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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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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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. Additional Reading


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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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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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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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

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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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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