Cheat Sheet

Digital Photography All-In-One For Dummies

Knowing your way around digital photography is easy once you’re familiar with the layout of a basic digital camera and a few digital photography terms.

Basic Parts of a Digital Camera

Don’t let all of the controls on a digital camera scare you. Selecting the right camera to get you into digital photography is a snap. Here are the common components of a typical, non-SLR digital camera (not all cameras have the exact same features):

Front view of a digital camera.
Front view of a digital camera.
Back view of a digital camera.
Back view of a digital camera.

Faking Your Way through Digital Photography

Do you clam up when the topic turns to digital photography? Here are some hot topics and cool terms to use if you want to sound like you are living on the leading edge of digital photography technology:

  • Aperture priority: A camera control that lets you choose the lens opening, letting the camera’s exposure meter automatically determine the appropriate shutter speed.

  • Calibration: Zeroing in components of your computer system (such as your monitor) to provide color that matches the original.

  • CCD, CMOS: Two kinds of computer chips used as sensors to capture images in digital cameras.

  • Compact Flash, Secure Digital, xD, Memory Stick: The four competing types of removable storage for digital cameras.

  • Compression: A way of using software to squeeze an image down to a smaller, more manageable size. If you want to seem really cool, use the terms lossless compression (which doesn’t discard any information during the squishing process) and lossy compression (which does throw away some image information but makes smaller files).

  • Depth of field: How much of your image is in focus at one time.

  • Digicam: A cool term for a digital camera.

  • Dye-sub: A kind of printer that produces extra-good hard copies of digital images.

  • Interpolation: A process by which software pulls pixels out of thin air to produce an image with higher resolution. (Actually, it calculates the pixels based on those that already exist.)

  • ISO: Shorthand for the speed equivalent of a digital sensor when compared to traditional film sensitivity, such as ISO 100 or ISO 200. (ISO is the International Organization for Standardization. To earn extra awe, point out that ISO is not an acronym but comes from the Greek word isos, meaning “equal.”)

  • JPEG: An image file format used by most digital cameras to make images really small so more of them will fit in the camera. JPEG uses lossy compression.

  • Megapixel: One million pixels; a measurement of the resolution of your camera’s sensor.

  • Ppi: Picture elements (pixels) per inch; the more the better, especially when it comes time to make a print.

  • RGB: Red/green/blue: the primary colors of light used by your digital camera to capture images.

  • Resample: To change the size of an image by recalculating the pixels.

  • Resolution: How sharp your camera, monitor, or scanner is.

  • Shutter priority: A camera control that lets you set the length of the instant of time used to take the picture (the shorter the better when it comes to freezing action) and lets the camera’s exposure meter automatically determine the proper lens setting.

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