Photography Abbreviations & Common Terms (2023 Updated)

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Photography Abbreviations and Common Terms

There is no denying that photography in itself is one of the vastest things that one can experience, and while it is one of the best and my favorite art forms, I do have to mention that it can be difficult to understand because a lot of times, people have little to no understanding about so many common terms and abbreviations.

That is why, in order to make things easier for everyone, we have curated all the photography abbreviations & common terms in this article so you can have an easier understanding.

I do understand that this might be an overwhelming article, but for those who are looking for some proper understanding, this is a great way to go forward for anyone who is trying to understand more and more about photography.

A List of Photography Abbreviations & Common Terms (2023 Updated)

We are not going to beat around the bush and get to the point and start looking at all the photography abbreviations and common terms that are available for you to learn.

AE – Automatic Exposure:

Automatic exposure or AE is when the camera handles both aperture and shutter speed on its own and then exposes the picture according to the values determined.

AE-L – Automatic Exposure Lock:

AE-L or automatic exposure lock happens when the camera calculates the exposure that is needed and then locks it, so it remains consistent across multiple photos.

AF – Autofocus:

AF or autofocus simply stands for the fact that the camera is now in autofocus mode; this does not work if you have a completely manual lens.

AF-A – Area Autofocus (Nikon):

AF-A or area autofocus is when the camera selects between the last two modes and shifts between the modes based on the scenario.

AF-C – Continuous Autofocus (Nikon):

AF-C or a continuous autofocusing is a great way of making sure that you can photograph moving objects because, in this mode, you can just go ahead and get the pictures right.

AF-S – Single Autofocus (Nikon):

AF-S or single autofocus is normally used when you are photography stationary objects that have little to no movement.

AFS – Silent Autofocus:

AFS or silent autofocus, as the name suggests, is a mode in which the autofocusing does not make a lot of noise when it is being engaged.

AV – Aperture Priority (Canon):

The aperture priority mode lets the users specify the aperture they want, and the camera itself handles the rest of the information.

A – Aperture Priority (Nikon) B – Bulb:

Bulb mode is a mode in cameras that allows you to hold your shutter open as long as you want.,

AoV – Angle of view:

AoV or angle of view is essentially the angle of view which you have in your camera; the AoV can change based on the focal length of the lens you are using.

ASA – American Standards Association:

The ASA (American Standards Association) is an arbitrary rating scale of the film speed; that is the sensitivity of film to light.

ASPH – Aspheric:

ASPH or aspheric is the type of lens that is aspheric and is built buy a number of companies that people use. Again, as a lens, it varies from person to person as to who is using it.

AWB – Auto White Balance:

This is a mode that allows the camera to go ahead and figure out the auto-white balance on its own and ensures that the pictures are coming out properly.

APEX – Additive System of Photographic Exposure:

APEX or Additive System of Photographic Exposure helps for stating various factors involved in photographic exposure in logarithmic form.

APS-C – Advanced Photo System type-C:

APS-C is an adopted term for the image sensor size nowadays that are used in the cameras. It is also known as the crop sensor.

ACR – Adobe Camera Raw:

Adobe Camera RAW is an additional piece of software that comes with Photoshop. It allows you to convert a RAW file into an image so you can go ahead and get the proper results.

BIF – Bird in Flight:

Birds in Flight is a technique that allows you to capture the pictures of birds while they are in the flight.

B&W – Black and White:

B&W or black and white refers to images that are shot that way or are converted into black and white.

B – Bulb:

Bulb refers to a feature on cameras that would let you go ahead and keep the shutter open for as long as possible.

BBF – Back button focus:

The BFF or back button focus is a technique that can separate focusing and shutter release into two separate buttons, and it is a great way of getting the focus right.

CF – Compact Flash (a memory card format):

CF, or the compact flash is a form factor of memory cards that are most commonly used in the cameras.

C1 – Capture One:

This refers to the camera position that is normally used when setting up multiple cameras in a room.

CA – Chromatic aberration:

Chromatic aberration is a type of color.

CC – Constructive criticism:

As the name suggests constructive criticism is exactly what it sounds like, it is giving criticism in a way that the person actually pays attention to and uses that criticism to make improvements.

