Equipment Terminology

Studio Set Up


In the camera and lighting industry, there is a vast range of terminology used which can have you wondering whether you've booked the right kit. For this reason, we have put together a list of terms that we see regularly when dealing with clients from around the globe.


A CLAMP: (pony clamp or borniol clamp): multi-use clamp in the shape of (A). Most often used to hang borniols or to hold backgrounds.

ALPHA: Manufactured by K5600, this projector is the only very powerful HMI (4K) to be able to operate vertically (lighting in shower)

APPLE BOX: Wooden cubes of different standardized sizes that can be used for an infinite number of uses on a tray, most of the time raising a piece of decor or an actor ... or simply as a seat.

ARRI: German brand of cinema equipment, designer of cameras and lighting.

ARRI M18 (Babymax): compact 1800w PAR HMI projector manufactured by Arri. Considered in the USA as the most powerful projector that can be plugged into a household outlet.

ARRILITE: Range of open-face projectors from Arri

ARRISUN: Range of PAR HMI projectors from Arri

AUTOPOLE: Bar which is fixed in tension between two walls or on feet. Allows to hang a background or more rarely small projectors.

ALU FRAME: light rectangular or square frame on which gelatine is fixed and then placed on a stand, in front of the projector.

ALU BAR or ALU TUBE (Scaffold tube): Long aluminium tube (light), allowing the hanging of projectors in height, but also of canvas or paper backdrops.

ARTIFICIAL LIGHT (tungsten): refers to "yellow" light, with a colour temperature of 3200K. Tungsten projectors are artificial light projectors, some other projectors can offer daylight and artificial such as bi-colour LEDs and KinoFlo (see also DAYLIGHT)



BALLAST: Electrical device used to transform sinusoidal alternating current into square pulses necessary to operate discharge lamps (especially HMI) or fluorescent tubes (Kinoflo).

1000Hz BALLAST: The highest frequency mode available on an HMI ballast, 1000Hz, helps provide the most stable arc for high speed shooting.


BALL (knuckle or griphead) - stand: a metal accessory that is usually attached to a foot, allowing the element attached to it to rotate.

BALL HEAD: system which is placed at the end of a tripod and which allows the camera angle to be adjusted. The most common are 3D heads, ball heads and millimetre heads (Manfrotto 405).

BIG BEN CLAMP (collar): Circled clamp allowing the attachment of aluminium bars on a foot.

BLACKWRAP or CINEFOIL: thick but flexible aluminium foil, matt black on both sides, and available in rolls of different widths (30, 60 and 90 cm). It is heat resistant and stays in shape when wrapped around a projector while being easy to remove. It is used to mask light leaks from projectors or to manufacture custom shutters.

BLONDE (Blondie): Very widespread light, the Blonde owes its name to its initial yellow colour. It is a 2000W open-face.

BODY: Reflex camera without lens.

BEAUTY or OPALITE BOWL (beauty dish or softlight reflector): reflector that provides uniform light with definition and dazzling contrast. It gives a pure, natural look, with slightly accentuated shadows, ideal for portraits and photographs of people. The interior is either white or silver and comes with diffusers and a honeycomb.

BLACKOUT: Opaque black fabric is very often used to caulk windows and make all openings opaque to light. Can also be used as a background.

BRIDGE: Camera closer to SLR but the lens is not interchangeable.

BRIESE: German brand whose most popular product is Focus Reflectors (large umbrellas) which can be fitted with a flash head (Profoto compatible), an HMI head or a tungsten head. The umbrella acts as a large parabolic reflector. Focus adjustment is possible by moving the bulb. The light produced is rather soft and often used for beauty lighting.

BRONCOLOR: Swiss manufacturer of lighting and flash accessories.

BARNDOORS: metal elements made up of 4 movable and rotating shutters, mounted at the front of a projector and intended to delimit the light beam to avoid lighting an area or "drooling" outside from the scene.

BARREL or DISTRIBUTION BOX (distrobox): electrical distribution box to convert the power of an electrical supply into several lower powers distributed over several outlets. Example: box with a 63A tri-type input which will make it possible to obtain 3 32A mono outputs and 6 16A outputs.

BUTTERFLY FRAME (Butterfly frame): rigid tilting frame made up of several sections and two legs. A wide range of diffusing (silk or grid cloth) or reflective (ultra bounce, silver blade, griffolyn…) fabrics, as well as blackout, nets and silks can be hung on it. The most common sizes are 6x6ft (1.80x1.80m), 8x8ft (2.40x2.40m), 12x12ft (3.60x3.60m), 12x20ft (3.60x6m) and 20x20ft (6x6m).

