25 Frequent Images Abbreviations, Defined

Images is a visible medium, but it’s filled with abbreviations: AF, DOF, TIFF, DSLR, CMYK, AWB, and a lot extra. For the newbie, these initialisms and acronyms will be extremely overwhelming (and even seasoned photographers will discover sure abbreviations complicated!).

That’s why we’ve put collectively this information, which explains the abbreviations you’re most certainly to come across, whether or not you’re looking for gear, photographing outside, or working in a studio. The record is alphabetical, so you’ll be able to simply reference it everytime you come throughout a brand new images abbreviation – although I additionally encourage you to learn by way of each merchandise proper now. (It pays to remain forward, proper?)

So with out additional ado, listed here are the commonest images abbreviations so you’ll be able to inform your TIFFs out of your TTLs like a professional:


Aperture Priority mode, generally abbreviated as A or Av, is a digital camera setting that permits you to manually modify the aperture value (in any other case generally known as the f-number or f-stop), whereas your digital camera robotically selects a corresponding shutter pace to supply a well-exposed picture.

The digital camera’s inside gentle meter consistently measures the lighting situations of the scene, and as you modify the aperture, your digital camera adjusts the shutter pace accordingly. Aperture Precedence mode, like its sibling modes, Program and Shutter Precedence, isn’t foolproof. Nevertheless it affords a excessive diploma of management and regularly does a great job of nailing the publicity.


AF refers to autofocus, the digital camera characteristic that robotically adjusts the lens to amass give attention to a topic to create a pointy picture.

Just about all latest cameras and most up-to-date lenses supply autofocus capabilities, which permits photographers to seize sharp images of sports activities gamers in motion, birds in flight, and a lot extra.

Cameras supply a number of AF modes. Single-focus AF, generally known as AF-S (Nikon) or One-Shot AF (Canon) locks give attention to a topic and prevents refocusing so long as you retain the shutter button depressed midway. Alternatively, steady or monitoring focus – AF-C (Nikon) or AI Servo (Canon) – consistently readjusts the main focus as the topic strikes (although you will want to maintain the shutter button depressed midway). Some cameras even have a 3rd mode, which switches between the 2 predominant AF modes robotically.


Auto is brief for computerized and may additionally be signified by a small inexperienced rectangle on the digital camera’s mode dial:

Common photography abbreviations

In Auto mode, a digital camera robotically calculates and adjusts numerous digital camera settings to supply a pointy, well-exposed picture, taking into consideration (and controlling) shutter pace, aperture, ISO, focus, white stability, and lightweight metering.

Some cameras have specialised computerized modes, referred to as scene modes, that are designed to seize compelling images of a selected topic. For instance, Motion or Sports activities mode prioritizes quicker shutter speeds – so you’ll be able to seize sharp pictures of shifting topics – and is represented by a operating determine on the mode dial.


AWB stands for Automatic White Balance, which tells the digital camera to robotically measure the white stability (WB) of a scene and take away any unnatural coloration casts. In different phrases, with AWB activated, your digital camera will attempt to analyze and color-correct every scene as you shoot.

Typically, Computerized White Stability works pretty effectively, although it may be tricked (which is the explanation product photographers usually set the white balance manually). Luckily, in the event you shoot in RAW format, you’ll be able to simply tweak the white stability in post-production.


B refers to Bulb mode, which is designed to supply lengthy exposures and is commonly utilized by panorama and evening photographers. Along with your digital camera set to Bulb, if you depress the shutter button, the shutter will stay open till the button is pressed once more (or till it’s launched, relying in your digital camera and its settings).

Bulb mode is often used together with a tripod and a distant shutter launch. It’s usually wanted to attain exposures longer than 30 seconds (the utmost publicity time on most cameras).


Common photography abbreviations

CMYK stands for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. Be aware that the Ok refers to black, which is shorthand for the key plate, a printing device that creates the creative element of an image in black ink.

CMYK is the know-how utilized by most coloration copy printers (for magazines, posters, enterprise playing cards, and many others.). This four-color mode applies every coloration in particular quantities to create a coloration print. CMYK is a subtractive course of, so with every added coloration, extra gentle is absorbed to create the ultimate picture.

