Lens Decoder: Sony Edition

13 August 2023

Buying a new lens for your Mirrorless or DSLR camera can be a daunting task. As well as considering the compatibility, budget, and size of the lens, you need to decide whether its focal range is suitable for you and your needs. While our camera lens buying guide can set you on the right path with focal length, aperture range, and other important features, you might still need a bit of help discovering precisely what all of those letters adorning our lens collection actually mean.

Our lens decoder series aims to do just that, and today we have our Sony Lens edition, for your reference.

Sony Lens Information

Sony Lens Mounts -

Sony has a few different lens Mounts, for both their DSLR and Mirrorless camera ranges, so we should do a quick recap of those before we get into the technical particulars.

A Mount - This is the mount found on Sony's DSLR and SLT range of digital cameras. This lens mount was also previously used on Minolta cameras.

E Mount - These lenses are specifically designed for use on Sony's mirrorless cameras.

Sony Lens DecoderSony Lens Decoder
Sony Lens DecoderSony Lens Decoder

Sony Lens Formats -

FE - These Sony E lenses are suitable for use on full-frame format mirrorless cameras. They can also be mounted on APS-C format sensors, on which they will provide a more magnified field of view, which is known as crop factor.

Sony AF Systems - 

Sony has utilised a number of different autofocus systems over the years. The following are abbreviations you will commonly see on their lenses, that relate to this.

DDSSM - Direct Drive Supersonic Wave motors are usually found in Sony's larger and heavier lenses. It can move larger lens elements in a speedy manner.

PZ - This lens will offer a power zoom function, which means an electronic zoom motor can be activated via a button on the barrel. The resulting smooth and constant AF performance is ideal for video purposes.

RDSSM - This stands for Ring Drive Supersonic Wave Motor and the result is smooth and silent AF performance.

SAM - Smooth autofocus motors are often found in Sony's budget offering but still offer surprising speed and smooth performance considering the price of the lens.

SSM - Sony's Supersonic Motor uses a piezoelectric motor, providing fast and quiet AF performance. Other highlights include a built-in distance scale and full-time manual focus override.

XD LM - This new extreme dynamic linear motor utilises a contactless electromagnetic drive for even quieter autofocus performance. Due to its high thrust, it can handle larger lenses, and it is fast enough to keep up with the speed of modern Sony equipment.


Sony Optical Technology Explained

AA - Sony's advanced aspherical elements are a redesigned variant that is notable for its improved image rendering, thanks to a high thickness ratio between the centre and periphery of the element.

APD - These optical elements provide exceptional defocusing quality, thanks to capturing less light at the edges.

AR -  This stands for Sony's anti-reflective technology, which helps with light transmission and reduces internal reflections, and therefore ghosting and lens flare. Common variations include Nano AR and Nano AR II.

ED - Extra-low dispersion glass elements are used in this lens, resulting in overall excellent image quality, and specifically reduced chromatic aberrations.

F - Fluorine coating is a specialised lens coating that protects the lens from damage by repelling water and oils. Lenses with this coating are easier to clean, so they perform at their best.

G - This G stands for Gold, and is reserved for Sony's mid to high range optics.

GM - This stands for Grand Master and it is only seen on the highest quality lenses that Sony has to offer.


Sony Lens DecoderSony Lens Decoder
Lens Decoder: Sony EditionLens Decoder: Sony Edition

IF - A lens with IF listed as a feature includes internal focussing, which basically means the internal elements of the lens move while it focusses. This means the lens remains compact in size during use.

OSS - Optical SteadyShot is Sony's impressive stabilisation system, which is in place to provide blur-free handheld photography.

Super ED - Super extra-low dispersion lens elements provide superior compensation for chromatic aberrations.

XA - A lens with this in the description includes extreme Aspherical lens elements. These elements are generally only found in GM lenses (See Above), and deliver exceptional image sharpness despite remarkable portability.

Shop  Sony Lenses at Ted's Today

Are you getting ready to pull the trigger on your next camera lens purchase? Our product roundups are here to help you finalise your choices and don't forget to have a chat with our friendly staff in-store if you need some more advice.

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