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Glossary of Digital Photographic Terms D – E – F

This Glossary of Digital Photographic Terms (A through Z) was originally compiled as a handout for the basic digital photography class I teach.  As posted in this photo blog it is a “living document” laid out in six blog postings.  The definitions will be expanded, updated and upgraded as needed.  Feel free to suggest additional terms for the list.  Email me at: .

Glossary of Digital Photography Terms:  D – E – F

Depth of Field (DOF)  The distance between the nearest and farthest points that appears in focus in a photograph.  DOF varies with lens aperture, focal length, and camera-to-subject distance.

Diaphragm  The adjustable aperture of a lens is called a diaphragm and it controls the amount of light passing into the camera.  The diaphragm may be in front of, within or behind the lens.

Digital Zoom  Digital magnification of the center of an image that increases the apparent image size by interpolation.  Interpolation enlarges individual pixels often making a blurry picture and out-of-focus image.  Many photographers turn the digital zoom function off.  You will get the same or better quality image by cropping the image in post production.

Download  Transfer data from a device to a computer using a cable connection.

DSLR  A digital single lens reflex camera.

Diopter adjustment: A viewfinder feature that corrects for common eyeglass prescriptions so eyeglass wearers can use the viewfinder without wearing their glasses.


EXIF: Exchangeable Image File Format. Developed to standardize the exchange of image data between hardware devices and software.

Exposure: The amount of light allowed reaching the sensor, determined by the intensity of the light, the amount admitted by the iris of the lens, and the length of time determined by the shutter speed.

Exposure Value (EV): EV settings are a way of adding or decreasing exposure without the need to reference f-stops or shutter speeds. For example, if you tell your camera to add +1EV, it will provide as much exposure by using a larger f-stop, slower shutter speed, or both.


f numbers – A numerical designation (f/2, f 2.8, f3 etc.) indicating the size of the aperture.

F-stop – A term used to describe the aperture, or opening of a lens. F-stops are defined numerically – f1/4, f5.6, f22, etc. Larger, or wider apertures, allow more light to enter the lens, which results in faster shutter speeds. Faster apertures also allow for selective focus (narrow depth-of-field), while smaller (slower) apertures allow for greater depth-of-field. Wider apertures are preferred for portraits, while smaller apertures are preferred for landscapes.

Flash: A flash supplies additional light to compensate for low lighting, back-lighting and other lighting issues.

Focal Length The distance from the optical center of the lens to the image sensor when the lens is focused on infinity, usually expressed in millimeters.

Focus The process of bringing one plane of the scene into sharp focus on the image sensor.

File Format: A way of storing image data in a file.

Fill Flash: Also called forced flash. A camera setting that causes the electronic flash to always fire, which produces the effect of filling in shadows in brightly illuminated images.

Focal Length: The distance between the film and the optical center of the lens when the lens is focused on infinity, usually measured in millimeters.

Focus: To adjust the lens to produce a sharp image.

Framing: 1. In photography, composing your image in the viewfinder or LCD. 2. In composition, using elements of an image to form a sort of picture frame around an important subject.

Front Curtain Sync: The default electronic flash synchronization technique. The flash fires at the beginning of the exposure — in the instant that the first curtain of the focal plane shutter finishes its movement across the film or sensor plane.

November 12, 2011

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