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Questions about specific terms used within photography

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

14
votes
2answers
17k views

What does DPI mean?

What does DPI mean and how does it affect images displayed on screen versus printed?
14
votes
3answers
1k views

What does “Strobist” in Photography mean?

I often come across this term "Strobist" in Macro Photography and other equipment related to it. What does Strobist actually mean?
14
votes
1answer
10k views

What do “Frontfocus” and “Backfocus” mean?

I've read those terms in a couple of lens reviews, and not even Wikipedia has an article about it. So my questions are: What is back/frontfocus? What causes back/frontfocus? Is there any preventive ...
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 ...
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 ...
13
votes
5answers
4k views

What is the meaning of “stopped down”?

Was reading this answer (emphasis mine): It also tells us that the lens was stopped down, as if it were wide open there would be no corners to cause diffraction, regardless of the number of ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

Retrofocus lens? What's that?

I saw that in Why do some people prefer 50mm to 35mm prime lenses? , in @MattGrum's answer: ... The 50mm is a simpler design compared to the retrofocus 35mm ... What's retrofocus?
13
votes
1answer
759 views

What's it called when two photographs are printed on triangles so you see a different one from different angles?

This is kinda hard to explain, but I've seen it several places before. I'm looking for a special way that two photographs are printed — they're printed so you from each angle can see just one of the ...
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 ...
13
votes
4answers
5k views

Why are effective pixels greater than the actual resolution?

This page compares Canon EOS 550D and Canon EOS 500D cameras and mentions 18.7 million effective pixels for 550D. However the best resolution possible using this camera is 5184 * 3456 = ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

What is color temperature and how does it affect my photography?

I have seen color temperature mentioned with regard to white balance, mixing different sources of light, etc., but I haven't come across a clear explanation of what it means to talk about the ...
13
votes
3answers
391 views

Is there a standard vocabulary for posing?

I've been looking for a definitive catalog of named poses. Catalogs consisting mainly of unlabeled photos are easy to come by. "1,001 Poses for the Professional Photographer," kind of thing. This ...
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 ...
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 ...
12
votes
6answers
4k views

What is white or black “clipping”, and how does one avoid it?

I have been told that this photograph has "white clippings"? What are they, and which light sources should be placed in what way to avoid that?
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 ...
12
votes
5answers
4k views

What is a normal lens?

I've heard people call 50mm lenses "normal lenses". For a lens to be considered normal, does it have to be exactly 50mm or is there some leeway? Does the normal focal length depend on crop factor of ...
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"?
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 ...
12
votes
1answer
1k views

What is a focusing screen?

I've seen a couple other questions such as this one talk about focusing screens. What is a focusing screen? Where is it located?
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 ...
11
votes
2answers
735 views

What does the term “sneaker zoom” mean?

I saw the term used when describing the Canon 85mm f/1.8. What do they mean?
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 ...
11
votes
4answers
2k views

Why is it called ISO “speed”?

As I understand it, the ISO value indicates how sensitive the sensor/film is to light. How is this related to speed? Is it something to do with how fast old chemical film developed?
11
votes
4answers
1k views

What does 'Equivalent to 1.6x the focal length of the lens' mean?

In the specifications of Canon 550D, about the lens the following is mentioned LENS Lens Mount EF/EF-S Focal Length Equivalent to 1.6x the focal length of the lens Now this is really ...
11
votes
4answers
2k views

Lens “family” names - what do they mean and should I care?

Some lens manufacturers have special names for their lens designs/families. Just to name a few: Leica - Summar/Summarit/Summilux, Elmar/Elmarit, Noctilux Carl Zeiss - Planar, Tessar, Sonnar, ...
11
votes
2answers
3k views

What is sharpness vs. clarity in photo editing software?

I have been using Lightroom and Photoshop Pro for past 7 months. For all my photos, I used to increase the sharpness using the options available. I now see another option called clarity, and when I ...
11
votes
1answer
1k views

What is “exposure safety shift”?

I ran into the term "exposure safety shift" in this answer. What is exposure safety shift, and what is its intended purpose?
11
votes
5answers
3k views

What is the difference between a soft and sharp image?

I have seen several questions talking about images being soft or sharp. What is the difference? Is soft simply the opposite of sharp in this context, or is there something more to it? Sample images ...
11
votes
1answer
497 views

Is there a name for the type of portrait composition where the subject is looking out of the frame?

I'm wondering if there's a specific term to describe a portrait where the main subject is looking at something outside the frame that we (the viewer) can't see. I like it as a composition technique: I ...
10
votes
4answers
31k views

What is USM, and what are its pros and cons?

My Canon lenses have the designation USM on them, which I assume is for the same reason that they say "Ultrasonic". What does this mean, and why or why do I not want it?
10
votes
4answers
1k views

Do any other manufacturers other than Canon use the terms Av and Tv?

Canon uses "Av" (aperture variable) for the automatic exposure mode that entails the user choosing the aperture and the camera body choosing the shutter speed. This mode is called "A" by Nikon, and I ...
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?
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 ...
10
votes
3answers
3k views

What is EV, when used as an absoute measurement?

I know there is already a question about EV, but it doens't quite answer my question. I understand EV as a relative measurement, 1 EV being one stop (doubling or halving the amount of light), but what ...
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 ...
10
votes
1answer
11k views

What does the magnification ratio number mean on a macro lens?

I'm looking for a macro lens. I have 28-105mm Nikkor which gives me "1:2 Magnification Ratio" (whatever that means). I found another lens, Tamron 90mm Macro, which has magnification ratio of 1:1. ...
10
votes
1answer
2k views

What is the difference between active and passive fill light?

What is the difference between an active and a passive fill light? I have an assignment that states to "use active or passive fill light" in a picture, but I need some clarification to understand what ...
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 ...
10
votes
2answers
312 views

What is “photometric exposure”?

What is "photometric exposure," and how is it related to what is commonly called "exposure" and "exposure values"? I have also seen the term "radiometric exposure" used to describe a similar ...
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?
9
votes
5answers
398 views

How to identify whether the available light is too harsh or too soft?

When I go out in a park what factors should I consider to determine whether the present light is too harsh or too soft?
9
votes
4answers
4k views

What is a “small” aperture?

It happens a lot. People refer to the aperture being small (or big!). By default does this imply a small opening of the iris (literal aperture), or a small f-value (how the aperture is measured, for ...
9
votes
4answers
640 views

What is the technical name for a zoom lens which has a fixed maximum aperture?

What is the technical name for a lens which has the same maximum aperture throughout the entire zoom range?
9
votes
3answers
535 views

What do you call the technique for removing uninteresting parts of photo by combining two images?

I'm looking for the name of a technique to cut out an "uninteresting" part of a photograph. The example I'm thinking of is of a guy on the left of a photograph and a tower on the right. The middle ...
9
votes
3answers
1k views

Image processing & editing: what is an “unmanipulated” image?

What is considered an "unmanipulated" image? As defined by photo.net: Unmanipulated a single uninterrupted exposure cropping to taste common adjustments to the entire image, e.g., ...
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. ...
9
votes
3answers
4k views

How to read ND filter description?

When I search on Amazon for eg. neutral density 67mm, I get long list of different filters. Some of them are marked like: ND2, ND4, ND8 etc. I'm guessing this means 2-, 4- or 8-stops filter, am I ...
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 ...
9
votes
6answers
3k views

What does small depth of field mean?

Can anyone clarify for me the various terms used to describe depth of field? There are so many it's hard without a photo dictionary to relate in my head what's actually being said to me about the ...