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Common Canon fit Abbreviations

This article is focusing on common Canon fit photography terms, acronyms, & abbreviations, which are used on Canon lenses. In addition other brands as well, such as Sigma and Tamron, that can be used on Canon digital cameras.

Common Canon Abbreviations

SLR – single-lens reflex camera – typically uses a mirror and prism system (hence “reflex” from the mirror’s reflection) that permits the photographer to view through the lens and see exactly what will be captured.

Digital SLR or DSLR – a digital camera that combines the optics and the mechanisms of a single-lens reflex camera with a digital imaging sensor, as opposed to photographic film.

Canon FL lens mount – FL fit was before 1964.

Canon FD lens mount FD fit was before 1987.

EF mount was introduced in 1987.

EF – electronic focus.

EF-S (introduced in 2003) designed for EOS DSLR models with a compact sized sensor – APS–C (Advanced Photo System Cropped frame) sensor size – lenses lighter and smaller, greater wide-angle choice.

RF mount (introduced in 2018) implements a 12-pin connection between the camera and the lens, a 50% increase over the 8 pins found on the EF mount. Along with more data channels, provides higher speed data transfer for extremely fast AF, enhanced image stabilization and image quality optimization. Canon EF and EF-S lenses can be used on cameras that have the RF mount with mount adapters.

EF-M (introduced in 2012) – more compact compared to the EF and EF-S range, designed exclusively for use with EOS M cameras.

IS – image stabiliser (Canon).

L – Designation for Canon’s professional line of lenses. While more expensive than consumer-grade lenses, these are compatible with Canon Rebel cameras and all use the Canon EF mount. If the lens has a red line, the lens is part of Canon’s L series.

AFD – Arc-Form Drive is the first autofocus motor used in Canon EF lenses. Louder and slower than USM motors. Slower reaction time and no full-time manual focus override. If an autofocus Canon lens has no indication on its barrel what sort of AF motor is used, it is either AFD or MM.

MM –Micro Motor -the least advanced AF motor used in Canon lenses along with AFD. It is a smaller version of the AFD motor. MM is only used in the cheapest Canon lenses, like the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II kit zoom. Does not allow full-time manual focus override like the more sophisticated USM systems do. If an autofocus Canon lens has no indication on its barrel what sort of AF motor is used, it is either MM or AFD.

STM – Stepping Motor – The inclusion of the STM motor allows the camera to focus smoothly and quietly while shooting video and particularly so when using Canon DSLRs equipped with Dual Pixel AF systems. This motor also allows quick AF speeds during still image capture.

USM – Ultrasonic Motor – The inclusion of an ultrasonic motor makes the lens focusing fast and quiet.

DN – lenses designed for compact system cameras.

DODiffractive Optics lenses are built to the same exacting standards as L series lenses, but these are designated with a green ring around the lens barrel instead of a red one.

TS-E – lenses with tilt and shift functions,

MP-E – it is a is a prime lens, there is physical extension is because it focuses very close. MP-E focuses from life-size to 5 times life size, provides closer images than macro.

PL mount (Positive Locking) mount or Arri PL – lens mount developed for cinema lenses.

CN-E – cinema lenses for Canon Cinema EOS (Cinema Electro-Optical System). Prime lenses are available with an EF mount, while the CN-E zoom lenses are available in either EF or PL mount. The biggest visual difference between EF and CN-E lenses is that the cinema lenses have gearing around them that allows the focus and aperture to be easily and smoothly controlled via a follow focus or remote control.

I, II, III – designates which version of a Canon lens to distinguish the older model from the newer one.

Read more about Photography Glossary.

Common Sigma Abbreviations

Sigma makes their lenses in a variety of mounts, including Canon (also Nikon, Pentax, Sony/Minolta, some Olympus, and even their own Sigma SA mount).

They backwards engineer the mount and do not pay a license to Canon, so they generally do not use the term “EF” but instead label it as “Canon AF”.

They do not make any lenses using the EF-S mount. Instead, their digital lenses for the “crop” cameras are labelled “DC” and will fit any EF or EF-S mount without interference. So unlike the EF-S lenses, Sigma DC lenses can be used on the older non-EF-S models like the D30/D60/10D.

AF – Autofocus

ASP – Aspherical Lens Elements. A type of lenses that virtually eliminates the problem of coma and other types of lens aberration. They are particularly good at correcting distortion in wide-angle lenses as well as contributing to a lighter and smaller lens design.

APO – Apochromatic lenses. Uses special low dispersion glass for minimum colour aberration and telephoto quality improving contrast and sharpness. APO Zoom Marcos offer up to 1:2 magnification (one half life-size) in the telephoto range with instant shifting from normal to macro shooting. APO Tele-Macros offer a 1:2 image size close focus, when the macro switch is engaged the zoom control ring is fixed at the telephoto end.

