What to look for

GLASS

The most important part of the lens. Lens quality is dependent upon the quality, type and arrangement of the glass elements within.

ZOOM RING

Turn this to adjust the focal length from minimum to maximum. Obviously, prime lenses do not have a zoom ring.

MANUAL FOCUS SWITCH

If you want to go into manual focus mode some lenses feature a switch for this on the side of the lens, while in other cases the switch is only on the camera body.

IMAGE STABILISATION

A stabilisation system in the lens will increase your image sharpness by reducing the occurrence of camera shake, and enable you to shoot at lower shutter speeds before needing a tripod. Other systems feature in-camera systems.

FILTER THREAD

FOCUS RING

Turn this ring to focus manually. With some lenses, you must switch to MF mode to use this; with others you can turn the ring to fine-tune focusing even while in AF mode.

APERTURE RING

Few new lenses these days still have an aperture ring but you can still find them on older lenses. With modern DSLRs the aperture must usually be locked into its minimum setting, as the camera’s electronics control the aperture.

DISTANCE SCALE

Fewer lenses have these nowadays but it can be useful, especially when calculating depth of field or when you need to know your subject distance for the purposes of, say, calculating manual flash settings.

LENS HOOD

Lens Suffixes

A guide to the main suffixes used by manufacturers

CANON

DO Lenses with a diffractive optical element

EF Designation for full frame lenses

EF-M Lenses designed for Canon’s EOS M CSC

EF-S Lenses designed for APS-C sized sensors

IS Image Stabilised lenses

L Flagship professional range of lenses

STM Stepping motor technology for smooth focusing

TS-E Lenses with Tilt and Shift function

UD Lenses with Ultra Low Dispersion glass

USM Lenses with an Ultrasonic Motor

FUJIFILM

ED Lenses featuring Extra Low Dispersion elements

LM Linear Motor technology

OIS Optical Image Stabilization

NIKON

AF-S Lenses with Silent Wave Motor

CRC Close Range Correction system

CX Lenses designed for Nikon’s 1-series CSC cameras

D Lenses that can be used on manual focus SLRs

DX Lenses designed for APS-C sized sensors

ED Lenses featuring Extra Low Dispersion elements

FX Designation for full frame lenses

G Lenses without a manual aperture ring

IF Internal Focusing

N Nano Crystal Coating

VR Vibration Reduction

OLYMPUS

EZ Electromagnetic zoom mechanism

L-Fn AF-lock button

SWD Supersonic Wave Drive for AF

PANASONIC

OIS Optical Image Stabilization PZ Power Zoom

X Flagship professional range of lenses

PENTAX

DA Lenses designed for APS-C sized sensors

DA* High-performance lenses designed for APS-C sized sensors

DC Direct Current for AF

IF Internal Focusing

SDM Supersonic Direct-drive Motor for AF

WR Weather Resistant

SIGMA

APO Apochromatic low-dispersion glass

ASP Lenses featuring Aspherical elements

DC Lenses designed for APS-C sized sensors

DG Designation for full frame lenses

DN Lenses designed for certain CSC cameras

EX Professional-grade lenses

HSM Lenses with a Hyper-Sonic Motor for AF

IF Internal Focusing

OS Optical Stabilizer

SONY

DT Lenses designed for APS-C sized sensors

OSS Optical SteadyShot

SAL Lenses designed for Sony DSLRs

SEL Lenses designed for Sony NEX CSC cameras

SSM Super Sonic Motor for AF

TAMRON

ASL Lenses featuring Aspherical elements

Di Designation for full frame lenses

Di II Lenses designed for APS-C sized sensors

IF Internal Focusing

LD Low-dispersion glass

PZD Piezo Drive for AF

SP Super Performance-grade lenses

USD Ultrasonic Silent Drive for AF

VC Vibration Compensation

TOKINA

AS Lenses featuring Aspherical elements

AT-X Pro FX Designation for full frame lenses

AT-X Pro DX Lenses designed for APS-C sized sensors

IF Internal Focusing

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