Photographic Terms

Here is a list of photographic terms you may like to know:

AE
Usually found on older film cameras, “Automatic Exposure”; programmed auto exposure, aperture-priority auto exposure and shutter-priority auto exposure.

AE Lock
Used to hold an automatically controlled shutter speed and/or lens aperture, in case you need to recompose your picture but want to retain a previous exposure reading.

AF-I (Nikon)
Lens with built-in auto focus drive motor. AF-I Nikkor lenses sends information to the camera body and are classified as D-type AF Nikkor lenses.

AI (Nikon)
Automatic index; Nikon’s system for telling the camera’s exposure meter what the lens’ maximum aperture is.

AI/S (Nikon)
Automatic index/Shutter; Nikon’s lens mount permitting automatic operation in shutter-priority and program auto-exposure systems.

Aperture
The variable opening produced by the iris diaphragm through which light passes to the film plane. Measured in f/stops.

Aperture Priority
Auto exposure systems wherein the photographer selects the aperture and the camera selects the appropriate shutter speed.

APO
Achromatic; a type of lens, which focuses different wavelengths of light on the sensor for improved image sharpness. Especially useful in telephoto lenses. (Chromatic aberration is corrected).

ASA
American Standards Association; (see ISO).

B (Bulb)
At the B setting, the shutter remains open as long as the shutter release button remains fully depressed.

Bracketing
Take a series of pictures at different exposures.

Coating
A layer or multiple layers of thin anti-reflective materials applied to the surface of lens elements to reduce light reflection (flare) and increase the amount of transmitted light.

Close-Up
The general term for pictures taken at relatively close distances, from 1/10 life-size (1:10) to life-size (1:1).

Depth of Field
The range of acceptably sharp focus in front of and behind the distance the lens is focused on.

Diaphragm
A series of metal “blades” that can be manipulated to form a larger or smaller opening through which the light is admitted.

Digital imaging
The art of photography where images are captured by a send in an electronic format and then “processed” with software such as Adobe camera raw or Photoshop.

Element
One piece of glass comprising the internal optics of a lens.

EOS (Canon)
Electronic Optical System; Canon’s current line of auto focus cameras and accessories.

E-TTL (Canon)
Evaluative, through-the-lens flash metering.

EV
Exposure Value; A number that represents available combinations of shutter speed and aperture offering the same exposure effect when scene brightness remains the same. Each EV number can be applied to various shutter speed and aperture combinations.

Exposure
Light striking a sensor.

Exposure Compensation
Modifying the shutter speed and/or lens aperture recommended by the camera’s light meter in order to produce special creative effects or to meet special requirements.

Fill-Flash
Exposure consisting of a combination of flash and “available light” balanced to produce a pleasing mix of the two.

Fish eye
An ultra-wide angle lens, which purposely introduces barrel distortion so straight lines near the edges of the frame, appears to curve out.

Flare
Image degradation caused by stray light, which passes through the lens but is not focused to form the primary image. Often caused by light bouncing off internal air-to-glass surfaces.

Focal Length
The distance from the optical centre of a lens to the image plane when the lens is focused to infinity.

Group
Two or more elements cemented together within a lens. Lenses are described as having a certain number of elements in a certain smaller number of groups.

Guide Number
The power of a flash in relation to ISO film speed. Guide numbers are quoted in either meters or feet. (To convert from meters to feet, multiply the metric number by 3.3). Guide numbers are used to calculate the f/stop for correct exposure as follows: f/stop=guide number/distance.

Hot Shoe
A mounting device, usually built onto the top of a camera that enables a flash unit, or Speedlight, to be mounted on and triggered by the camera.

ISO
International Standards Organization; the number represents the sensors sensitivity to light. A higher ISO number indicates the sensor is more sensitive and requires less light for a proper exposure.

Latitude
The variance from “proper” exposure, which will still provide acceptable results.

Macro
Macro photography, using a lens designed to focus closer than the normal focusing distance.

Photography
From the Greek the means “painting or writing with light.”

Resolution
A word with many meanings. In digital imaging, it most often refers to the number of pixels per inch in an image file. It can also refer to printer resolution, digital camera CCD resolution, etc.

Shutter Speed
How fast the camera’s shutters open. Determines how long the sensor is exposed to light..

Shutter Priority
When the photographer selects the shutter speed and the camera automatically sets the corresponding aperture.

SLR
Single Lens Reflex; a camera with one lens (as opposed to Twin Lens Reflex like the Rolleiflex) that involves a mirror and prism that the viewer looks through (as opposed to a point and shoot or rangefinder where the viewer looks through a separate viewfinder.

Sunny-16 Rule
A guideline that states that you can expose a normal scene, lit by bright sunlight, at an aperture of f16 and a shutter speed equivalent to the film speed (ISO) being used.

TTL
Through the lens; commonly used when referring to metering through the lens as opposed to via a separate meter. Effective for fill-flash and other tricky lighting situations.

USM (Canon)
Ultrasonic Motor; Canon’s fastest, quietest auto focus lens mechanism.

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