BOOM: vertical pole placed on a stand and allowing the lamp head to be moved from the stand. Available in several sizes depending on the uses and weight of the hanging element: Arri boom Arm, Manfrotto Superboom (or Giraffe boom), Megaboom, Redwing...



C-CLAMP: C-shaped clamp, equipped with a tightening screw thread and several spigots.

CENTURY STAND (C-stand or Flag Stand): Stand manufactured by Matthews, Avenger or Manfrotto. Its base is made up of 3 height-adjustable legs to adapt to the roughness of the ground, it is made up of several extendable sections allowing adjustment to the desired height and has a 16mm male end. Often accompanied by an offset arm and ball joint.

COLOUR CHART or CHECKERBOARD: A printed document which contains several printed coloured squares which makes it possible to calibrate a screen or a printer for example.

CHINA SILK: Often called half silk, it is a slightly translucent natural silk allowing a medium diffusion. It may be slightly yellowed, due to its composition.

CLAMP: Generic term designating a machine hooking material (clamp, etc ...). A clamp is almost always equipped with a spigot to fix accessories. By default, a clamp will be a Super Clamp.

COBRA FLASH: External flash head that can be swivelled vertically and sometimes horizontally, or even rotating. It is the classic form of the external flash which mounts on the shoe of a reflex camera. Lightweight and easy to use, this is the basic fill-in flash.

COLORAMA: Manufacturer of backing papers and by extension, a name frequently used for a roll of backing paper. Hangs on an aluminium bar or on auto poles with an Expan kit, it creates a solid colour background to the subject being photographed. Available in several widths: 4ft (1.35m), 9ft (2.72m) or 12ft (3.55m).

CTB (Colour Temperature Blue): Refers to a filter or correction gelatine that converts tungsten into daylight (makes the light cooler). Available in several densities: 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and full.

CTO (Colour Temperature Orange): Refers to a filter or correction gelatine that converts daylight into tungsten (makes the light warmer). Available in several densities: 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and full.

CUCOLORIS: Square cut plywood sheet (1.20x1.20m) which, when placed in the beam of light of a projector, creates shadows that match its shape. It is used to texture the light and create, for example, foliage effects.

CYCLOID or "cyclorama atmosphere": projector whose shape of the reflector is calculated so as to distribute the light uniformly over a cyclorama without creating a hot spot.

CYCLORAMA (CYC or COVE): plain wall whose junction with the ground is curved. Thus, visually, the cyclorama can represent a distant infinity. The term "cyclo" can also refer to a background created with a Colorama-style background paper.

CUTTING: projector allowing the shape of the beam to be modelled with lenses, knives or possibly an iris or gobo. The angle of the beam is variable to play on the focusing.

CROC CLIP: small jaw clip used to hang gelatine on the shutters or reflector of a projector.

CHINESE BALL (China ball or lantern): A sphere of diffusing material in the centre of which is a light source. The light produced is very soft and covers 360 °.

CONTINUOUS LIGHT: As opposed to flash light, continuous light provides constant illumination of the subject.



DAYLIGHT: refers to "white" light, with a colour temperature of 5600K. HMIs are daylight projectors, some other projectors can offer daylight and artificial such as bi-colour LEDs and KinoFlo (see also ARTIFICIAL LIGHT)

DECENTREMENT: Refers to a goal (shift lens). Allows you to control perspective or depth of field much more than a "normal" lens.

DEDOLIGHT (Dedo): German brand of small tungsten, HMI and LED projectors that are powerful, controllable, and offering a good quality of light while occupying a minimum of space and consuming a minimum of electricity.

DEPRON: Material derived from polystyrene used to reflect light. The light reflected by Depron would be softer than that of polystyrene.

DIFFUSER (diffuse): Generic term designating a material that diffuses light as it passes through it. Also designates a lighting accessory giving diffused light (which spreads throughout the room).

DIVA: Kino flo® composed of four double tubes.

DOLLY: Generic term to describe the four-wheeled platform on which one carries out travelling. A dolly generally has seats, a bazooka and wheels which can be all steerable.

DIMMER: dimmer for varying the power of a tungsten projector.



ELINCHROM: Swiss brand of photo flashes. Some light-shaping accessories from this brand are in great demand like the indirect 190cm octa (octagonal-shaped umbrella).

EXPAN KIT: Kit composed of 2 super clamps with hook, 2 mandrels and a chain for hanging a paper backing. The chain allowing the bottom to be unrolled very easily.