As a result of the RGB color space (which is mostly utilized by cameras to report pictures) offers a bigger vary of colours for the digital display, CMYK-printed pictures are inconsistent with the photographs you see on-screen earlier than urgent “Print.” However in the event you convert the photographs to CMYK earlier than printing – utilizing Photoshop or Illustrator – you’ll see a picture on the display that’s a lot nearer to the printed product.


DOF, or depth of field, is the zone of sharp focus in {a photograph}. Some pictures characteristic a slender depth of subject, during which solely a small sliver of the scene is in focus; different pictures characteristic a deep depth of subject, during which your entire scene is in focus from foreground to background.

Be aware that the depth of subject is affected by a number of components, together with the lens’s aperture. A big aperture creates a shallow depth of field effect, whereas a small aperture creates a deep depth of subject impact.

Depth of subject can also be influenced by the lens focal size and the space between the digital camera and the topic (i.e., the purpose of focus).


DPI, or dots per inch, is commonly used interchangeably with PPI, or pixels per inch. Technically, DPI measures the variety of dots that will probably be printed in an inch-long line. PPI additionally measures the variety of dots alongside an inch-long line, however on a pc display as an alternative of on paper. Printers and screens with greater DPI and PPI values, respectively, are clearer and extra detailed.

To appropriately dimension your pictures for printing, you might want to know the DPI of your printer or lab.


Common photography abbreviations

DSLR stands for digital single-lens reflex, a kind of digital camera that contains a mirror, which displays the sunshine coming in from the lens and directs it to the viewfinder. DSLR mirror know-how helps you to see a preview of the scene by way of the viewfinder – then, when the shutter button is pressed, the mirror flips up, permitting the sunshine coming by way of the lens to achieve the digital camera sensor.


The EVF, or electronic viewfinder, refers to a kind of viewfinder popularized in mirrorless cameras. As an alternative of displaying an optical preview of the scene, digital viewfinders show a digital preview, which simulates the publicity of the ultimate picture.

Digital viewfinders supply an a variety of benefits over optical viewfinders (OVFs, beneath), although they will endure from decision and lag points.

F-stop or f-number

The f-stop or f-number signifies the scale of the aperture opening in your lens. (Right here, the “f” stands for focal.) Wider aperture openings let in additional gentle and produce a shallower depth of subject impact (see “DOF,” above). Each aperture will be expressed as an f-stop or f-number, equivalent to f/2.8, f/4, f/8, f/11, and many others.

Common photography abbreviations


IS refers to picture stabilization, a digital camera and/or lens characteristic that’s designed to counteract motion brought on by digital camera shake. The know-how goes below a number of names, although IBIS, VR, and VC are a number of of the commonest labels.

Be aware that picture stabilization will not be provided by your digital camera or lens. Latest mirrorless cameras do have a tendency to supply in-body picture stabilization (i.e., IBIS), however including IS know-how is dear, so that you’re much less prone to discover it in newbie merchandise.

In case you prefer to shoot handheld at slower shutter speeds (e.g., in low gentle or at slender apertures) or when utilizing lengthy lenses, good picture stabilization is crucial.


Photographers usually declare that ISO stands for Worldwide Group for Standardization, although it really comes from a Greek phrase, isos.

In movie images, ISO (or, previously, ASA) is a sign of the sensitivity of a roll of movie to gentle. In digital images, ISO determines the amplification of the digital camera sensor brightness (although in the event you favor, you’ll be able to consider it because the sensitivity of the sensor to gentle).

The ISO worth will be adjusted in-camera; the upper the ISO, the brighter the ensuing publicity (all else being equal). Nonetheless, greater ISO values produce extra grain, also called noise.

Common photography abbreviations
The graininess of this picture is brought on by a excessive ISO worth.


JPEG (generally shortened to JPG) refers back to the Joint Photographic Consultants Group picture file format. (As you’ll be able to most likely guess, the JPEG group created the format!) JPEG is among the most typical picture codecs utilized by photographers; RAW is one other frequent format.

Most cameras shoot JPEGs, that are extremely displayable and really small. However as a result of JPEG is a lossy file format, the photographs do endure from a discount in high quality and in post-processing flexibility.


