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Table of Contents
Fast Lens
Focal Length
Rule of Thirds
Shutter Speed
Slow Lens

Glossary of Photography Terms
AF - Stands for autofocus. The camera determines the focus distance instead of the user having to manually focus.

Aperture - The size of the lens opening in relation to the focal length. Aperture numbers are ratios, therefore f2.8 is like saying 1/2.8 and f/32 is like 1/32. This means that the smaller your f-number, the larger the aperture. Find out more on the aperture and shutter speed page.

dSLR - A single-lens reflex camera in digital form. The user looks through the viewfinder and he or she is able to see through the lens. When the shutter is triggered, a mirror flips up directing the light from the scene to a digital sensor (instead of film on a standard SLR).

Fast Lens - A lens with a large maximum aperture, generally f//2.8 or larger. It's considered "slow"fastause the larger aperture allows faster shutter speeds, which is good for low-light or sports situations.

Focal Length - How "zoomed in" or "zoomed out" a photograph is. A focal length of 50mm is considered "normal" while anything less than 50mm is called "wide angle." Conversely, anything greater than 50mm is called "telephoto." Find out more on the Focal Length page.

FTM - Full-Time Manual focusing. This allows you to grab the focus ring at any time and focus the camera. Comes on most of Canon's lenses equipped with ring USM or Nikon's AF-S lenses.

HDR - A high dynamic range image, or one that digitally combines frames of different exposure values of the same scene.

IS - Image Stabilization. It is a technology used by Canon (and by other manufacturers under different names) that uses a system of gyroscopes, sensors, and shifting lens elements to reduce the effects of camera shake, giving you up to 4 stops of hand-holdability. For instance, if you had a 500mm lens, without IS you could safely handhold it at 1/500 sec. With the 4-stop IS you could hold it at 1/30 sec.

ISO - Refers to the sensitivity of the film or sensor. For a more in-depth explanation, read this article.

MF - Stands for manual focus. Used with older lenses or if camera cannot autofocus on desired subject.

MTF - Modulation Transfer Function chart. Plots the resolution and contrast of a lens.

PnS - A point and shoot camera. Something that can be fully automatic; you just point it at your subject and get your shot.

PP - Post processing. Refers to retouching an image after it comes out of the camera with an image editor such as Picasa or Photoshop.

PS - PhotoShop. The most widely used and most powerful photo editing tool ever.

Rule of Thirds - One of the most basic artistic composition techniques. The human eye tends to be drawn to objects in both the horizontal and vertical thirds of the frame. For more information on the subject, check out the Composition page.

Shutter Speed - The amount of time the shutter in the camera is left open to expose the film/sensor to light. Generally, your camera will indicate shutter speed as a single number such as 250. This actually means 1/250ths of a second. Therefore, 3200 is much aster than 250 because it is 1/3200ths of a second vs 1/250ths of a second. Find out more on the aperture and shutter speed page.

Slow Lens - A lens with a small maximum aperture, generally f//4 or smaller. It's considered "slow" because the smaller aperture does not allow faster shutter speeds, which has an adverse effect in low-light situations.

SLR - Single-lens reflex cameras have been the main tool of most photographers since they were invented. They are quick, versitile, and capture excellent images. The user looks through the viewfinder and he or she is able to see through the lens. When the shutter is triggered, a mirror flips up directing the light from the scene to the film (or digital sensor in the case of a digital SLR).

USM - A motor used by Canon to drive their focus mechanism. It comes in two types: Ring USM and Micro USM. The micro USM is used in their cheaper cameras and do not offer full-time manual (FTM) focusing. The ring USM is more expensive, faster, and quieter than the micro USM and most cameras with a ring USM built in allow FTM.

VR - Vibration Reduction. Nikon's version of Canon's IS (Image Stabilizer). Uses gyros and shifting lens elements to correct for shaky hands.

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