The TIPA Terminology Initiative

CJPC Awards Camera Grand Prix Winners

Madrid, 20 October 2014

“A photograph is worth a thousand words”. This is an old and famous concept that still makes sense in the digital era. But what about “words”? Throughout time, generation after generation, the original meaning of many words in all languages have changed or faded into oblivion. This has also happened with photographic language due to the development of new techniques or technologies during the 175 years since its birth.

Today photographers and the industry still use words and expressions from the good old days to describe digital photography concepts. While in most cases this is not a problem, ‘old’ words can be very confusing to anyone who is too young to have used film photography.

The Technical Image Press Association started discussing this topic years ago when it suggested the use of CSC, acronym for Compact System Camera, to define the new family of interchangeable lens compact cameras. We believe that CSC represents the essence of the new system much better than the term “mirrorless”, which in fact means nothing to people that do not know what a mirror has to do with a camera. We are happy to see how many in the industry and in the press are using our terminology.

After this successful experience, TIPA opened a new internal discussion about three basic elements of photography: focal length, sensor’s format and depth of field. The reason is that the combination of these three elements produces a lot of confusion when a compact camera with a 6mm lens is said to be equivalent to a 24mm lens designed for a 24x36mm format DSLR.

To check reliable opinions on this matter, TIPA took the initiative to hold an informal meeting during Photokina, where representatives from Canon, Fujifilm, Olympus, SIGMA and Sony and TIPA editors exchanged ideas about terminology. The participants concluded that the question is real, but that there are no easy solutions in scientific or commercial terms.

However, thanks to the interest shown by our guests in Cologne, TIPA decided that there are good reasons to develop this project. Of course, we understand that more companies and organisations should be involved, and we will work for this to happen.