Photography Acronyms

Something you will quickly find is that there are LOTS of acronyms in photography. Lots of technical things that are much better left to a couple of letters. I am going to start out with a few and probably add on to it as we journey along.

AEB – Auto Exposure Bracketing

This is a handy little tool that I rarely use. You can set your camera to take three consecutive pictures with different exposure values. Sometimes when you get the foreground correctly exposed, you will “blow out” [over expose] the sky, turning it white. So if you use an exposure bracket of the shots, you can combine the correctly exposed shots in post production.

Av – Aperture Value.

This is the setting on a Canon camera where you can set your desired ISO rating and aperture, and the camera will meter as you take pictures to select the correct shutter speed to get the correct exposure value.

DSLR – Digital Single Lens Reflex

This is the type of camera I use. You are able to change lenses, and you can find some that are quite affordable.

DOF – Depth of Field.

This is how much of the picture is in focus. A shallow depth of field will isolate the subject from its background better than a deep depth of field.

EXIF – Exchangeable Information File Format

You don’t need to know what the acronym stands for, but you will want to know what it is. EXIF data is embedded in your picture when you take the shot with today’s DSLR cameras. It will include the camera model, lens model, focal length, aperture, ISO and much more. Back in the day, if you wanted to know all that, you had to write it down on paper when you shot the picture. Now, we have a very easy way to see exactly what we did to take a picture.

F-stop – this is a way of denoting your aperture. Sometimes written as f/x where x can be the aperture ratio.

HDR – High Dynamic Range

Dynamic range is the limit of luminance that a camera (or an eye) can capture. You can see a limited dynamic range, but your camera can see even less. Some photographers like to combined AEB shots to create a HDR shot which often looks very surreal. This can help open up the shadows and darken the highlights. But it can also look very cartoonish.

IS or VR – Image Stabilization or Vibration Reduction.

Basically the exact same thing. IS is what Canon calls it and VR is what Nikon calls it. This is what the lens does to adjust for the shake in your camera to get a better picture. There are two types of VR/IS. Canon and Nikon use only in-lens IS/VR. Some other companies like Pentax use in-camera VR where they actually move the sensor to compensate for camera shake. There are benefits and negatives to both systems.

ISO – International Organization for Standardization

This is another acronym that you don’t need to memorize, but you need to know what it means. ISO is an organization that standardized a rating of how sensitive to light film was. Remember Kodak Max 800? That was 800 ISO rated film. Every time you double the number on the ISO rating, you double the amount of light the sensor “sees.” So ISO 800 sees twice as much light as ISO 400, but ISO 800 only sees half as much light as ISO 1600. Normal values are 100, 200, 400, 800 and so on, but most cameras will go up in 1/3 stop levels.

OOF – Out of Focus

PP or PS – Post Processing or Photoshop

RAW – written as an acronym, but really isn’t. Your DLSR is able to write straight to JPEGs or as RAW files (Canon uses .cr2 file extension, Nikon uses .nef file extensions.) These are like digital negatives, that you then process in your digital darkroom (photoshop.) There is currently no standardization file, although Adobe wants to use .dng as the standard file extension.

SOC – Straight out of the camera (i.e. no photoshopping done)

Tv – Time Value.

Similar to Av, this is the setting where you will set your ISO rating and desired shutter speed [time value] and the camera will select the correct aperture value.

USM – Ultrasonic Motor

These are the motors in some Canon lenses that help focus faster and more accurately.

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