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Decoding Abbreviations and Acronyms for DSLR Lenses

You are either new to the photography thing or are thinking of buying another brand of the lens (Sigma, Tamron, etc.) for your camera. That is when you discover that there are many acronyms to separate lenses, but you don’t know what they mean. Or maybe you are curious what the Nikon equivalent is for the Canon lens you own.

Well, here is a simple chart to answer those questions.

Acronyms for DSLR Lenses

Now we don’t show every brand, but these are certainly the most popular. Sorry, Pentax and Samsung. Your website was not as reveling, or I would have included yours too.

IMAGE STABILIZATION – This feature sports a motor that moves lens elements around to try and compensate for you shaking the camera. It allows you to handhold your camera to slower than normal shutter speeds. Will not, of course, compensate for your subject moving around and causing blur.

FULL FRAME – Full frame sensor cameras have a sensor that captures the image that is about the same size as a 35mm piece of film. These lenses are made to work with those cameras, but they can work on cropped sensor cameras with no penalty.

CROP SENSOR – A cropped sensor camera has an image capturing sensor that is smaller than a 35mm piece of film. These lenses are made exclusively for these bodies. While they will mount to full-frame cameras, damage may occur. Check with the manufacture to see if that lens can work with your body. Even if it can, there may be other “side effects” that will affect your image. (This photographer says, don’t go there. Buy only full-frame lenses, and you will never have issues. Plus, if you ever upgrade to a full-frame camera from a cropped sensor camera, all of your lenses can make a move. My 2 cents.)

SILENT WAVE MOTOR – A high-speed and quiet motor that moves lens elements for autofocus function.

LOW DISPERSION GLASS – Reduces Chromatic Aberration. Ever see purple, blue, or green edges on the sides of the objects in your image? That is chromatic aberration.

PRO LENS – Each manufacturer has a different set of requirements to be a “Pro” lens. Check with that manufacturer to see what is included. While Nikon has no markings on their lens for the Pro Lens category, so they do other things like using a gold ring or sometimes provide an “N” for nano-crystal.