Alphabets Printed On The Nikon Lenses And Their Meanings

If you look at the lens from any manufacturer, you will notice some numerical and alphabetical prints on it. They are printed there to let the buyers know about the feature and the quality of the lens. Sometimes it might be confusing to understand the meaning of those numbers and symbols and decide about the type of the lens you are trying to get based on that information. When I bought my first lens a couple of years ago, I went through the same confusion. And that is why I am trying to make a note of some of the abbreviations that Nikon uses on it's lenses so that you can make a informed decision about the Nikon lenses. Without wasting much time, let's take a look at them one by one and see what does it really mean for us as a lens buyer.

AF - AF stands for Autofocus but the lens does not come with it’s own motor for auto-focusing. The lens can auto focus only when it is coupled with the camera body which comes with the autofocus motor inside the camera body.

AF-S - AF-S stands for Autofocus with a silent-wave autofocus motor built inside the lens. By using this type of lens, you can achieve autofocus whether the camera body comes with it’s own focusing motor or not.

If you want to know more about an AF lens and an AF-S lens and how does it work with different types of camera body, please check out my blog - Autofocus Is Not Working On My Nikon D5100.

DX - It means the lens was primarily built for those Digital SLRs which utilize a smaller sensor or cropped sensor and known as DX format or APS-C sensor format body. Technically, you can use a DX lens on both DX format camera and FX format camera, but you may end up getting a circular image in the middle of the black frame if you are using a DX lens on a FX camera body. This is because FX type camera has a bigger sensor and the image produce by a DX lens can’t fill in the full sensor area.

Nikon Lens

Nikon Lens

D - It means the Lens equipped with a "chip" which allows the camera body to assess the distance of the subject being photographed and expose for that subject correctly.

DC - DC stands for Defocus Control. A lens is designed primarily for portraiture that allows you to selectively defocus the image.

ED - ED stands for Extra-Low Dispersion Glass. It is basically a glass coating that doesn't disperse light as it enters the lens as other normal glass does and obtain optimum correction of chromatic aberrations.

G - It means the lens’ aperture is electronically controlled and does not have an aperture ring on it. Some of the Nikkor lenses will have an aperture ring allowing physical, manual aperture control which is designed for the older bodies.

IF - IF stands for Internal Focusing which means it doesn't change its length of the lens as you focus it. CPU built inside the lens controls focus in the lens itself. Lens will not expand or shrink when you focus subjects and it's front element doesn't move either.

Micro - Nikon's proprietary trade name for a macro lens. "Micro" and "macro" mean the same thing for Nikon lens.

N - Nano crystal coating. A high-tech coating used on lenses to reduce ghosting and flare. In the early days, Nikon used letters like P (penta, 5 elements), N (nano, 9 elements) to indicate how many elements a lens had. Now Nikon reused a letter N to indicate nano crystal coating.

VR - VR stands for Vibration Reduction. It is an image stabilizer technology introduced by the Nikon allowing a photographer to reduce blurring associated with the motion of a camera or its subject specially when they are not using tripods. It actually allows photographers to shoot with 2-4 stops slower shutter speed than without VR lens and still produce sharper image.

Ø - Filter diameter that correctly fits into the lens. Common filter diameters are 49mm, 52mm, 58mm, 62mm, 67mm and 72mm.

If you see something like f/3.5-5.6 numbers printed on your lens, that means your lens maximum aperture is f/3.5 when it's fully zoomed out (at the lowest focal range) and f/5.6 when it's fully zoomed in (at the highest focal range).

I hope this explanation helps you to understand some of the nomenclature Nikon uses on their lenses and assist you to decide which lens you should buy or what to look for when you are shopping for your next lens.

Happy shooting!

Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S Lens Review

Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S is designed and built for Nikon DX-Format digital SLR camera. This lens is built with Nikon Super Integrated Coating (SIC) to enhance the light transmission efficiency and offers superior color consistency. Nikon built this lens with an exclusive Nikon Silent Wave Motor (SWM) which enables it for fast, accurate and quiet Autofocus on Nikon's entry-level DSLR camera like D40, D40x, D60 and D5000 which lacks the internal motor to use lens in Autofocus mode. One of the key element to get this lens is the price of the lens. It comes with less than half the price of many other DX format standard prime lenses currently in the market. At the time of writing this blog, it was selling on Amazon for $197.04. If you really want to try the lens but you don’t want to spend that much money, there are places from where you can rent the lens.

Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S Prime Lens

Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S Prime Lens

Along with all the promising features, the lens's performance is very impressive compared to it's price. It produces really sharp and finely detailed images in al aperture value. It focuses very quickly and accurately. It is very light weight and fits into a small package. If you are traveling a lot with your camera, this lens will be a huge advantage for you to carry around. It is almost 4 times cheaper than Nikon AF-S 18-200mm F3.5-5.6 DX VR II lens but produces much sharper images with close focusing up to 1 foot. It is very fast and f/1.8 aperture is perfect for the low-light condition.

The AF-S Nikkor 35mm F/1.8G has two focus modes, M/A (manual override Autofocus) and M (manual focus). The M/A mode enables instant manual switching during AF operation. The lens also features a rubber seal to minimize the moisture ingression around the mount and accepts 52mm filter attachments.

Nikon 18-200mm VR II Lens Review

As I have started using more and more, I feel like Nikon 18-200mm is one of the most fantastic kit lens Nikon ever made. This is standard telephoto zoom lens for Nikon DX-Format DSLR cameras. Photographers who used to carry lots of lenses for Wide angle, Portrait and Nature photography can now replace all their lenses with this versatile, very powerful and faster lens. This lens is reviewed over it's old version, 18-200mm VR lens, and hence it is named as 18-200mm VR II. It has a manual focus override, AF-S focusing motor, vibration reduction, takes 72mm filter and comes with HB-35 hood. This is almost same as old 18-200mm VR lens, with the addition of a zoom lock at focal length of 18mm. Lots of photographers complained about it's creeping problem when zooming in and out and Nikon tried to fix that problem with the lock feature at the beginning. But personally, I think that won't solve the problem if your lens starts creeping when you shoot facing your lens upward or downward and you are zooming around half the focal length, 140mm for example. This lock is good to prevent accidental creeping of your lens when you are walking and carrying it. I am using this lens since last 6 months and haven't had any creeping problem so far but cannot guarantee that it won't happen in near future. It might become a problem once I start using more and more, according to some photographers.

Nikon 18-200mm VR II Lens

Nikon 18-200mm VR II Lens

Other than that, this lens is remarkably versatile with an 11x zoom factor, very sharp at all focal lengths and VR system is very helpful to stabilize the image. It is 100mm long when it is mounted at 18mm focal length and about 160mm long when it's fully extended. It is also useful to shoot closeup (like macro) shot. Maximum aperture of this lens is f/3.5-5.6 and minimum aperture is f/22-36 depending up on various focal length ranging from 18mm to 200mm. As I am using this lens more and more with my Nikon D90, I feel like this combination might feel heavier for long use (to carry around). But in overall, this is a fantastic lens.

If you already have an old version of this lens, I don't see a point why you want to spend around $800 to upgrade to this just to add a locking feature. But if you are looking to buy a good size lens that covers wide range of focal length so that you don't have to keep changing the lens, I think this lens could be the best option for you available in the current market. It is an amazing and most importantly all purpose lens in the current line up.

If you have this lens or planning to buy one, please share your experience with us. Happy Shooting!