confused by the numbers & letters for lenses

Started Nov 18, 2012 | Questions thread
Thorbard Contributing Member • Posts: 689
Re: confused by the numbers & letters for lenses

Jasonsmom wrote:

OK, so I've decided on Nikon D5100. Now looking at lenses. When looking at "Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G" .......... one lens ends " II AF-S DX ED-Nikkor Lens" the other ends " VR AF-S DX Zoom - Nikkor lens"

I believe the VR is vibration reduction. What the heck is the rest. Before ya say it I've been on google and am abit overwhelmed.

Also, looking at the "Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G DX AF-S" with also has two choices of VR ED or no VR ED. I'm assuming the VR will be better but then again I don't know what the ED means & I could be completely wrong.

Help Please

My Nikon terminology is a little rusty, but the following should help you a little;

18-55mm and 55-200mm are the focal lengths of the lenses. These are both zoom lenses so they have a range of values. A "prime" or fixed focal length lens would have a single number, like 50mm.

f3.5-5.6 is the maximum aperture range for the lens, on these two zoom lenses this indicates a variable maximum aperture through the zoom range. The smaller number, meaning wider aperture, will apply to the most "zoomed out"/wide angle end of the focal length. A prime lens will have a single number, as will some more expensive zoom lenses.

The G indicates an electronic lens that communicates with the camera and does not have an aperture ring, the aperture must be controlled by the camera. A D in this position would mean it can have the aperture controlled manually.

The DX means its a lens for digital cameras with a crop format sensor. FX would indicate suitability for use with a full frame sensor. FX lenses are also compatible with crop sensors, but not the other way round. Your D5100 will have a DX sensor.

The II is a version number, meaning the lens design has been changed in some way, but the "features" have all remained the same.

The AF-S is fast, silent autofocus motor. AF (no S) lenses require a focus motor in the body.

VR is vibration reduction. Sigma lenses call this OS (optical stabilisation) Canon IS (image stabilisation) Tamron VD (vibration something...).

ED is Extra Low Dispersion, a type of glass used in the lens giving improved performance. More common these days, you'd expect it from the newer version of the lens. Sigma calls this SLD (super low dispersion) and some lenses have FLD which is flouride low dispersion, which is even better performance in top end lenses.

In the case of the two lenses you're looking at both the VR versions are better and newer designs, which should give you better imaging.

The wikipedia page for the F-mount gives a few more details of some of the letter combinations  here:

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