CONV – These lenses can be used with the APO Teleconverter EX. It can increase the focal length and will interface with the cameras automatic exposure function.

DC – Lenses designed for APS-C DLSR cameras. Lenses which have been designed so that the image circle matches the smaller size of the image sensor of most Digital SLR’s. Also compact and lightweight.

DG – Lenses compatible with full-frame sensor DSLR cameras. Large aperture lenses with wide angles and short minimum focusing distances. Have peripheral illuminations so are the ideal lenses for Digital SLR cameras, but are still suitable for 35mm SLR’s.

DF – Dual Focus. Disengages the linkage between the internal focusing mechanism and outer focusing ring when in the AF position. Allows holding of the lens as the focusing ring does not rotate during auto-focusing, but gives an adequate focusing torque of the focus ring when manually focusing the lens.

DL – Deluxe. Full-featured lenses and come with a custom lens hood, feature half stop increments on manual aperture settings, depth of field scale, distance scale, infrared correction mark.

EX – Excellence. Used to define professional type lenses, it denotes a superior build and optical quality.

HF – Helical Focus. Eliminates front lens rotation, allowing the use of a perfect hood and easy to use polarising filters.

HSM – Sigma’s designation for Hypersonic Motor. Uses a motor driven by ultrasonic waves to provide quiet, high-speed Auto Focus. Virtually silent, highly responsive auto and manual focusing.

IF – Inner Focus. The lens is able to focus without physically changing its size, where optical movement is limited to the interior of the non-extending part of the lens barrel, allowing for a more compact and lightweight lens as well as closer focusing distances.

MACRO – Used on those lenses which have the ability to be used for close up (macro) photography. Some will have a magnification ratio of 1:3 focusing at 50cm, such as some of their standard Zoom lenses.

OS – Sigma’s designation for Optical Stabiliser. Has a built-in mechanism that compensates for camera shake. Alleviates camera movement when shooting by hand held camera.

RF – Rear Focusing. A system where all the lens elements are divided into specific groups, with only the rear group moving for focusing, making the auto-focus operation smoother and faster.

UC – Ultra Compact. The smallest, lightest lens of its type.

ART – Designed to emphasize creative expression above compactness and multi-functionality

MC – Sigma Mount Converter

Common Tamron Abbreviations

ASL – lenses use one or more aspherical lenses.

DI – Digitally Integrated Design


Digitally Integrated Design – A Generation of lenses designed for optimized use with digital SLR cameras.

Di II – Lenses for APS-C sized sensors only. They are constructed for the exclusive use on digital SLR cameras with smaller-size imagers (Canon EF-S size – max. 16 x 24 mm)

Di III – Lenses for compact system cameras. They are engineered specifically for mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras. They cannot be used with digital SLR cameras with a built-in mirror box or with conventional SLR cameras.

PZD (Piezo Drive) – it has a piezo drive motor. Read more here.

USD – it has a high-frequency Ultrasonic Silent Drive motor, enabling speedy, silent autofocusing.

XR – Extra Refractive Index Glass Technology. Gives Tamron lenses better performance and allows them to have more compact designs.

Read more about Tamron abbreviations in Tamron glossary


Canon EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS II DSLR Lens Black

This is a cropped frame sensor Canon electronic focus lens (EF-S) with image stabiliser (IS), 2nd version of the model (II)

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Main Types of Camera Lenses

For different perspectives and composition, it can be useful to try different types of camera lenses. Ever get confused when it comes to the many different types of camera lenses?

There are two main types camera lenses are zoom lenses and prime lenses:

  • Zoom lens – it is a lens which can go from wide angle to telephoto range or from telephoto to high telephoto; the focal length can change. Ideal by most travelers because one or two lenses will give an entire range that they will ever need. However, the image quality is often compromised by this convenience.
  • Prime lens (primary focal length, unifocal lens or FFL) – is a fixed focal length photographic lens, typically with a maximum aperture from f2.8 to f1.2. Prime lenses come in a wide range of focal lengths from wide angles through to the very longest of tele-photo lenses. They have a larger maximum aperture, which enables quicker shutter speeds (faster) than zoom lenses. Read more on Wikipedia

There are many possible lens choices and all will give you a different and distinct image. The lens choice depends on the environment and on the creativity of the photographer in selecting the right lens to capture the vision of the world the way he or she sees it, or wants to present it.

