Many people will be getting a new, or their first, digital camera this holiday season. With that in mind, I thought it was a good time for a list of digital photography and digital imagery tech terms. Keep in mind, these are not dictionary definitions. These are terms explained in a way that your grandmother (at least my grandmother) can understand.
Megapixel- This is one factor used to indicate the quality of a digital camera. The higher the megapixel the better quality image you will take and the larger you can print your photo. Megapixel also has an effect on how well a cropped image turns out. If you want to enlarge a small section of a photo, a higher megapixel camera will allow you to zoom in and crop that section, and it will remain clear. I am a believer that most people are fine with a 3 or 4 megapixel camera. Keep in mind megapixels are not the only indicator of photo quality. I know someone who bought a 7 megapixel camera for under $100. He thought he was getting a good deal. The camera was a generic brand, and the the pictures were awful.
Optical Zoom/Digital Zoom- These are the two types of zoom you might find on a digital camera. I want the camera with optical zoom. I disable the digital zoom on any camera I have. Optical zoom is a true zoom. The lens produces the zoom, just like the zoom would be produced on a traditional 35mm camera. A digital zoom is generated by the camera, not the camera’s lens. It is similar to the type of zoom you would use in a photo editing program. The closer you zoom in the more pixelated the image gets? What is pixelated? Read the next item on the list.
Pixelated- This refers to the blockiness of an image. Digital images are made up of pixels, or square dots. The more pixels the higher the quality. If you have an image in a photo editor and zoom in you will start to notice little blocks appearing. The more you zoom, the more blocks you’ll see, and the larger they will get. A higher quality image will produce more pixels which allow for a better zoom.
MPEG- This is a movie format that many digital cameras will save movie files to.
DPI- This stands for “dots per inch.” Like pixels and Megapixels, the more the better when it comes to printers and scanners. A higher DPI will result in a crisper print or a crisper scan. Most images on the internet have a DPI of 72, which is extremely low. If you zoom in on a 72 DPI image you will see pixelation almost immediately.
Memory Card- A memory card is the film for the digital camera. There are all types of memory cards. When buying one you want to make sure you buy the right type for your camera. The larger a memory card is the more pictures you will be able to fit on it. When I say larger, I am not referring to physical size, but storage size.
Megabytes and Gigabytes- Memory card sizes are marked in Megabytes and Gigabytes. The more megabytes the more images you can store, as I mentioned above. A gigabyte is 1000 megabytes. When buying a memory car, I suggest getting at least 512 megabytes (MB), and if you can afford it, go for the 1 gigabyte (GB). You won’t regret it. You may never fill the card, but you also won’t have to worry about having a new one on hand. It also refers to hard drives, and RAM in a computer, but let’s keep this about digital cameras today.
Image Stabilization- Many camcorders have image stabilization, and still cameras with large zooms are starting to include this feature. When you use a camera without a tripod you might tend to shake it. This is especially true if you are zooming in with a large zoom. Image stabilization attempts to remove this shake from the resulting video or still shot.
Zoom- This might seem obvious, but I have been mentioning it so much I figure I should list it. Zoom is the ability of your camera to move closer to the subject without the photographer moving from his/her spot. The lens “zooms” in on the subject making it appear closer.
Have any terms? Add them below.