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Auto-Exposure Lock. This allows you to take a meter reading from a particular part of the frame, then lock that exposure while you re-compose the shot.
The light source in your current location. This could be natural light from the sun, or an artificial light source e.g. tungsten or fluorescent.
A technique used to smooth out "step-like" jagged pixel edges using software, to produce crisper results.
This is the opening in the lens that allows light to reach the image sensor. In most digital cameras, the size of the aperture can be adjusted to restrict or boost the amount of light hitting the sensor. This will be done automatically in Automatic mode, but cameras with Aperture Priority mode will also enable you to set the aperture manually. The aperture is measured in f-numbers, with the lowest number (eg f2) representing the largest aperture size and the highest (eg f8) representing the smallest.
A photos proportions, width compared to height. The most common being 4:3 for compact cameras
This occurs when a subject is placed between a bright light source and the camera, (for example, a person standing with a window behind them) which can confuse your cameras metering system. Unless you take steps to balance the lighting (e.g. with flash) or manually adjust the exposure to expose for your subject, they will appear silhouetted against the bright background.
A phenomenon that tends to occur when shooting at the widest focal length setting of some wide-angle lenses. Horizons can end up looking curved, or objects close to the edge of the frame become distorted. The effect can be exploited for creative purposes, or can often be corrected with software.
Digital cameras are powered either by a set of AA-sized batteries or by a lithiumion battery pack. If yours is a lithium-ion model, the battery pack will be supplied with the camera along with a charger. If the camera takes AA batteries, it's common for a set of non-rechargeable cells to be supplied to get you started. This type of camera will usually be compatible with AA-sized Ni-MH or Ni- Cd rechargeable cells as well.
Refers to your digital cameras RAM, which temporarily holds onto data before writing it to your memory card. The bigger your cameras buffer, the more data it can process at high speed, allowing for faster continuous shooting (burst) rates.
The natural shaking of our hands can cause the camera to wobble, resulting in blurred pictures. Many compacts now feature technologies to counteract the effects of camera shake. Each brand has its own name for this but they're commonly referred to as 'anti-shake' or 'image stabilisation' modes.
Charged Couple Device. A type of sensor that is surrounded by circuitry that processes the values gathered by its pixels sequentially. An analogue-to-digital converter (A/D Converter) translates each pixels value into a digital value in order to resolve an image.
Where the cameras metering system exposes for the subject(s) in the centre of the frame, paying less attention to the surrounding environment.
Compact Flash memory card
Also known as Colour Fringing. This is generated when a lens fails to focus different wavelengths of light onto precisely the same spot, causing coloured "fringes" to appear in images, often most prevalent around edges of high contrast objects.
Complimentary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor. These power-efficient sensors feature transistors at each pixel to amplify the signal, using less power, producing less heat and subsequently less noise than other types of sensor.
Abbreviation of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (K) as used in four-colour process printing
Also known as Chromatic aberration. This is generated when a lens fails to focus different wavelengths of light onto precisely the same spot, causing coloured "fringes" to appear in images, often most prevalent around edges of high contrast objects.
Every digital camera has at least one method to connect to a computer or TV via cables: AV - Audio / Video USB - Universal Bus Series DC - Power Connection Wi-Fi - Wireless HDMI - High definition F - FireWire
Also known as Burst mode, continuous shooting allows the camera to capture a sequence of shots in rapid succession, measured in frames per second (fps). The speed and maximum number of shots that can be taken in a burst varies from camera to camera.
The amount of foreground (in front of the subject) and background (behind the subject) that is acceptably sharp. Can be controlled by setting the Aperture.
Unlike Optical Zoom, this doesn't involve any real zooming at all. Rather, the camera will crop into an image, filling more of the frame with your subject, but at the same time resulting in reduced image quality.
Abbreviation for Digital Negative, the universal RAW format used by a few current camera models. DNG files can be read and converted by most types of image processing software.
Dots Per Inch, refers to the resolution, or number of printing dots. The higher the dpi, the more detail there will be in the printed image.
Stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex, a type of high-end digital camera in which the viewfinder enables you to view exactly what the camera is seeing through the lens (as opposed to the approximate framing offered by other camera viewfinders). DSLRs also feature interchangeable lens systems.
Dye-sublimation (often referred to as dye-sub) printers feature ribbons containing solid blocks of CMYK dye that are passed over a heating element, causing them to vapourise. This vapour is solidified onto special paper, producing the printed image.
The ability of a sensor to capture a range of light and dark tones, the wider the dynamic range, the better it will perform in high contrast situations.
The number of pixels that actually appear in the final image. Digital cameras will state a total number of megapixels that is higher than the effective megapixels, as some of these pixels are used for purposes other than resolving the image, for example determining light levels.
Stands for Exchangeable Image File Format, contains Metadata from the camera, giving details about the shutter speed, aperture, lens used, time and date etc.
