15 Common Photography Terms All Beginners Need to Know

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7. Exposure Compensation

Exposure compensation is a way to tell the camera that you’d like the exposure to be lighter or darker. Exposure compensation can be used on some automated modes and semi-automated modes like aperture priority. It’s measured in stops of light, with negative numbers resulting in a darker image and positive ones creating a brighter shot.

8. File Format

The file format is how your camera lens will record the image or image file. Raw files contain more information than JPGs, which makes them more suitable for photo editing in various editing software.

9. Focal Length

The focal length describes the distance in millimeters between the lens and the image it forms on the film. It informs the angle of view (how much of what is being shot will be captured) and the magnification (how large things will appear). Essentially, the focal length is how ‘zoomed in’ your images will appear. For example, a Canon (or Nikon or Olympus) 35mm lens will create images that appear more ‘zoomed in’ than a Canon 18mm.

10. Focus

When your eyes focus on an object that’s close to you, the objects far away will appear blurry. The common photography term “focus” has the same meaning. Something that is in focus is sharp, while an object that is out-of-focus isn’t sharp. Different focus areas determine if the camera is focusing on multiple points or one user-selected point.

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