Questions tagged [terminology]

Questions about specific terms used within photography

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194
votes
15answers
129k views

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

When looking at a lens name, there are a lot acronyms describing its features (often specific to the manufacturer). Examples, Nikon: Nikon AF-S DX 16-85mm VR f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED Nikon AF-I 600mm f/4D ...
151
votes
10answers
55k views

What is the “exposure triangle”?

What is the exposure triangle? How do the "sides" affect my photographs?
121
votes
7answers
12k 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 ...
68
votes
5answers
10k 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 ...
68
votes
4answers
152k views

What does f-stop mean?

What does f-stop mean? Is it the same thing when people say "2 stops" for example?
57
votes
9answers
142k 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?
56
votes
8answers
43k 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 ...
55
votes
4answers
21k views

Who, or what, is an “Uncle Bob”?

I've heard people complaining about "Uncle Bob" taking pictures at events. From context, it sounds like Uncle Bob is an annoying guy with a camera? What is an "Uncle Bob"? What is the background of ...
48
votes
3answers
393k 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 ...
47
votes
8answers
12k views

How do I achieve the technique which creates the illusion of busy locations being empty?

I remember seeing a series of photos where popular tourist locations are shown to be completely empty. I'm assuming it was done by taking a series of photos and then combining them in Photoshop. But ...
44
votes
4answers
39k 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 ...
43
votes
7answers
7k 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.
43
votes
5answers
16k 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, ...
37
votes
5answers
21k 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 ...
34
votes
6answers
46k 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 around ...
34
votes
6answers
3k 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 ...
32
votes
1answer
4k 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 ...
32
votes
9answers
18k 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 ...
31
votes
10answers
120k 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 ...
31
votes
2answers
25k 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 (e....
31
votes
2answers
6k 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 ...
30
votes
7answers
9k views

Why is there “single” in the term DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex)?

I have been reading about lenses and I was curious to know why there is a term "single" in the abbreviation DSLR? As far as I have read, the modern DSLRs (for example, the Nikon 3200) come equipped ...
30
votes
4answers
38k views

What does “frequency” mean in an image?

I don't understand how frequencies are defined in images/photographs. As far as I understand it now, high frequencies are like sharp things in images, like edges or so, and low frequencies are kind of ...
30
votes
3answers
4k 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 / ...
30
votes
2answers
7k 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?
29
votes
3answers
13k 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 ...
29
votes
4answers
11k 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? Are there common uses for different focal lengths, and how can I decide what to use when?
25
votes
6answers
7k 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 ...
25
votes
4answers
6k 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?
24
votes
4answers
51k 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?
23
votes
5answers
14k 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 ...
22
votes
7answers
12k 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 ...
22
votes
4answers
15k 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 "...
22
votes
5answers
22k views

What is dynamic range and how is it important in photography?

Wikipedia says that the dynamic range is the "ratio between the largest and smallest possible values of a changeable quantity". Ok, I get that. I suppose that's why HDR photos have a "high dynamic ...
22
votes
3answers
4k 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 '...
21
votes
4answers
4k views

What is GAS and how can I avoid it?

What is this GAS that all the pros talk about? It sounds pretty bad. How do I avoid it? Is there a cure?
21
votes
7answers
13k 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: ...
21
votes
3answers
5k 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?
21
votes
2answers
19k 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 ...
21
votes
1answer
7k 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 ...
21
votes
4answers
15k 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 ...
20
votes
2answers
27k views

What is a kicker?

In lighting, what is a kicker and when should I use it? (And is it any different from hair light?)
20
votes
5answers
9k views

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

Does anyone know the origins of the term?
20
votes
3answers
2k views

What is Chromatic Aberration?

What is Chromatic Aberration? Is it a physical part of the lens, or just an optical illusion?
20
votes
2answers
10k 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 ...
20
votes
1answer
3k views

What is decentering?

I have heard of a condition in imperfect lenses known as "decentering". What is decentering? When a lens is decentered, what exactly is wrong with the optical elements? What are its symptoms and ...
19
votes
8answers
9k views

What is the correct pronunciation of “bokeh”?

I've had a lot of trouble working out how to pronounce "bokeh". Amusingly enough, I've thus far been unable to get any of the small handful of photographer friends I have to ever say it out loud, ...
19
votes
11answers
6k views

What is considered High ISO?

So reading the questions I came across this Why do cameras include very high ISO settings even though they are so noisy? and my comment on this answer led me thinking, how do we qualify high ISO? Is ...
19
votes
2answers
6k views

Why is it called “macrofocus” and not “microfocus”?

Typically, when referring to an image of a small object, or just something small, the prefix 'micro' is used. For instance, a tool to look at tiny objects in clear focus is a microscope. A device that ...
19
votes
4answers
787 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 ...

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