M stands for Manual, a capturing mode that provides full management over each setting in your digital camera, together with aperture, shutter pace, ISO, white stability, metering mode, and extra. Handbook mode will be intimidating for newbies, which is why it’s usually higher to make use of Aperture Precedence (additionally on this record, above).

Be aware: Handbook mode and guide focus will not be the identical. You need to use your digital camera’s autofocus capabilities when working in Handbook mode (and you’ll even use your digital camera’s Auto mode whereas focusing manually).


Common photography abbreviations

M4/3, also called MFT, is brief for Micro Four Thirds. Developed by Olympus and Panasonic means again in 2008, M4/3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens customary that revolves across the four-thirds sensor.

As a result of the four-thirds sensor is smaller than options – equivalent to APS-C and full-frame sensors – Micro 4 Thirds cameras are typically lighter and extra compact. Nonetheless, the smaller sensor dimension does limit picture high quality (significantly decision and high-ISO noise efficiency).


OVFs, or optical viewfinders, are usually present in non-mirrorless cameras (e.g., DSLRs). OVFs use mirrors to supply the photographer a “true” preview of the scene, relatively than a digital rendering (see EVF, above).

As a result of optical viewfinders present the photographer the scene as seen straight by way of the lens, they don’t supply publicity simulation – although OVFs do present a high-resolution picture with zero lag.


P stands for Program mode, which lets you modify sure settings – together with ISO, flash, and white stability – whereas your digital camera selects the aperture and shutter pace. Program mode is much less widespread than its semi-automatic options, Aperture Precedence and Shutter Precedence, although it’s a great way for newbies to wade into the often-confusing waters of publicity.


RGB stands for Pink, Inexperienced, and Blue and is predicated on human coloration notion. RGB is an additive coloration know-how designed for viewing pictures on digital shows (not like CMYK, above).


Shutter Priority, also called SP or TV (for Time Worth), is a digital camera mode that permits you to choose the shutter pace whereas the digital camera robotically selects an aperture for a correct publicity. As you modify the shutter pace, the digital camera’s inside gentle meter analyzes the scene and adjusts the aperture accordingly.

Shutter Precedence mode is finest used for capturing fast-moving objects or if you wish to intentionally blur a shifting topic.

Common photography abbreviations


SLR, or single-lens reflex, refers to non-digital cameras with single-lens reflex capabilities (see DSLR, above). SLR cameras characteristic a mirror that displays gentle up into the digital camera viewfinder. When the shutter button is depressed, nonetheless, the mirror flips up, exposing the movie to gentle.


Brief for Tagged Picture File Format, TIFF is a picture file format that doesn’t lose element, not like lossy compressed codecs equivalent to JPEG. As a result of TIFFs retain all picture info, they’re excellent for printing and storing pictures, although TIFFs are additionally far bigger than lossy codecs equivalent to JPEG and HEIC.


Common photography abbreviations

TTL stands for Through the Lens; it refers to an computerized flash metering system. With TTL metering lively, the flash fires a brief burst of sunshine previous to the precise publicity, the digital camera measures the quantity of sunshine coming by way of the lens, and the facility of the flash is robotically set in keeping with the chosen aperture.

Not all off-camera flashes supply TTL metering (and a few photographers favor to set the flash publicity manually, regardless).


USM stands for Ultrasonic Motor, a kind of autofocus motor in sure Canon lenses. Equal methods embody Nikon’s SWM (Silent Wave Motor), Sigma’s HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor), and Olympus’s SWD (Supersonic Wave Drive Motor). These AF motors are usually designed to be quick and quiet.


WB stands for white stability, the method of counteracting coloration casts created below totally different lighting situations. Some photographers set the white stability manually, although others set the digital camera to Auto White Stability, then modify the white stability in post-processing as required. (Be aware that the latter approach solely works in the event you shoot in RAW.)

Frequent images abbreviations: remaining phrases

Properly, there you could have it:

An entire host of frequent images abbreviations that you need to know! In fact, there are a lot extra images abbreviations, however as soon as you already know the fundamentals, you’ll discover it simpler to choose up new phrases as you go alongside.

Any extra abbreviations that I missed? Share them within the feedback beneath!

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