ELECTRICAL DISTRIBUTION: Term encompassing all the needs in terms of power and material allowing to start from the source of electricity available to supply the equipment. As part of a shooting requiring high electrical power, it will be necessary to know certain characteristics of the place: the amperage, the available electrical power, the type of sockets (MARECHAL or P17 in 16A, 32A mono, 32A tri, 63A mono, 63A tri, 125A mono, 125A tri ...)

ENERGY CASE (or Imp or Combi energy): powerful rechargeable electric battery to power certain projectors (around 3kW max depending on the case) or control elements. Odourless and soundproof, it is an interesting alternative to generators, but more limited in terms of power and duration.



FLASHMETER: measuring device used to determine the aperture of the diaphragm according to the lighting produced by the flash. (see also THERMOCOLORIMETER)

FLOOD LIGHT: projector, generally without a lens, giving diffused light (implied by the wide beam, as opposed to the Spot).

FLOPPY: flag that can be opened in two and thus cut the light.

FRESNEL: [in homage to the French physicist Augustin Fresnel (1788-1827), author in 1821 of the wave theory of light, and inventor in 1819 of these lenses to equip maritime lighthouses] projector whose lighting power is increased by a lens with graduated steps (Fresnel lens).

FROST: frosted gelatine diffusing light. Weaker than Silk.

FLAG: Metal frame covered with opaque black fabric. Used to cut the light.

FOLLOW SPOT (Pursuit): powerful projector, deriving from a cut-out, using an HMI type lamp (and therefore often requiring a ballast), adjustable and orientable by a machinist to follow (see Pointer) and identify the movements of an actor or an artist. An iris is used to adjust the size of the beam.

FOCUS: orientation adjustment of the opening angle and sharpness (for cut-outs) of the projectors; hence the expression "focus".

FIXED-FOCAL LENS (prime lens): objective therefore the focal length cannot move. (Ex: 50mm, 85mm, 100mm…)

FIXING SCREW (tripod socket): This is the screw found at the end of a tripod which allows you to fix either the camera or a ball head.



GELATINE (gels): plastic filter coloured by varnishing or impregnation with a dye, heat resistant allowing to add effects to light: diffusion, colour temperature correction, reflector….

GENERATOR (pack): box on the ground, a full component of the "studio flash" which contains the electronics essential for the operation of the flash. It plugs into a 220 volt (16A) sector and has 2 to 4 specific high-voltage sockets, to which torches will be connected.


GOBO: a disc of thin perforated steel sheet, heat resistant, slipped into a cutting projector next to the iris, allowing the light beam to be cut according to a silhouette (drawing, logo, etc.).

GREEN SCREEN or CHROMAGREEN: Green background allowing the keying of synthetic images. Can be painted on a cyc, but also exists in canvas on a frame or as a paper background.

GRID SET: kit of 3 honeycombs with different degrees of opening that are placed on the reflector bowls of the heads to focus the light beam.

GRIFFOLYN: vinyl-look canvas with one side white, the other black, for reflection.

GENERATOR GROUP (genny): an autonomous device capable of producing electricity. Ideal for outdoor shoots, however, it has several drawbacks: runs on gasoline (SP 98) or Diesel so can be odorous, and being an engine, it can be very noisy. It will not be suitable in particular for shootings in Parisian buildings (problems with the neighbourhood) and is prohibited in most parks. The powers for portable generators are 2kW, 3kW, 6.5kW and 7kw. The peculiarity of the 7kW Honda is that they are couplable, that is to say, they can be connected two by two to achieve a power of around 14kW. For higher powers, it will be necessary to consider the rental of a group truck (see definition of GROUP TRUCK).

GENERATOR TRUCK (Group truck): heavy goods vehicle with a generator set capable of producing high levels of electricity (20kW to 200kW). It requires a Genny Op who will drive and operate the group truck. The salary and any expenses of the Genny Op (meals, accommodation, etc.) will therefore be taken into consideration in addition to the rental of the truck and the fuel consumed.

GREY CARD: Document printed with shades of grey allowing for example to adjust its white balance 18% Grey.

GRID CLOTH: light diffusing fabric. Similar to Silk, however, it is squared and allows more light to be cantered. The most common is the "Silent" grid cloth which has the advantage of not making noise in windy conditions and is therefore ideal for films. Available in several sizes and in several densities: ¼, ½ and Full.



HEAD EXTENSION (head extension or head to pack): Extension between the head and the ballast (or flash generator) allowing the head to be placed at a height

HMI (Hydrargyrum Medium-arc Iodide): projector giving white light (5600 K is the temperature of daylight) and a luminous efficiency 5 times higher than an incandescent lamp for the same electric power (100 lumens / Watt ). Variable light output on the ballast.

