensor must be rendered in the EVF. Images are also rendered on the LCD screen when viewing them on a camera …

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Resampling

 What Is Resampling and What Does It Mean in Photography? In photography, specifically post-processing and image editing ‘resampling’ is the process of altering an images resolution by either adding or removing extra pixels. Increasing the number of pixels in an image is often referred to as upsampling, reducing the number of pixels is referred to as downsampling. Resampling has two direct effects on an image file, firstly the resolution of the file will be altered depending on the number of pixels either added, or removed, and secondly the image file size will change. The actual process of resampling an image …

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Retouching

What Is Retouching and How Is It Used in Photography? When talking about photography, specifically post-processing and image editing, the term ‘retouching’ refers to any process used to alter an image physically, in the case of film or, digitally in the case of digital images to improve the images appearance. Retouching can be used to remove a variety image defects for example dust or dirt on an lens or image sensor or, as is widely seen in fashion publications the physical defects of a model’s skin. Modern digital retouching is carried out in photo editing software using numerous tools such …

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Rim Light

What Is Rim Light and How Is It Used in Photography? In basic terms ‘rim light’ is a lighting technique where the image subject is backlit and the image is exposed to hide the subject features in shadow. The technique gets its name from the fact that lighting a subject in this way produces a thin line or ‘rim’ of light which appears to cling to the subjects outline. using rim light lifts the subject from the background in images rendered predominantly in shadow. In more complex situations, using extremely technical lighting setups rim light can be applied to one …

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Rule Of Thirds

What is the rule of thirds and how is it used in photography? The rule of thirds is a technique used to achieving a pleasing composition within a photograph or graphic design. Application of the rule involves dividing a scene into three columns both horizontally and vertically, and then composing an image by placing the subject at a point where the lines dividing the columns intersect. An off-centre composition appears more pleasing to the human eye and the rule of thirds is a simple method of achieving such a composition. Most digital cameras feature guide lines which can be turned …

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SA Control

What is SA Control On Canon Lenses? SA Control is a feature that was first introduced on the Canon RF 100mm f/2.8 L Macro lens. It stands for Spherical Aberration Control and gives you some manual control of the bokeh characteristics. Many people have dubbed it the “bokeh control ring”, and it is very similar to Nikon’s Defocus Control (DC) system. With the ring placed in the central position, a lens with SA Control will deliver a normal, sharp image. If the control ring is rotated left or right, an electronic cam actuates the focusing and floating lens groups independently …

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Saturation

What Does Saturation Mean in Photography? In photography, the term ‘saturation’ describes the depth or intensity of colour present within an image. Saturation is also referred to as ‘chroma’; The more saturated an image is the more colourful and vibrant it will appear, less colour saturation will make an image appear subdued or muted. Black and white images contain no colour saturation, instead of being rendered in greyscale tones. The saturation levels of an image can be altered by using filters to reduce the number of certain wavelengths of light reaching a photographic recording medium, or in post-processing using the …

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Scene Modes

What Are Scene Modes and How Are It Used in Photography? When talking about photography the term ‘scene modes’ describes a collection of pre-set exposure modes on a camera, with each mode tuned to capture a particular type of scene.  Scene modes are predominantly found on beginner level or point and shoot cameras and are designed to allow inexperienced photographers to capture accurate exposures in a variety of circumstances. ‘Snow shot’ mode for example fine tunes the cameras white balance to ensure snow looks white, rather than grey and minimises ISO sensitivity to capture the highest amount of possible highlight …

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Screw-On Filter

What Is A Screw-On Filter? Most camera lenses have a thread on the front that allows us to add filters to modify the light coming into the lens in some way.  Sometimes we use polarizing filters to cut down on reflections in our image, and sometimes we just want to use a neutral density filter that allows less light into the lens and gives us a slower shutter speed for special effects.  Screw-on filters can be added to this thread on the front of the lens, and they come in many sizes to fit the varying diameters of lenses.  In …

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Selective Focus

What Does Selective Focus Mean When Talking About Photography? In photography the term ‘selective focus’ refers to a technique where the photographer selectively focuses on the subject of an image, essentially ignoring all other aspects of the scene. Using a shallow depth of field the subject can be rendered in sharp focus with the rest of the image blurring into the image foreground and background. This technique isolates the subject within the image, drawing the eye of the viewer to the exact point which the photographer wishes to be observed. The contrast of the sharp subject against the soft image …

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Self Timer

What Is A Self Timer On A Camera? A self timer is an automatic shooting mode that counts down and then takes a photo.  Usually selectable in a camera’s drive mode menu, there’s often multiple timing options.  With Canon cameras for example, you can select a 2-second timer, or a 10-second timer.  Once the shutter button is pressed, a series of beeps emit from the camera as it counts down to taking the photo. This mode is useful when combined with a tripod because it allows you to easily take self portraits or group photos where you want to be …

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Selfie

What Is A Selfie? A selfie is simply a self portrait.  A photo of yourself taken by you! It’s most often associated with photos taken with cell phones and GoPros when the camera is held at arms length (see sample below), but they can also be much more creative than this.  Usually a selfie is taken as some sort of photographic evidence of fun or travel to a specific location.  If you are taking a selfie, make sure you have a nice background that clearly shows what you are trying to tell people about. So-called “selfie sticks” were also popular …

