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Common Digital Photography Terms

written by: AlyssaAst•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 6/26/2011

Many common digital photography terms can be confusing when you first hear them. It can be difficult to distinguish what the terms mean. Despite the fact the terms sound complicated, there are actually simple definitions for the photography terms.

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    Photography for beginners can often seem overwhelming because many new terms are used that can be difficult to understand. Understanding digital photography can be turned into a much similar experience if you properly understand many of the terms that are used. The definitions of many common digital photography terms can easily be explained to make the journey into photography much easier. Many of the terms can help you better understand your camera and how to properly use it.

    Photo “Graduate Photo" By Harry Keely Stock.xchng


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    Burst Mode

    Bust mode is an easy technique to use when trying to photography a moving object. Burst mode is a technique that allows you to take multiple images quickly by holding the shutter release button. The pictures are taken in a rapid sequence. This term is often called continuous mode.

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    Camera Shake

    Camera shake is a common problem for many photographers. This term simply means slight movements made that are captured within an image. Blurred images are most often caused by camera shake. Many cameras have settings to help reduce the effects of camera shake on images.

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    Compact Digital Camera

    A compact digital camera is simply a camera that does not use interchangeable lenses. However, certain compact digital cameras can use converter lenses. A converter lens attaches to the front of most digital cameras using an adapter. Most compact digital cameras are simple point and shoot but can advance to cameras with manual or semi-automatic control settings.

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    Digital cameras use megapixels to capture images. One megapixel is equal to one million pixels. These are the elements that make a picture. Digital images contain thousands of these elements.

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    Overexposure occurs when an image looks too bright. The image does not look clear and many of the details of the image become lost in the bright areas of the photo.

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    Optical Zoom

    Optical zooms produce the best image quality when using a digital camera. While taking a picture, the focal length of the lens can change. It either extends or retracts to magnify the image. Optical zoom allows the image resolution to stay constant despite the position of the lens.

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    Shutter Lag

    Shutter lag is something all digital cameras have. Shutter lag simply refers to the amount of time it takes from the time the shutter release button is pressed to the time the photo is actually taken. Every digital camera has a different shutter lag time.

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    It is a common problem for beginner photographers to take underexposed pictures. This is when an image looks dark. The details in the dark areas of the image are lost and the picture does not look clear.


    For a list of other common photography abbreviations and acronyms and their definitions, please read this article.