A Coffee Break Photography Quiz

How well do you know photography? Here’s a quiz to test your knowledge of all things camera-related. I doubt anyone else can get them all right apart from you. Settle down with a cup of coffee and give it a go.

Here in the UK, there are young men and women just finishing sitting their school exams. Exam conditions are a totally false environment with little relation to real life. At no other time do we have to sit down in a totally silent room, isolated from others, and recall information without discussing it with our peers. Exams have little to do with how we will perform or work in our future lives. The plight of those students inspired me to put together a quiz for my fellow photographers.

Unlike the school exams, there is no 2-hour time limit. You don't need to isolate yourself on a table two yards from the next person. There are no qualifications to gain and no prizes to win. It won't change your future for the worse if you get any wrong. It’s just a bit of light-hearted fun. Some questions are easy, some need working out, some are cryptic, and some require research. There may be a deliberately ambiguous trick question in there too.

Pop your answers in the comments. I’ll put the actual answers here in a week or two, depending upon how many people take part. Feel free to discuss people's answers, but please be kind and helpful if you disagree.

Good luck.

The Quiz

  1. If your starting shutter value is 1/125, and you add an ND1000 filter, how long would your resulting shutter value be?   
  2. Where is Ammonium Ferric Citrate commonly used in photography?    
  3. Place these in photographic chronological order.
    A. Daguerre, B. Wedgewood, C. Schulze, D. Niépce, E. Talbot.    
  4. Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, who was the photographer?    
  5. You set your camera to ISO 200, f/8, 1/125.  You change the ISO to 100, aperture to f/2, and add an ND8 filter. What would the shutter value be to achieve an equivalent exposure?    
     
  6. Iwasaki, Maeda, Mitarai Uchida, Yoshida. Which is the odd one out?    
  7. What does the "f" stand for in "f/number"?    
  8. To the nearest one million, how many pixels are required to produce a photo-quality A3 print at 300 dpi?    
  9. 2, 4, 8, 15, 30, 60, 125, 250th second. Why does the sequence jump to 15, 30, 60 and not 16, 32, 64?  

  10.  

    What does this calculate approximately?

  11. What does the 16 refer to in Sunny 16?    
  12. In an additive color process, what is the result of red plus blue?
  13. With an 8-bit camera, how many shades of gray per channel (including black and white) are recorded by the sensor?  
  14. Develop, Stop, Fix… what comes next?    
  15. Which Hollywood director was famed for his innovative use of a Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm f/0.7?    
  16. Who wrote the photographically titled song that famously had to include a ™ symbol?    
  17. How is the f/number calculated?   
  18. What’s photographically special about a place in France that translates into English as “The Fat”?    
  19. Who was famously photographed on 8th December 1980, and by whom?   
  20.  If you put a 50mm f/1.4 lens FROM A 35mm SLR onto an APS-C camera, what effect does it have on the focal length and aperture?

    50mm f/1.4

  21. Replace one of the following to make the list correct. Bailey, Capa, Eisner, Rodger, Seymour, Vandivert, Vandivert.    
  22. What do 暈け and ボ both say? 
  23. What word commonly used in photography is derived from a Latin word for hearth?    
  24. What prehistoric artifacts have been suggested were inspired by what photographic phenomenon?
  25. In black and white photography, what color filter would show up facial blemishes the most?  Which color filter would darken the sky the most?
  26. You are photographing a bride in a white dress in a snow-covered landscape. Using TTL metering, would you compensate for that whiteness by adding or subtracting exposure? Why?  
  27. Which form of photography involves firing electrons in a vacuum tube from a cathode to a tungsten anode.    
  28. The Hubble Space Telescope WFC3 camera’s sensor is how many megapixels?    
  29. The years 1957 and 1975 were important for two related photographic firsts. What were they?  
  30. Why is the Bayer filter in a camera designed with as many green sensors as red and blue added together?  

    Bayer Pattern

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55 Comments

J.d. Davis's picture

Bonus Question:

Using a Banquet Camera in a 30' wide by 50' long hall, how much flash powder does it take to light a crowd of 125 people?

Ivor Rackham's picture

Do you use a banquet camera? I have never had the pleasure of using one. I nearly bought one in an antique shop just before Covid struck. It would be fascinating to hear about it, please would you drop me a direct message.

J.d. Davis's picture

I had one in the 1960's - a friend and I would shoot large wedding groups.Alas, it is now dust

Ivor Rackham's picture

I have no idea what the answer to your question is, but intrigued to know.

J.d. Davis's picture

it's GRAINS not grams,

Ivor Rackham's picture

I am guessing these are magnesium grains, and being grains, bigger than the magnesium powder we used in my school chemistry lessons. Magnesium burns brightly, but too much would be too hot. So, I'll guess 25 grains - but that is a pure guess as I have no experience. How did I do?

J.d. Davis's picture

pretty close! I've forgotten most of this ( over 57 years ago )! and wondered if anyone knew the formula or proportions...

