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Questions about specific terms used within photography

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

14
votes
5answers
13k views

What is “infinity focus”?

I have been reading a bit about astrophotography and the term infinity focus keeps coming up. What is infinity focus and how do you set the camera to infinity focus?
12
votes
6answers
25k views

What is the difference between a telephoto lens and a zoom lens?

Looking at the product page for Nikon lenses, I notice a distinction between telephoto lens and zoom lens. What is the difference between the two? Why would I want one over the other? I wiki'd ...
13
votes
7answers
1k views

What makes “fine art” fine art?

I've always been shy to refer to any of my work as "fine art"... preferring instead to call it "still life". But I recently had an interesting conversation with an Art History major who said that my ...
12
votes
7answers
1k views

Can someone give a simple explanation of ISO?

Can someone please explain to me what ISO means in the camera settings. In an answer to a question about taking pictures at a dance party, I was told to use ISO 1600. What does that number really ...
17
votes
2answers
4k views

What is “micro contrast” and how is it different from regular contrast?

What is micro contrast, and why is it important? How is it different than regular contrast? Matt Grum mentioned it in his answer about larger-format cameras: There are other advantages to medium ...
14
votes
3answers
2k views

What exactly is “base ISO” and how do I find what is base ISO on my camera?

If I understood correctly, base ISO is in full stop steps from the lowest possible ISO setting on my camera. For example if the lowest setting on my camera is ISO 100, than the following table would ...
12
votes
5answers
4k views

What is a portrait lens?

I hear this term used pretty often. Does it refer to a specific focal length? Or very low F-number? What does a lens need to have in order to be considered "portrait lens"?
18
votes
4answers
533 views

Is there construction-agnostic term for a lens with a long focal length?

Turns out that telephoto refers to a specific construction of a long-focal-length lens, i.e., one where the lens is physically shorter than the focal length. Is there a generic term for referring to ...
11
votes
3answers
4k views

Why don't comparisons of aperture take sensor size into account?

When one compares focal length, many times we use the 35mm equivalent length. A 50mm lens on an APS-C sensor camera(1.6x) would be a 80mm equiv. length on a full frame camera. But when we state the ...
9
votes
1answer
5k views

What is the difference between depth of field and depth of focus?

Reading this answer I realized that I didn't know the difference between the two depths (of field and focus). Browsing related questions didn't reduce the blur (!) between the two... Wikipedia ...
17
votes
4answers
17k views

What are shutter actuations?

I was just reading the question How many actuations are "too many actuations"? and trying to figure out what a shutter "actuation" actually is. The only thing I can guess is that it's the number of ...
7
votes
1answer
451 views

What is Colour Rendering Index (CRI)?

From this answer on white balancing a LED light I understood there's a thing called Colour Rendering Index (CRI). I understand it has something to do with how well lights reproduce the sun's colour ...
7
votes
2answers
7k views

What is CLA service?

I've seen the term used in used lens listings, e.g "recently CLA'd". I have a few questions, but I think they're related enough to only warrant one post: What does CLA stand for, and what is it? ...
4
votes
1answer
634 views

What is an auto-focus motor?

I recently bought a Canon 550D, and I read it has an auto-focus motor, which not all cameras possess. I'd like to know what it is, and what I can do to keep it running smoothly; AFAIK the manual ...
30
votes
3answers
17k views

What does the number of elements and groups in a lens mean?

All lens specifications include a statement of how many elements the lens contains, and in how many groups, for example: Nikon AF-S VR Zoom-NIKKOR 70-300 mm 1:4,5-5,6G: 17 elements in 12 groups (two ...
17
votes
3answers
3k views

What does it mean for light to be soft or hard?

I've heard of "soft lighting" and "hard lighting". What do these mean? How can I control how soft a light is?
10
votes
1answer
4k views

What does “viewfinder magnification” mean?

