Photographic glossary

Every time I encounter terms like DSLR and APS-C I wonder what they mean, so this time I’ll write it down for good.

Here goes:

Digital single-lens reflex camera, usually through-the-lens (TTL), offer either an optical or electronic viewfinder. Non-DSLR cameras provide an optical viewfinder that uses a small auxiliary lens, thus are typically a bit ‘off’ towards the proper view.
APS is active-pixel sensor, an image sensor consisting of an integrated circuit containing an array of pixel sensors, each pixel containing a photodetector and an active amplifier. It relies on CMOS (below).
APS-C is Advanced Photo System type-C. It has the same proportions as 35 mm standard film (36×24 mm), but is usually smaller than that. If you want to understand how you go from smaller sensors to 36×24 mm, there is a crop factor [that] can be used to calculate the field of view in 35 mm terms from the actual focal length.
CCD is Charge-coupled device, a device for the movement of electrical charge, usually from within the device to an area where the charge can be manipulated, for example conversion into a digital value.
CMOS is Complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor, and it differs from CCD in the fact that it produces less noise and has lower power consumption. It’s CMOS that’s used in APS most of the time nowadays.

There, we’re done. I’m still not very clear as to the difference between APS and APS-C, but it will do for now. Of course by tomorrow I’ll have forgotten again.


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