Nikon Lens Abbreviations

Nikon Lens Abbreviations by Alan Trammel.

All the letters and abbreviations Nikon uses to identify different lens components can get confusing.  Here is a simple guide for what the letters and abbreviations stand for on Nikon F-Mount Lenses.

 Nikon F-mount 

The F-mount was first introduced on the Nikon F camera in 1959 and is Nikon’s standard DSLR lens mounting system. In the 1980’s, with the coming of the auto-focus revolution Nikon chose to adapt the F-mount rather than scrapping it in favor of a new auto-focus compatible lens mounting system. This decision cemented the F-mount’s unquestionable claim of being the largest interchangeable lens system ever manufactured. The range currently encompasses over 400 Nikkor lenses.

Nikkor is the brand of lenses produced by Nikon Corporation.

FX – this abbreviation indicates “full-frame”, as in 35mm film equivalent. Abbreviations like FX and DX indicate format size (size of the digital sensor). You will never see FX on descriptions of lenses because unless indicated otherwise, all lenses are full-frame by default .

DX: The lens is specifically designed for use on Nikon APS-C (image sensor size) DX camera bodies. It produces a smaller image circle for more efficient coverage of the imaging sensor in these cameras, which is smaller than the 35mm film frame.

AF – stands for Auto Focus, which means that the lens can automatically focus through the camera.

AF-D – Auto Focus with Distance information. Same as AF, except it can report the distance between the subject and the lens and then reports that information to the camera. The distance information can be useful for metering. See “D” acronym below. No longer used on modern lenses.

AF-S: Autofocus Silent
Focus is driven by a “Silent Wave” motor in the lens instead of the focus drive motor in the camera.  AF-S lenses focus faster than standard AF-Nikkors and almost completely silently. AF-S lenses with a “II” designation weigh less and are generally smaller than their equivalent predecessors.

M/A: A focusing mode on some AF-Nikkor lenses which allows switching from automatic to manual focusing with virtually no lag time by simply turning the focusing ring on the lens.

D: Distance
D-type AF-Nikkor lenses relay subject-to-camera distance information to Nikon SLR cameras that feature 3D Color Matrix Metering, 3D Matrix Metering, and 3D Multi-Sensor Balanced Fill-Flash.

G: The lens has no aperture control ring and is designed to be used with cameras that allow setting the aperture from the camera body. G lenses also provide Distance information to the camera.

IF: Internal Focus
Focus is accomplished through movement of internal lens elements, without effecting the overall outside length of the lens, an advantage when using a position-sensitive filter such as a polarizer or split neutral-density.

ED: Extra-Low Dispersion glass

High-quality glass that corrects for chromatic aberration, a type of image and color distortion that occurs when light rays of varying wavelengths pass through optical glass and don’t converge or focus at the same point. Nikkor lenses with ED glass deliver superior sharpness and contrast, even at maximum aperture. Super ED glass is a new type that is used together with ED glass in some lenses to achieve an even higher degree of freedom from chromatic aberration.

N – Nano Crystal Coat: Nano Crystal Coat is a lens coating which provides an extremely high reduction in reflections over a wide wavelength range by reducing the reflection of light that comes in perpendicular to the lens compared with conventional anti-reflection coatings. Furthermore, the Nano Crystal Coat reduces ghosts and flare that are caused by light obliquely coming through the lens-a problem difficult to remove with conventional coatings.

VR: Vibration Reduction
An optical innovation that minimizes image blur caused by camera shake and offers the equivalent of shooting at a shutter speed three stops faster, allowing sharper handheld pictures with longer lenses. The system even automatically detects when a photographer pans while photographing a moving subject. VR operation is available only with specific Nikon cameras.

Micro – Same thing as Macro, which is designated for macro lenses for close-up work.

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Alan Trammel-Prints

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