Understanding Camera Jargon

Stories of Love

We are quickly approaching the summer holidays and I don't know about you but I am on official holiday count down, or as my kids would say 'how many more sleeps'

This would explain why so many people have been asking me what camera should they buy.  It, of course isn't a case of one camera suits all, and it is important that the right camera is matched up with its new owner correctly, I do this by finding out what level photography the person is at, what will they be using the camera for; holidays, landscapes, family snaps etc.

So, I thought I would put together a little explanation of how it all works, It's DEFINITELY worth the read, so keep reading...

Most people want a camera that is versatile enough to take photographs of different subjects, whether that be family, nature, landscapes, evenings out, that is easy to use, doesn't cost the earth to buy, and doesn't weigh them down, I am sure many families will agree they usually have enough bags to carry about with them, and adding to this with a camera they aren't going to use isn't something they want to do.  Well, with this in mind I hope to make the camera buying decision a little easier.

Lets understand the product specification/ jargon you read when researching camera's, so here we go:


Generally speaking you have three types of camera; Point and shoot, DSLR and Bridge, I will explain briefly what these do:

Compact Camera /Point and Shoot

This type of camera is more likely to be used by non professionals.  Its a pretty simple to use camera, and will have automatic focus, flash, and as the name suggests you simply point and shoot what ever you would like a photograph of.  There are of course limits to your photography with this type of camera, but generally they are a small pocket sized camera run on either a lithium battery or AA batteries and use a memory card.  The lens is in-built with this type of camera, and can not be changed.

DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex)

In place of the old style camera and the days of using film (which are still popular these days), we have the DSLR's.  these cameras are used by professionals but are proving to be more and more popular with non professionals, more so because they are priced from very reasonable to very expensive.  The technical part of this is understanding that the Single Light Reflex (SLR) camera has one lens that allows you to take a photograph and that then puts the image on film, The Digital (DSLR) aspect means that film is not used and a digital sensor is used instead, an thus you can see your image immediately.  You will be able to buy inter changeable lens' for these types of cameras.

Bridging Camera

This type of camera is somewhere between a point and shoot camera and a DSLR, you will be able to have the advantage of getting a little more creative in the way you use the camera, and not be limited the automatic settings only.  This is a great way to flick between auto and  (the security of) manual settings.  Some bridging cameras do have lenses and flashed that can be changed, but it can be expensive, and you may at this point want to consider purchasing a DSLR.

Bridging Camera's Sony, Canon, and Panasonic all have larger sensors nowadays, which will give better image quality, unfortunately that may mean the zoom range is smaller.

Jargon Buster

You will often hear people talk about 'great depth of field' or 'the ISO range is good' but what does it all mean?  Hopefully this quick reference will help:

Mega Pixels

Your photographs contain many small squares, the more squares you have the better quality image you will get, so, for example an 8 Megapixel camera will have about 8 million squares making up that image.  As a guide 3.1 megapixels would give you a reasonable print of 6x4 inch image, but if you wanted to get larger prints you need more mega pixels, for example an 8x10 inch image would need 7.2 mega pixels.


You know that lovely background 'blur' you can get when taking a photo of a subject, well, its achieved through aperture, the wider your aperture (the lower the 'f.stop' number e.g 1.4) the more blur you get, because more light is allowed through the sensor, it is great for portraiture, but for detailed landscape you will want more of your image in focus, this would require a narrow aperture (a high 'f stop number' e.g 10) this means less light has been allowed through the camera's sensor.  Be sure to look for a good aperture range in a camera.

Shutter speed

From capturing those super fast races to beautiful waterfalls.  This functions allows set amounts of time the shutter is open to let light into the sensor, so if you are looking to take a photograph of moving objects and 'freeze' that moment you will need a high shutter speed, but for night time photography you may want to let more light into the sensor and this would require a lower shutter speed (this requires a steady hand or a tripod in some situations).


The ISO of the camera allows you to brighten your photographs. The lower the ISO then the quality of your image will be great but if it is a dark day you may want to increase your ISO to brighten the photograph, but in doing this you will compromise the quality of the image, as more grain/ 'noise' will be introduced to the image.  These days good DSLR cameras can shoot up to ISO 1200 with minimum effect on final images.

Focal Length

This is the distance the lens of your camera see's at, the lower the millimetre of the lens, the closer to the subject you need to be, 85 mm is great for family photographs, and 70-200mm is fantastic at landscape photography, that said I use both when I am photographing families, although it can involve a lot of running about on my behalf.  Typically most standard 'kit' camera's come with a 18-55mm lens, this is ideal for every day photographs.

It is important that the lens you use is fit for what you are taking images of, to give you an idea a 35mm lens can sometime distort the image you are taking, for example if you are taking a photograph of someones face close up, their nose could appear to be a lot bigger than it actually is, but at 85mm the lens distortion is less and more in proportion.

I hope this little jargon buster is helpful, but please feel free to comment below if you want any more information on anything camera related, I will always aim to help.


Happy holidays everyone.




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