CCD – Charge-coupled device:

A charge-coupled device is a light-sensitive integrated circuit that can capture the image by converting photos to electrons. A CCD sensor breaks the image elements into pixels, with each of the pixel being an electrical charge.

CDAF – Contrast-detection autofocus:

CDAF is one of the most common methods in digital cameras that lack shutters and reflect mirrors. Most DSLRs use these methods when focusing on live view modes.

CMYK – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow Black:

CMYK refers to the four ink plates that are used in some color printing. This model works by partially or entirely masking the colors on lighter, usually white backgrounds.

CSC – Compact System Camera:

CSC is a system that refers to more compact and smaller cameras that are easily available in the market.

CWB – Custom White Balance:

Custom white balance allows you to take pictures of a known grey reference under the same lighting and then go ahead and set that white balance for future photos.

DOF – Depth of Field:

In photography, depth of field refers to the distance between the nearest and the farthest object in an image that is acceptably sharp.

DNG – Digital Negative Graphic:

DNG is an open source and continuously improving raw image format that was built for editing photos.

DPI – Dots per Inch:

The terms DPI or PPI are commonly used interchangeably, and they are used to describe the resolution of a single image.

DSLR – Digital Single Lens Reflex:

DSLR refers to cameras that have interchangeable lens systems on the same camera. These cameras are available in a number of sizes across various companies.

DX – Crop Sensor Format:

Nikon makes DX-format sensors which are the smaller sensors at 24x16mm and are used in one of the more affordable lineups that Nikon is known for selling.

EC – Exposure Compensation:

Exposure compensation allows photographers to override exposure settings that are picked by the light meter on the camera. This is done to either darken or brighten the images.

ED – Extra-Low Dispersion Glass:

This is the type of glass that can be used for the reduction in chromatic aberration. Of course, this results in much, much better images overall.

EF – Electronic Focus:

The electronic focus in the camera or a lens refers to the point where the focus is handled electronically rather than mechanically.

EF – Canon Full-Frame Sensor Format Lenses:

EF is Canon’s full-frame sensor format that is perhaps one of the most common and versatile lens systems available.

EF-S – Canon Crop Sensor Format Lenses:

EF-S is Canon’s way of making sure that they have some good lenses for the crop sensor format cameras. These lenses are more affordable and work really well.

ETTR – Expose to the Right:

Exposing to the right or ETTR is the technique of adjusting the exposure of an image as high as possible at base ISO without having an unwanted saturation.

ETTL – Expose to the Left:

ETTL means exposing to the left, and it refers to capturing an image with a histogram that does not clip any of the shadows.

EV – Exposure Value:

Exposure value is a number that represents a combination of the camera’s shutter speed and the f-stop.

EVF – Electronic Viewfinder:

Electronic viewfinder is what you find on the mirrorless cameras. It essentially is a small screen that is placed where an OVF normally goes.

EXIF – Exchangeable Image File Format:

This is a standard that specifies the formats for images, sound, and ancillary tags that are used by digital cameras.

FF – Full Frame:

As the name suggests, the full frame refers to, well, full frame cameras that have become the standard in the market.

FOV – Field of View:

Field of view refers to just how wide or narrow the view is when pointing a camera at a specific place.

FPS – Frames per Second:

Frames per second refer to just how many times an image is refreshed in a second.

FX – Full-Frame Format:

The FX is a term used by Nikon for its full frame cameras that are available in the market.

GB – Gigabyte:

Gigabyte refers to the storage, this is something that you can find in various aspects.

GIF – Graphics Interchange Format:

GIF refers to a bitmap image format that was developed in order to be used for images on the web and sprites in software programs.

HDR – High Dynamic Range:

High dynamic range or HDR refers to the dynamic range that is higher than the usual dynamic range.

HFD – Hyperfocal Distance:

The hyperfocal distance is the closest distance at which a lens can be focused while keeping the objects at infinity acceptably sharp.

HSM – Hyper Sonic Motor (the same as USM, but for Sigma):

Hyper sonic motor is a system developed by sigma that utilizes ultrasonic waves to drive the autofocus mechanism.

