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Digital Cameras Glossary


Charged Coupled Device. The computer chip that records the image and translates it into pixels.
Digital zoom/Optical zoom

Zoom (telephoto) function can either be digital or optical. Digital zoom is essentially an artificial zoom, whereby a fixed area of pixels is enlarged to appear as though the camera has zoomed in on the subject. The drawback of digital zoom is that there is usually a slight image degradation. Optical zoom is a zoom that is achieved by actual lens power and therefore of a higher quality with no image degradation.

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.

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.
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Image browser

An application that enables you to view digital photos. Some browsers also allow you to rename files, convert photos from one file format to another, add text descriptions, and more.

A standard for compressing image data developed by the Joint Photographic Experts Group, hence the name JPEG. 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.

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.

Equal to one million pixels. Typical measurement unit of camera image quality.
Memory cards

Most digital cameras use removable memory cards to store images. They are essentially "digital film" and the data stored on the cards can be transferred and erased. The cards are available in a range of storage capacities, measured in megabytes. There are various formats including CompactFlash, Memory Stick, SecureDigital, SmartMedia, and xD Picture Cards.
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Picture Element: digital photographs are comprised of thousands or millions of them; they are the building blocks of a digital photo.

This is a reflection of the number pixels in an image, with more being higher resolution.

Single Lens Reflex. When you look through the viewfinder, you are actually looking through the camera's lens, so composition and focusing are made easier than otherwise.

A small version of a photo. Image browsers commonly display thumbnails of photos several or even dozens at a time.

Universal Serial Bus: a standard protocol for transferring data to and from digital devices. Many digital cameras and memory card readers connect to the USB port on a computer.
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White balance

A function that uses a light coloured target area as a colour neutralizer (e.g., in a room with yellowish lights, the yellow lights give everything a yellowish hue. Using the camera's white balance on the white surface of a nearby wall will bring back a more natural-looking colour to your images.)
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