Viewfinders (both optical and electronic) typically come with two stats: magnification and coverage. The latter measuring how much of the actual exposed area (film or sensor) one sees. But what is ...
16
votes
3answers
3k views

Where does the term “f-stop” come from?

Does anyone know the origins of the term?
12
votes
2answers
4k views

What is “pixel density”?

Apparently megapixels aren't a good way to measure the camera quality, so some people are referring to a relative measuring system called "pixel density". What specifically is this? What information ...
19
votes
7answers
5k views

What makes a camera “professional” vs. amateur/hobbyist?

I will be attending a music festival (Lollapalooza) this weekend, and according to the site's FAQ page, attendees are not allowed to bring in "professional" recording equipment. From the site: ...
14
votes
6answers
1k views

Why is chimping a derogatory term?

Chimping - the act of reviewing the picture you just took on the camera's LCD, is used as a way to disparage shooters. I heard that chimping might refer to proudly showing off a shot after you taken ...
8
votes
2answers
16k views

What does the expression “V+F” (or “V&F”) mean on a photography web site?

I was reading comments on my photos posted at 500px.com (for example, at http://500px.com/photo/21988337 and http://500px.com/photo/21997241). Read a few comments that say V+F or V&F, what are ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

What does it mean to shoot in flat colors?

I read somewhere that you should shoot in "flat colors" to make it easy to work in post-production. What does "flat" mean?
5
votes
2answers
483 views

What is term for the opposite of “Dragging the Shutter”?

My first helpful experiments with flash started after taking a seminar with Scott Kelby on the subject. I don't recall him mentioning dragging the shutter (but he may have). But, I do recall him ...
5
votes
1answer
291 views

Why would a photographer do focus stacking?

Recently, I come across the term called Focus Stacking where you combine different pictures with different focus points. My question is, why do the focus stacking? Are there any benefits from the ...
1
vote
4answers
1k views

What exactly is focal length when there is also flange focal distance?

If focal length is the measure between the rear element and the sensor then how can you have different flange focal distances? Is the focal length not literally the measure between the rear element ...
16
votes
4answers
9k views

What is “100% crop?”

I use the term "100% crop" to mean a portion of a picture that has been cropped but not resized, but I have also seen some confusion around that term. Is there an accepted definition for "100% ...
13
votes
2answers
1k views

What does the acronym SLD stand for?

In this answer a reference was made to SLD cameras, also "called Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras". I realise that this is a synonym for "EVIL" cameras such as the micro-Four-Thirds cameras and ...
11
votes
2answers
6k views

What is the meaning of W and T on a camera's zoom buttons?

On every conventional digital camera (excluding the models with detachable lenses), there are buttons to zoom in and out with W side and T side. When you press W, the lens zooms out. The lens zooms ...
10
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the difference between a Nikon “Micro” lens and a “Macro” lens?

When it comes to macro photography and Nikon, what is the difference between a Micro and a Macro [Nikkor] lens? Is the answer as simple as to say that Nikon uses Micro in its nomenclature for its ...
7
votes
2answers
5k views

What does Time for Print (TFP) mean in practice?

I've seen the cut and dried version of what Time for Print (also called 'Trade for Print' by many) means on Wikipedia. I was wondering what it is and what it means for the photographer and model ...
6
votes
4answers
8k views

What does “long exposure” mean?

Very often, when people are talking about photography, they use the expression "long exposure". Here's a quote from a recent answer: A tripod and long exposure were required for this shot. Where ...
5
votes
3answers
589 views

What does it mean that a lens is x millimeters?

Every lens has different focal length in terms of millimeter so if I have a 100mm lens, what does that refer to? Does it mean the length of the lens itself is going to be 4 inches long, or does this ...
3
votes
1answer
160 views

What is Effective Aperture?

What is Effective Aperture? And how it can affect my exposure? Also how does it relate to magnification? A question that talks about effective aperture but without details
1
vote
2answers
442 views

How does photography (as opposed to physics) define “focal-plane”?