HR (High Temperature): Generic term specifying that the element is designed to withstand high temperatures, such as a softbox or gelatine.

HONEYCOMB or LOUVER (Egg crate, scrim or grid): Thick grid that is placed in front of a projector, on a reflector or on a softbox to channel the beam, or narrow it.



IRIS: accessory used on cuts and chases to close or enlarge the light beam while keeping its circular shape.

INOVATIV: rolling device specially designed for the needs of digital technicians. Can be configured as needed.

INTELLIGENT FOOT (Sliding Leg): Stand whose "legs" can be adjusted to different heights to adapt to the roughness of the ground (eg steps).



JOKER BUG: Projector from the French brand K5600. Small HMIs available in 200w, 400w, 800w or 1600w, they are very practical, especially in small spaces and versatile thanks to their multitude of accessories supplied or optional.



K9 or M4: electrical distribution box that plugs into 32A mono and allows 4 16A sockets to be output.

KADAPACK or CARTON PLUME (black/white card): foam sheet covered with white cardboard. 10mm thick rigid support, it is often composed of a white side for reflection, a black side to block light and dimensions 1.20mx2.40m. (see also V-FLAT)

KINOFLO (or Kino): Manufacturer of projectors, known mainly for its relatively compact fluorescent tubes which provide soft lighting. Its interchangeable tubes can be in daylight or artificial light. Recently, Kinoflo also released a full line of LED spotlights (Celeb, Select and Freestyle)

KNIVES: 4 heat-resistant metal blades slipped into a cut-out to shape the outline of the beam.



LITEPANELS: American manufacturer of LED projectors. The most common will be the Litepanel 1x1 (30x30cm).

LIGHTBOX or SOFTBOX or CHIMERA or DOP CHOICE SNAPBAG: studio equipment that allows light to be diffused from a flash or continuous light. They are generally square, rectangular or octagonal.



MACRO LENS: Macro lenses are designed specifically to deliver optimum optical performance at very short focusing distances and will generally be sharper at close range.

MUSLIN: Available in ecru (Unbleached) or white (Bleached), this canvas can be used either in reflection or in diffusion.

MEDIUM SIZE: Sensor or film size but this is also a type of device that uses a sensor or film of this size. The format is larger than the full frame (24X36). The most common brands are Phase One and Hasselblad.

MULTI SPOT: small flash head from Profoto, practical and versatile, supplied with several accessories (including a Fresnel lens). It is ideally suited for food, still life and beauty photography.

MAGIC ARM (magic arm): accessory of the gripper family that can be placed and locked in any position, thus allowing precise orientation of the object which is hung on it.



ND (Neutral Density filter): Filter that reduces the intensity of light without changing its colour.

NET (scrim): Metal frame covered with single or lined black tulle used in front of a light source to reduce its flow. A net kit is generally made up of a single net, a double and a silk frame (diffusing).



OPTICAL SPOT: accessory placed on a projector and allows the light to be focused on a precise point.

OPTICAL STABILIZER: Mechanical system included in certain lenses or boxes to compensate for the photographer's movements and reduce the risk of blur due to camera shake.

OCTAPLUS: Octagonal-shaped lightbox resistant to high temperatures. (see also LIGHTBOX)



P17: high power electrical supply socket (see ELECTRICAL DISTRIBUTION)

PIVOT CLAMP (Cardellini clamp): a vice-shaped clamp, fitted with a spigot to fix a projector.

POLARIZING FILTER (polarizer, polarizing filter): Filter that goes in front of the lens to remove reflections but loses some brightness.

HANDLE (grip, battery pack): accessory for reflex fixing below the box. It allows the use of 2 batteries (instead of one) and adds a shutter release button for portrait shooting.

POLY (foam-core, Poly board): Rectangular polystyrene plate having a white side to reflect light, and a black side to block it.

PROFOTO: Swedish manufacturer of lighting and flash accessories.



QUICK RELEASE PLATE (quick-shoe): small part generally rectangular or polygonal which is fixed under the camera and which then makes it possible to quickly fix the camera on a tripod.



RADIO TRANSMITTER or POCKET WIZARD® or AIR REMOTE (Profoto) or RFS (Broncolor): remote control allowing the flash to be triggered remotely by emitting radio waves.

REFLECTOR: Said of an accessory whose surface will reflect the light and redirect it towards the subject. It can be white, silver, gold ... and provide different reflection effects depending on its texture.

