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Digital imaging: Behind the letters

By The Vann’s Editorial Team
Last revised October 12th, 2009

What does that mean?

Have you ever been confused with all the acronyms used in today’s digital imaging technology? With all the new technology out there, it’s easy to get confused by the terminology used. Here is a list of common abbreviations and their definitions.


AVCHD is the acronym for Advanced Video Codec High Definition. This is a recording format based on the MPEG-4 AVC standard, which is an advanced version of typical MPEG-4. It’s fitting that advanced is right in the name of this format, because it allows more information of higher quality to be stored in a smaller space. Not only that, but true random-access memory makes finding the point you're looking for much easier since you don’t need to rewind or fast forward like on a typical camcorder.


CCD stands for Charge-Coupled Device, and is an image sensor that actually captures the images in your camera or camcorder; think of it as film for the digital age. Most camcorders and digital cameras use a CCD, while there are a few that use CMOS sensors. You may have also seen 3CCD. 3CCD simply refers to select camcorders that will split the light into Red, Green, and Blue and use one CCD for each color.


CMOS stands for Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor. This is another form of image sensor in cameras that is just built differently than CCDs. A CMOS sensor uses less power and allows image sensors to be made more easily and less expensively. Usually CMOS image sensors are found in digital SLRs and high-end camcorders.


Stands for High Definition Video, and is a video format designed to record high-definition video. It allows consumers the ability to record high definition video with equipment that is much less expensive than professionals use.


Stands for Mini Digital Video, and has become the standard for consumer and semiprofessional video production. It still records to a tape and produces good video quality, especially compared to earlier consumer analog formats such as 8mm, Hi8, and VHS-C.


Stands for Moving Picture Experts Group and refers to the video compression standards used in the video realm. There are three different versions you’ll run into: MPEG-1, MPEG-2, and MPEG-4. MPEG-1 has the lowest resolution of video. MPEG-2 has a resolution that is used on DVDs (very high quality). MPEG-4 is a version that has the most compression and is normally used to transmit video, text, and animation over low bandwidth internet connections.

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