An extreme telephoto lens with an effective focal length of 400mm or longer and most commonly used by sports, wildlife and press photographers. These lenses are big, heavy and expensive but provide high levels of magnification not possible with ordinary lenses. Some consumer-orientated ‘bridge’ and ‘travel’ cameras have very long zoom ranges that fit into […]
STM stands for stepper motor lenses, a new type of autofocus motor used by Canon in some of its lenses. Stepper motors offer fast, precise and quiet focus adjustments, so these lenses are well suited both to regular stills photography and to video, where autofocus noise can be picked up very easily by the camera’s […]
SLT cameras are made by Sony as a kind of hybrid of the regular digital SLR design and the always-on live view of a mirrorless camera. They do have a mirror in the body, but it doesn’t flip up and down when you fire the shutter. Instead, it has a translucent surface so that the […]
As the name suggests, stepping motors move in small, incremental steps. They are simple, reliable and offer a good deal of control and precision. They’re now being used by Canon (STM lenses) and Nikon (AF-P lenses) in a number of consumer-orientated lenses, where they offer fast, quiet and smooth autofocus.
Tripods usually come with rubber feet on their legs, but these may not give much grip or purchase if you’re using them outdoors on soft or uneven surfaces – this is where it’s often better to have a metal spike instead. On some tripods, the rubber feet will screw back to expose a spike. On […]
A shotgun mic is a highly directional microphone usually used to capture audio from a subject a little way from the camera. They’re popular for on-camera use when it’s not possible to place a microphone on or near your subject. Shotgun mics are ‘unidirectional’, which means they capture sound from one direction only over quite […]
A softbox fits around the head of a flash to provide a larger and more diffuse rectangular light source. It’s very popular amongst professional photographers for product shots, where it produces even lighting and nice reflections off glossy surfaces, and for portrait photographers who want to achieve a softer, more flattering effect.
A cable connector for socket external flash units that’s still found on higher-end cameras like pro DSLRs but is becoming less and less common as photographers switch to wireless flash systems. These are usually triggered by a ‘master’ unit attached to the camera.
A lens with a much wider angle of view than your camera’s kit lens. In 35mm camera terms, a super-wideangle lens is one with a focal length of around 20mm or less. Super-wideangle lenses are quite expensive and characterised by large, bulbous front lens elements.
A mode on some compact cameras that lets you shoot extreme close-ups from distances as short as 1cm. However, this is always at the wideangle end of the zoom range where the magnification is lowest. It can also be difficult to photograph timid subjects like insects at this distance.
A focus mode where the camera continually refocuses on a moving subject. The more advanced the AF system, the better it will be at keeping the subject in focus. It’s used mostly in continuous shooting mode for sports and action photography but can also be used for video.
A detail enhancing adjustment that emphasises object outlines by adjusting local contrast over a larger radius than regular sharpening tools. It makes finer details more prominent.
It’s very easy to accidentally shoot with the camera slightly skewed so that horizons or vertical objects aren’t straight. Most photo editing apps have a simple Straighten tool to put this right.
More advanced DSLRs have a secondary LCD display on the top so that you can check the main shooting settings without needing the rear screen. Status displays are black and white (or black on green) and usually have a backlight button for use in dark conditions.
Software that you launch directly and which doesn’t need any other program to run – as opposed to plug-ins, which need a ‘host’ application.
A way of keeping related images together in an image cataloguing program – such as different exposures in a bracketed series, the individual frames of a panoramic image, the shots from a continuous shooting sequence or edited and original versions of a photo. Adobe Bridge can stack images, as can Lightroom. Apple’s now-discontinued Aperture offered […]
Cameras with interchangeable lenses do not have sealed interiors and the sensors can pick up spots of dust. These can be removed in software using spot removal tools – you dab on the dust spot and the software uses nearby pixels to cover it up. It’s like cloning but easier, because you can leave the […]
A metering mode where the camera measures the light from a very small area of the scene. This might be right in the centre or, on some cameras, it’s directly beneath the selected autofocus point.
Image ‘healing’ tools in Apple’s Aperture. They are not really designed for large-scale cloning and repairs – that’s where you need a program like Photoshop – but they are ideal for smaller objects and blemishes, including sensor spots.
This is a tool for simply brushing away blemishes, sensor spots or unwanted objects in your pictures. You can ‘dab’ once with the brush for spots or paint over irregular objects. It uses pixels from surrounding areas to fill in the gap, and it works really well with small objects against larger backgrounds. It’s less […]