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Questions about specific terms used within photography

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

17
votes
4answers
12k 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 ...
18
votes
4answers
478 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 ...
16
votes
1answer
445 views

Why are photographic gels called “gels”?

This question has been bugging me for a while, as I've been digging through filters on Adorama and B&H and various other sites for days now. I keep seeing numerous types of filters often tagged as ...
10
votes
4answers
1k 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, ...
24
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the meaning of “white balance”?

I would like to understand the term white balance. My camera has settings for white balance with the following options: Auto white balance Daylight Cloudy Shade Flash Incandescent lights White set1 ...
8
votes
1answer
282 views

What is lighting ratio?

What is lighting ratio and how is it calculated?
92
votes
7answers
7k views

What is bokeh, exactly?

I understand that "bokeh" refers to out-of-focus areas of an image — but there is obviously more to it than that. What does the term mean exactly? How well is bokeh really understood? Is it purely ...
18
votes
1answer
1k views

What is background compression?

What does the term "background compression" mean? How would you tell you're achieving it, and how would you achieve it? Ideally, the right answer would also explain how this is related to ...
27
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
18
votes
5answers
2k views

What is the distinction between a professional and amateur photographer?

I describe myself as an amateur photographer to other photographers and avoid using qualifiers like "pro" or "amateur" when talking to clients, but after reading a number of articles in Rangefinder ...
27
votes
4answers
10k views

What is a macro lens?

I've read a few threads on here that mention some elementary descriptions of macro lenses and found some marketing fluff in the box for my Canon about them as well, but being a complete novice I was ...
17
votes
6answers
3k 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
2answers
8k views

What does DPI mean?

What does DPI mean and how does it affect images displayed on screen versus printed?
22
votes
5answers
2k views

What is the definition of a “prime lens”?

There are many discussions of differences between prime, zoom and macro lenses. I have not heard about prime lenses until recently. Could someone explain what exactly a prime lens is? Is it ...
13
votes
6answers
822 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
609 views

Choosing a Gitzo Tripod head - deciphering series, model #, etc

I recently purchased a Gitzo Mountaineer tripod, the GT0541. It is a Series 0 (not really sure what that means), 4 section with ground-lock capability. The G-Lock capability has been really nice for ...
5
votes
3answers
695 views

What are the different categories of photography?

After reading some questions, I am getting lost with stage photography, curtain photography? etc.. I only know portrait, landscape, street, sports etc..is there a standard lingo somewhere?
114
votes
3answers
30k views

What do all those cryptic number and letter codes in a lens name mean?

Then looking at a lens name there is a lot of acronyms in the name describing it's features (often specific to the manufacturer). Examples, Nikon: Nikon AF-S DX 16-85mm VR f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED Nikon ...
17
votes
5answers
641 views

What is an ultra-wide lens?

What is the point at which a lens is considered "ultra-wide angle" vs just wide angle?
12
votes
3answers
445 views

What is Chromatic Aberration?

What is Chromatic Aberration? Is it a physical part of the lens, or just an optical illusion?
20
votes
4answers
2k views

What is focal length and how does it affect my photos?

What is focal-length? Are focal-length and zoom synonymous? How does the focal length of a photo affect it?
17
votes
4answers
657 views

What is ISO and how does it affect my photos

What is the ISO setting on my camera? What does it represent? What should I be aware of with regards to ISO when taking photographs
32
votes
7answers
1k views

What is “Hyperfocal Distance”?

I'd like a clear & easy-to-understand (especially for non-physics-types) explanation of what Hyperfocal Distance is, how it affects photographs, and what determines its value.
34
votes
8answers
19k views

What is aperture, and how does it affect my photographs?

How does aperture affect my photographs? Why should I care about the aperture with which a photo was taken?