Photography cheat sheet: lens terminology translator

lens terminology
(Image credit: Future)

Understanding the technology present in a lens is essential for making informed decisions about which models you need in your kitbag. As with most photographic equipment, there are times when you will find that a feature does not offer a significant-enough advantage to justify the financial outlay, while in other circumstances it may be almost impossible to create the images you need without a certain piece of kit. 

With photographic lenses the presence of such features may not be indicated as obviously as by having a physical switch, for example lens coatings or internal mechanisms. Often features will be denoted by prefixes or suffixes in the lens nomenclature – those letters and numbers that make up the often unwieldy and confusing lens names.

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Lauren Scott
Freelance contributor/former Managing Editor

Lauren is a writer, reviewer, and photographer with ten years of experience in the camera industry. She's the former Managing Editor of Digital Camera World, and previously served as Editor of Digital Photographer magazine, Technique editor for PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine, and Deputy Editor of our sister publication, Digital Camera Magazine. An experienced journalist and freelance photographer, Lauren also has bylines at Tech Radar,, Canon Europe, PCGamesN, T3, Stuff, and British Airways' in-flight magazine (among others). When she's not testing gear for DCW, she's probably in the kitchen testing yet another new curry recipe or walking in the Cotswolds with her Flat-coated Retriever.

With contributions from