50 Essential Photography Terms you need to know


50 Essential photography terms you need to know. If you are a beginner then this guide is very helpful for you in your photographic journey.

Photography is a vast area and to know photography there are special kinds of courses available in the market. While photography is the most essential part of the cinema and fashion industries, it is no doubt casual shooters also have great enthusiasm for photography.

Before you know some photographic skills you should know some of the essential photography terms that are associated with photography.

Whether you are a beginner or a professional, you will always have a hunger to increase your photographic skills.

The terminologies of photography can be anything and it is associated with the DSLR lens, DSLR camera, their performance, and their effect as well.

In the following Essential photography glossary terms, we will let you discover some of the common terms that are associated with photography.

So let’s start…

50 Essential Photography Terms you need to know

1. Aperture

Aperture is the opening of the lens. Apertures are generally denoted by the f numbers. For example f/1.2, f/1.8, f/2, and so on. These aperture numbers speak a lot.

Smaller the aperture number larger the aperture openings and vice versa. Large apertures always have an advantage over small apertures.

The large apertures can perform well even in low light. It is because the opening of the aperture is very wide which helps in entering more lights inside lenses.

The large apertures are generally preferred for the low light photo shoots which include wedding photography terms, astrophotography, etc.

2. Focal length

Focal length is an important aspect of DSLR lenses. Because it determines the zoom length. The unit of focal length is generally determined by millimeters.

The telephoto lenses often come with greater focal length as they can get you clear images from far distances.

The greater focal length is great for sports and wildlife photography. [Best DSLR Lenses For Sports and Wildlife Photography]

There are also some wide-angle DSLR lenses whose focal lengths are great for interior photography, wedding photography etc.

Talking about the zoom and primes lenses, the zoom lenses always have variable focal lengths while prime lenses have fixed focal lengths.

3. Bokeh

Bokeh is called a blurry effect which is very important when it comes to portrait photography. The bokeh involves the separation of subjects from their background. There are really unbelievable lenses out there such as Canon 50mm f/1.2; this lens can give you exceptional bokeh effects.

Best DSLR Lenses For Portrait Photography

4. Depth of field

The depth of field can be defined as the acceptable photos that are under focus. The faster lenses have a greater depth of field than those lenses which have wide apertures.

More the openings of the lens more the depth of field that lens offers. As a result, it becomes easier for you to separate the subject from its background. In a portrait photography lens, you can see more depth of field.

There are three things you need to consider to get a better shallow depth of field.

*Use larger aperture like f/1.4 or f/2.8

*Zoom-in aperture

*Get closer to the subject

To get a deeper depth of field you can go for the lenses which have larger apertures like f/11.

5. Camera modes

That’s the most important and Essential Photography terms you need to know all about it. In the settings section of your camera, you can get a variety of camera modes. From camera modes, you can set exposure settings manually.

Popularly there are five modes which are automatic, shutter priority, aperture priority, program, and manual. For switching between these modes use the “PASM” dial which is found in most of the cameras.

6. Autofocus

Autofocus is a great feature that certainly helps the newbie photographers as they do not know the manual setting perfectly.

Depending upon the types of lenses autofocus may be slow or fast. While selecting a dslr make sure your DSLR lens has faster autofocus.

7. Crop factor

It completely depends upon the size of the camera sensor. Crop factor can be determined with respect to the size of full-frame camera sensors. The full-frame camera’s sensor has a 1x crop factor.

While APS-C sensor has a crop factor of 1.5x and in micro four third, you can get 2x crop factor. In the case of mobile phones, the crop factor is generally 7x.

If you use a 300mm lens on Nikon D850 full-frame you will get a 300mm field of view and if you use the same 300mm lens on Nikon D500 APS-C you will get a tighter view. Apart from that when you set an aperture or ISO setting, crop factor matters a lot.

8. Diffraction

Diffraction refers to blur. For example, if you use a smaller aperture you will notice that your looks of photos get blurrier. This blur is otherwise called diffraction.

So to avoid diffraction don’t use the lenses having aperture greater than f/22.

