Glossary of Photographic Terms


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SAM  Smooth Autofocus Motor Sony term for their silent in-lens motor technology used in lower-cost lenses instead of the faster SSM motors.
SD Secure Digital A memory card format that is widely used in compact cameras and increasingly, in consumer camcorders and DSLR cameras because of the large capacities and high transfer speeds available.
SDHC Secure Digital - High Capacity A memory card format that is physically identical to Secure Digital. They are available in capacities from 4 GB up to 32GB with higher transfer speeds than SD.
SDXC Secure Digital - Extended Capacity A memory card format that is physically identical to Secure Digital and SDHC. They are available in capacities from 64 GB up to a theoretical limit of 2TB with extremely high transfer speeds.
Shutter-lag Shutter delay The delay between pressing the shutter release and the actual recording of the image.
SLR Single-Lens Reflex A camera where the viewfinder uses the primary lens that provides the image to the film or digital sensor (digital SLR has been shortened to DSLR in common usage). The image is reflected to the viewfinder by a mirror that swings out of the light path during the actual exposure and swings back afterwards (hence, "reflex"). Usually refers to a camera that offers interchangeable lenses but a few models were made that used an optical SLR design with a fixed zoom lens.
SSD  Super-sonic Drive Motor Pentax term for their in-lens motor technology
SMC Super Multi-Coated Hoya designation for filters with advanced anti-reflection coatings
SP  Superior Performance Tamron term for their high-performance series of lenses
Spot-Metering Center-spot metering A metering mode that measures only a small central area of the frame (usually indicated by a circle in the viewfinder). This is a useful mode when the subject is illuminated very differently than the rest of the scene or when you need the subject to be exposed as correctly as possible, but the rest of the scene can be sacrificed. It is also used when you want to expose the subject as a silhouette by spot-metering on the bright background and recomposing before shooting.
SSM  Super Sonic Motor Sony term for their in-lens motor technology
SSS  Super Steady Shot Sony term for their image-stabilization technology
TC  Tele-converter Add-on lenses that mount to the front of a lens or between the camera body and the lens and magnify the image from the lens as it passes through to the image plane.
TIFF  Tagged Image File Format TIFF was originally a 2-bit black and white format developed for early scanners and fax machines. Over the years it has evolved into a full-color standard widely used by document management programs and fax servers since the format allows the storing of multiple document pages and images in a single file.
TTL Through The Lens Refers to automated metering systems that sample the light passing through the lens to determine the correct exposure, even when a flash is used. Older cameras used a hand-held meter or one mounted on the front of the camera measure the correct exposure after which the camera was set manually. Early automatic flash units required the camera to be set manually and used a meter on the flash to control exposure. 
USM Ultra-sonic Motor Canon term for their in-lens motor technology (high-performance)
VC Vibration Compensation Tamron term for their lens-based image-stabilization technology
VR Vibration Reduction Nikon term for their lens-based image-stabilization technology
ZA Zeiss for A-mount Zeiss lenses made for the Minolta/Sony A-mount. Available as top-end lenses for Minolta and Sony DSLRs (and some film SLRs). Notably the only Zeiss lenses that autofocus.
ZF Zeiss for F-mount Zeiss lenses made for the Nikon F-mount. These manual-focus only lenses are ultra-high quality and are generally considered to be some of the best made.
ZK Zeiss for K-mount Zeiss lenses made for the Pentax K-mount. These manual-focus only lenses are the same ultra-high quality as the other mounts.
ZM Zeiss for Ikon Zeiss lenses made for the Zeiss Ikon rangefinder camera.
ZS Zeiss for M-42 Screw-mount Zeiss lenses made for older M-42 screw-mount cameras. These manual-focus only lenses are not only used for older film cameras, but can be fitted with adapters to work on many newer cameras, notably the ILCs.
ZV Zeiss for Hasselblad Zeiss lenses made for the Hasselblad medium-format cameras. These manual-focus only lenses are used where critical sharpness is needed for the larger film format and now, larger digital sensors.

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