Here are some of the main lens types:

  • Standard lens (normal lens) – a similar angle of view to the human eye, giving photos a natural feel. They are general-purpose lenses, and can be used to photograph everything from close-up portraits to landscapes. A standard lens will make the distance between near and far objects look ‘normal’. For a 35mm film camera or a full-frame DSLR, the 50mm lens is considered standard.
  • Telephoto lens – long-focus lens; long focal length lenses. The angle of view of approx. 20°. This lens class is suited for capturing distant motives up close, e.g., sports, nature or theatrical photography.
  • Wide angle lens – camera lens with a focal length of less than 35mm is considered wide angle (useful in architectural, interior and landscape photography where the photographer may not be able to move farther from the scene to photograph it). Angle of view greater than 55°. Wide-angle lenses come in both fixed-focal-length and zoom varieties.
  • Also, there are ultra-wide angle lenses (fisheye lenses). They are small, ultra-wide, and show a distorted, spherical view of the world, most evident in the curved, outer corners of the photo.
  • Macro Lens – a lens suitable for taking photographs unusually close to the subject. Designed for photographing small subjects at very close distances. They can focus much nearer than normal lenses, allowing you to fill the frame with your subject and capture more details. Macro lenses normally have a fixed focal length (prime lenses). There are zoom macro lenses available but they are low quality and they have low magnification ratio. Read more about macro lenses

Additional devices can be mounted on lenses to change the image quality, such as different filters. Also, tele-converters can be used between lens and camera and to increase the focal length of the mounted lens.

Popular focal lengths

  • 12 to 21mm: Ultra-Wide — usually used at very close subject distances to produce a perspective that provides a dramatic, often extreme image that distorts a scene’s natural proportions.
  • 24 to 35mm: Wide — capture a wider field of view than a standard lens, at shorter distances, the perspective can show distortion.
  • 50 mm: Standard — a focal length near the 44mm image diagonal and a perspective similar to human vision.
  • 85 mm: Portrait — short telephoto lens that accommodates a longer subject to camera distance for pleasing perspective effects and useful image framing.
  • 135 mm: Telephoto — used, for example, by action and sports photographers to capture far away objects.
  • 200 to 500 mm: Super Telephoto — specialized, bulky lenses typically used in sports, action, and wildlife photography.
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Canon EOS (Electro-Optical System)

Canon EOS (Electro-Optical System) is an autofocus single-lens reflex camera (SLR) camera series produced by Canon Inc.. Introduced in 1987 with the Canon EOS 650, all EOS cameras used 35 mm film until October 1996 when the EOS IX was released using the new and short-lived APS film. In 2000, the D30 was announced, as the first digital SLR designed and produced entirely by Canon. Since 2005, all newly announced EOS cameras have used digital image sensors rather than film. The EOS line is still in production as Canon’s current digital SLR (DSLR) range, and, with the 2012 introduction of the Canon EOS M, Canon’s mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera (MILC) system (Source: Wikipedia)

The name “EOS” was chosen for Eos, the Titan goddess of the dawn in Greek mythology and is often pronounced as a word (/ˈiːɒs/), although some spell out the letters, reading it as an initialism.

The EOS emblem was created using Handel Gothic typography.

It competes primarily with the Nikon F series and its successors, as well as autofocus SLR systems from Olympus Corporation, Pentax, Sony/Minolta, and Panasonic/Leica.

At the heart of the system is the EF lens mount, which replaced the previous FD lens mount, which mainly supported only manual-focus lenses.

What is the difference between EOS and DSLR?

Anyone who has been researching Canon digital SLR cameras will notice many of their names have the letters EOS attached to them. For example, EOS 30D, EOS 1D Mark III, EOS Rebel etc. But what does EOS mean exactly?

Many people mistakenly believe that the term EOS stands for some new special feature built into Canon digital SLR cameras. However, as explained above, EOS camera’s have been around for over 25 years and is really nothing new in today’s terms.

DSLR = Digital Single Lens Reflex – a style of camera. A DSLR is a digital SLR, which means any digital camera that allows you to change lenses and has a reflex mirror allowing you to view/focus through the same lens used to take the photo. The mirror must then be flipped up to take the photo.

An EOS camera is Canon’s overall term for both film and digital SLRs. Canon introduced the EOS name, which stands for Electro-Optical System, when it went to auto-focusing for their SLRs.

If you buy a new SLR these days, it will almost certainly be a digital SLR, as almost no film SLRs are being made any more. In fact, Canon is not making any more film Rebel SLRs or even high-end film SLRs anymore

Understand also that as you progress, your lens costs will far exceed the cost of your body. Also, at this time, I only named Nikon and Canon as they totally dominate the SLR market and have the most lenses available, in used, new and third-party. Other SLR makers include Sony, Pentax, Olympus, and Fujifilm (which uses Nikon SLR bodies). It’s an open question whether any of these other companies will remain in the SLR market in the long term, hence my recommendation to stick with Nikon or Canon.

See Canon cameras and/or lenses in our stock.

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