9. Chromatic aberration

That’s the most important and Essential Photography terms you need to know all about it. The chromatic aberration is referred to as color aberration. Sometimes what happens, in lots of photography, chromatic aberration occurs.

There are mainly two types of chromatic aberration

1. Lateral CA
2. Longitudinal CA

The lateral CA gives you yellow/blue, red/green, or cyan/Magenta outlines which are generally found around high contrast images.

Longitudinal CA gives you color fringes which are generally green in color. But these types of CA can be corrected using the software.

10. Distortion

Sometimes you can find some image quality issues that lead to distortion. Distortion happens due to the camera shaking. Thanks to some high-quality lenses which have less distortion because these lenses come with image stabilization properties. Better choose a lens that has image stabilization.

11. Composition

It is defined as the arrangements of elements in your photos. Those elements are people’s faces, colorful, bright or high contrast, etc.

Composition certainly helps you to get pleasing photos.

12. Exposure

The meaning of exposure generally varies with photographic skills.

The exposure generally deals with the brightness of the images. Sometimes you have heard of exposure words from a photographer. Those sentences are “the exposure was not good”, “The exposure is great at this shutter speed” etc.

13. Exposure compensation

By using exposure compensation in the setting section you can add brightness and darkness to your subject.

14. Filters

To protect the lens from scratches, smudges and fingerprints you can use filters as well. There are some UV filters available in the market which can help you to get pretty good protection from UV light.

Apart from that, you can do photography using filters as well. It is because many filters can give you desired colors as well.

15. Focus

While taking a snap you need to focus on the subject or desired image which you want to click. For the perfect focus to get you to have to deal with manual focus settings. But this manual setting is easy for professionals. As a beginner, if you are unable to achieve focus you have a better option of autofocus as well.

16. HDR

HDR stands for high dynamic range. By using HDR you can get two photos at a time with different exposure.

HDR photographers mostly use bracketing features for the capturing of best shots.

17. Portrait

Portrait photography is the one in which you can get a better picture with a suitable blurry background. Generally, portrait photography is done in modeling.

18. Landscape

For a landscape to shoot you need a perfect wide-angle Lens. In landscape photography more areas and more subjects, you can get.

19. Image stabilization

Image stabilization is the property by which you can reduce your camera shaking. As a result of which you get clean and sharp images. There are many lenses available in the market which have greater image stabilization properties.

20. LCD screen

Before you buy a camera give emphasis on the LCD screen

Always prefer tilted LCD screen with enabled touchscreen feature. As a result, you will get a dedicated LCD screen that is quite responsive.

21. ISO

Like just you need a setting for aperture and shutter speed, you also have to give emphasis on ISO setting as well.

In higher ISO settings, you can get brighter photos. But there is a limit if you choose extreme high ISO settings, you will probably not get a perfect picture.

The high ISO setting is quite helpful in dark situations.

22. JPEG

JPEG is the file type in photography. For all the photos you click, you will get JPEG formats. JPEG is the most compressed picture quality where you can get better pictures in smaller sizes.

23. Flare

Flare occurs if your lens is heavily exposed to bright light that leads to degradation in picture quality.

24. Ghosting

Ghosting is otherwise a type of flare when bright light repeatedly hitting the lens ghosting can be seen. So keep your lens away from the direct stray of sunlight.

25. Manual mode

In every camera, there is manual mode available for the settings of aperture, ISO, shutter speed etc. If you learn photographic skills effectively then you can use manual mode perfectly.

26. Automode

Auto Mode is the mode where you can’t get your focus done without considering any other settings. The Auto Mode is pretty effective for beginners.

27. Megapixel

Megapixel is the resolution that is mostly advertised by the camera companies. Anything greater than 8MP is considered a good camera.

All cameras these days come with better megapixels. So while buying a DSLR don’t worry about the megapixel rather consider all other things.

28. Metering

Metering refers to the reading of light by the camera in a scene. The scene could be brightness, darkness, contrast etc.

The metering system is not so much considered while taking photos. You can get better photos with just the setting of ISO, aperture, and light availability.

29. Noise

There is more noise that can be seen on the DSLR camera than the mirrorless camera. It is because of the camera mechanism that DSLR has. Still, DSLR has some good advantages over mirrorless as well.

