Everyone starts their photography journey somewhere. Learning these common photography terms is going to give you in just a few minutes a much better understanding of how cameras work and the different options to choose from when selecting a camera. Some of these common photography terms you may have heard before but never known what they really mean. Now it's time to learn as they are at the core of being a good photographer.
Aperture refers to how big the size of the opening of the lens is. In classic diagrams of a camera, you will notice sometimes there are these fan-like blades that close when the image is taken. How much these blades open is adjustable. This is what aperture is referring to. Aperture is measured in f-stops. The lower the f-stop the larger the opening of the blades. Having a large opening is good for letting in more light - like when it's dark out or there is poor lighting. A wide aperture also creates that soft, blurred background. Having a smaller opening is better for keeping a subject totally in focus.
This is a measure of how sensitive the camera is to light. The lower the number means the camera is less sensitive to light. The higher it is the more sensitive it is. This is very useful when capturing images with low or poor lighting. However be careful, when you increase the ISO your photo will appear to be grainier and have fewer details. ISO should be balanced with aperture and shutter speed to get a proper exposure.
This is how light or dark the image is. When you take a photo you are exposing the sensor in the camera to light. If it doesn’t get enough light then the photo will be dark and underexposed. If it gets too much light then it will be too bright and overexposed.
In today's world where images are made up of pixels. It is the number of pixels that give you the resolution. The more pixels the less grainy it will be and the crisper. So usually the higher the Megapixel your camera has the better off you are. Though sometimes you want to lower the pixels to save space but you can never go above your max.
When a person focuses their eyes on something they are selecting something to look at and the rest becomes kind of blurry while what they are focusing on remains perfectly clear. A camera works just like that. You can focus on something close up and have the rest of the image be blurred. In landscape photography, it is common to have the whole image in focus while portrait photography people like when the person is in focus and the background is blurred.
Have you ever taken a photo and you can actually see the grains and the pixels. That is noise. In every image, you want as little noise as possible. As mentioned before you tend to get more noise when you have a higher ISO to compensate for the poor lighting.
The way a camera works is there is a lens with a sensor on it. When you click the shutter the sensor is exposed to light for it to capture the image. How long it's exposed is determined by the speed of the shutter. The slower the speed the more light and everything that moves will be a blur. That is why tripods like this one are critical even for mobile photography. Shutter speed is measured in seconds and fractions of seconds.
Depth of Field
People see images in two dimensions but there are some tricks that help the eye perceive as depth. One we discussed already and that is having the background be blurred while the subject is in focus. The other is having things in the shot which are closer and some further, So for example, if I am photographing a field I may include The fence or some branches of a nearby tree to show something close and that will create depth of field.
Digital Vs. Optical Zoom
There are two kinds of zoom. Optical zoom is an actual lens adjustment where digital zoom is done using software. Digital zoom is basically the software of the camera enlarging the middle section of what you are photographing and trimming the sides of the image. If you need to be taking high-quality photos from afar them you need optical zoom as it will give you a much crisper image.
You probably have heard the terms JPEG and PNG before when it comes to image formats. But you may not have heard or RAW. RAW is like a digital negative from when we used film in cameras. Think of it as a totally unprocessed image whereas JPEG and PNG are somewhat processed. You need special software to open a RAW file where JPEG and PNG are universal. So what makes RAW better? If you are going to edit the image then RAW is by far the better choice as it is the full unedited image so you have more to work with. Some smartphones as well as certain apps will allow you to shoot RAW images.
The focal length is the distance between the sensor/lens and the subject. It is measured in millimetres. It tells you how much of the image will be captured and how zoomed in it will appear. The longer the focal length the less the image will capture and the more zoomed in it will be.
DSLR VS Mirrorless
The main difference is DSLRs have a reflex mirror that bounces the light up into an optical viewfinder which is where you preview your image. The mirrorless has no mirror and allows the light directly into the sensor and it uses a digital electronic representation for the preview. This used to just mean that mirrorless was more compact but DSLRs were faster and shot better but that has changed. Most people agree mirrorless is superior in every way except maybe battery life. Regardless, mirrorless is likely going to be the technology of the future.
The viewfinder is where you preview the image. On a smartphone, it's your screen and there is only one kind, that is electronic. On a DSLR you will find mainly optical viewfinders which as mentioned above uses mirrors to show you the image. Mirrorless as implied by the name has no mirror and utilizes the electronic viewfinder.
Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) VS Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS)
Both are types of stabilization but they have different goals so it's not a competition. OIS improves low light images and helps compensate for shaky hands for each frame. EIS is for video and improves shakiness by maintaining consistent imaging across many frames. OIS is mainly for photos, and EIS is only for video.
When using manual or pro mode there is a built-in meter that tells you if there is too much light or too little light being let in. Meaning is the image under or overexposed. This way you don’t have to guess. There are different modes for metering. Matrix metering looks at the whole image where center-weighted looks only at the center of the image. Lastly, spot metering measures where your focus point is.
So that wraps up all the terms I think everybody interested in photography should know. If I missed any or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me here.