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Questions about specific terms used within photography

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

46
votes
5answers
10k views

What is “angle of view” in photography?

I read on the Lens Buying Guide @ neocamera: Focal-length determines the angle-of-view seen through a lens for a given sensor-size. With a full-frame sensor a lens gives the same angle-of-view ...
47
votes
4answers
3k views

What exactly determines depth of field?

There are several questions here about the definition of depth of field, about focal length, and about subject distance. And of course there's the basic how does aperture affect my photographs. And ...
35
votes
8answers
27k 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?
120
votes
3answers
37k 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 ...
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 ...
20
votes
6answers
6k views

What is one “stop”?

I always hear this term, e.g., I had to go down one stop Increasing X by Y raises Z by one stop I turned down the flash/the light two stops This lens/sensor/strobe/Photoshop tweak raises X by ...
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 ...
25
votes
2answers
3k views

How does exposure fusion work?

I understand that "exposure fusion" is a method for combining different exposures into a single image. How exactly does it work, and how is it related to HDR?
33
votes
5answers
8k views

What does it mean for a photograph to be “high key”?

As I learned the term, a high-key image is one where the shadows are effectively eliminated, and the mid-tone detail pushed into brighter zones. My question is simple: is this an accurate definition, ...
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 ...
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.
12
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
472 views

What is Chromatic Aberration?

What is Chromatic Aberration? Is it a physical part of the lens, or just an optical illusion?
15
votes
4answers
3k views

What is a “fast” lens?

I've been reading lots of camera reviews lately and have ran across several references to "fast" lenses. What exactly is a fast lens and what are its advantages compared to other lenses?
20
votes
5answers
3k views

What is exposure compensation?

What does exposure compensation do? If I take a photo with a given shutter speed, aperature, and ISO, and then take the same shot with +1EV or -1EV, what is actually happening? Is this just a gain ...
14
votes
2answers
10k views

What does DPI mean?

What does DPI mean and how does it affect images displayed on screen versus printed?
20
votes
4answers
3k 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
3answers
2k views

What makes a camera an “SLR”?

My question, specifically: why is the Fujifilm HS 10 not an SLR?
12
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
41
votes
8answers
17k views

What does “expanded ISO” mean?

The ISO specification for the Canon EOS 7D reads as follows: High ISO For handheld shooting in low light, the EOS 7D offers ISO speeds of up to 6400. Expandable to ISO 12800, for low light ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the EV scale?

I have seen an "EV" (exposure value) scale that's sometimes used to express a camera's exposure settings, or scene brightness. How exactly does this scale work?
17
votes
2answers
6k views

What is T-number / T-stop?

Usually, when discussing aperture of a lens, F-stop and F-number are used for quantifying. But some photographers, and especially videographers, also mention T-stop. The concept and numbering used ...
14
votes
2answers
6k views

What is the difference between luminance and illuminance?

The more I read about this, the more confused I become. Illuminance, as I understand it, measured in lux, is the perceived brightness of light on a surface. It's what you'd measure with an incident ...
8
votes
3answers
849 views

How can a 24-70mm and a 10-22mm both be “wide angle” lenses?

I've been looking at a 10-22mm lens for my Canon T2i. I've also come across some other "wide angle" lenses, like the Sigma 24-70mm F2.8. I don't understand how a wide angle lens can have such high ...
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 ...
16
votes
5answers
2k views

How can aperture be f/11 on a lens with an aperture range designation of 3.5-5.6?

I made a series of outdoor shots with Nikon D5000, with the 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6G VR kit lens. On some shots, I see in the EXIF info f/11, and in another shot, f/9. How can that be, that the f-number ...
10
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
17
votes
5answers
694 views

What is an ultra-wide lens?

What is the point at which a lens is considered "ultra-wide angle" vs just wide angle?
19
votes
1answer
2k 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 ...
26
votes
6answers
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 ...
28
votes
3answers
158k views

What does STM mean on a Canon lens?

The Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 has a designation of STM on the lens. What does this mean? What are the advantages of having it and does it replace an older technology? We have a terminology thread that ...
8
votes
3answers
914 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., ...
7
votes
4answers
4k views

What are the differences between a bridge camera and a D/SLR?

What are the differences between a bridge camera and a D/SLR?
19
votes
3answers
15k views

What does TTL mean?

I'm new to photography and I see the term TTL all over the place. What does it mean? And how do I use it to make my pictures better?
14
votes
3answers
2k views

What is a parfocal lens and how beneficial is it to photography?

I heard someone say that after using a parfocal lens for the first time, they would never switch back. What is a parfocal lens, how is it different from any other lens, and what are the advantages and ...
13
votes
5answers
3k 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 ...
9
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
9k views

What is the definition of portrait photography?

Can we talk about a portrait photograph if, let's say, a grandmother and her 3-year-old grandchild are in the picture? Or, must it be only one person in the photograph?
10
votes
1answer
8k 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. ...
17
votes
4answers
704 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
12
votes
4answers
4k 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 = ...
7
votes
4answers
1k views

What does IQ mean?

I see a lot of questions which mention IQ. The only meaning I know outside photography is "intelligence quotient" but obviously IQ has some other meaning here. IQ is used for example in "Lens with ...
2
votes
4answers
622 views

What is “Dragging the Shutter”?

Ive heard this term of "dragging the shutter" and was wondering what it means and why would i use it Can anyone answer this?
23
votes
2answers
5k views

What do Hue, Chroma, Saturation, Value, Tones, Tints, Shade, etc. mean?

I've read several online tutorials about color theory but I'm still confused about how to "visually" catch color concepts and use them efficiently. The only thing I seem to understand is "hue" which ...
26
votes
7answers
5k views

Does a photographer take pictures or make pictures?

Most people speak of the process of photography as taking pictures. However, many serious photographers instead refer to making pictures. One might be inclined to dismiss this as jargon, but there's ...
10
votes
4answers
17k 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?
12
votes
6answers
984 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 ...
17
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
11
votes
5answers
2k 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
499 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 ...