DSLR Beginner guides | Jargon buster

DSLR camera lingo made easy...

For more help with any words related to DSLR photography, visit www.photonotes.org, type in any word you are unsure about for a full explanation.

Autofocus, Most DSLRs will have one autofocus point - or multiple points spread out across the frame, the camera will find the subject and focus lock.

AI Servo
Artificial intelligence” typically found on Canon EOS SLRs bodies. This function continually tracks focus and can predictive the path of objects moving. Ideal for wildlife photography.

Ambient light
The natural light in a scene.

This is the opening inside the lens that is capable of varying the amount of light entering the camera. Aperture diameter is expressed in f-stops. (f stops/f number= focal length.) The lower the number, the larger the aperture opening, so f2.8 is a larger light opening than f8. The advantage of a large light opening, Is that this will allow the camera to operate In lower light conditions without using flash.

Aperture Priority (A)
Where the lens aperture is set and the camera automatically selects the appropriate shutter speed. This gives the photographer a useful tool to have more control over the camera. The smaller the F number, the larger the aperture. A larger aperture allows more light in to your camera resulting in faster shutter speeds.

To achieve shots with blurred backgrounds and a sharp object in the foreground e.g. portrait photography, set your camera to A (aperture priority) and select a wide aperture (low F number - e.g. f2.8).

Auto mode
The camera makes all the decisions for the picture after evaluating the subject, the user has no control over any settings.

A temporary camera storage area. So a camera with a large internal buffer will be able to write your images to your memory card more quickly and will enable you to take photos in rapid succession.

Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black. The four colors in the inksets of many photo-quality printers. Some printers use six ink colors to achieve smoother, more photographic prints. The two additional colors are often lighter shades of cyan and magenta.

Depth of field
In optics, particularly as it relates to film and photography, the depth of field (DOF) is the portion of a scene that appears sharp in the image. Although a lens can precisely focus at only one distance, the decrease in sharpness is gradual on either side of the focused distance, so that within the DOF, the unsharpness is imperceptible under normal viewing conditions.

Dots per inch: A measurement of the resolution of a digital photo or digital device, including digital cameras and printers. The higher the number, the greater the resolution.

Fill flash
A flash technique used to brighten deep shadow areas, typically outdoors on sunny days. Some digital cameras include a fill flash mode that forces the flash to fire, even in bright light.

F stop
An f stop is a term used in photography and denotes the size, expressed as a ratio, of the aperture in a camera that regulates the amount of light falling on the lens.
The amount of light falling on the lens is proportional to the size of the aperture and an f spot expressed as f / 2 will let in more light as compared to an f spot expressed as f / 8.

A photo made up of varying tones of black and white. Grayscale is synonymous with black and white.

A graphic representation of the range of tones from dark to light in a photo. Some digital cameras include a histogram feature that enables a precise check on the exposure of the photo.

Hot shoe
This small attachment at the top of some cameras is for adding an external flash – useful for illuminating subjects more than a few metres away.

The higher the ISO number, the more sensitive the camera is to light, helping you achieve blur-free, pictures without flash. You have the option to set it manually on all our cameras. However, the higher you set the ISO, the more ‘noise’ you get in your photos resulting in a loss of quality.

Jpeg/Tiff files
Jpeg files are the most common digital camera choice of image file format. Jpeg files are compressed digital files and can vary in quality. The least compression offers the best quality but, for the ultimate, you can save the file as a Tiff, which is a non-compressed file format. File sizes vary according to compression and non-compressed files.

Liquid Crystal Display: a low-power monitor often used on the top and/or rear of a digital camera to display settings or the photo itself.

Macro Mode
A close-up picture-taking ability. Often indicated by a little icon of a flower, macro mode helps you take highly detailed close-ups. To achieve exceptional macro images you will need a dedicated macro lens for your DSLR body.

Manual (M)
A setting on your DSLR which gives the user full manual control over the exposure. Both the aperture and shutter speed can be altered, offering complete creative control over the final image.

Pixels are tiny dots of colour that make up a digital image. 5Mp is 5 million pixels, for example. More pixels means more detail in the picture taken, which will allow you to create larger prints.

Megabyte (MB)
A measurement of data storage equal to 1024 kilobytes (KB).

Most cameras have a built-in light meter that measures the amount of light in a scene and allows the camera to adjust the shutter speed and aperture for a proper exposure. To meter is to take a light reading. Metering modes can include: Spot, Evaluative, Partial and centre weighted.

The higher you set the ISO on your camera, the more ‘noise’ you get in your photos. This appears as small, coloured speckles and it can detract from picture quality.

A photography technique in which the camera follows a moving subject. Done correctly, the subject is sharp and clear, while the background is blurred, giving a sense of motion to the photo.

Pictbridge is a printing protocol that allows a digital camera to connect directly to an enabled printer. (usually via a supplied USB cable.) Options such as tagging for print, quantity and quality can be selected on the camera (via the camera's LCD screen) for easy PC free printing.

An abbreviation of ‘picture element’ and is a minute area of illumination on a digital display screen. A megapixel camera has one million light-sensitive pixels.

Program (P)
An automatic exposure mode. Program AE sets both shutter speed and lens aperture according to the internal light meter and the calculations of the camera. This setting also allows the user to alter certain settings including ISO.

An image format where the camera does not alter the data or process it. The RAW file format is digital photography's equivalent of a negative in film photography: it contains untouched, "raw" pixel information straight from the digital camera's sensor. RAW files typically give the photographer the highest quality output.

RGB is a common colour theory used on computer systems - each of the three colours are assigned their own colour channel which can be manipulated independently. 24-bit RGB assigns 8-bit channels to each of the three colours.

How rich the colors are in a photo.

Sensitivity (ISO)
This is a measure of the camera’s ability to respond to light.

Your digital camera sensor is what captures the digital image. There are various size sensors ranging to full frame sensors found on Pro cameras to 1.6x and 2x crop factor sensors found in more mainstream bodies. If your camera has a APS-C size sensor, this means it has a 1.6x crop factor, therefore if you attache a 100mm lens you need to times the focal length by 1.6 so in effect the lens would be a 160mm lens. A full frame sensor with the same 100mm lens would have no multiplication factor and would be a true 100mm.

Shutter Priority
This is a system used in cameras in which the shutter speed is selected by the user and the appropriate aperture is then set by the camera.

Universal Serial Bus, the most common type of connection on digital cameras. USB2 is the latest faster version.

White Balance
Cameras have to deal with various lighting situations and this is a function that compensates for different colours of light. For instance, household lighting is very different from sunshine; some cameras read the colour of the light and adjust automatically to compensate.

Return to home page

This is a non-commercial website.
The content is my own diary and findings. I accept no responsibility or liability if you choose to follow my advice.

The advice, reviews and opinions expressed in this website is based purely on my own preferences. You may find other settings work better for you and your equipment.

The owners of this site will use reasonable efforts to include up-to-date and accurate information in this Internet site, but makes no representations, warranties, or assurances as to the accuracy, currency, or completeness of the information provided. The owners of this site shall not be liable for any damages or injury resulting from your access to, or inability to access, this Internet site, or from your reliance on any information provided at this Internet site.

This Internet site may provide links or references to other sites but the owners of this site have no responsibility for the content of such other sites and shall not be liable for any damages or injury arising from that content. Any links to other sites are provided as merely a convenience to the users of this Internet site.