Camera & lingo cheat sheet...

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-17-2008
Camera & lingo cheat sheet...
Thu, 11-13-2008 - 7:06pm

First I must say that I am only a beginner and what I write is based on the little that I’ve learned since getting SBGC (6/30/08) and my interpretation of what I’ve learned.  I hope it’s as accurate as possible and please don’t shoot me if I mess up.  Hahaha!  :O)

So…I decided to write up a cheat sheet of some of the commonly used photography lingo that I use in some of my posts and that I have picked up from other sites.  Some are official lingo and some are my own wacky made up lingo!  :O)  And I also added camera settings and a brief description of each setting and camera modes and what they do.  I hope that this list is complete and covers all of the bases.  But if there is anything missing on the list that you’d like to see, give me a holler and I’ll add it to the list.  If I don’t know the answer, I will do my best to find it because if I don’t know it yet, I need too!  Lol!

Okay…here we go…

ACR...Adobe Camera Raw.  It's a plugin that comes with Adobe products (PSE, full PS and LR {Light Room}) that allows you to edit your raw images.  One thing to know, if you have an old version of PS and a newer camera, you might not be able to use ACR to edit your RAW files.  Sometimes you just need to go to Adobe and download the newest ACR plugin, but chances are your camera may be too new for the ACR plugin in your older PS.  You can either upgrade your PS, use the DNG converter (found on Adobe's transfers your raw files from your camera into a standard raw format that PS can read) or use the software that came with your camera.

OOF...out of focus

SOOC ~ straight out of camera

PP ~ post processing (photo edit)

PS ~ photo shop

SBGC ~ sweet baby girl canon (what I named my camera haha)

DOF ~ depth of field ~ it is the portion of your pic that appears sharp in the image.  Some will be sharp from front to back (deep DOF or DDOF), where others will only have a portion that is sharp and the rest blurry (shallow DOF or SDOF)

Aperture ~ the opening of your lens that determines your DOF and how much light comes in your camera and onto your camera’s sensor which is where the image is made

F/stop ~ the number system for choosing how big or small your aperture (opening of lens) is.  F/stop 1.2 or f/1.2 is a very big aperture (wide open) that will give you a small area in focus and the rest blurry (SDOF) and an f/stop 36 or f/36 is a very small aperture (stomped down) which would give you everything in focus from front to back (DDOF)!

Shooting wide open ~ means to have your aperture (opening of lens) set to the lowest number your lens will go for a SDOF (part of pic blurry) and to allow a lot of light to come in the camera and onto your camera’s sensor

Stomp down ~ means to close down your aperture (opening of lens) from a wider opening (low number SDOF) to a smaller opening (larger number DDOF) and to let less light come in the camera and onto your camera’s sensor ETA...the "Official" term is STOP down as to stop down your aperture to a larger number smaller opening.  I like to call is stomp down.  Just thought I'd clear that up!  :O)

SS ~ shutter speed.  How long the opening of your lens stays open.  You can freeze action or blur action with shutter speed.  It also determines how long the light comes in your camera and how long it hits your camera’s sensor.  A shutter speed of 1/500 (one five hundredth of a second) would be considered a fast shutter speed and would freeze action.  A shutter speed of 1/20 (one twentieth of a second) would be considered a slow shutter speed and allow action in your pic.


ISO ~ is equivalent to film speed.  It determines how sensitive your camera’s sensor is to light.  100-200 for bright sunny days, 400 for shady areas or cloudy days, 800 & up for darker conditions.  You can set it to auto and let the camera choose for you or you can choose to set it yourself.  I always set it myself.


WB ~ white balance.  Determines the color cast or hue/temperature that will your picture will be.  Will talk more about WB down below.


Underexposed ~ dark picture.


Overexposed ~ washed out bright picture.


Composition ~ the creative way you set up your shots.  This can be anything from what props you use, what angle you shoot from or how you set up the shot to tell a story



CAMERA MODES: On some cameras these modes might be named differently or you may not have them.  These are the mode names on my Canon Xsi


Creative modes…these are all fully auto modes and cannot be adjusted including the ISO & WB but perform different specific functions…


Auto ~ Does all of the settings for you…but I’m sure you already know that!  Lol!


Portrait ~ Good for taking head shot portrait type pics.  Gives a good smooth skin tone but I’m sure you already know that too!  Lol!


Landscape ~ Well…it’s good for landscapes but I’m sure you already know that!  Lol!


Macro ~ up close pictures.  Good for taking pictures of flower petals, tiny bugs etc. It gives great detail.


Sports ~ Good for action shots but I’m sure you already know that too!  Lol!


Night ~ Well…it’s good for night time shots, but I’m sure you already know that!  Lol!  It will use the flash.


No flash…full auto but will not pop up or use the flash.  Great for shooting in places where flashes are not allowed or would be disruptive.


