If you’re just getting into photography there are a lot of new terms you may hear that are confusing. This is a list of photography terms for you to reference from to help you grow.
If I missed a term or if you have something to add onto an existing term, please leave a comment below! This list if for you and as a community was can make it the best and most comprehensive list possible!
Ambient Light - Availible light hitting your subject. No Flash or external lighting.
Aperture - The diaphragm inside of your camera lens to control how much light passes on to the sensor
Aperture Priority - A semi automatic camera shooting mode that lets you choose the aperture while the camera chooses the rest of the settings to expose your image
APS-c - The technical name for the Crop sensor standard
Articulating Screen - A digital screen on the back of your camera that can tilt up or down, left or right to get make it easier to get a unique angle
Aspect Ratio - The proportion between heigh and width of an image
Astrophotography - Photographing objects in space like stars
Back Button Focus - Assigning a button on the back of your camera to dictate when to focus rather than using the shutter button
Bit Rate - The rate as which your camera can communicate with your memory card
Blown out - When a portion of an image is so bright, there is no more information that can be saved
Bulb - Camera shooting mode what will keep the shutter open as long as you hold your finger on the button. Useful for long exposures
Blue Hour - The hour after sunset when the ambient light is a rich soft blue
Bokeh - The term for the out of focus elements in a photo
Boost Levels - Artificially raise the exposure in editing
Bracketing - Taking a series of photos, typically 3 with different settings to ensure you captured all image correctly
Burst Mode - A setting that allows the camera to take multiple photos per second while the shutter button is held down
Camera Modes - Different shooting modes that let you tell the camera how much control to have while shooting
Camera Shake - When your image is blurry, not because it is out of focus but because your shutter speed was too slow that the camera movement was captured in the image
Canon - Camera manufacturer
CF Card - A type of memory card mostly used in higher end cameras
Chimping - When you look at the back of the screen after taking a photo
Clipped - Similar to Blown Out, referring to the histogram readout showing where the information is lost
CMOS - Most common type of digital sensor
Cold Shoe - Slot on your camera to mount an accessory that will not communicate with the camera
Color space - Mathematical model that describes the range of colors an image can capture
Composition - How a photo is composed to make it more compelling. Common compositions are Leading Lines, The Rule of Thirds, and Visual Weight
Chromatic Aberration - When the elements inside of your camera lens are just slightly off they produce a red halo effect in your image under high contrast conditions. Typical of lower cost / quality lenses
Crop Sensor - Common sensor type used in the majority of entry level cameras that is smaller than Full frame sensors
Depth of Field - How much of your image will be in focus. Depth of Field or DOF is dependent of 3 elements, Focal Length, Aperture, and Subjects distance to camera
Digital zoom - When an image is Digitally enlarged to appear closer to a subject as if zoomed in
DPI - Dots Per Inch. A term used when printing a photo to decide how sharp the image will be.
DSLR - Digital Single Lens Reflex. Common type of digital camera typically has an interchangeable lens.
Dual Card Slot - When a camera has 2 memory card slots. Used for safety in the event of one memory card failing
Dynamic range - How many variations of light from black to white a camera sensor can pick up. The higher the Dynamic Range the better.
EVF - Electronic View Finder.
EXIF - Exchangeable Image File Format captures data about an image and embeds it into the image itself. Things like the cameras settings, copyright, description, and even location can be saved to the photo in the EXIF data
Expose to the Right - When you photograph you images brighter than a proper exposure. The RIGHT refers to the bright side of the histogram
Expose to the Left - When you photograph you images darker than a proper exposure. The LEFT refers to the dark side of the histogram
Exposure - How bright or dark your photo is.
Exposure Compensation - Used in automatic shooting modes to tell the camera to make a photo brighter or darker by a specific amount
Exposure Triangle - a teaching term to describe how to achieve a proper exposure using 3 camera settings. Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO
Extension Tubes - Piece of gear placed in between your camera and your lens to increase how close you can focus on a subject. Can turn a standard lens into a macro lens
Fast Glass - A lens with a wide aperture. Something like f1.2- f2. Called fast because it can take in a lot of light so its useful in dim situations, you can shoot fast without having to set up lights.
File Format - The type of image file your camera records.
Fill Light - Additional light used to brighten up the shadows of an image
Filter - An accessory you place in front of your lens to change the appearance of an image or how light enters the lens.
Fish eye - A type of lens that distorts the image to create a spherical creative effect
Flash - External light used to add additional illumination
Flash Sync - The fastest shutter speed your camera can still communicate with your flash
Focal Length - The magnification of your lens measured in millimeters
Focal Point - The predominant subject in your photo. Where you want a viewer to look in an image.
Focus Peaking - A digital tool used to help you nail focus when quickly when you are adjusting your focus manually
FPS - frames per second, in photography it measures how many photos you can take in a second
F-Stop - Synonym for Aperture. You can say “Aperture of f 2.8” or “An F-stop of 2.8”
Fuji - Camera Manufacturer
Full Frame - Standard digital image sensor size that matches the size of a frame of 35mm film
Full Manual - Shooting mode where you are in total control of the camera and it’s settings. The camera makes no decisions on its own.
Glass - Synonym for Camera Lens
Golden Hour - The hour before sunset when the sun is low in the sky creating an orange and golden glow
Grey Card - A grey colored piece of cardboard used to determine exposure and white balance. Not used in photography much anymore.
Hard Light - When a light has a hard edge between light and shadow. Not very flattering for portraits
HDR - High Dynamic Range. When you stitch several photos of different exposures together to create an image with more color and light detail than the naked human eye could see.
