Whether you’re looking to take still images on your new DSLR camera or shoot high quality video, if you don’t know the basics then you might very well struggle.

Like all technology there are often terms or names for things we are all left scratching our heads to what they actually mean. Learning the fundamentals is essential to capturing the quality of photos or video you aspire to, so make sure you get to know the basics.

Instead of grabbing your camera and sticking it on Auto, why not see if you can set it to manual and get the best results your camera has to offer by setting up your shots from scratch.

Here are my 5 Top Video & Photography Terms Explained.

Aperture & F Stops

The word Aperture relates to the size of the opening within you lens and allows light on to the image sensor. Your aperture is measured by F-Numbers or F-Stops which is the term used to describe the size of the aperture opening. If the aperture is low that allows more light to reach the image sensor but the higher the aperture (F-stop) the less light will reach the image sensor. F-Stop settings are commonly displayed with a forward slash, for example f/1.4, f/2.8 f/22.


The term ISO stands for International Standards Organisation and is a setting used within digital cameras. Your ISO setting determine how sensitive your shot will be to light, so the higher the ISO number the more sensitive it will be, allowing you to shoot brighter video or imagery in lower light conditions.

Lower ISO settings would typically be used to shoot video or images in daylight and start at ‘100’. If you were shooting at night you would typically increase your ISO to help brighten your image. One thing to consider when using higher ISO settings is that depending on the quality of your camera, images can degrade or become grainy so it’s important to find the balance between the shot itself and the quality at which you’d like the image captured.

Shutter Speed

The term ‘Shutter Speed’ relates to the amount of time that each frame is exposed for when shooting video and photography on DSLR cameras. For example, if your cameras shutter speed is set to 50, this would mean that each frame is being exposed for 1/50th of a second.

Depending if you are shooting photography or video your shutter speed will play a large part in capturing your final image. If you are shooting video, standard practice is to shoot your shutter speed at double the amount of your frame rate, for example 25fps (frames per second) with a 1/50th shutter speed.

Photography is slightly different because you are capturing a static image, so lower shutter speeds would generally be used for low-light and night photography, for example 1/10 (1/10th of a second) whereas fast moving subjects like a sports car or a bird in flight would require a higher shutter speed to help you freeze motion, for example, 1/300 (1/300th of a second) and ultimately give you a much sharper image that was in focus.

Frame Rate

The Frame Rate is the rate at which a sensor captures video during one second of footage or film or at which the shutter opens and closes. Standard frame rates used for TV programs in the UK is typically 25fps (frames per second) where as the industry standard for most films is 24fps. Countries such as North America and Japan or that aren’t in Europe tend to use a frame rate of 29.97fps.

Depth of Field

Your depth of field or DOF as it is sometimes called refers to the part of your image that is in focus. A deep depth of field will show pretty much every part of your image sharply and in focus and would have been shot with a high F-Stop, for example f/16.

If you have a shallow depth of field, for example, f/2.8 this will only focus on a small part of the image placing emphasis on your main subject and make everything around or behind it seem blurry.

Next time you watch TV or your favourite movie, see how Directors use depth of field to help tell their story and focus on specific characters at different points during the film.

I hope these few terms have helped demystify some of the words you may have come across as you get started on your photography or video journey. If you would like help with any photography or video from COBA, you can see some examples of our work here:

COBA Photography / COBA Video Production

Good luck and let me know if you have any questions by leaving a comment below.

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