Tom Reichner's picture

As much as I like to think I know about photography, this quiz shows me how little I actually know. Off the top of my head, I think I only know the answer to three of these questions ... and I am not even 100% sure that my answers are correct for those three. That's pretty lame, isn't it?

Anyway here are the three questions that I think I know the answers to just off the top of my head without putting any research into it or consulting outside sources.

11: "16" refers to the aperture

16: Paul Simon

20: Switching the lens from a full frame film camera to a digital camera with an APS-C sensor has no actual effect on the focal length, nor on the aperture.

Ivor Rackham's picture

well spotted on the trick question.

Robert Nurse's picture

If your starting shutter value is 1/125, and you add an ND1000 filter, how long would your resulting shutter value be? 8 sec

You set your camera to ISO 200, f/8, 1/125. You change the ISO to 100, aperture to f/2, and add an ND8 filter. What would the shutter value be to achieve an equivalent exposure?

What does the "f" stand for in "f/number"? fraction

What does the 16 refer to in Sunny 16? aperture

How is the f/number calculated? dividing focal length by lens opening

If you put a 50mm f/1.4 lens FROM A 35mm SLR onto an APS-C camera, what effect does it have on the focal length and aperture? multiplied by crop factor

What prehistoric artifacts have been suggested were inspired by what photographic phenomenon? Cave art

In black and white photography, what color filter would show up facial blemishes the most? Blue Which color filter would darken the sky the most? Red

You are photographing a bride in a white dress in a snow-covered landscape. Using TTL metering, would you compensate for that whiteness by adding or subtracting exposure? adding Why? Camera wants to go gray, so adding

Damn, I'm exhausted!

Tom Reichner's picture

Robert Nurse said,

"If you put a 50mm f/1.4 lens FROM A 35mm SLR onto an APS-C camera, what effect does it have on the focal length and aperture? multiplied by crop factor"

Hmmmmm.

Do you really think that the focal length itself changes, or do you think it is actually just the angle of view that changes?

Technically, focal length is a property of the lens and the lens alone, and is not affected by the medium that the lens is projecting the image onto.

The same is true of aperture. It is a property of the lens alone, and cannot be affected by the medium that the lens projects the image onto.

Robert Nurse's picture

Crop factor doesn't change focal length. Matter of fact, it's really not changing anything. The smaller sensor is merely not seeing what a full sensor would.

Ivor Rackham's picture

Robert, you are right with the cave art, but there is a bit more to that question. Tom is right with his reply, that was a trick question.

Tom Reichner's picture

The cave art is really interesting to me. It is one of my interests, aside from photography. Now, because of this quiz, I have learned that there is a connection between cave art and photography. How cool is that?! Thanks, Ivor!

Jason Frels's picture

I eagerly await the answers to use in case I ever get involved in a bar room trivia contest amid a group of old photographers.

Ivor Rackham's picture

It nice that bar room quizzes are allowed again.

Richard Twigg's picture

Lennon, Goresh?

Ivor Rackham's picture

Correct with the first one.

Bruce Grant's picture

Yeah this really shows how much I have to learn but here's what I know:

14. Develop, Stop, Fix… what comes next? Hang to dry

20. If you put a 50mm f/1.4 lens FROM A 35mm SLR onto an APS-C camera, what effect does it have on the focal length and aperture? If I put it on my 77D i get 1.6x magnification, 80mm. It seems the DoF is not as shallow either.

Ivor Rackham's picture

Hi Bruce, there's something you would do before drying. Question 20 is the trick one. Check out Tom Reichner's answer.

Bruce Grant's picture

I was in college in the 90's when I learned how to develop Tmax film and make prints. Either we didn't learn that step or I've forgotten lol. Does the step apply to both film and print?

Ivor Rackham's picture

washing!

Bruce Grant's picture

Yup I did forget!

Robert Nurse's picture

You're hardly alone. I was left whimpering in the fetal position!

Bruce Grant's picture

But at least you've had more answers so far! And my 2 lone answers turned out to be wrong. So much for what I "know." Lol

Jerome Brill's picture

In today's age, you don't really need to know any of this to take good photos. I feel photography is a reverse skill. You learn by hitting the shutter and looking at the results. You spend time analyzing and problem solving your shots. We can learn from others all day long but as you can see from my photos, most of it's just mimicking. I think a lot of us do this as we learn.

We learn more over time and hopefully we come up with our own style. Some learn photography history because of real interest. Others learn the more technical stuff because they're trying to problem solve.

I guess my point is, there is a reason why I don't know the answers to these questions yet still take decent photos. It's just not as important until you get to a certain level or you teach master classes. A complete novice can take a one in a million shot. The master does it on purpose. Although that doesn't mean they ever get the shot.

Ivor Rackham's picture

It's just a bit of fun!

Sébastien Tarnowski's picture

Do I reaaly have to post my answers? Let me grab my coffee first! ;)

Ivor Rackham's picture

I'm now drinking mine.

Tom Reichner's picture

And I am drinking mine now, too! We're all taking a coffee break!

