30 Photography Abbreviations and Acronyms. Do You Know All of Them?

Are you confused with all the photography abbreviations and terminology? Photography can be challenging when you’re just starting out or even if you have a few years of practice under your belt. 

30 Photography Abbreviations and Acronyms. Do You Know All of Them?

Learning all the photography abbreviations can be difficult. We get it. That’s why we’ve put together this helpful list of 30 of the most used photography abbreviations in the photography world.

Photography Abbreviations and Acronyms

How many do you know? Pretty sure you’ll learn some new ones. 


AE-LAutomatic exposure lock

The automatic exposure lock on your camera will let you set and lock the exposure settings. You can then recompose and refocus your image without changing the exposure setting.

AF-L – Autofocus lock

The autofocus lock feature lets you set your focus and then lock it. You can recompose your shot without changing the focus point(s) that you set. This is useful when you are doing portraits, you set the focus on your subject’s eyes, lock it and recompose to achieve better composition.

AoV – Angle of view

The angle of view is the characteristic of the lens. The term used to describe the angular extent of a scene that the lens can see and measured in degrees.

APS-C – Advanced Photo System Type C

APS-C is a digital sensor format that is approximately equivalent in size to the Advanced Photo System film negative in its “Classic” format, of 25.1×16.7 mm, an aspect ratio of 3:2.
/ Learn more: Full Frame vs APS-C Cameras /

AWB – Auto White Balance

The auto white balance functionality on your camera tries to remove color cast in your photos making them as natural as possible.


B – Bulb Mode

Bulb mode on your camera lets you open your shutter manually for the amount of time that you want. This is used for long exposure photography or low light conditions. 


CA – Chromatic Aberration

Chromatic aberration is color fringing that occurs in high-contrast areas of your photos. You’ve probably noticed it as purple fringes in your images (though it can also be red, green, blue, and more).
/ Learn more: Chromatic Aberration Explained /


DAM – Digital Asset Management

Everything you do with your image files from the moment the photo is recorded to a memory card is called DAM. It includes editing, backup, conversions, publishing, etc.

DOF  – Depth of Field

The depth of field is the distance between the nearest and most distant objects in your photo that look acceptably sharp. This is measured in feet or meters.
/ Learn more: Mastering Depth of Field in Photography /

DX – Nikon Crop Sensor Format Lenses

These are the Nikon brand series of lenses intended for use with the crop APS-C sensor Nikon camera bodies. 
/ Learn more: Best Nikon DX Lenses /

DSLR – Digital Single Lens Reflex

A digital single-lens reflex camera is a digital camera that uses the optics in the form of a mirror and prism to let the photographer look through the lens.


EF – Canon Full-Frame Sensor Format Lenses

The Canon EF series of lenses are the lenses that are used on the full-frame Canon DSLRs cameras.

EF-S – Canon Crop Sensor Format Lenses

The Canon EF-S lenses are designed to be used with the Canon crop sensor (APS-C) camera bodies only.
/ Learn more: Selecting the Best EF-S Lenses /

ETTL – Exposing to the Left

Exposing to the left is the technique in photography when the image is exposed so that the histogram is shifted to the left and produces an under-exposed photo which can then be adjusted in post-processing.

ETTR – Exposing to the Right

On the other hand, exposure to the right is when the image is exposed so that the histogram is shifted to the right and produces an overexposed photo which can then be adjusted in post-processing.

EVF – Electronic Viewfinder

The viewfinder is the device that allows you to see your subject through the camera and compose your image. Unlike the optical viewfinder where you look straight at a scene through the lens, the electronic viewfinder reads the information directly from the camera’s sensor and displays it digitally.
/ Learn more: EVF vs OVF: Optical vs Electronic Viewfinder Battle /

EXIF –  Exchangeable Image File Format

The exchangeable image file format allows you to store information regarding your images. Data, (also called metadata) like the date, location, and camera settings of the photo are stored in the file format for future reference.
/ Learn more: What is EXIF Data? /


F-stop (f-number)

The f-stop is the number that corresponds to the aperture on your DSLR. The smaller the number (f1.4 for example) the wider the aperture. 
/ Learn more: Understanding F-Stop In Photography /

FF – Full Frame

Full frame cameras are cameras whose sensors have a size of 35mm film (36mm by 24mm).
/ Learn more: Full Frame vs APS-C Cameras /


HDR – High Dynamic Range

HDR photography is a technique that allows you to capture images of the scenes with the extended range of light intensity (sunsets, sunrises). It involves taking multiple shots of the same scene using different exposure values and combine them together in-camera on in the editing software.
/ Learn more: HDR Photography Tutorials /


IQ – Image Quality

Image quality when it comes to photography means the level of image degradation that affects the overall quality of the photo. Good equipment and photography skills ensure higher image quality.

IR – Infrared (used in remote releases)

An infrared remote shutter release uses invisible light to transmit information to your camera. 

IS – Image Stabilization

Image stabilization is a technology that your lens or camera to compensate for shake or vibration to ensure a sharp photo without blur. 

  • Canon – IS (image stabilization)
  • Nikon – VR (vibration reduction)
  • Sony – OSS (optical steady shot)
  • Tamron – VC (vibration compensation)
  • Fujifilm OIS (optical image stabilization)
  • Tamron – VC (vibration compensation)


M – Manual Shooting Mode

Shooting in manual mode with your camera lets you manually select the settings like the Aperture, the ISO, and the Shutter Speed. 


OVF – Optical Viewfinder

The optical viewfinder which is found on DSLR and some mirrorless cameras is the part of the camera where you put your eye to look at your scene through the lens.
/ Learn more: EVF vs OVF: Optical vs Electronic Viewfinder Battle /


ND – Neutral Density

Neutral density filters are used to reduce the amount of light that enters the lens without affecting the colors.

NR  – Noise Reduction

The noise reduction process is the method of eliminating noise that causes grain that affects image quality. 


SD – Secure Digital

SD is a memory card format. An SD memory card is a card that you insert in your camera to store and save your images. 
/ Learn more: How to Select the Right SD Memory Card /

SOOC – Straight Out of Camera

SOOC means that a photo has not been processed or edited with photo editors.

SS – Shutter Speed

The shutter speed on your camera determines how slow or how fast the shutter stays open when you press the shutter button. 
/ Learn more: Shutter Speed In Photography /


Photography is fun and when you know the basics and learn the jargon you will be well-informed and feel comfortable in your photography projects. Make sure to bookmark this list to keep it handy when you need it.

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by Viktor Elizarov
I am a travel photographer and educator from Montreal, Canada, and a founder of PhotoTraces. I travel around the world and share my experiences here. Feel free to check my Travel Portfolio and download Free Lightroom Presets.

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