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Photography Acronyms

Have you ever been reading a photography forum or article online and seen some acronym you didn't understand?

Is CoC practically a four-letter word? Does GIF remind you of peanut butter? Are PJ's something you wear to bed at night? If so, you're in the right place to learn some photo lingo!

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


A

A: Nikon's original manual focus bayonet lens type
AD: Tamron's anomalous dispersion technology
A-DEP: Automatic depth of field – A mode on Canon cameras which lets the camera automatically put everything covered by focus points in focus - Learn More
AdobeRGB: A popular color space with a wider color gamut than sRGB, originally designed to encompass most of the colors achievable with CMYK printers, yet displayable on RGB monitors - Learn More
AE: Automatic exposure
AEB: Automatic exposure bracketing
AEL: Auto-exposure lock – allows a user to lock exposure settings and reorient the camera without changing exposure settings
AF: Auto focus
AFD: Arc-form drive – Canon's slow, inexpensive, and noisy focusing system
AF-I: Nikon's lenses with the focusing motor built into the lens barrel itself - Learn More
AF-S: Nikon's silent-wave focusing motors, similar to Canon's USM motors - Learn More
AI: Aperture indexing – Nikon's lenses which can communicate lens aperture to camera body via mechanical coupling - Learn More
AI-S: Nikon's AI lenses which also transmit linear aperture information - Learn More
AIS: Sony's proprietary hot shoe that can accept a variety of accessories such as a microphone and light
AL: Aspherical lens
A-TTL: Canon's older Advanced through-the-lens flash metering technology which uses a brief preflash to determine subject reflectivity and thereby estimate subject distance - Learn More
APO: Apochromatic – Technology which minimizes color aberration
APS-C: Canon's 1.6x crop sensor like in the Canon Digital Rebel XTi and Canon 30D
APS-H: Canon's 1.3x crop sensor like in the Canon 1D Mark III
ASA: American Standards Association - now ISO
ASL: Aspherical – allows for high quality, yet compact and lightweight lenses
ASP: Aspherical
ATX: Advanced Technology-Extra by Tokina
Av: Aperture Priority exposure mode - the user selects the desired aperture and the camera chooses the shutter speed to give you the appropriate exposure
AWB: Automatic white balance

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B

B: Bulb mode – allows for the shutter to be open as long as the shutter button is pressed
BG: Background - what's behind the foreground subject in a photo
BMP: Bitmap – a type of image format

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C

C: A lens coating type for Nikon's pre-AI lenses
CA: Chromatic abberation - Color fringing seen at high contrast areas - Learn More
CCD: Charged coupled device, the digital sensor typically used in Nikon cameras - Learn More
CF: Compact Flash - A common type of memory card physically larger than SD - Learn More
CMOS: Complimentary Metal Oxide Semiconductor – pronounced “see-moss” - the type of digital sensor typically used in Canon cameras - Learn More
CMYK: Cyan-magenta-yellow-black – The four colors in subtractive color systems commonly used when printing images - Learn More
CoC: Circle of Confusion - An estimated calculation of the depth of field necessary to produce a clean image - Learn More
CPL: Circular polarizer - Learn More
CRC: Close range correction - Lens designed for superior focusing at close distances
CRW: Canon Raw format
CR2: Canon Raw format

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D

D: Nikon's lenses which send distance information from the lens to the camera - Learn More
DAM: Digital asset management – A term describing the tools, methods, and techniques used to keep track of digital files - Learn More
DC: Defocus control - Allows the photographer to control the degree of out-of-focus area for better looking bokeh
DF: Sigma's dual focus system which separates internal focusing mechanism with focusing ring so the focusing ring doesn't spin while automatically focusing
DG: Sigma lenses with special coatings to help minimize reflections from digital sensors
Di: Tamron lenses with optics designed to combat the increased reflectivity of digital sensors
Di-II: Tamron's lenses for small-sensor digital cameras
DL: Deluxe. Sigma's lower end lenses
DNG: Digital Negative, an open Raw format - Learn More
DO: Diffractive optics – Technology which allows lenses to be physically smaller and shorter in length - Learn More
DOF: Depth of Field - The range of sharp focus in a picture - Learn More
DPI: Dots per square inch - A measure of printing resolution - Learn More
DPR: DPReview
DSLR: Digital Single Lens Reflex camera - Learn More
DX: Lens which is only compatible with a cropped sensor