High Key - When the light illuminating your subject is very bright
Highlights - One of the brightest points of an image
Histogram - A digital tool to measure the amount and intensity of light in a frame.
Hot Shoe - The mount on your camera to attach your flash so it can communicate with your camera to fire when you take a photo
Hybrid Camera - A Camera that can also be used for Video
Hyperfocal Distance - The maximum distance that objects in your frame are within an acceptable amount of focus
IBIS - In Body Image Stabilization. A camera that has a sensor that adjusts to counteract your hand movements to produce a smoother image
Image Stabilization - An element within a camera lens that reduces the amount of camera shake captured by the camera creating a sharper image.
ISO - The Sensitivity to light of your camera sensor. Typically ranging from 100 to 6400
JPG - Compressed Image File Format most commonly used to share photos online.
Kelvin - The unit of measurement for the color of light. Used to define your white balance
Kit lens - The lens that came bundled with your camera. Typically lower quality than other lenses on the market
Leaf Shutter - A shutter mechanism inside of a camera lens. Common in medium format cameras
Lens Distortion - When a lens creates curved or non straight lines in your image. Common in objects that are near the corners of your image
Lens Flare - When light bounces around inside your camera lens to create a red or yellow artifact that you cant see with your eyes
Lens Hood - Plastic or metal hood mounted to the front of a lens to reduce lens flares
Lightmeter - measures the overall intensity of a light source
Long Exposure - Using a slow shutter speed to increase the length your image is exposed for. Used in night photography and creative uses to blur waterfalls or clouds
Low Key - When the main light illuminating your subject is dim
Macro Lens - A lens with a very close focusing distance to magnify an object
Manual Focus - Choosing focusing your camera lens to get your subject in focus
Medium Format - Refers to the size of the sensor. Larger than full frame, smaller than large format.
Metering - measures the brightness of your subject. Most cameras allow you to change how a scene is metered
Micro 4/3rds - Standard digital image sensor size used in olympus and panasonic cameras
Mirrorless - A camera that does not use a mechanical mirror to flip up and expose the camera sensor. This allows cameras to be smaller, lighter, and have faster autofocus
Moire - When a pattern or design is so small your camera sensor can not resolve it when photographed and causes a strange looking wavy pattern
ND Filter - Neutral Density filter. Cuts down the amount of light allowed to enter the lens
Nifty Fifty - The 50mm 1.8 lens both Canon and Nikon sell for an extremely affordable price making it the perfect first lens
Nikon - Camera manufacturer
Noise - When your cameras ISO is too high it can cause visible digital noise or grain in your image
Olympus - Camera manufacturer
Optical zoom - True zoom. When your lens moves to magnify an image
Orientation - Either up and down (Portrait orientation) or side to side (Landscape orientation)
Overexpose - When your image is exposed for too long causing it to be excessively bright
OVF - Optical Viewfinder
Panasonic - Camera Manufacturer
Panning - Moving your camera from side to side
Perspective Distortion - When your perspective causes your subjects features to be distorted
Photog / Tog - Shorthand for photographer
Pixel - Tiny square on your camera sensor that records color. 1 million pixels = 1 megapixel
Point and Shoot - Type of camera typically will limited controls and no interchangeable lens
Polarizer Filter - A filter that blocks and refines certain waves of light to darken skies, manage reflections, and suppress glare from windshields and bodies of water
Post processing - Editing
Prime / Fixed Lens - A lens that does not zoom.
Rangefinder - An interchangeable lens camera without the flip up mirror to view through the viewfinder. There is a separate window to compose and focus your image through.
RAW - Image file formate that retains all of the information captured by the image sensor.
Rear Shutter Curtain Sync - When your flash fires at the end of the exposure rather than the beginning. Offering a creative look
Reflector - A tool used to reflect light from one source onto your subject
Remote Shutter - A shutter button that allows you to take a photo without touching the camera. Useful for long exposures when the act of pressing the button on your camera can cause enough shake to ruin the image
Resolution - How many megapixels a camera has
SD Card - The most common type of camera memory card
Shutter speed - Controls the length of time light is exposed to your camera sensor
Soft - Slightly out of focus
Soft Light - A quality of light where the transition between light and shadow is gradual and not sharp
Sony - Camera manufacturer
SOOC - Straight Out Of Camera. An unedited image.
Speed Booster - A tool used to fit the image of a full frame lens onto a cropped sensor
Spray and Pray - When you take many photos without intention and hope that one turns out good
Shallow - When little of your frame is in focus
Standard Lens - a lens with a focal length between 45mm and 55mm. It offers the closest image compression to what our eyes naturally see
Stops - a measurement of light
Strobe - a type flash designed for the studio and not to be mounted on your camera
Teleconverter - A tool that magnifies the image of your lens to get closer to far away subjects
Telephoto Lens - a lens with a long focal length (85mm or more) to see objects far away
Tilt Shift Lens - a lens that can tilt to change the plane of focus
Timelapse - A series of images taken at a set interval of time to capture an event that takes a long time to compress it down to seconds
TTL - Through The Lens.
Underexpose - When your image is exposed for too sort of a time causing it to be excessively dark
Upscale - Video term to enlarge the resolution of a video file
UV Filter - Camera filter that blocks out UV Rays
Viewfinder - Where you look through on your camera to view and focus your image
Vignette - Dare edges on your image
Watermark - a stamp of sorts with your logo or contact info made to deter image thiefs
Waveform - Video version of a histogram
White Balance - The color balance of light
Wide Lens - a lens with a wide focal length. Anything wider than 35mm
Wide open - When your lens is open to its maximum aperture
x-Trans - Type of image sensor used by Fuji Cameras
Zoom Lens - A lens that can zoom in to get you closer to your subject