Roland and Caroline's Home Page
Glossary of Photographic Terms

Click here for complete Site Map

Changing Bag
A Changing Bag is the name given to a light tight bag used for handling light sensitive photographic materials. Basically a portable darkroom - the changing bag is almost as old as photography itself and its name refers to its use as a means of loading/unloading plate holders whilst out on location. A changing bag is usually made of light tight black material, often a bag within a bag and has elasticated arm holes to let you get your arms in without letting any light in. Everything else goes in and out via a zipped edge.


Darkroom is the name given to a room or space which can be closed off totally from all light so that light sensitive photographic materials can be handled safely. A small portable version of this is the Changing Bag.


Ever Ready Case  refers to the type of camera case where the camera does not have to be removed before use. Their great rise in popularity came after WWII during the 1950s and 1960s - and some people credit the demise of the folding camera on its unsutability for ERC use.

Flash Sync
Flash Sync or more properly Flash Synchronisation means that the shutter is capable of automatically firing the flash at the correct point. Before synchronised flash - the only way to use flash was in the dark so that the shutter could be opened on B setting without exposing the film. Then the flash could be manually fired, giving an effective shutter speed equal to that of the duration of the burst of flash light. After this the shutter would then be closed manually. With synchronised flash the main issue is determining exactly when to fire the flash. Disposable flash bulbs take a fraction of a second to achieve full brightness whilst electronic flash happens almost instantly. Because of this many cameras made since WWII have 2 synchronisation settings. X for electronic flash and M for disposable bulbs.


Half Frame
Half Frame refers to a type of camera which takes pictures half the size of the normal 35mm frame. These photos are therefore 18x24mm instead of the usual 24x36mm. Very popular in the 1960's - half frame was a clever way to make cameras smaller and lighter - as well as squeezing twice as many pictures on a roll of film.

Section of half frame negative strip - made positive by Coral PhotoPaint 7 
Section of half frame negative strip from an Agfa Parat 1 - scanned by Slidescan and made positive by Coral PhotoPaint 7.

HERE for the halfframe35 Yahoo group.


L39 is the common name given to the 39mm screw fit lens mount originally used on German Leica rangefinder cameras. It is also used on Russian FED and Zorki models.


Large Format
Large Format. Refers to the size of film above Medium Format. Usually 4x5" but can be much larger.


A slim box with a large white panel on one side. Inside there are bulbs/tubes which light the panel giving a nice even illumination. Used for viewing slides/negatives - especially for choosing the best shots from a session as multiple slides can be viewed at the same time.


M39 is the common name given to the 39mm screw fit lens mount used on early Russian Zenit SLR cameras. It developed out of the L39 screw fit. The only difference is that M39 fit lenses are shorter than the L39 versions due to the deeper body of the SLR over the rangefinder. Physically M39 and L39 lenses are interchangeable, but will not focus when attached to the wrong mount.


M42 is the common name given to the 42mm screw fit lens mount used on many manual focus SLR cameras. It is also known as Pentax screw fit, though initially introduced by Zeiss Ikon on the Contax S SLR in 1948/1949. For added info - there is an excellent Praktica Site which covers this in more detail.


Medium Format
Medium Format. Refers to the size of film above miniature (35mm, APS). Usually 6x6cm, 6x4.5cm and 6x9cm. Often associated with 120 and 220 rollfilm.


Rangefinder is the name given to an optical device used to determine distance. It works by superimposing 2 slightly different views of the scene and allowing the user to adjust one until it aligns perfectly with the other. How much adjustment is needed - allows the distance to the scene to be calculated. Rangefinders are often built into cameras and such cameras are therefore known as Rangefinders too. If the adjustment of the rangefinder also adjust the focus, then it is called coupled. If the reading from the adjusted rangefinder has to be manually transferred over to the focus ring, it it called uncoupled.


SLR stands for Single Lens Reflex. In this sort of camera one lens is used for both focusing and taking this picture. In most SLRs light is directed between the 2 functions by means of a 45 degree mirror which swings up as the shutter is activated but before it actually opens. The big advantage of an SLR over other camera types is that the image in the viewfinder is the same as that in actually captured on the film. Note whilst the Polaroid SX-70 and the Polaroid SLR680 are SLRs, they use a much more complicated mirror system in order to provide a correct way around positive image. Because there is no negative this action cannot be performed at the printing stage.


Stereo in the context of photography normally means taking 2 pictures at the same time one slightly to the side of the other - as though one camera was one eye and the other camera the other. Then by displaying these pictures side by side, a 3D effect of depth can be produced if  the left eye looks only at the left image, and the right eye only at the right. For an example of this, click HERE.


TLR stands for Twin Lens Reflex. In a camera of this sort, 2 lens are used. The lower one for actually taking the picture and the upper one for focusing. The image from the upper lens is usually reflected (hence Reflex) onto a focusing screen via a 45 degree fixed mirror.

Got a question or can't find the info you are looking for? Click HERE to contact us.

Click here for complete Site Map

All text and images Copyright © 2000-2012 Roland Givan, unless otherwise stated. All Rights Reserved.

[Home Page] [Camera Repair] [Old Film Processing] [Stereo Photography] [Scanning Slides] [Glossary] [Rollfilm Camera Guide] [Setting the Film Speed] [Fun with i-zone Film] [Early Colour] [Photo Links] [No Camera Zone]