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E

ECF: Eye Controlled Focus - Learn More
ED: Extra-low Dispersion glass elements which help correct chromatic abberations - Learn More
EF: Electronic Focusing, Canon's autofocus lens mount - Learn More
EF-s: Electronic Focus Short Backfocus, Canon lens which only works on 1.6x bodies - Learn More
EOS: Canon's electronic optical system - Learn More
E-TTL: Canon's evaluative through-the-lens flash metering - Learn More
E-TTL II: Canon's second generation through-the-lens flash metering technology - Learn More
EV: Exposure value – A method of quantifying brightness values. EV1 is defined as ISO 100, f/1.4, 1 second shutter. Camera EV ranges are typically about EV0-EV20 (+/-) - Learn More
EV: Electronic Viewfinder
EX: Excellence. Sigma's higher end lenses
EXIF: Extended Information built into digital images that contains information such as the Aperture and Shutter speed used to create the photo

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F

F-stop: Aperture
FD: Canon's older lens mount system which preceeded autofocus and the current EF mount - Learn More
FE: Fisheye lens such as the Nikon 10.5 f/2.8 Fisheye
FEB: Flash exposure bracketing - Learn More
FEC: Flash exposure compensation - Learn More
FEL: Flash exposure lock - Learn More
FF: Full frame - A digital sensor that is 24mm x 36mm, the size of 35mm film, such as in the Canon 5D
FG: Foreground
FL: Focal length - Learn More
FM: Fred Miranda
FP: Focal Plane - A flash mode which allows you to take a flashed photo at any shutter speed by pulsing the flash extremely quickly - Learn More
FPS: Frames per second - how many pictures per second the camera can capture

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G

G: Nikon's electronically controlled lenses which lack aperture rings on the lens barrel - Learn More
GB: Gigabyte – 1,000 Megabytes
GIF: Graphics interchange format, a proprietary image format with animation and transparency capabilities, but only 256 colors - Learn More
GN: Guide number - a measure of the maximum distance range of a flash - Learn More
GND: Graduated neutral density filter - A type of filter where the top is dark and the bottom is clear, with a transition in the middle. These are useful for shooting landscapes with bright skies. - Learn More
GPS: Global positioning system - a series of satellites in the sky which allow you to preciesly locate where you are and where photos were taken - Learn More

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H

HDR: High dynamic range - A technology to compress a scene with a very large dynamic range (dark darks and bright lights) to fit into a single photo - Learn More
HLS: Another name for HSL (see below)
HSM: Sigma's quiet, fast focusing motor similar to Canon's USM
HSB: Another name for HSV (see below)
HSI: Another name for HSL (see below)
HSL: A color space where Hue is the color, Saturation is the intensity, and Luminance is the brightness - Learn More
HSS: High speed sync - Another name for FP sync which allows for high speed flash photography - Learn More
HSV: A color space where Hue is the color, Saturation is the intensity, and Value is the brightness - Learn More
HZ: Hyperzoom
Hz: Hertz - A measure of frequency in units of cycles per second

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I

ICC: International Color Consortium - ICC Profiles are numeric representations of the color reproduction abilities of devices, often used to calibrate monitors and printers
IR: Infrared - Light below the visible spectrum when photographed, produces some very unique looks - Learn More
IF: Internal focusing lenses which do not change length over the focusing range
IP: Intellectual Property - Any work which is the creation of the human mind, such as a photograph
IS: Image Stabilization built into Canon lenses
ISO: International Standards Organization - speed or digital camera's (or film's) light-sensitivity - Learn More

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J

J: Pentax lenses without an external aperture ring
JPEG or JPG: Joint Photographic Experts Group - A very commonly used image format

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K

K: Kelvin - A scale used to measure color temperature - Learn More
KB: Kilobyte - 1,024 bytes

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L

L: Denotes Canon's Luxury (high end) lenses
LAB: A powerful color space which allows for manipulation that would be otherwise impossible in other color spaces - Learn More
LCD: Liquid crystal display
LED: Light emitting diode
Li-ion: Lithium ion - A type of rechargable battery with very high energy density, compact size, finite number of recharge cycles, finite lifespan, no memory effect, slow loss of charge when not in use, and an expensive cost - Learn More
LF: Large format - Learn More

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M

M: Manual exposure - the user manually selects both the aperture and shutter speed
MB: Megabyte
MF: Medium format - Learn More
MF: Manual focus
MLU: Mirror lock-up - A technique to flip up the SLR mirror before exposure and minimize vibrations due to mirror slap - Learn More
MMC: Multimedia card - A type of memory card - Learn More
MP: Megapixel - Learn More
MP-E: Canon's macro-only lenses such as the MP-E 65mm f/2.8
MRC: Multi resistant coating - Special coating used on lens filters to help reduce flare
MTF: Modulation transfer function - A way for people to quantitatively measure lens sharpness - Learn More

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N

ND: Neutral density filter - Dark filter which blocks light and allows for slower shutter speeds
NEF: Nikon Electronic File - Nikon's proprietary Raw format
NiCD: Nickel-cadmium - A common type of rechargable battery used where long life, high discharge rate, and extended temperature range is important - Learn More
NiMH: Nickel metal hydride - A common type and affordable type of rechargable battery that has a higher energy density compared to nickel-cadmium at the expense of reduced cycle life - Learn More

