50 + Photography terms every beginner should know.

Photography terms\ glossary \ dictionary.

Learning photography can be overwhelming, especially with all those confusing photography terms everywhere. Stop letting all the jaron get the better of you, with todays 50+ photography terms undercovered and explained. No more headaches, just clarity on what you need to know. 

AF Servo – AKA Continuous Focus. 

This is a focus mode, most useful for keeping moving subjects in focus. 


The size of the whole, opening of the lens in which the light travels through.


A term used to describe the size of the digital imaging sensors used in most compact DSLRs. 

Aspect Ratio 

The proportional relationship between its width and its height of the image

Back Focus 

Is a button used to separate the focus and shutter release. Allowing you to switch between continuous and single focus.

Interested in learning more?


Blown Out

An area of the image that is so bright that it can’t hold any data or details. 


An out of focus blur effect 


Automaticing taking several photos at different exposure settings. A simplified and adjustable version of HDR. 


This means that you control the shutter speed with your finger. It will remain open while you hold the button. It’s great for longer exposures. 

Burst Mode

Is the process of taking continuous photos by holding down the shutter button, most commonly used to in action photography. 

Burst Rate

The Burst Rate of a camera is the number of consecutive images that it can shoot before the buffer is full.

Camera Shake 

When you accidentally shake the camera resulting in a blurry image resulting from a slow shutter speed. 

Chromatic Aberration

AKA colour fringing, is when the wavelengths of colour are focused on at different positions. 


Is the loss of data or detail in an image due to extreme blacks|shadows or white |highlights. 


Is the process of background elements appearing larger than they are, occurring mainly in longer focal lengths. 

Color Temperature

All light holds colour. Low colour temperature is warmer while high colour temperatures cooler and more blue. 

Crop Sensor / Crop Factor

Is the amount of the frame the sensor is cropping out. It’s measured by its Multipler. 

Depth of field

Is the distance between the closest and farthest objects in the photos that appears in focus. 

Digital vs Optical

This is in reference to the zoom method. Optical is the zoom ability of the lens, while digital is the image being enlarged and cropped. Optical zoom will always produce a better quality of image. 

Dynamic Range

Is the difference between the darkest and lightest parts of the photo. 

EXIF (Exchangeable Image File)

Is the additional information such as the metadata.


Is the amount of light that travels through the lens to the sensor or film. 

Exposure compensation

Is used to alter the amount of light allowed in, making the image brighter or darker. 

F-stop | Focal STOP

Is the ratio measurement of exposure. If you want to double the amount of light allowed through the aperture, you go to the next level on the f/scale. 

The f/stop scale is as follows: f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22.


Fast Glass

Means a lens with a large aperture.

File format

Is the method of the saving photos that can be read using a computer of printer. Most common file formats for images are JPEG, GIF, TIFF, RAW, PNG, PSD.

Focal Length

Is the distance between the lens and the sensor when in focus, usually measured in mm. 


The action of adjusting the distance between the lens and subject to make light rays converge to form a clear and sharply defined image of the subject.

Flash sync

Is the synchronisation of the shutter release and the firing of a flash.


Most commonly used and supported image format, and the best formats for sharing. 


Graphics Interchange Format are extremely compressed animated images. Great for social media, but that’s about it. 

Grain | Noise

Is a texture of processing film due to particulars. Gain on the other hand in what you see at higher ISO’s. People tend to dislike noise and grain however, like many aspects of photography it has its place. 


Are a graphical representation of the colours and tones of your photo. Wanna learn more about them, check out How to make good photos grea

Hot shoe

Is a way of connecting other devices to your camera. 

Image stabilization IS

Vibration reduction or anti shake technology is a family of features available on either your camera or your lens to help reduce camera shake. 



International Standards Organization, a method of measuring light sensitivity of the film or sensor. The standard starting point is 100 and max out at various levels, however normally produce too much noise at this point. 

Kelvin Values

Kelvin values is the numerical range for the colour temperature. 

Lens Flare

Normally known as a bright light source that causes a star like, however there is a second type which is light a haze over the whole image.  It’s caused by scattered light in the lens. 

Long exposure

Refers to a technique of a longer shutter speed. Most commonly used for intentional blur or extreme low light situations such as the night sky.  


Is when you take control of the camera settings, allowing you to control them manually rather than via the cameras computing.

Metering Modes

Is the ability to choose how the camera accesses the light within the frame. Modes normally include spot metering, matrix/evaluative, or centred. 

ND filter

Is a filter that allows you to block a certain amount of light (f-stops) through the lens, allowing you to do long exposures during daytime. 

Nifty Fifty – 50mm prime lens. 

The first Prime lens that I recommend you get. It’s cheap and very versatile. 


See Grain. 


It is a technique to keep your subject in focus while blurring your background, typically done horizontally. 


A lossless image format, allowing for transparent elements, however are larger in size than JPEG.


Is a fixed focal length lens. They are normally a faster & sharper lens.  


The Photoshop image format, allowing you to save all the individual layers. Best for saving the work process and allowing you to return


RAW files contain the maximum amount of data that your camera has captured. Allowing a greater depth of editing to occur, but at the cost of  a significantly larger file. 

Shutter Speed

The speed in a fraction of a second of which the shutter opens and shuts. 

Shutter release

The button or remote that allows the shutter to activate. 

SOOC – Straight out of camera. 

Is a photography term for an unedited photo. 

Stopping down

Stopping down refers to increasing the numerical f-stop number which decreases the size (diameter) of the aperture of a lens, resulting in less light entering the lens. 


Tagged-Image File Format (TIFF) contains a lot of information and is best reserved for archiving and retaining maximum information. 

Time Lapse

The process of taking a sequence of photos over a period of time. Normally done on a tripod to guarantee the same perspective. 

TTL (Through the lens)

A metering of the light through the lens. 

View finder

Is where the photographer (you) look through to compose the image. 


A reduction of brightness on the edges of the image. 

White Balance

WB is about finding a pure white, rather than a colour tinted

Wide open 

Is the process of using your lens with the widest possible aperture. (f1.8, 2.8



Increases the size of the subject, making it appear closer. This is determined by the increased focal length.

Have a photography term you want to learn more about that’s not listed? Comment below and I’ll get back to you asap.