HSS – High-Speed Sync:

High-speed sync flash is your camera’s ability to use a flash at shutter speeds that are faster than the camera’s native sync.

IF – Internal Focusing:

This refers to a photographic lens that is designed in such a way that the focus is shifted by moving the inner lens groups or groups only without any rotation of the lens element.

IPTC – International Press Telecommunications Council:

IPTC serves as a consortium of the major news agencies around the world.

IR – Infrared:

IR or infrared radiation is a region of electromagnetic radiation spectrum where the wavelengths range from 700nm to 1mm.

IS – Image Stabilisation:

IS or image stabilization is a way for the camera or the lens to move the elements or the sensor to compensate for the vibration.

ISO – International Standards Organisation:

ISO or International Standards Organization is a worldwide federation of national standards bodies.

IQ – Image Quality:

IQ or image quality refers to the quality of the image that is acceptable. This varies from person to person and how they perceive the image.

JPG or JPEG – Joint Photographic Experts Group:

This refers to an ISO/IEC group of experts that are responsible for developing and maintaining standards for suites of compression algorithms.

KB – Kilobyte:

This refers to the unit of measurement for computer memory or data storage.

LCD – Liquid Crystal Display:

This is a type of flat panel display which uses liquid crystals as a primary form of operation.

LED – Light Emitting Diode:

This is a semiconductor light source that can emit light when the current flows through it.

LR – Adobe Lightroom:

Adobe Lightroom is a software by Adobe that is mainly meant for editing photos.

LTE – Long Time Exposure:

Long time exposure involves using a long-duration shutter speed to capture stationary elements of the images while blurring the moving elements.

M – Manual:

Manual refers to the manual mode almost all the modern cameras have.

MB – Megabyte:

Just like a kilobyte, Megabyte refers to a unit that is used to measure storage.

MF – Manual Focus:

Manual focus is the mode in which you are going to use the focus ring on the lens to get the focus right.

MLU – Mirror Lock-up:

MLU is an error where the mirror on DLSR cameras ends up locking up and requires you to unlock it again.

MUP – Mirror Lock-up (Nikon):

It is the same as above, but this term comes only on Nikon cameras and works in the same way, where the mirror locks up.

MP – Megapixels:

A megapixel is a unit that describes the resolution of a camera or the images that the camera produces.

MS – Memory Stick:

Memory stick is essentially a stick that has some storage on it. Memory sticks are also the same term that is used for USB drives.

ND Filters – Neutral Density Filters:

ND filter is a filter that reduces or modifies the intensity of all the wavelengths.

NR – Noise Reduction:

Noise reduction is the process where the noise is removed from the image or reduced.

OCF – Off-Camera Flash:

Off-camera flash refers to flash that is used away from the camera when taking pictures or recording videos.

OCR – Optical Character Recognition:

OCR or optical character recognition is a technique that can be used to digitally scan the characters or words written.

OEM – Original Equipment Manufacturer:

OEM or original equipment manufacturer refers to the manufacturer that is actually responsible for manufacturing something.

OOC – Out of Camera:

Out of camera refers to the term that is straight out of the camera.

OOF – Out of Focus:

OOF or out of focus is a term that is used when the image or the shot itself is out of focus.

OS – Optical Stabilisation or Operating System:

OS either refers to optical stabilization or operating system, depending on when and how you are using the term.

OVF – Optical Viewfinder:

OVF or optical viewfinder is what you find on most cameras that allows you to use a viewfinder and look through the lens.

OZ – Optical Zoom:

Optical zoom or OZ is used when the lens can optically zoom instead of digitally zooming in as most modern smartphone cameras do.

P – Programmed Autoexposure:

Programmed autoexposure is the term that is used when the camera has an exposure already programmed in.

PNG – Portable Network Graphics:

This is a raster-graphics file format that supports lossless data compression.

PDAF – Phase-detection autofocus:

PDAF creates two copies of the image, then adjusts the lens elements until both images merge.

PC – Prontor-Compur:

This is a standard 3.5mm electrical connector that is used in photography to sync shutter to the flash.

