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Photography Dictionaries and Definitions

Aperture, hyperfocal, gamut and diopter. How about reciprocity, polarizer, chromatic aberration and circle of confusion?


OK, I made that last one up (as you undoubtedly guessed). But there are a lot of specialized terms used in photography, aren't there? And the move to digital brings with it plenty more.

When writing these tips and articles each week, I often have to make decisions as to which terms to explain fully and which ones to assume the reader has some familiarity with already. While I try to explain things clearly, not everyone is coming from the same background, so it is inevitable that I will confuse at least some people some of the time.

Often questions can be answered by searching previous tips in the archives, but there may be times when I haven't yet addressed your particular question. Many such questions have at their core the need for definitions to particular terms unique to photography. It occurred to me recently that it would be good to provide references to some other sites that might provide answers.

To that end, here are some of the better photography dictionaries that I know of out there on the web. There are of course many more so you may have a favorite one that I haven't listed here. Hopefully at least some of these will prove useful resources as you learn more about photography.

The best comprehensive dictionary of photographic terms I know of is at Created and maintained by NK Guy of tela design, the site contained definitions of nearly 1500 terms and is well indexed so you can find what you want easily. A very nice site.

DP Review has a detailed glossary defining and explaining many common digital imaging terms. Many entries are accompanied by illustrations of the concepts being defined and the quality of the definitions is excellent. If you aren't already familiar with DP Review, they are also the premier source of reviews and news related to digital photography.

Kodak has a good glossary of basic photographic terms on their site. You won't find much in the way of advanced terms here, but if you're new to photography this just might be a good site to turn to for definitions.

The extensive Photography in Malaysia site has a pretty good glossary grouped by letter of the alphabet. Seems more geared towards film photography than digital, but many people do still use film from what I hear....

Date posted: August 29, 2004


Copyright © 2004 Bob Johnson, Earthbound Light - all rights reserved.
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