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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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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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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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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Cross Type Focus Point

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

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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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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