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Format (noun) is used to describe the area of a film used by a camera to record a photo or the way a digital file is saved (see film format). Or it is the way that a file is saved so that it can be seen and is compatible with other applications and/or certain computers (see file format). 'To format' (verb) is to lay-out or organize text on a computer, or to prepare a digital disk for use with a certain type of computer.

Related Terms

This is used to describe the area of a film used by a camera to record a photo. A 35mm format camera records a 24x36mm image on the film. Medium format cameras record anything from 6x4.5cm to 6x17cm on 120 and 220 roll film. When choosing a medium-format some photographers prefer the square 6x6cm format because it offers an alternative shape to the conventional oblong, but also saves you having to think in a portrait or landscape way. The cropping can be done later when printing the results. As the format increases, potential quality improves, while the number of pictures that can be recorded on a roll of film decreases. You can shoot 15 pictures on a 6x4.5cm camera, 12 on a 6x6cm camera and 10 on a 6x7cm camera and just 4 on a 6x17cm camera.
Large format is the bread and butter tool of the professional advertising and commercial photographer. Its a big beast that takes a massive 5x4inch or 10x8inch negative. This format is often demanded by clients for use on billboards or in calendars. This type of camera has a range of film and lens movements that increase flexibility of the system making them a perfect choice for architectural photographers.
A medium-format camera uses roll film to take pictures with 6cm width. These often have interchangeable backs so film can be swapped mid-roll and Polaroid or a digital back can be used to instantly proof a composition or exposure. Medium-format cameras are costly and often bulky so tend to be used by enthusiasts or professionals.
MPO, or Multiple File Format, is a camera image format, first used on Fujifilm's Real 3D W1 camera. A file contains two or more separate jpeg images. On the Fujifilm camera it's a stereo pair that gives the realistic 3D effect when combined at the viewing stage.

On some Ricoh cameras MPOs are created from the Multi-Target AF mode, where seven photos are taken in quick succession, each at slightly different focus points. The files can then be merged to create a focus stack, with incredible depth-of-field.
The way that a file is saved so it can be seen and is compatible with other applications/computers. Digital images are saved in a format such as TIFF, EPS, JPEG, PNG, BMP or Photo CD that can then be opened on different computers.
A lossless compression file format thats ideal for digital photography.
This is the most common type of head found on tripods, and allows you to adjust the camera position in two or three ways. A two way pan & tilt head has a pan option to allow the camera to be rotated along a horizontal path and a tilt option to point the camera in up or down directions. A three way pan & tilt head also includes a swing control to change the camera from horizontal, landscape, format to vertical, portrait, format. The size and build of heads vary from model to model, so give them close inspection. The adjustment should be smooth to ensure accurate control - some models, often labeled video heads, use fluid to ensure a smoother operation. Check that there is no wobble once the handle and locking nut are secured. A few tripods come with a ball & socket head that is preferred by some photographers because it allows a quick adjustment of pan, tilt and swing movements in one go, but the camera platform is often smaller and overall they're more fiddly to control precisely.
A film holder, named after the company who made the first instant film. It fits on the back of a medium-format camera or slides into a large format film holder that takes instant-picture material.
An adaptor that fits onto the back of a large format camera to allow roll-film to be used back. Also used on many medium format cameras to allow film to be changed mid-roll.
If the camera has interchangeable backs you can change a film mid-roll so you could shoot colour and black & white within seconds of each other. This is also useful if you have several users using a camera - each could have there own film back. It's also good to record specific subjects on the same roll of film. For example you're out walking and you could take flowers on one and landscapes on the other. Many medium-format cameras have the option of changing format with different backs. You could, for example shoot 6x7cm, 6x4.5cm and 35mm from the same camera using three different backs. Polaroid backs are also available for many cameras.  This means  you could shoot a Polaroid print and instantly check lighting, composition or exposure and then replace with the conventional film.
The amount of a distant scene that can be viewed using a camera lens. This varies with the focal length of the lens and film format.
A new film format developed and introduced by Minolta, Nikon, Fuji, Kodak and Canon back in 1996.The system was developed to make it easier to load into cameras and offers many processing benefits. For more information, see "APS"
Bag-shaped bellows that are used to allow unrestricted camera movements with a wide-angle lens attached to a large-format view camera.
A medium/large format camera with a fold-out baseboard that supports the lens board and bellows.
The image area that a lens covers that will produce good even exposure and sharpness. This should exceed the film format area to ensure theres no fall off at the edges. Also the covereing power needs to be large if a camera with lens movements is used.
Camera movement usually found on large format cameras that allows the front lens panel to shift sideways parallel to the film plane.
The process of converting something into a digital format.
Developed jointly by Kodak, Canon, Fuji and Matsushita, DPOF is a function that appears in some digital cameras to allow users to order prints of specific pictures from files stored on the cameras memory card, such as CompactFlash, SmartMedia or floppy d
A file format used to transfer graphics from one program or device to another.
A two-sided frame that holds a sheet of film on either side for use with large format cameras.
A flexible magnetically-sensitive disc that's held inside a 3.5inch square hard plastic case. It has a storage capacity of 1.4Mb which is ideal for transporting text or low resolution or highly compressed digital images. The format is gradually becoming antiquated as advanced storage options such as removable media compete.
Indicates the magnification and angle-of-view of a lens. The human eye sees things roughly the same as a 43mm focal length of a lens for a 35mm camera. Anything shorter is classed as a wide-angle, while longer focal lengths are telephoto. Because of the comparatively small size of the CCD in a compact digital camera it has a standard focal length of between 6mm and 8mm while a medium-format camera is around 80mm.
A universal type of image file for use on the Web. A Gif contains only 256 colours so it's best used for solid colour graphics such as logos and buttons, rather than high quality photographic images.
Where pixels are removed (lost) to make the file size of a digital image smaller. When compressing images using the JPEG format you have the option of varying the level of compression. A higher level makes the file size much smaller but removes more pixels.
APS films are coated with an invisible magnetic coating that doesn't affect picture quality but holds Information Exchange (IX) data which can be read by cameras and processing machinery. Data recorded could include the user's selected print format, date, time and information about the shooting conditions to helps the printing machine achieve optimum print quality. This is known as Print Quality Improvement (PQI).