Digital Photography Vocabulary List

BMP – Windows Bitmap image compression


Buffer – Memory in the camera that stores digital photos before they are written to the memory card.


CMYK – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black. The four colors in the inksets of many photo-quality printers. Some printers use six ink colors to achieve smoother, more photographic prints. The two additional colors are often lighter shades of cyan and magenta.


CompactFlash™ – A common type of digital camera memory card, about the size of a matchbook. There are two types of cards, Type I and Type II. They vary only in their thickness, with Type I being slightly thinner. A CompactFlash memory card can contain either flash memory or a miniature hard drive. The flash memory type is more prevalent.


Contrast – The difference between the darkest and lightest areas in a photo. The greater the difference, the higher the contrast.


Digital camera – A camera that captures the photo not on film, but in an electronic imaging sensor that takes the place of film.


Download, downloading – The process of moving computer data from one location to another. Though the term is normally used to describe the transfer, or downloading, of data from the Internet, it is also used to describe the transfer of photos from a camera memory card to the computer. Example: I downloaded photos to my PC.


External flash – A supplementary flash unit that connects to the camera with a cable, or is triggered by the light from the camera’s internal flash. Many fun and creative effects can be created with external flash.

FireWire – A type of cabling technology for transferring data to and from digital devices at high speed. Some professional digital cameras and memory card readers connect to the computer over FireWire. FireWire card readers are typically faster than those that connect via USB. Also known as IEEE 1394, FireWire was invented by Apple Computer but is now commonly used with Windows-based PCs as well.


Floppy Disk – Used for storing images in some digital cameras (Sony Mavicas)


GIF – (Graphics Interchange Format) Compresses images for transfer without dumping any important image data. This compression is limited to pictures using 250 colors or less.


Grayscale – A photo made up of varying tones of black and white. Grayscale is synonymous with black and white.


Histogram – A graphic representation of the range of tones from dark to light in a photo. Some digital cameras include a histogram feature that enables a precise check on the exposure of the photo.


Image editor – A computer program that enables you to adjust a photo to improve its appearance. With image editing software, you can darken or lighten a photo, rotate it, adjust its contrast, crop out extraneous detail, remove red-eye and more.


Image resolution - The number of pixels in a digital photo is commonly referred to as its image resolution.


Inkjet – A printer that places ink on the paper by spraying droplets through tiny nozzles.


JPEG – A standard for compressing image data developed by the Joint Photographic Experts Group, hence the name JPEG. Strictly speaking, JPEG is not a file format, it’s a compression method that is used within a file format, such as the EXIF-JPEG format common to digital cameras. It is referred to as a lossy format, which means some quality is lost in achieving JPEG’s high compression rates. Usually, if a high-quality, low-compression JPEG setting is chosen on a digital camera, the loss of quality is not detectable to the eye.


LCD – Liquid Crystal Display: a low-power monitor often used on the top and/or rear of a digital camera to display settings or the photo itself.


Megabyte (MB) – A measurement of data storage equal to 1024 kilobytes (KB).


Megapixel – Equal to one million pixels.


Memory Stick®—A memory card slightly smaller than a single stick of chewing gum. Like CompactFlash and SmartMedia, it is flash-based storage for your photos.


NiMH – Nickel Metal-Hydride: a type of rechargeable battery that can be recharged many times. NiMH batteries provide sufficient power to run digital cameras and flashes.


PICT- Native graphics format for Macintosh Computers


Pixel – Picture Element: digital photographs are comprised of thousands or millions of them; they are the building blocks of a digital photo.


RAW – The RAW image format is the data as it comes directly off the CCD, with no in-camera processing is performed.


Red-eye – The red glow from a subject’s eyes caused by light from a flash reflecting off the blood vessels behind the retina in the eye. The effect is most common when light levels are low, outdoor at night, or indoor in a dimly-lit room.


RGB – Red, Green, Blue: the three colors to which the human visual system, digital cameras and many other devices are sensitive.


Serial – A method for connecting an external device such as a printer, scanner, or camera, to a computer. It has been all but replaced by USB and FireWire in modern computers.


Sharpness – The clarity of detail in a photo.


SmartMedia™—a wafer-thin, matchbook size memory card. This is also a flash-memory based storage medium.


Thumbnail – A small version of a photo. Image browsers commonly display thumbnails of photos several or even dozens at a time. In Windows XP’s My Pictures, you can view thumbnails of photos in both the Thumbnails and Filmstrip view modes.


USB – Universal Serial Bus: a protocol for transferring data to and from digital devices. Many digital cameras and memory card readers connect to the USB port on a computer. USB card readers are typically faster than cameras or readers that connect to the serial port, but slower than those that connect via FireWire.


White balance – A function on the camera to compensate for different colors of light being emitted by different light sources.