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O

OIS: Optical Image Stabilization built into Sigma lenses

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P

P: Program mode - An automatic exposure mode where the camera selects both the aperture and shutter speed
P&S: Point & Shoot camera - Small pocket-sized cameras commonly carried by many people
Pano: Panorama - Learn More
PC: Perspective control - Lenses which have the ability to tilt, shift, rise, and fall to remedy issues such as keystoning - Learn More
PJ: Photojournalist - A photographer who reports on news stories visually, typically working for newspapers, magazines, or wire agencies
PNG: Portable network graphics - A non-proprietary lossless image format that improves upon GIF - Learn More
PPI: Pixels per inch
ProPhoto RGB: A large color space featuring a color gamut larger than that of sRGB and AdobeRGB - Learn More
PS: Adobe Photoshop
PSD: Photoshop Document - Adobe Photoshop's native file format with support for layers, color spaces, and more - Learn More
PW: PocketWizard - A device that allows for remote camera and flash firings - Learn More

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Q

QR: Quick release - A system featuring both a clamp and a plate that allows for quick attachment and removal of cameras and lenses to tripods and other other accessories - Learn More
QT: Quicktime - Apple's movie system with support for both video and sound
QTVR: Quicktime Virtual Reality - Software which allows for the display of interactive and immersive panoramas - Learn More

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R

RAW: An image format captured straight from the sensor featuring raw, unprocessed data, allowing for large amounts of control and high quality images
RF: Rear focus- Sigma lens equipped with a system that moves the rear lens group for high speed, silent focusing
RG: Rob Galbraith
RGB: Red-green-blue - The three primary colors in additive color theory and the most commonly used color space - Learn More
RIP: Raster image processor - A piece of equipment or software which converts a computer file into a bitmap image that a printer can output

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S

SD: Secure Digital - A common type of memory card physically smaller than compact flash - Learn More
SDHC: Secure Digital High Capacity - A new standard allowing SD cards > 2 GB - Learn More
SE: Save energy mode in flashes - Learn More
SI: Sports Illustrated - A magazine and website dedicated to sports (and swimsuits!) - Learn More
SLR: Single lens reflex - A popular type of camera with one lens that allows through-the-lens (TTL) viewing
sRGB: Standard RGB - A common color space used with monitors and the internet, despite the limited color gamut - Learn More
SS: Shutter speed

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T

T: A camera setting that holds the shutter open. It differs from "B" bulb mode in that it doesn't require the shutter button to be held down during the exposure. Instead, the shutter opens on the first press and remains open until the button is pressed a second time
T*: Transparency - A famous lens coating process developed by Zeiss and renowned for its high quality. This process is used on Zeiss and Contax/Yashica lenses
TC: Teleconverter - A lens accessory that fits between the lens and camera body and extends the focal length of the lens, often by 1.4x or 2x, at the cost of reduced light, decreased image quality, and slower autofocus - Learn More
TIFF or TIF: Tagged image file format - A popular uncompressed image file format - Learn More
TLR: Twin-lens reflex - A type of camera in which the viewfinder lens and the taking lens are separate optical systems. These cameras have been rendered obsolete by single-lens reflex cameras - Learn More
T-mount: A threaded lens mount system often used to mount cameras to telescopes for astrophotography
TS-E: Tilt-Shift lenses such as the Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8 - Learn More
TTL: Through the lens - A metering system, either ambient or flash, which works through the lens
Tv: Shutter priority exposure mode - the user selects the shutter speed and the camera selects the appropriate aperture

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U

UD: Ultra-low dispersion glass - Canon lens elements made from UD glass have a lower index of refraction than regular glass so they're used to correct chromatic abberation
USM: UltraSonic Motor - Canon's fast and quiet focusing motor
UV Filter: Ultraviolet filter - Despite the name, they're typically used simply for physical protection against the elements and impacts - Learn More
UW: Underwater
UWA: Ultra-wide angle - Usually a lens with an angle of view greater than 90°. For 35mm system, this applies to lenses with focal lengths shorter than about 24mm

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V

VF: Viewfinder
VR: Vibration Reduction built into Nikon lenses

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W

WA: Wide-angle lens - A lens with a shorter focal length and wider field of view than a 50mm lens
WB: White balance
WiFi: Wireless technology which allows you to remotely control cameras and transmit images using devices such as the Canon WFT-E2A
WS: Watt per second - A measurement of electrical energy in a flash

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X

xD: Extreme Digital - A type of memory card - Learn More
XR: Tamron's extra refractive index glass
X-sync: The flash sync speed indicating the fastest shutter speed that can be used with a flash - Learn More

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