Decoding Canon — 20 Abbreviations, Nomenclatures, and Acronyms

How many abbreviations, nomenclatures, and acronyms appear on Canon cameras and lenses? Lots. How many of them can you decode? How many of them can I decode?  Well…. Let’s find out; it’ll be like a game. Shall we play?

  1. EF stands for Electrofocus. That means the lens has an internal motor for auto-focusing cameras. EF is a lens type.
  2.  EF-S stands for Electrofocus-Short-back focus. That means it has a smaller imaging circle within the lens, that allows the lens to be made with less actual glass (and by default; less cost). Meaning that all of the lens elements can be smaller for any given focal length and maximum aperture. EF-S is also a lens type.
  3. MP-E  is another lens type. This stands for manual focus macro lens.
  4. TS-E, yet another lens type.  This lens is a tilt-shift manual focus lens type.
  5. 28-80mm [or same marking with different numbers]  These numbers tell us the focal length of the lens. In this case, 28mm would be the widest, and 80mm would be the longest. Showing a range of numbers like this tells us right away that it is a zoom lens! A prime lens would have only one number like 50mm or 200mm. The focal length is the length or distance from the front of the lens to the camera’s sensor. MM stands for millimeters.
  6.  Ø58mm [or same marking with a different number] is telling us the filter diameter. That’s the size filter that you would need to fit this particular lens.
  7. 1:2.8-4.5 These numbers refer to the widest aperture the lens is capable of. Giving a range like this tells us that this is a zoom lens. [some highend zoom lenses have a fixed aperture and would show only one number instead of a range.] A prime lens would have only one number like 2.8. The number 1: is added because the aperture measurement is a ratio.
  8. L  This lovely little letter tells us that this is one of Canon’s luxury lenses. These are some of the highest quality Canon lenses and are equipped with gaskets and rings to help keep out dust and moisture. They are not waterproof so don’t take them for a swim but they are much more resistant to bad weather than other Canon lenses.
  9. II The two little letter I’s tell us that this is the second version of this lens or line of lenses.lens copy
  10. USM stands for ultrasonic motor an auto-focusing motor type.
  11. IS  stands for image stabilization. This means that the lens automatically stabilizes your image when you need to shoot at slower shutter speeds. This helps to reduce blur from camera shake.
  12. A red dot on a Canon lens mount tells us that the camera can take  EF type lenses.
  13. A red dot and a white square on a Canon lens mount tells us that the camera can take both EF lenses and EF-S lenses.
  14. EOS stands for Electro-Optical System and is also meant to be a reference to Eos the goddess of the dawn. Some folks pronounce it like the goddess (ee-oss) while others will simply separate the letters (e-o-s).
  15. A side note… Canon in it’s very early years was actually named Kwanon after the Buddhist goddess of mercy; Kannon. It soon changed to Canon as in a general law or principle.
  16. A camera name with 4 numbers before the D; the 1000D is a budget line camera.
  17. A camera name with 3 numbers before the D such as 300D is an amateur model. They started numbering these with 300D and moved up to numbers like 550D. These cameras are also known by other international names such as; the 600D is also known as the Rebel T3i or the KISS X5, the 550D is also known as the Rebel T2i or the KISS X4, the 400D is also known as the Rebel XTi or the KISS Digital X. It all depends on what country you’re in!
  18. A camera name with 2 numbers before the D such as a 10D is for the more advanced amateur. Again the higher the number the more recent the model; starting with the 10D and moving up to numbers like 60D.
  19. A camera with only 1 number before the D indicates the pro-line such as a 7D or 5D. The numbers in this series run backwards with the 1D X sitting at the top of the heap.
  20. D-SLR stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex. Basically it’s a digital camera with interchangeable lens.

Hey! We found more answers than I thought we would.
That was fun! What shall we play next?

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