Jargon: Glossary of Camcorder Terms

automatic gain control (AGC) Camcorder circuitry that adjusts incoming audio levels automatically.

CCD (Charge Coupled Device) Light-sensitive computer chip (photo diodes) in video cameras that converts light into electrical signals.

f-stop Numbers corresponding to variable size of a camera’s iris opening, and thus the amount of light passing through lens. The higher the number, the smaller the iris diameter, which means less light enters the camcorder.


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field of view Extent of a shot that is visible through a particular lens; its vista.

filter Transparent or semi-transparent material, typically glass, mounted at the front of a camcorder’s lens to change light passing through. Manipulates colors and image patterns, often for special effect purposes.

focal length Distance from a camcorder’s lens to a focused image with the lens focused on infinity. Short focal lengths offer a broad field of view (wide-angle); long focal lengths offer a narrow field of view (telephoto). Zoom lenses have a variable focal length.

gain Video amplification, signal strength. “Riding gain” means varying controls to achieve desired contrast levels.

image sensor A video camera’s image sensing element, either CCD (charge coupled device) or MOS (metal oxide semiconductor); converts light to electrical energy. [See CCD]

iris Camcorder’s lens opening or aperture, regulates amount of light entering camera. Diameter is measured in f-stops. [See f-stop.]

neutral-density filter (ND) Mounted at front of camcorder lens, reduces light intensity without affecting its color qualities. [See filter.]

polarizing filter Mounted at the front of camcorder lens, thwarts undesirable glare and reflections. [See filter.]

selective focus Adjusting focus to emphasize desired subject(s) in a shot. Selected area maintains clarity, image sharpness while remainder of image blurs. Useful for directing viewer’s attention.

talent Generic term for the people assuming on-screen roles in a videotaping.

telephoto Camera lens with long focal length, narrow horizontal field of view. Opposite of wide-angle, captures magnified, close-up images from considerable distance.

white balance Electronic adjustment of camcorder to retain truest colors of recorded image. Activated in camcorder prior to recording, proper setting established by aiming at white object.

wide-angle Camcorder lens with short focal length and broad horizontal field of view. Opposite of telephoto, supports viewer perspective and tends to reinforce perception of depth.

zoom Variance of focal length, bringing subject into and out of close-up range. Lens capability permits change from wide-angle to telephoto, or vice versa, in one continuous move. “Zoom in” and “zoom out” are commonly used terms.

zoom ratio Range of a lens’ focal length, from most “zoomed in” field of view to most “zoomed out.” Expressed as ratio: 6:1, for example, implies that the same lens from the same distance can make the same image appear six-times closer. [See focal length, zoom]

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