Also commonly described as 'EV compensation' this is a feature available on the majority of cameras that enables you to manually override the automatic exposure to deliver an increase or decrease of light hitting the sensor. Exposure compensation is measured upwards or downwards according to an EV (Exposure Value) scale.
Cameras have a range of automatic, manual and preset scene modes to enhance your photography. For instance: A - Automatic P - Program AP - Aperture Priority SP - Shutter Priority M - Manual
The focal length of the lens divided by the diameter of the diaphragm in the centre of the lens. The standard full stops include: f/1.0, f/1.4, f/2.0, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22, etc.
A subtle use of flash to balance the ambient light, where the subject is too dark. Useful for situations where a subject is backlit, e.g. against a bright window, or just to lift the shadows in outdoor portraiture, where the natural light appears too harsh.
A high-speed serial bus interface that can be used to connect printers, scanners etc to a computer, as well as compatible cameras when shooting tethered (viewing the images on a computer as they're shot).
Flare is a general description of a variety of ghost images, colour spots, halos and haze that appear in the final image and in many cases is a result of a direct sunlight or other strong light hits directly the front element of your lens, even when outside of the frame of the picture.
Flash is used to provide additional or directional light when capturing an exposure. All cameras have an auto flash setting that will fire whenever the camera thinks flash is required, but there are a number of other flash settings available to suit different shooting scenarios. These include Red-eye Reduction flash for countering red-eye, and the softer Fill-in Flash for enhancing daylight shots that might otherwise be silhouetted. Some compacts, and all DSLRs, will also have a hotshoe for attaching an external flash unit.
This is a measure of the distance between the optical centre of the camera lens and its focal point. In fixed lenses, the focal length is constant, but a zoom lens will have a focal length range dependent on the level of zoom magnification used. A single focal length may give differing results on different cameras, due to the variable size of image sensors from model to model.
The measurement between the point at which a lens focuses to the centre of the lens, with anything on a full frame camera with a focal length of around 50mm being considered 'standard'. Anything below 50mm is considered 'wide-angle' and anything above, 'telephoto'. Cameras with non-full-frame sensors have focal length multipliers.
Cameras with sensors that are less than full-frame have focal length multipliers which calculate the equivalent focal length of a lens, as it would when used with a 35mm sensor. For example, a camera with a focal length multiplier of 1.5 would therefore make a 50mm lens behave like a 75mm (1.5 x 50 = 75).
All cameras feature an autofocus (often abbreviated to AF) system in which the lens adjusts itself automatically to focus on the subject of your photo. However, more sophisticated cameras also have a Manual Focus (MF) system that enables you to set focus yourself. This is useful if you want to, for example, focus off-centre or onto a background rather than foreground subject.
Colour shifts, usually seen around the edges between a bright and a dark area in an image, e.g. a tree against a bright sky. Purple fringing is caused by Chromatic Aberration, while white fringing or 'halos' are caused by excessive sharpening.
Stands for High Definition, refers to video that is higher resolution than standard definition video. Resolutions include 1,280x720 (720p) and 1,920x1,080 (1080i/1080p)
Stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface, a compact A/V interface that allows for fast transfer of uncompressed data.
Refers to a camera's ability to capture light and dark in an image. A camera or image with a high dynamic range will capture more detail in both of these areas
A graphical display of the tonal values in your image which can help ensure a well exposed and balanced image
The contact point that allows an external flashgun / viewfinder / other accessory to be attached to a digital camera.
A print head uses one or more nozzles to deliver a fine spray of liquid ink onto paper, creating an image comprising tiny individual ink dots.
A process whereby extra pixels are added to an image in order to enlarge it.
Stands for International Organisation of Standardisation. This organisation sets certain global standards, including - in this case - film speed (now translated to apply to the sensitivity of a digital sensor to light).
One of the most popular compressed file formats currently used in digital imaging. This is a lossy format, so repeated saving of a file will result in a reduction in image quality.
Stands for Liquid Crystal Display and refers to the screen on the rear of the camera. On most digital compacts the LCD is the main framing device when composing your shot, but can also be used to view and select options from camera menus and review the shots you've already taken.
A variety of rechargeable battery commonly used in digital cameras, tending to be lightweight and robust.
A feature which allows you to compose images on the cameras LCD screen
Technically, a macro shot is one where the image is life-size or larger with a magnification ration of 1:1 or greater, but in general terms 'macro' is used to describe any close-up photography
The macro mode on digital cameras doesn't produce true macro (1:1) images; rather it allows the camera to focus closer to a subject, with some focusing down to 1cm.
Shooting mode that lets the photographer control every aspect of the exposure.
One million pixels.
The resolution of a digital camera's image sensor is measured in megapixels, with one megapixel equalling a million pixels, or tiny light sensors. Each camera has two megapixel values - total megapixels and effective megapixels. It's the effective megapixels that are the important figure for the consumer (and the figure that we publish in DCB) because this is the number of megapixels directly used for capturing an image.
