Lens Description: What's the letters or numbers and abbreviations stand for?

Lens naming and lenses acronyms and abbreviation, what they stand for and their meaning
Lens naming and lenses acronyms and abbreviation, what they stand for and their meaning

Here is a (long) list of different lenses brand with their acronyms and abbreviation meaning. Listed below are the explanation of those letters and numbers abbreviation used by the following lenses manufacturers: Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sigma, Tamron, Tokina, Sony, Minolta, Samyang or Rokinon and Olympus.

Novice , amateur, expert or pro, it's hard to know everything ... You are not familiar with a specific brand and you don't know what mean the lens acronyms or abbreviation from a different lens manufacturer. The lens acronyms or abbreviations are all these numbers and letters, which apparently have no sense, but are engraved or printed on the lenses and you wonder for what they stand for.

Lens Acronyms or abbreviations and their meanings.

1) Quality of the lens: Each brand has it's own designation to tell that a specific lens is a high end or/and professional level lens.

  • Canon lenses: L (mean Luxury: professional lenses, recognisable by the red ring).
  • Nikon lenses: No designation, but often the golden ring is considered as a quality lens.
  • Pentax lenses: ★ or FA★ Limited, professional lense.
  • Sigma lenses: EX or Art, Before 2012 it was EX which stand for EXcellence, and now it's Art for "Artistic?" or "piece of Art?" lens, those are professional level.
  • Tamron lenses: SP which stand for Super Performance.
  • Sony lenses: G which is their pro lenses and stand for Gold.
  • Tokina lenses: AT-X Pro which mean : Advanced Technology - Extra Pro.

From what I've read about Canon, the label "L" would be reserved for lenses containing fluorite (an artificial crystal), a glass grounded and polished aspherical and / or other special optical materials, it would be for this reason that some excellent lenses and considered as pro, do not have the famous red ring (L) despite a similar build quality...


2) Lenses with motor (used for the autofocus): Here also each manufacturer has its own way to "acronym" the motorisation system.

  • Canon lens: USM for UltraSonic Motor and STM for STepping Motor.
  • Nikon lens: AF-S for AutoFocus Silent and SWM for Silent Wave Motor.
  • Pentax lens: see directly on the Pentax page (they got too many acronyms).
  • Sigma lens: HSM for Hyper Sonic Motor.
  • Tamron lens: USD for Ultra Silent Drive.
  • Sony lens: SSM for Super Sonic Motor.
  • Tokina lens: IF-S for Internal Focus System.

3) Sensor type and lenses: Full frame lenses and APS-C (cropped sensor) designed lenses, in the list below.

The first acronym is for Full Frame lenses / the second acronym is a lens for cropped sensor (called also APS-C).

  • Canon: EF / EF-S.
  • Nikon: FX / DX.
  • Sigma: DG / DC.
  • Tamron: Di / Di-II.
  • Sony: No designation for full frame / DT.
  • Tokina: FX / DX.

To write this article i did a lot of searches and it took a lot of times, but for sure i didn't found all lens acronyms and their meaning, so if you know some, do no hesitate to write it in a comment below.

 You might also be interested with the last entry in the blog:

Photophone: How to do great pictures with a smartphone or a tablet.

How to take great pictures with a smartphone
How to take great pictures with a smartphone?

Nowadays our smartphones have more computer power than a 10 years old desktop computer. Technology is evolving fast and with it, the language acquiring new words like  smartphone or selfie.

We are doing everything with our phone, from a GPS assistant to photograph or record a movie in full 1080p HD, even post processing those images, and i don't even speak about playing 3D games, read some news on internet and so on...


At the end, when we compare how we use our phone the most, in percentage, I can say safely that we barely use it to call someone, and this is why i call mine a photophone.

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Comments: 1
  • #1

    Clovis Photo Booth (Thursday, 27 July 2017 09:11)

    Thank you for sharing such an informative blog post with us. Learned a lot about Lenses and stuff. Great job!