mattdm
  • Member for 11 years, 3 months
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What is the "exposure triangle"?
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248 votes

"The Exposure Triangle" is a catchy phrase meant to encompass the three factors which affect the exposure of a photograph of a scene with a given amount of light. It's often given to new photographers ...

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What does an unprocessed RAW file look like?
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211 votes

There is a tool called dcraw which reads various RAW file types and extracts pixel data from them — it's actually the original code at the very bottom of a lot of open source and even commercial RAW ...

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What historic reasons are there for common aspect ratios?
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157 votes

Originally, film formats were arbitrary and specific to each camera model. For example, Kodak started making "pocket" cameras in 1895, but each new design used a different format. By 1908, they ...

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What is "angle of view" in photography?
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135 votes

In layman's terms (assuming a layman who knows some very basic geometry), imagine your nose as the point of a triangle. The left side of the triangle is the left edge of your peripheral vision, and ...

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What image-quality characteristics make a lens good or bad?
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83 votes

There are many characteristics which make better lenses better. The basic goal of a lens is to render an ideal replica of the framed scene, but because of the limitations of the real world, that's ...

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How do I convert lens focal length (mm) to x-times optical zoom?
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75 votes

The "times zoom" notation is simply the big number divided by the small one, so the examples you give are correct. "3x zoom" simply means the longest focal length is three times the shortest. This ...

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Why is there "single" in the term DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex)?
74 votes

A picture is worth a thousand words, here. This is a Twin Lens Reflex camera: The two lenses are linked together so they focus as a set (either the whole front panel moves, or the lenses are linked ...

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What are the key photography-related features from Photoshop that are missing in GIMP?
72 votes

Gimp is great, but it's not without some shortcomings. Photoshop is a big-time commercial project with a lot of funding, and while Gimp's development community is awesome, there are a lot of areas ...

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Is there a free program to (batch) change photo file's date to match EXIF?
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67 votes

This is the inverse of Is there any software which will set the EXIF Dates based on the file's modification date?, and I'm sure all of the programs listed there will apply. jhead Of these, for ...

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Is it normal business practice for a contest site to solicit submissions and then, later, ask for a fee?
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67 votes

Legit contests which have entry fees have those fees because they get too many entries. Sure, they may offset some expenses, but basically the payment exists to make people think twice about entering. ...

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Is there development in the world of lenses?
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66 votes

Yes. There is development in four areas: computer design, material science, features, and finally a category I'm going to call "not better just different". Computer Design Lens design has always ...

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If I paid for photography am I entitled to raw images?
60 votes

Legally, and in typical business practices, what the photographer told you is completely true — she has no obligation to give you RAW files, unless the contract says otherwise. Presumably, the ...

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Why is software-based manipulation of images frowned upon while hardware-based manipulation is acceptable?
59 votes

Why are hardware-based manipulations, like black and white photography (traditionally using black-and-white film), long exposure, etc., which also result in an "unnatural" image, acceptable while ...

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How were photographs printed in newspapers in 1929?
59 votes

The first photographic images printed in newspapers were actually wood engravings meticulously hand-copied from a photograph printed in the normal way. By the 1890s, however, prints were made in ...

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

Aperture simply means "opening", and in photography we use the term to refer to the diameter of the opening in a special adjustable diaphragm within each lens. When this diaphragm is constricted, ...

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Are there disadvantages to a prosumer camera for a beginner, aside from cost?
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56 votes

On the contrary, I think these cameras are better for beginners, if your intention is really to begin — that is, to start from here and (as you say) get into photography. The lower-priced entry-level ...

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Why is a 1" sensor actually 13.2 × 8.8mm?
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55 votes

Digital camera sensor format-size names have their roots in television camera tubes. These were measured in inches diagonal, but for various practical reasons, the entire circle isn't used. So, from ...

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What is the advantage of a digital still photo camera over digital video for nature photography?
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54 votes

There are at least four reasons. Resolution First, although the same sensor may be used, video generally uses only a portion of it (either by skipping lines or some more sophisticated method). 4K UHD ...

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Is my current gear sufficient for wedding photography?
52 votes

You can do wedding photography with a smartphone. It's not really the gear — it's the skill. But, this is mostly a matter of expectations. Some people will expect expect you to have much higher-end ...

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SD Card speed degrading and doesn't work on one of my cameras: can I do something?
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50 votes

Yes, there's something you can do. Stop using the card and replace it. Even reputable, high-quality cards have failures. And every such device has a limited lifespan. Don't risk it. You may do ...

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How much do lens lineups vary across DSLR platforms?
50 votes

Note: The landscape has changed significantly in the past seven years, and this answer really needs an update, which I will do when I get a chance. Notably, Olympus has exited the DSLR market in favor ...

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Technically, why is the out of focus area blurred more when using a bigger aperture?
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49 votes

I'm going to crib from my answer to an earlier question on aperture: When the aperture is very small, the admitted light is highly "collimated", which is a fancy way of saying "all the rays are ...

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What does it mean for a photograph to be "high key"?
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48 votes

Short answer So, not being quite satisfied, I did some research. Here's the tl;dr answer, but I hope you find the rest as interesting as I did. In painting and in photography, the "key" of an image ...

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How do I calibrate the diopter correction on my DSLR's viewfinder?
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48 votes

What you're looking at through the viewfinder is actually the image from the lens projected onto a ground-glass viewing screen. You want the diopter level to be adjusted so you can see that most ...

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Is camera flash actually harmful to infants or newborns?
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47 votes

I think you've answered the question yourself pretty well, with citations and everything. There's little real risk, and the flash manufacturers are erring on the side of caution in order to protect ...

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What are common beginner mistakes in photography?
45 votes

My other answer aside, I think almost all "beginner mistakes" boil down to one of a few things: Not being mindful of what's in the composition. The uneven horizon falls under this, as does the ...

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How were pictures turned from film to a big picture in a picture frame before digital scanning?
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42 votes

Going from negative film to a printed image is a two-step process. First, the negative is developed — the latent image on the film brought out and then fixed in place. Now you have a piece of ...

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What is GAS and how can I avoid it?
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42 votes

"GAS" is a joking acronym for "Gear Acquisition Syndrome" — basically, a hobby that is adjacent to photography. See also "Lens Acquisition Syndrome" and similar. It means buying new equipment for its ...

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What does the word "Contemporary" mean in a lens description?
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41 votes

This is a Sigma name for one of their lens lines. It is not a general purpose term and really only has the marketing meaning Sigma ascribes to it. From the Sigma website, that definition is: ...

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If I swallowed my SD Card would it be readable when it emerged?
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41 votes

Apparently yes: Police announced that part of the SD Card has since been discovered in Wakita's body (some Japanese blogs are reporting that they found it in his, ahem, poop). On the recovered card,...

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