PASM – Program, aperture priority, shutter priority, and manual:

Program, aperture priority, shutter priority, and manual are all modes on the camera mode dial.

PP – Post Processing:

Post processing refers to all the changes that are made to an image or a video after it is shot.

PPI – Pixels per Inch:

Pixels per inch refers to the term that represents the number of pixels that are found in an inch of an image. The more pixels there are in an inch, the better the quality of the picture is going to be.

PQ – Picture Quality:

PQ, or the picture quality, is a term that is used to talk about how good or bad the quality of the picture is.

PS – Adobe Photoshop:

Adobe Photoshop is a tool from Adobe that is used primarily for editing photos and designing graphics as well.

PSE – Adobe Photoshop Elements:

Photoshop Elements are designed for consumers who are just getting started with the editing process and are looking for an easy way to get it done.

PZD – Piezo Drive:

The Piezoelectric drive is used in place of traveling wave energy as it is a lot more precise and quicker, as well.

RGB – Red, Green, Blue:

This refers to an additive color model in which red, green, and blue colors of light are added together in various ways to make a wide range of colors.


RAW files contain uncompressed and unprocessed image data and allows the photographers to capture every detail that they see in their viewfinder.

SD – Secure Digital (a memory card format):

Secure digital or SD is a memory card format most commonly used for cameras. It also has a smaller one called micro SD.

SDHC – Secure Digital High Capacity (a memory card format):

SDHC is created on the same foundation as the SD but now lets the manufacturers add higher capacity to the cards

SLR – Single Lens Reflex (same as DSLR, but referring only to film cameras):

SLR is the system that allows for interchangeable lenses on film cameras.

SP or S – Shutter Priority:

Shutter priority refers to a semi-automatic camera mode that allows you to set the shutter speed yourself and let the camera handle everything else.

sRGB – Standard RGB Colour Space:

sRGB is the standard RGB color space that is universal across all the displays.

SS – Shutter Speed:

Shutter speed refers to how fast the shutter accentuates. Faster shutter speed would mean the shutter closing faster, and slower would mean the opposite.

SWM – Silent Wave Motor:

This refers to a motor installed in the Nikon lens, which is going to help the focus become faster and quieter.

TB – Terabyte:

Terabyte is a unit of digital data that is equal to around 1 trillion bytes.

TC – Teleconverter:

A teleconverter, sometimes called the tele extender, is a secondary lens mount between the camera and the lens, which enlarges the central part.

TIFF or TIF – Tagged Image File Format:

This file format is used to store raster graphics and image information and has become a favorite among photographers.

TOG – Photographer:

Tog is another term for photographer that has been used around the world, and while it is common, not a lot of people like it in the first place.

TV – Time Value (Shutter priority mode for Canon and other brands):

This is just like the shutter priority mode on Canon cameras and on other cameras.

USB – Universal Serial Bus:

Universal serial bus or USB is a standard through which serves as the wired connection between two electrical devices.

USM – Ultra Sonic Motor:

This refers to an actuator that is responsible for converting ultrasonic vibration so it can create movement.

UWA – Ultra Wide-angle:

Ultra-wide angle is normally a focal length for lenses that start from around 14mm and go all the way to 24.

USD – Ultrasonic Silent Drive:

The ultrasonic silent drive is a method developed by Tamron and is meant to deliver excellent autofocusing offerings.

UV – Ultraviolet:

Ultraviolet radiation is undetectable by the human eye.

VR – Vibration Reduction:

Vibration reduction is essentially what Nikon calls image stabilization and is used to ensure that the footage is good and not shaky.

WB – White Balance:

White balance is responsible for balancing the color temperature in your image.

XQD – XQD (a memory card format):

XQD is a memory card format that you can find in most of the mirrorless and DSLR cameras.


The final verdict here is that understanding the terms that are used in cameras is not something that many people might be able to wrap their heads around, but over the past couple of years, it has become a lot easier.

The purpose of this whole guide is to ensure that you can easily understand all the terms and not have any confusion going forward because we all know just how painful the confusion can be when you cannot seem to understand camera terms and abbreviations.

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