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Digital Photography Glossary - After Knowing These You Are Officially An Expert

Aug 17, 2007
Digital photography is made easier if an understanding of the different terminology is understood. There are many areas to list, with the basics listed here:

1 MP camera - This is a camera that can shoot an image which is made up of one million pixels, which are used for the number of pixels in an image and the number of sensor elements of the camera.

Aperture - The opening that lets light travel to the camera's interior where the sensor is placed. An important element in most optical designs, it is deliberate to prevent saturation of a detector or overexposure of film.

Digital zoom - The process of blowing up a part of the picture by increasing the size of pixels in the image. The function that is performed within the digital camera leads to a loss of picture quality. Similar in some cameras to cropping the image, but the image is physically the same in location and size.

JPEG - The term used to describe the standard compression of a photographic image. This compression ratio was fixed by the Joint Photo Experts Group to reduce the picture size. It is not well suited for line drawings and other iconic images, due to its type of compression. The PNG and GIF formats are used for these or their reduction would lead to a considerable loss of picture quality.

Megapixels - An image that is made up of one million pixels, or used to express the number of sensor elements of digital cameras, or the number of display elements of digital displays.

Memory - A solid state electronic flash memory data storage device. Also, non-solid memory card that do not use flash memory.

Optical Zoom - The ability to vary the focal length and lens magnification, as opposed to a prime lens which has a fixed focal length.

Pixels: The single points in a graphic image. They can be reproduced at any size without the appearance of visible dots or squares. The word pixel stands for "(PI)cture (El)ement, with the common abbreviation PIX for PICTURE". Having a numerical value between 0 and 255, each pixel is made of three-color channels.

Pixel Count - This is the number of pixels that go into making each image.

PPI - This is the acronym of "pixels per inch" and describes the picture quality. Used for distinct meanings in the printer field, as the ppi is a measure of the printer's resolution of dot printing. The higher the number of pixels per inch the better is the picture.

RAW/NEF - An uncompressed photographed image file that contains minimally processed data from the image sensor of a digital camera or image scanner. The RAW picture format has been introduced by Canon. Nikon calls this format as NEF.

Sensor - An image sensor consisting of an integrated circuit consisting of an array of pixels. Each one contains a photo-detector as well as three or more transistors. Also referred to as the digital strip that receives light. It performs the same role that the negative does in the conventional camera.

Shutter Speed - The duration for which the shutter is held open when taking a photograph to allow the light to reach the imaging sensor. The time for which the shutter remains open (exposure time) is determined by a timing mechanism.

TIFF: A file format for storing images, photographs, and line art. Originally created by Aldus, jointly with Microsoft for use with PostScript printing. Used highly with high color depth images, along with JPEG and PNG. Abbreviation for "Tagged Image File Format". There is no loss of information in this format yet the file sizes are very large.

White Balance - A digital camera needs to find a reference point which represents white. Other surrounding colors will be calculated on this point. Many digital cameras feature automatic white balance, where it calculates the best-fit white balance. A digital camera normally has settings for sunlight, shade, electronic flash, fluorescent lighting and tungsten lighting which need to be adjusted before shooting.
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