REDHEAD (Mandarine): tungsten light of 800 Watts.

RING FLASH: Circular flash that is placed around the lens. This type of flash reduces cast shadows and provides interesting reflections on the subject. Also available in continuous LED light (see RING LED)

RING LED: Continuous circular light that is placed around the lens.

ROLLING or MAGLINER®: Trolley with one or two shelves allowing either the installation of a mobile digital workstation (with screen, computer, printer, etc.) or the transport of equipment.



SANDBAG: generic term mainly referring to canvas bags containing sand and allowing to ballast feet, offsets, and frames… to secure them.

SHOWCARD: lightweight cardboard of about 80x100cm, white on one side and the other: black, matt silver, shiny silver, matt gold or shiny gold. Allows light to be reflected.

SILK (silk): light diffusing fabric. Available in several sizes and in several densities: ¼, ½ and Full.

SNOOT: Modelling accessory focusing the light towards a specific area.

SPARE LAMP: lamp supplied in addition to the one fitted in the projector, in case it needs to be replaced. The lamps are often very expensive in photography, they are billed at rental companies so open when it was not necessary.

SPEEDRING: adapter placed on a light source (flash or continuous) essential for hanging a light box. The diameter and shape differs depending on the projector.

SPIGOT: small adapter to transform a female end into a male. Available in several sizes.

STINGER: This is a mains/power extension.

SUN-BOUNCER: Light frame from the California Sunbounce brand allowing the diffusion or reflection of light. Can be put on a pole.

SUN-SWATTER: Lightweight frame from the California Sunbounce brand supplied with a pole and several diffusions of different densities, mainly used outdoors to diffuse sunlight.

SWAN NECK: Frame offset, with 2 28mm end caps and allowing the frame to be moved away from its feet.

SYNCHRO CABLE (sync cable): Cable to connect the flash to the housing with the flash cable. The camera then communicates with the flash through the cable and signals when the flash should fire. Very often replaced by a RADIO TRANSMITTER today.

SYNCHRO FLASH: Minimum exposure time for using flash. With a shorter exposure time there is a risk that the sensor will not be completely exposed when the flash fires.

SHUTTER: Mechanism for opening a camera's shutter to take an image.

SENSOR: Light-sensitive electronic component used to convert electromagnetic radiation into an amplified electrical signal, digitized and finally processed to obtain a digital image.

SLING (safety bond, Safety Cable): safety cable used to secure a searchlight or an accessory to the pole or to the bridge on which it is hung.

STAND (Light Stand): a tripod of different sizes and configurations used to support a light. The sizes vary depending on the weight of the light, its hanging system (16mm spigot or 28mm tip) and the desired height of the projector. It can be with or without wheels. The height can be adjusted: by force and blocked by a screw or a pin for light feet; or by a rack or cable crank for heavy feet accepting more load. We can add: an extension to increase the height or a coupling bar to install a greater number of lights.



TETHER CABLE: cable connecting the box to a computer, allowing images to be transmitted directly to the computer via specific software (Capture One for example).

THERMOCOLORIMETER: a measuring device used to determine the colour temperature of light (Kelvins)

TRIPOD: allows you to immobilize and stabilize the camera. It will be used during a long exposure time (to avoid camera shake), when the frame of the photo must remain unchanged, or trigger the camera remotely. The tripod must be suitable for the weight of the camera with its lens.

TTL (Through The Lens): "Through the lens". Ambient exposure metering system that automatically adapts the flash metering power.



USM (ultrasonic Motor): name of the motors used in the autofocus of Canon lenses.

ULTRA BOUNCE: Nylon canvas with a white side to reflect the light and a matt black side to hide it.

UMBRELLA (umbrella): accessory used in the studio often with a flash. It can be reflective if the interior is opaque (white or silver) or diffuser if the umbrella is translucent or transparent (white shoot-through) or if it is accompanied by a sock.



V-FLAT: 2 sheets of Kadapack glued together on width to be able to form a "V". Allows to isolate certain spaces, or to reflect light.

VELVET: Black opaque velvet canvas.



WATT: unit of electrical power which corresponds to the amount of energy absorbed by a lamp (where the watt is transformed into lumen). Power measurement unit (Watt = Volt × Ampere).

WIDE ANGLE LENS (wide-angle lens): Even if the human eye has a very large field of vision, the part where you can recognize something is limited to 50 °. A wide-angle lens is a lens with a field of view greater than this 50 °.



YOKE: a piece of metal folded into a U-shape used to support and orient the body of a projector and allow it to be hung on a pole or a bridge using a fixing hook.