Bruce Grant's picture

So I'm just going to take a stab (no research) at some of the others and see where I land:

2. Where is Ammonium Ferric Citrate commonly used in photography? Flashes

8. To the nearest one million, how many pixels are required to produce a photo-quality A3 print at 300 dpi? 22MP

22. What do 暈け and ボ both say? Yashica

29. The years 1957 and 1975 were important for two related photographic firsts. What were they? Instant film and digital photography

Ivor Rackham's picture

# 2, the answer is much older.
#8, the number is far fewer
# 22. Not Yashika, but the right language. Something more broadly related to photography than one brand.

You are kind of close with #29.

Thanks for taking part, Bruce. Answers will be winging their way here soon.

Matt Rennells's picture

Did this without cheating and looking things up. Looks like I need to focus on more history of photographers as I don't have a clue on those.

1. That's a 10 stop ND filter. 10 stops from 1/125th is 8 sec.
2. Film processing
3.
4.
5. -1 stop from ISO, +4 stops from aperture, -3 stops from filter, so shutter stays the same
6.
7. focal length. F-stop is relationship between focal length and aperture size. Focal Length/Aperture = F-stop
8. A3 = 11x17 > 11x300 x 17x300 = ~17 million pixels
9. Numbers in a factor of 5 were easier to calculate by hand
10.
11. f/16
12. magenta
13. 8-bit = 2^8 = 256
14. wash/rinse
15.
16. Kodachrome by Paul Simon
17. See question 7. Focal length/Aperture - simplify so that 1 is on the numerator
18.
19. Day John Lennon was shot. I know his killer had a photo taken with him, don't know who took it.
20. Those are lens functions, field of view/cropping is all that changes
21.
22.
23.
24.
25. Green, Orange
26. Camera sees a bunch of white and thinks it is overexposed, you'd need to at exposure to the camera
27. x-ray
28. I should know this one, but can't remember.
29.
30. Our eyes are more sensitive to green light than red or blue, so the array is designed to simulate how our eyes see color.

Larry McNiff's picture

I can add a few.

2. Cyanotype
4. Dan Poush
7. Might mean "fraction"
9. Shutter speeds became an industry standard.
10. Looks like a depth of field equation, but unfamiliar with the term “NCU”
15. Stanley Kubrick
19. A funeral worker, don't remember the name??
23. focis
25. Orange and Infrared
28. 16MP
29. First digital image, first digital camera.

Ivor Rackham's picture

Very close with getting all of them between you Matt and Larry.

Mike Ditz's picture

#23 Aperture

This reminds of a riddle my grandpa used to ask us kids...If it takes a hen and a half a day and a half to lay an egg and a half, how long does it take for a monkey with a wooden leg to kick the seeds out of dill pickle...

I maybe knew the answers to about 1/3 of these but not anymore :^)

I took the photographer test for the City of LA around 2005 and most of the questions were about using a Mamiya TLR and with B&W filters and darkroom chemistry questions...the city was pretty much all digital by then but they were still using the 1968 test. Didn't get the job...

Ivor Rackham's picture

I love that riddle. :) Did you get a better job instead?

Mike Ditz's picture

I probably had a more interesting photo career but I do not have a sweet city pension...

Ric Szczepkowski's picture

1) 8seconds 2) developer 3) DAECB 4) ? 5)1/750 6) ? 7) ? 8) 3 9) ? 10) f/stop calculation 11) f/stop 12) purple 13) 256 14) Wash 15) Kubrick 16) paul simon 17) See #10 18) first photo 19) ? 20) multiply by 1.5 21) ? 22) ? 23) ? 24) ? 25) Red 26) Adding meter is fooled by the reflected light. 27) ? 28) 1.5m 29) nikon f and JPG 30) ?

Ivor Rackham's picture

You are correct with most of those, but...

Ric Szczepkowski's picture

tough quiz, i guess being old pays off once and awhile.

Joe Snell's picture

What an great quiz! It's more than a 'coffee break' though, surely.

Adding to the answers already submitted:

03. Schulze, Wedgwood, Niépce, Daguerre, Talbot
06. Iwasaki is the odd one out - the others were the founders of Canon
19. John Lennon + Annie Leibovitz (was the naked shot taken on the same day?)
21. Bailey out, Cartier-Bresson in.

Ivor Rackham's picture

Great answers, Yes, you were right. It was the one where he was naked in the foetal position next you Yoko, who was clothed.

Ivor Rackham's picture

Oh, and I have coffee on the go while I work. Thanks for taking part.

Ivor Rackham's picture

The answers are on their way, along with explanations. They will be in a new article that has been submitted for publication. I'll post a link here when it's published.

Hunter Chan's picture

I have nearly four years of experience. And I only got one question right. How much of these were beginner stuff???

Matt Rennells's picture

There were several questions on the history of photography - which if you didn't study that, would be difficult. There are like 5 that really every photographer should know - the two about a filter and shutter speed, the sunny 16 one, and the two about what an f-stop is.

Tom Reichner's picture

A great number of photographers will never have any cause to use a neutral density filter ever, not once in their lives. So I wouldn't consider any question involving an ND filter to be a question that every photographer should know.

Hunter Chan's picture

I couldn't afford one...

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