Lens terminology translation cheat sheet for photographers
Making judgments about the models you need in your kitbag requires knowledge of the technology contained in a lens. As with any piece of photography gear, there are instances when a feature won’t provide a noticeable enough benefit to warrant the investment, while in other situations it can be nearly impossible to produce the photographs you need without a specific piece of equipment.
The presence of such characteristics, such as lens coatings or internal processes, may not be as visible with photographic lenses as it would be if there were a physical switch present. In the lens nomenclature, which consists of the letters and numbers that make up the sometimes clunky and perplexing lens names, characteristics are frequently indicated by prefixes or suffixes.
Because of this, lenses may appear to be a niche and daunting segment of the market, but they’re not! The terminology that are frequently used to denote the incorporation of lens technology will be thoroughly examined in this section. Although we didn’t include every lens maker, we did our best to include the most popular ones.
Nowadays, wide-angle lenses are available with focal lengths as low as 10mm for APS-C camera models and as high as 12mm for full-frame sensors. Wide-angle lenses are typically considered to be optics with a focal length of less than around 40mm. Professional landscape and travel photographers use these lenses, but they may also be used in a variety of other photography situations, such as environmental portraits and sports.
In some ways, name conventions have the most potential to mislead customers in this category of optics. This is due to a split that formed as digital photography advanced between lenses required for wide-angle shooting on digital models and those that could be transferred from film systems.
The multiplication factor applied to the focal length of attached lenses results in wider than typical settings being required to create true wide-angle viewpoints due to the smaller sensor area of early digital cameras and the current APS-C versions. Standard full-frame compatible lenses, however, would be unreasonably huge, heavy, and costly to produce due to the optical designs that would be necessary to make this possible. In order to address the smaller sensor types, manufacturers of digital-only lenses have developed lines of lenses with smaller image circles. Reduced focal lengths are therefore possible without using very large element diameters.
It’s critical to understand which lenses can be used with 24x36mm and crop-frame sensors.
While there are telephoto lenses with smaller image circles currently, they are mostly used in mirrorless camera systems for weight and mobility reasons.
Wide perspectives provide optical problems, which are addressed by other crucial characteristics of wide-angle lenses. To eliminate edge fringing and geometric distortions, among other things, they include chemical coatings and glass element designs. Aspherical elements are used in conjunction with the designations ASPH, ED, or ULD to decrease distortion. Special low-dispersion glass is indicated by the designations ED or ULD. Chromatic aberration is decreased by these lens elements’ improved ability to concentrate light of various colours at the same location.
Frame-filling photographs of distant subjects cannot be taken without the use of telephoto optics, just as ultra-wide lenses are necessary for stretched perspectives. These models allow the photographer to carefully modify their composition, cropping out undesired environmental information, whether they choose a long telephoto prime lens, like a 500mm f/4, or a telephoto zoom, such a 70-300mm f/4-5.6.
Wildlife and sports photographers frequently use these lenses, particularly those with focal lengths greater than 300mm. For this reason, telephoto features are typically designed to facilitate speedy work, including quick focus acquisition and nearly immediate recomposition.
When employing telephoto optics, camera shake is more likely to occur due to the higher magnification, hence professional models nearly always use image stabilisation technology. By adjusting the location of specialised lens components to prevent camera shift, this enables handheld photography in environments with weaker ambient illumination. The efficiency of this method varies depending on the lens being used, although most modern stabilisers can reduce shaking by at least three stops.
Supersonic wave autofocus motors, internal and rear focusing systems, and the ability to make manual focus changes at any moment, even when AF is active, are other speed-enhancing features found on more sophisticated lenses.