Sony is one of the younger player when it comes to making cameras. But interestingly, Sony is not a new player in the photography world. For those who are a little more geeky, you should know well that Sony has a history of making camera sensors for other companies… until they decided to grab a piece of the camera market for themselves.
For newbies who just had their feet wet in the camera world, Sony lens can be rather confusing. Most of the Sony lens are manufactured by Carl Zeiss. But at the same time, note that Carl Zeiss also make lens for Nikon / Canon mounts. So check before buying a Zeiss lens, they don’t all mount on a Sony camera. At the same time, due to some historic inheritance, Konica Minolta lens can also be used on “A-mount” Sony cameras.
- A-mount : To be more exact, it’s the alpha (α) mount. Sony introduced the A-mount in 2006, which they acquired from Konica-Minolta. The “A-mount” Minolta lens are compatible on Sony “A-mount” cameras.
- E-mount : The later mount designed by Sony for the NEX series mirrorless cameras.
- ZA : Zeiss Alpha, A-mount lens made by Carl Zeiss. Nothing too confusing.
- E : E-mount lens, in short. But note that lens with this designation is made for crop (APS-C) sensors.
- FE : “Full frame E-mount” lens.
- DT : Digital Technology, designed for cameras with crop (APS-C) sensors. They still mount on full-frame cameras, but at the cost of megapixels (cropped image).
- SAL : Sony A-mount Lens.
- SEL : Sony E-mount Lens.
- G : Gold. Nope, the lens is not made of gold. This is Sony’s expensive professional lens, the same as Canon’s red ring or Nikon’s gold ring.
- PZ : Power Zoom, this lens has a motor to drive optical zoom. Does not make much sense for still photography, unless you are so lazy to even turn a focus ring… this is more used for video.
- ED : Extra-low Dispersion. Designed to reduce chromatic aberrations.
- Super ED : Extra-low Dispersion on steroids. The better version of ED.
- T* : T-star coating on Carl Zeiss lens. A special optical coating that prevents flaring, ghosting, and increases image contrast.
- SAM : Smooth Autofocus Motor, not surface-to-air missile. This is an economic lower-end motor used in the “regular Joe” lens. Sufficiently fast and quiet, but not quite as good as the more advanced SSM.
- SSM : Super Sonic Motor, Sony’s ultrasonic motor. Extremely fast and silent.
- IF : Internal Focus. All the focusing magic happens inside, the lens does not extend or retract as you focus on subjects.
Sony calls their stabilization Optical Steady Shot (OSS). Sony has a rather different approach to stabilization. You will only find OSS on E-mount lens, since the A-mount cameras use a sensor based stabilization (built-in, in-camera stabilization).
- Fisheye : Very wide angle lens with extreme distortion, just as how fishes see. Still very useful and unique.
- TC : Teleconverter. This is a secondary lens designed to be fitted on another lens to extend it’s focal length.
- Macro : Shoots up-close. Sony does not mess around with macro, if it is macro, it is 1:1 magnification… unlike some 3rd party lens which is 1:2 magnification.
- STF : Smooth Transition Focus. These lens are built to deliver silky smooth out-of-focus bits, AKA BOKEH. If blur is your thing, STF is the way to go.