The glossary should help you understand some of the words used when shopping for a Digital Camera. Our Camera expert has defined these terms and will tell you what they mean to you.
Autofocus - System by which the camera lens automatically focuses the image of a selected part of the picture.
Aperture priority - An exposure mode on an automatic or auto-focus camera that lets you set the aperture while the camera sets the shutter speed for proper exposure. If you change the aperture, of the light level changes, the shutter speed changes automatically.
Background - The part of the scene that appears behind the principal subject of the picture.
Backlighting - Light coming from behind the subject, toward the camera lens, so that the subject stands out vividly against the background. Sometimes produces a silhouette effect.
Candid Picture - Unposed pictures of people, often taken without the subject`s knowledge. These usually appear more natural and relaxed than posed pictures.
Composition - The pleasing arrangement of the elements within a scene - the main subject, the foreground and background, and the supporting subjects.
Crop - To trim or cut off part of an image or graphic. The function is usually located in photo editing software.
Close up - A picture taken with the subject close to the camera - usually less than two or three feet away, but it can be as close as a few inches.
CCD – Charge Coupled Device – the type of sensor (see sensor) used in most digital cameras today.
CMOS – Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor – another type of sensor used in digital cameras today.
Compression – Digital images are composed of millions of pixels (see pixel). Each pixel contains a value for Red, Green and Blue (RGB). So, the size of a 5MP image is (HxV). Multiplying that to get the pixels of X then multiply that by 3
Download - The process of transferring a file from a remote computer or device, such as a digital camera, to a PC.
Digitize - To convert analog information into digital format for use by a computer.
Digital Camera - A device that captures an image on a CCD or CMOS image sensor so it can be downloaded and manipulated by a computer.
Display/LCD - Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) screen on cameras used to preview and review pictures and other information, such as remaining pictures, menu options, and camera settings.
Existing light - Available light. Strictly speaking, existing light covers all natural lighting from moonlight to sunshine. For photographic purposes, existing light is the light that is already on the scene or project and includes room lamps, fluorescent lamps, spotlights, neon signs, candles, daylight through windows, outdoor scenes at twilight or in moonlight, and scenes artificially illuminated after dark.
EXIF – Extended Information on Fotos? – EXIF is a standard for a method to store camera and exposure information in an image. This enables you to view and use this data later for printing, enhancement, or to understand how the image was created.
EVF – Electronic Viewfinder (see viewfinder)
Frame (Framing) - One individual picture on a roll of film. Also, tree branch, arch, etc., that frames a subject.
Focus lock - Used to focus on subjects that are off-center. Center the subject in the viewfinder, press the shutter button halfway down, recompose the picture while you continue to hold the button, then press the shutter button all the way down to take the picture.
Fill Flash - Used to lighten shadows (especially on faces) in high-contrast scenes, such as bright light indoors or when a subject is lit from behind.
Flash Range - The distance the flash will light a subject. Range for a typical film camera is 15 feet while range for a digital camera is usually 6 to 10 feet.
Focus - Adjustment of the distance setting on a lens to define the subject sharply.
Inkjet Printer - An inexpensive printer that uses finely directed sprays of cyan, magenta, yellow, and (usually) black ink to produce the text and images. Color printout is achieved in one pass. Inkjet printers support many different media sizes and output resolutions.
LCD - Liquid Crystal Display – The display screen on the back of a digital camera that enables you to view images and configure your camera.
Memory Card/Picture Card - A storage device used to store data, such as picture and movie files. Available in a range of sizes, such as 8 MB, 32 MB, and 256 MB. Also called a memory card.
Megapixel – Digital cameras contain electronic sensors that read light. The sensors record light in a grid of pixels (picture element). Most camera sensors today have over 3 million of these pixels or 3 megapixels and some have many more. The more pixels in a sensor, the more detail a picture can contain and the higher the resolution and quality.
Manual Focus – Most cameras use a technology called autofocus which attempt to focus on the subject by detecting the nearest subject or a subject that is being pointed at. However, autofocus can fail in dim light or when there is not much contrast (such as an evenly lit wall, sky, etc. Also, you may not always want to focus of the closest subject or one in the center of the screen. Manual focus is available on some digital cameras to enable you to focus rather than letting the camera focus for you.
Memory Card/Storage Card – In a film camera, film is the light sensitive material that captures and stores images. In digital cameras, sensors (See sensors) capture the image but have no facility to store those images. Memory cards are the electronic devices that store the images. Memory cards come in different formats to make them compatible with various digital cameras and camcorders. They also come in different capacities which control how many images you can store.
Online Album - A personal collection of digital photos that resides online, usually through an online photo service. Options include editing and rearranging photos.
Online Photo Service - An online photofinishing service that lets digital and, at some sites, film camera users share and store their photos in online photo albums and order high quality prints from digital images. The sites lets users enhance pictures with editing tools, order prints online and order other photo products, like calendars and cards.
OVF – Optical Viewfinder (see viewfinder)
Pan/Panning - Moving the camera so that the image of a moving object remains in the same relative position in the viewfinder as you take a picture.
Panoramic Mode - A print format with a 1:3 aspect ratio that products prints of 3.5 x 10.5 inches or up to 4.5 x 11.5 inches. It is suitable for tall or wide subjects.
Picture editing software - Software that lets a computer user manipulate a digital pictures with a number of tools such as crop, resize, remove red eye, adjust brightness and contrast, and add text.
Resolution - The number of pixels in an image. A higher number correlates to a higher quality image Sensitivity (ISO)
Soft lighting - Lighting that is low or moderate in contrast, such as on an overcast day.
Scanner - A device that converts images, such as photographs, into digital form so they can be stored and manipulated on computers.
Sensor – The electronic circuitry of a digital camera that collects the light that becomes a digital image.
Sensor Size – Sensors (see Sensors) contain millions of pixels. They also come in different sizes. If a particular sensor of a given size contains 4 megapixels and then is reconfigured to remain the same size but contain 5 megapixels, each pixel must be smaller than the pixels on the 4 megapixel sensor. Pixels are like tiny buckets that are being filled with light. A smaller bucket with the same light will overflow. This reality causes noise and image artifact. A smaller sensor with the same megapixels will not produce images of equal quality.
Shutter priority - An exposure mode on an automatic or auto-focus camera that lets you select the desired shutter speed; the camera sets the aperture for proper exposure. If you change the shutter speed, or the light level changes, the camera adjusts the aperture automatically.
Thumbnail Index – Digital cameras can review pictures you’ve taken on the LCD display (see LCD display). Usually, this is done a single image at a time but most camera allow you to change the display to a thumbnail display that enable you to see a number of images (often 9) in a grid at the same time.
Tripod - A three-legged supporting stand used to hold the camera steady. Especially useful when using slow shutter speeds and/or telephoto lenses.
Viewpoint - The point or stance from which you view your subject through the camera.
Viewfinder - A viewing device on a camera to show the subject area that will be recorded on the film. Also known as the finder and projected frame. Most viewfinders are optical viewfinders meaning that you are looking a real representation of the scene rather than an electronic representation. We you use the image displayed on the cameras LCD display (see LCD display), you are looking at an electronic representation of the scene. Some cameras, such as megazoom camera, feature a view finder the is not optical but an electronic representation – just as you see on your LCD.
Zoom lens - A lens in which you adjust the focal length over a wide range. In effect, this gives you lenses of many focal lengths.
Zoom/Optical Zoom - Allows the camera user to zoom in or out from a subject without physically moving to change picture composition.