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Sensitivity

What Does Sensitivity Mean When Talking About Cameras and Photography In photography sensitivity refers to a film or digital camera sensor’s sensitivity to light. In photography sensitivity is often referred to as ISO, or ‘International Standards Organization’ an organization who ensure that manufacturers adhere to global standards. In this case all camera and film manufacturers use the same standard to describe the light sensitivity of their products. a Low ISO denotes low sensitivity, for example ISO 100, whereas a high ISO denotes a high sensitivity, for example ISO 6400. Like shutter speed and exposure time, ISO is measured in ‘Stops’, …

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Sensor

What Is a Sensor When Talking About Digital Cameras and Photography? In digital photography a sensor is the heart of every camera system. It is a solid state device which captures the light entering the camera through the lens so that it can be processed and turned into a digital image. Image sensors come in many shapes and sizes and are often referred to by their size and resolution in megapixels. Confusingly some cameras contain more than one sensor; SLRs and DSLRs often contain a dedicated Phase Detect autofocus sensor which allows the camera to use both phase detect and …

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Sensor Size

What Is Sensor Size and What Does It Mean When Talking About Photography? In photography sensor size describes the physical dimensions of a sensor. Sensor size can be measured in mm or inches. For example a ‘full frame’ sensor measures 36 x 24mm and a ‘micro four thirds’ or ‘4/3’ sensor measures 17 x 13mm. Sensor size relates to the physical dimensions of the sensor itself, not its imaging area. Sensor size can dramatically effect the overall quality of the sensor’s output. If we compare a full frame 20mp sensor with a 1″ 20mp sensor. The smaller dimensions of the 1″ …

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Sepia

What Does Sepia Mean When Talking About Photography? The term Sepia, when used in the context of photography refers to a monochrome image rendered in brown tones rather than the greyscale tones used in a traditional black and white image. Sepia images were originally produced by adding a pigment to a positive print while exposing an image captured on film. Sepia gets it’s name from the Sepia cuttlefish, Ink from the fish was used to create the brown dye used to alter the tone of Sepia images. In digital photography an image can be transformed into a Sepia image using …

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Sequence

Have you ever wandered what people are talking about when they mention a sequence while talking about photography? Here’s the answer, and how to create them.

Shadow

What Does Shadow Mean When Talking About Photography? When talking about photography the term ‘shadow’ is used to describe the darkest parts of an image. Shadow is often rendered in black tonal values but when exposed correctly is still able to contain large amounts of detail; Capturing the balance between shadow detail and highlight detail is one of the cornerstones of taking a well exposed image. Manipulation of the lighting and exposure of shadow within an image can be used to add or remove darkness from a scene, dramatically altering the overall feel and depth of a photograph. Techniques such …

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Shadow Detail

What Is Shadow Detail When Talking About Photography? In photography ‘shadow detail’ refers to the detail rendered in the darkest parts of an image. Capturing shadow detail can be extremely challenging, especially when being captured in an image which includes a lot of highlights or high overall dynamic range. Shadow detail exists on the extreme fringes of contrast, and creating a balance between shadow detail and highlights is one of the most basic challenges of capturing a well exposed image; Expose too much and highlights will be overexposed, expose too little and shadow detail will be completely lost, get it …

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Sharpness

What Does Sharpness Mean When Talking About Photography? When talking about photography ‘sharpness’ refers to an image’s overall clarity in terms of both focus and contrast. When the subject of an image is sharp the image appears clear and lifelike, with detail, contrast and texture rendered in high detail. Images which lack sharpness or are ‘soft’ can appear blurry and lacking in detail, although experienced photographers are able to manipulate sharpness to allow a feeling of warmth or movement within an image. Image sharpness is extremely reliant on achieving accurate focus on a desired subject, especially challenging when shooting scenes …

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Sheet Film

What Is Sheet Film and What Is It Used for in Photography? In photography ‘sheet film’ refers to a medium or large format of film, mainly used in view cameras and supplied in individual sheets rather than the rolls typically used for 35mm format film. Sheet film was originally devised as an alternative to glass plates and each individual piece is manufactured from polyester or acetate film. The most commonly used sheet film format is 4 x 5 inches, but larger sizes are also still available for those still using large format view cameras. An exposure is captured on sheet …

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Shift Lens

What Is A Shift Lens? A shift lens is similar to a tilt-shift lens, except that it lacks the tilt mechanism.  For a detailed look at both shift and tilt mechanisms, please view the tilt-shift lens glossary entry. Your browser does not support iFrame.     Additional Reading What Is A Tilt-Shift Lens? What Is A Macro Lens?

Shutter

What Do We Mean by a Shutter and How Is It Used in Photography? In a camera the shutter is the mechanism which controls the length of time the camera sensor or film is exposed to the light entering through the lens. When the shutter button is pressed by the photographer the shutter opens for the amount of time set in the cameras exposure settings. When the shutter is open the camera sensor or film are exposed to light which is captured to produce an image. Open the shutter for too long and the image will be over exposed, open …

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Shutter Lag

What Does Shutter Lag Mean When Talking About Photography? The term shutter lag refers to the delay between pressing the shutter button and a photograph actually being recorded by the camera and is measured in milliseconds (ms). Knowing the shutter lag of your camera is extremely important when attempting to capture fast moving subjects such as those encountered in wildlife or sports photography; If you depress the shutter release button at the instant of the event you wish to capture you may find that, due to shutter lag, you have missed that crucial moment in time. Knowing your camera’s shutter …

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