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Part I: Digital photography terms for beginners

Digital photography can be an intimidating and tough to grasp subject, especially if you are just getting started with photography as a whole. In today's world digital has taken it's place atop the photography world. New digital cameras with new features are released on a monthly basis. Everything from point and shoots to digital SLRs to camera's with high ISO noise reduction and HD movie capabilities. The ability of these cameras to react to ever changing envrionments by increasing ISO, f-stop, and aperture to capture photos. Did you get all of that?

To help understand the lingo I have included a list of important terms and slang used in digital photography today. Some of these are not specific to digital photography and some are not only relative today. Some have been around for years. This list will get you started understanding what all the hype is about. Here are some important terms explained in plain English.

Point and Shoot - A variety of mostly small cameras that are able to view and process digital images. They don't have a lot of functions for you to play with. They are quick, dirty, and get the job done. Hence the name point and shoot. They are intended to react quickly and allow you to capture photos without much photography experience.

Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) - A veriety of larger cameras that allow the photographer more flexibility to take creative photos. DSLRs have more bells and whistles than point and shoot cameras, but come with an added price tag. Most DSLRs have an auto mode that can be utilized much like a point and shoot.

Aperture
- Aperture is the measurement of the len's ability to allow light in. You can think of it like your eye. When you enter a dark room your eye will open up and let more light in so you can see easier in the dark. When you go out into the sun light it will close to allow less light in. Aperture is commonly displayed as numbers like f/2.8 or f/5.6. The lower the number the more light the lens lets in. Aperture is typically not adjustable on a point and shoot camera.

Depth of Field (DoF)- Depth of Field is the key to achieving the blurry look that a lot of ameateur and beginning photographers are looking for. DoF control allows for a wider range of creativity with your photos. DoF is controlled by several factors, but most noticably by aperture. The lower the aperture number is the more DoF your photos will have. Proximity to your subject also plays a large part.

Shutter Release - Shutter Release is the button you would use to take the photo. On a point and shoot it will take the picture as seen on the display screen. On a digital SLR this will open up the mirror in the camera and expose the sensor for the time defined by the current shutter speed.

Shutter Speed - Shutter speed is the amount of time light is allowed to be exposed on the sensor of your camera. This is another feature that is typically not controllable on a point and shoot. On a DSLR it controls how long the sensor is exposed to light. Higher shutter speeds are ideal for sporting events. However, in dark situations a slower shutter speed may be needed to properly expose the photo.

ISO - ISO is the measurement of film sensitivity on original film cameras and the sensor sensitivity on current DSLR. A higher ISO is more sensitive to light and allows for better photos in situations with lower light. However, a higher ISO also introduces distortion to photos called noise.

Check back for part 2 of 3 in this series of Digital Photography terms.

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