Semi manual modes…These modes allow you to change some of the settings while allowing the camera to choose some.  Again, these are the ones my XSi has yours may be different or you may not have them…


P ~ program mode. This mode is just like auto in that the camera chooses your SS & aperture but it allows you to change/override the settings. 


TV ~ Shutter priority mode.  This mode is great for learning and understanding how shutter speed works.  You choose your shutter speed and your camera chooses your aperture.  Be sure to play in this mode and it will help you understand shutter speed.


AV ~ Aperture priority mode.   This mode is just like TV mode, but the opposite.   You choose your aperture  and the camera chooses your shutter speed.  Be sure to play in this mode and it will help you understand aperture! 


M ~ Manual…my happy place!  This mode gives you complete control over all of your settings!


A-DEP ~ Okay…to be honest I’ve never used this mode and I have NO idea what it does.  So…I am going to take from my book “ David Busch’s Canon EOS Rebel XSi” what he says and reword it a little so I’m not plagiarizing him.  A-DEP stands for Automatic depth of field and is good for when you want to maximize the range of sharpness in your picture.  Your camera selects your aperture that allows as much of your picture as possible to be in sharp focus and then chooses the shutter speed that is necessary to give a good exposure at the selected aperture.  The drawback to this mode is that you give up control over your shutter speed and could end up with blurry pics.  Confused?  Don’t worry, I am too and I personally will never use this mode!  It’s a bit redundant if you ask me!  But what the heck do I know?  Lol!


White Balance settings…


You have the option to choose a WB preset or make your own.  Again this is specific to my Canon XSi.  You may or may not have all of these options…


AWB ~ auto white balance.  The camera chooses your white balance for you.


Daylight ~ choose this WB when you are outside in the daylight.


Shade ~ choose this WB when you’re shooting in the shade.


Cloudy ~ choose this WB when you’re shooting on a cloudy day.


Tungsten Light ~ choose this WB when you’re shooting indoors and have lamps, light bulbs etc on. 


White fluorescent light ~  choose this WB when you’re shooting indoors with white fluorescent lights.


Flash ~ choose this WB when you’re shooting with a flash.


CWB ~ custom white balance.  Choose this WB when you’re unhappy with all of the other WB presets.  I will do a tut in the future about WB, why it’s so important and how to set your WB including CWB.


Now with all of that said about WB, I personally use AWB for all my shooting except indoor shooting.  Sometimes I try the tungsten WB when I’m indoors with good results.  Other times I set my CWB.   When I took shots of my friend Bina at the park (see my blog if you’d like to see them) I tried the Daylight WB in the direct sun and didn’t like it.  It was too warm and yellow for me and gave her blue eyes a green hue.  Then I tried the shade WB while we were in the shade and it was too blue/gray for me and made her eyes way too blue.  So I went to AWB and found it to be the most natural.  Try them all and play around!



So…whad’ya think ladies?  Was this helpful?  What else do you want to see here?  And I am working on tuts for the main settings…ISO, aperture & shutter speed that I will be posting and will include a challenge to do with it.  I am also going to do one on WB.  Then I hope to do one big one that helps put them all together.  I’m really enjoying writing all of these because I’m so happy to pass on what I’ve learned so far and it keeps it fresh in my blonde brain!  And as I write these, if they don’t make sense right away, do not get discouraged.  Keep reading them over and over.  I had to read some stuff for a couple weeks before it clicked.  And if you get frustrated, take a break from manual or any of the semi manual modes and jump into the creative modes and just have fun.  Learning all of this can be frustrating, it sure was for me lol, and we need to remember that photography is something we should enjoy and shouldn’t be a chore!  HAVE fun and lemme know if you have any questions!   :O)



Edited 11/5/2009 12:41 pm ET by momaziggy


iVillage Member
Registered: 07-29-2007
Wed, 11-19-2008 - 12:59pm

this is great! i was totally going to ask you what 'wide open' was, you mentioned it on my post about av shooting.... i was

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-17-2008
Wed, 11-19-2008 - 1:03pm
Oh yay...I'm so glad it's helpful.
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-01-2007
Wed, 11-19-2008 - 1:50pm
That was very helpful!

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-27-2006
Wed, 11-19-2008 - 1:54pm
I know there isn't a CL or anything for our board yet, but I think it would be good to have something like the sig making for beginners does in their top folder.
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-17-2008
Wed, 11-19-2008 - 2:16pm
I'm so glad it was helpful!
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-17-2008
Wed, 11-19-2008 - 2:20pm
Hey Meg!
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-17-2008
Wed, 11-19-2008 - 2:21pm
My pleasure!
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-28-2004
Wed, 11-19-2008 - 4:57pm
Bumping for all to see.


iVillage Member
Registered: 10-15-2007
Fri, 11-21-2008 - 12:31pm
Great post! :) You seemed to cover everything, nice to have it all in one place for quick reference! :)
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-17-2008
Sat, 11-22-2008 - 4:57pm
Thanks Mandy!