30. Zoom lens

Zoom lenses are lenses whose focal length is not fixed. There are different types of zoom lenses available. Those are standard zoom (18-85mm), wide-angle zoom (<35mm), telephoto lenses( above 85mm), etc.

31. Prime lens

These are the lenses whose focal length is fixed. The prime lenses also include standard prime, wide-angle prime, and telephoto prime.

32. RAW

There are many advanced cameras that can give you RAW photos. These RAW photos can be post-processed. RAW files can give you all imaging data directly from your sensors. You can edit RAW photos as well.

33. Photoshop

It is software by which you can edit your photos to get a better photo. If you are not so convincing in your taken images, then you can photoshop those images as well.

34. Sensor size

Before you buy a camera, you must consider the sensor size.

There are 3 types of sensors available. Those are full-frame, APS-C, and micro four thirds sensors.

For photography, you can choose a full-frame sensor. For videography, you can go for the MFT sensor. For both photography and videography, the APS-C is a good choice.

35. Macro Lens

Macro Lens can give you better close-ups of any tiny objects. With the macro lens, you can capture the best shots of insects, delicate flowers, etc.

36. Magnification

Magnification is the property where you can get more prominent pictures. Usually, macro lenses have a pretty good magnification ratio 0f 1:1 or 1:2 etc.

37. Subject

The thing which you want to capture. To select the subject automatically there is autofocus available. However manual focus is also there.

38. Viewfinder

Generally found on the cameras where you can see the images which you are going to capture.

In a DSLR camera light falls on the mirror that reflects to the prism where it gets processed and then through the viewfinder, you can easily see the desired image.

39. Mirror

A mirror is a piece of glass found on DSLR cameras. Whereas in a mirrorless camera there is no mirror mechanism involved. The mirror plays a great role in DSLR cameras.

40. Visualisation

This is the most important term in photography. This “visualization” is otherwise called the planning step. Before you click any photos you have to visualize certain things. Those things are the angle from which you want to click the photos, availability of light, and so on. Visualization mainly depends on proper thinking and perfect decision-making ability.

41. Vignetting

Vignetting is the darkening of the corners. There are some lenses that show a high level of vignetting and can not give you a better picture. So choose a lens that has a low level of vignetting.

42. Vibration reduction

It is a key feature for most lenses. Those lenses which have vibration reduction properties do not produce any kind of shaking. As a result, you get better image quality.

43. Frame per second

This is denoted as fps. It is the frame rate at which the number of images appears on display.

44. Pixels

The single-component of a digital image.

45. Aspect ratio

The ratio between height and width is called the aspect ratio.

46. Time lapse

It is the time in which the number of photos is taken after every time interval.

47. Optical elements

There are many lenses that have various kinds of optical elements. The various types of optical elements include aspherical elements, glass-molded elements, refractive index elements, etc.

48. Aspherical elements

These elements can amazingly reduce any kind of spherical aberration from the image surface.

49. Fisheye lens

Fisheye lenses can produce hemispherical images. These lenses are generally used in creative photography.

50. Lightroom

A dedicated software from Adobe. The post-processing of images can be done using Lightroom.


We hope you enjoy the essential photography terms. While we have covered some of the common terminologies still many terminologies of photography are there. We will add the other terminology in the upcoming days to come. However, for a beginner or a fresher, the above are the most known 50 Essential photography terms.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Can I learn photography on my own?

A: Yes, you can learn by reading many articles and watching videos. But you will learn more when you have a DSLR camera. If you have photography accessories that will make it easier for you to understand and explore every aspect of photography.

Q. Where do I start photography?

A: There are many online courses available. Apart from that Nikon also provides photography courses. Explore those things and more importantly buy a DSLR. Because nothing can beat experience.

Q. What is the best type of photography?

A: There are many photographs which are the best. Those include portrait, landscape, fashion, interior, wedding, astrophotography, and so on.

Q. Which type of photography is most demanded?

A: Profitable photography includes fashion photography, interior photography, wedding photography, architectural photography, etc.

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