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Canon Lenses FAQ

Canon Abbreviations


  • R-Mount - really old thing, started to be used in 1959
  • FL-Mount - first really popular manual lenses mount, started at 1964.
  • FD-Mount - most popular old Canon manual mount, used since 1971. Compatible with FL lenses.
  • EF-Mount - completely new mount, focusing and aperture are controlled by lenses themselfs.
  • EF-S Mount - Lenses made for APS-C sensors, can not be used on old EF bodies.
  • EF-M Mount - Mirrorless mount used only in Canon M cameras.

More General

  • L - Abbreviation for premium lenses.
  • I, II, etc - indicate lens generation, usually improved and more advanced lenses have higher number.

Auto Focus related

  • AFD - Arc-Form Drive, slowest and noisiest drive. No manual focus override. Bad for video.
  • MM - Micro motor, smaller focus drive, also noisy and without focus override. Bad for video.
  • STM - Stepper Motor, good for slow focus changes, quite silent, good for video.
  • USM - Ultrasonic Motor, fast for still photos focusing, almost silent. Not very good for video.
  • Nano USM - latest version of ultrasonic motor, made to be almost silent and good for video.


  • IS - Optical Image stabilization, in fact can differ from year to year and lens to lens.
  • IS II - Sometimes used to indicate advanced stabilization for newer lens.

Special Lenses

  • PZ - Lens with power zoom. Such lenses are made for video work mostly.
  • Macro - Lens that have small minimal focusing distance and flat focusing plane.
  • Compact Macro - Smaller macro lens that can not reach usual 1:1 macro dimensions, usually 1:2 only.
  • MP-E - Ultra Macro lens, like 5:1.
  • TS-E - Abbreviation for tilt-shift lenses.

Optical Construction

  • SSC - Canon brand of good elements coating. Used only on old glass, now it comes by default.
  • DO - Lens with at least one Diffractive Optics element.
  • Softfocus - Lens with element making picture dream like.

General Lenses info

We have separate page for Canon FD - Canon FD Lenses FAQ

Feel free to contact us if you want to add info for new Canon EF.

camera-usage/canon-lenses-faq.txt · Last modified: 2016/08/09 19:41 by vitaliy_kiselev