Translating lens language

October 12, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

When you are shopping for a camera lens, it almost certainly has a series of strange abbreviations on the lens along with any advertisements. Chances are that you are at least somewhat familiar with these abbreviations if you are purchasing a lens of the same model as your camera. Many of  these cryptic abbreviations often deal with controlling lens vibration, chromatic and spherical aberration, whether the lens is macro capable, the quality of the lens and housing etc..

Keep in mind that each manufacturer may go through a different path for a certain feature. For example, how Nikon may control dispersion may vary from how Canon controls dispersion in its lenses. Also, when comparing lenses, simply because a lens advertisement may not directly state that a lens has a specific quality, it does not necessarily mean that the lens lacks that feature. In fact, all lenses in a particular line may have a specific feature such as a low dispersion coating.

I have included 3 third party vendors below with a listing of common abbreviations used on their lenses. In some cases lenses from third parties may produce excellent results at a value price.

Here is also a link that does a great job when comparing camera lenses.


ASP: Aspherical lens (reduced number of components and smaller size)

APO: Low dispersion glass to control chromatic aberration

OS: Optical stabilization

HSM: Hypersonic Motor (A very quiet fast focus)

RF: Rear focus (Moves the rear elements for faster focus)

IF: Inner focus (Internal elements charge without changing lens length)

A: Art Series

CONV: teleconverter compatible

EX: Professional body finishing

DG: Full frame cameras

DC: Crop frame cameras

DN: Mirrorless cameras


SP: Superior Performance (superior sharpness and contrast)

LD: Low dispersion elements

IF : Internal focusing (lens length does not change)

AD:  Anomalous Dispersion (Controls chromatic aberration)

ASL: ASpherical Lens (hybrid lens that controls for spherical aberration and chromatic aberration with fewer lens elements)

LAH: LD Aspherical Hybrid: (Another hybrid lens that controls dispersion)

XR: Extra Refractive Index: (Allows wide angle and wide angle zooms to have smaller front elements)

ZL: Zoom Lock (Keeps zoom lens from shifting when pointed down)

VC: Vibration compensated

Di: Digitally integrated


 At-XPro: professional line (primes and constant aperture zooms)

 AT-X: consumer line (variable aperture zooms)

 AS: Aspherical Optics

 F&R: Advanced Aspherical Optics

 SD: Super Low Dispersion

 HLD: High-Refraction, Low Dispersion


 FE: Floating Element System

 FE: Internal Focus System

 IFR: Internal Rear Focus System

 FC: Focus Clutch Mechanism (allows switching between auto & manual focus)

 One touch clutch: One-Touch Focus Clutch Mechanism

 FX: Full frame

 DX:Digital (cropped frame)