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30 French Photography Terms

Emilie By Emilie - updated on Apr 12, 2021

What’s the French word for camera? What about photography vs photographer in French? List of French photo terms & vocabulary with English translation.

What’s the French word for Camera ?

Camera can be translated in French in different ways – so be careful!

📸 The French word for a camera to take pictures is “un appareil photo”.
We often only use the word “appareil”, but we never use the word ‘camera’ for a camera to take pictures.

🎥 The French word for a movie camera is “une caméra”. More French movie vocabulary.

📹 The French word for a video camera, a camcorder, is also “une caméra”. We sometimes say “une caméra vidéo”.

J’adore mon nouveau smartphone. Il a un super appareil photo et une bonne caméra.
I love my new smartphone. It has a great camera and a good video camera.

un appareil photo / une caméra vidéo / une caméra (pour le cinéma)

Photo vs photographer in French

The French words for photo(graph) and photographer can also be confusing:

  1. une photo – a photo, a photograph
  2. une photographie – a photo, a photograph
  3. la photographie – (the art of) photography
  4. un/une photographe – a photographer (the person)
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French Photography Vocabulary

  1. La photographie (l’activité) – photography
  2. Se mettre à la photographie, se lancer dans la photographie – to take up photography
  3. Une photo – a photograph / a picture
  4. Prendre une photo – to take a photo
  5. Photographier, prendre en photo – to photograph
  6. Un photographe, une photographe – a photographer
  7. Un appareil photo – a camera
  8. L’objectif – lens
  9. Un objectif macro – a macro lens
  10. Un appareil photo numérique – digital camera
  11. Un (appareil photo) argentique – a film camera (as opposed to digital)
  12. La pellicule – film
  13. La chambre noire – darkroom
  14. Brillant – gloss
  15. Mat – mat
  16. Sous-exposé – underexposed
  17. Surexposé – overexposed
  18. Flou – out of focus, blurry, blurred
  19. Net, nette – sharp
  20. L’agrandissement – enlargement
  21. Le logiciel pour modifier les photos – photo editing software
  22. L’épreuve, le tirage (sur papier), le résultat – the (paper) print
  23. Un tirage noir et blanc – a black-and-white print
  24. Un tirage couleur – a color print
  25. Une photo (en) noir et blanc – a black-and-white photo
  26. Une photo couleur – a color photo
  27. Une diapositive – a slide (“diapositive” is a very old-fashioned English word as well)
  28. Une vue panoramique – pan shot
  29. Mettre au point, faire une mise au point – to focus
  30. Le filtre – the filter
  31. Tons de dégradé du noir au blanc – gradient tones from black to white
  32. Un gros plan – a close-up

I invite you to practice some of this French photo vocabulary in my free French story with English translation.

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Can You Understand Today’s Spoken French?

It’s not just slang. The French everybody speaks in France today is NOT the overly enunciated, extremely formal French usually taught to foreigners.