This wikipedia article concerning focal-plane shutters opens with the following statement (bold emphasis added by myself): In camera design, a focal-plane shutter (FPS) is a type of photographic ...
0
votes
2answers
14k views

What is the difference between DX format and FX format lenses, and which to choose for what purpose?

http://www.nikon.co.in/products.php?categoryid=1011 What is the difference between DX format and FX format lenses, and which to choose for what purpose? What are the pros and cons of both?
20
votes
4answers
4k views

What makes a DSLR camera “entry-level”?

When I look around the questions on this site, I feel everyone can clearly tell what makes a DSLR camera "entry-level". But I have no clue on how to tell. What makes a camera model "entry" level or ...
29
votes
1answer
3k views

Why does every digital camera save photos in a directory called DCIM?

It seems like every digital camera that I have ever used creates a folder called DCIM on its removable storage to save photographs into. Can anyone tell me what this name (DCIM) stands for (if ...
10
votes
3answers
17k views

What is flat light and how to counter that?

I have often heard people saying that the light in the picture X is appearing "flat". I want to understand what exactly does that mean, and what are the possible ways to counter that?
9
votes
5answers
3k views

What's the difference between colour space and bit depth?

I know that there are different types of colour space and that sRGB is the most common. Bit depth defines the variations of a colour channel, where (I think) 8 and/or 16 bits are the most common. ...
12
votes
4answers
1k views

Why is sensor sensitivity called “ISO”?

I was curious to know how the term "ISO" was coined for referring the image sensor's sensitivity. Is there any reason or circumstance that contributed for terming "ISO"? Also, does ISO has a literal ...
9
votes
1answer
7k views

What is the 'Maximum Reproduction Ratio' of a lens?

A review of a Sigma 19mm f2.8 lens contains the following line It has a minimum focusing distance of 20cm /7.9in and a maximum reproduction ratio of 1:7.4. So, as in the title, what is 'maximum ...
27
votes
2answers
3k views

What is a pancake lens?

I've read about a "pancake lens" but don't really understand what that means. What the pros and cons of having a pancake vs. another type of lens? I'm thinking of getting a Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 ...
9
votes
4answers
18k views

Are 2 megapixels enough for HD resolution pictures?

HD pictures has 1920x1080 = 2073600 pixels = 2025 kilopixel = 1.98 megapixel. Does this mean that we can take HD pictures with a 2 MP camera? If not, why not?
6
votes
3answers
216 views

Why is the amount of light a lens lets in called the 'lens speed'?

It seems very counter intuitive that the amount of light let in by a lens is referred to as the lens speed. This term confused me for a while because I couldn't logically see how a speed would be ...
4
votes
2answers
496 views

What does the term “saturation luminance” mean in the definition of dynamic range?

The concept behind the dynamic range definition given by ISO 15739 is based on the ratio of the maximum luminance that receives a unique coded representation ´╝łthe "saturation" luminance) to the lowest ...
10
votes
4answers
1k views

How important is ISO speed?

My wifes Canon EOS 450D has various speed settings and an auto mode. The quickest one is 1600. She photographs mainly birds, both stationary and in flight and mainly still insects. What are the ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

What is “solid angle” and how does it relate to photography?

So, I was hanging out in the chat room, and hear mention of something called "Solid Angle". What is this, and how can it be important?
7
votes
2answers
663 views

What's the difference between a wide angle lens and a landscape lens?

Question pretty much says it all. Seems like when I look around people are asking "what's the best wide angle lens for landscape?", but on sites like LensHero they categorize wide angle and landscape ...
6
votes
2answers
3k views

What is the difference between a lambda print (RA-4) and a color inkjet print?

I can't seem to find any good information about the differences between the lambda printing process (on RA-4 paper, also known as a C-prints or chromogenic color prints) and inkjet printing (also ...