A removable storage device that records digital images as they are captured by the camera.
The camera's metering system measures the light intensity of the scene you're shooting in order to set the most appropriate exposure level. Most cameras offer a range of metering options that measure light in different ways. For example, Spot metering mode measures light from a single point in the centre of the frame, while Multi-segment metering measures light from across the frame and sets an average exposure.
A pattern that occurs when two grid patterns combine, e.g. in an image of a finely checked suit, or a computer monitor.
Memory Stick Pro Duo memory card
Memory Stick Pro memory card
Stands for Neutral Density filter - a neutral grey filter that can be placed in front of a the lens to help block some ambient light from reaching the camera's sensor, thereby allowing a longer exposure to be achieved.
Nickel Metal Hydride - A type of rechargeable battery that has a higher storage capacity than similarly-sized nickel cadmium versions.
Artefacts that appear in digital images, typically those shot at higher ISO sensitivities. Often most prevalent in the shadow areas, it tends to appear as coloured blotches, worsening as the sensitivity of the sensor increases, which in turn raises its temperature. Can be removed with specialised noise removal software or some types of image processing software.
The optical magnification provided by the camera lens, which is shown by a number follwed by an x, eg 4x. Different to digital zoom
A panorama is a super wide angle image that is created in a long, slim format, either horizontally or vertically
Stands for Picture Element - the smallest digital photographic element, with each being made up of a red, green and blue (RGB) component.
A semi-automatic exposure mode; the photographer sets the ISO and the camera selects the shutter speed and aperture according to the lighting conditions.
An image storage format that contains uncompressed data recorded at the time of shooting. Apart from those that use DNG format, manufacturers tend to have their own proprietary RAW file formats specific to certain camera models.
Appears in portraits as a red glow from the iris of the subject - caused by light reflecting off the retina. This can be corrected post-shoot using software, or the risk of it occurring in the first place can be reduced by using a flashgun's red-eye reduction mode.
The pixel size of the image captured by the camera, measured in terms of horizontal and vertical pixels. Resolution can be adjusted in-camera by reducing or increasing the number of megapixels used to take a shot.
The total number of pixels that make up an image.
Stands for Red, Green and Blue - the three primary colours that make up visible light.
Refers to the intensity of the colours in an image. This can be enhanced in-camera by tweaking jpeg parameters (if your camera allows this) or using image processing software.
Secure Digital - the most common card type
Secure Digital High Capacity card - the most common card type
The camera's sensor captures the light entering through the lens and is made up of millions of tiny sensors (the amount equal the MP) which are translated into pixels and will make up the image
The amount of time that passes between pressing the shutter release and the exposure actually occurring. This tends to be more of a problem in lower-end compacts and superzooms, with the phenomenon being less prevalent in more expensive models and DSLRs.
A semi-automatic exposure mode that lets the photographer determine the shutter speed, while the camera selects the appropriate aperture to achieve an even exposure.
The length of time for which the camera's shutter is released to allow light through the aperture when capturing a photograph. In Auto mode, the camera determines shutter speed for itself, but cameras with Shutter Priority mode can set the speed manually. In full Manual mode, both the shutter speed and aperture can be set at the same time.
Super Sonic wave Motor: built-in lens motor provides faster automatic focusing plus quiet, smooth operation.
The type of memory card your camera's compatible, including internal memory
Lens with a longer focal length than standard wide-angle and portrait lenses. Narrow angle of view produces effect of magnified image. Good for close-ups of distant subjects.
Stands for Tagged Image File Format - a common file format for storing images. TIFFs are usually uncompressed and can be resaved without loss of image quality, making them ideal for saving images that are in the process of being edited.
Through The Lens metering
Stands for Universal Series Bus. This is the most common cable connection through which image data is transferred from the camera to a second device such as a PC, printer or portable storage drive. There are two USB transfer speeds, USB 1.1 and USB 2.0; the latter is the usual choice these days.
Universal Serial Bus - a popular type of cable used for connecting peripherals and cameras to computers, for transferring data.
A maker's anti-shake system in camera, can be under numerous names
Although most cameras now use the LCD to compose shots, cameras like DSLRs often offer a viewfinder too, which is an eye piece you look through to compose
Often abbreviated to WB, the white balance can be set on a digital camera to correct for a range of lighting conditions. Every light source has its own colour temperature, which has the potential to produce a colour cast. Setting the white balance correctly ensures that objects that are white, will appear so in the final image, for a more natural look.
Most cameras feature a zoom lens which can magnify the subject you're shooting. There are two zoom types prevalent on digital compacts: optical zoom uses the optics of the lens itself to genuinely magnify the subject, while digital zoom simply 'crops' the image closer, causing it to lose resolution.