November 30, 2023

Sigma lens abbreviations (full guide)

Sigma lens abbreviations full guide jpg

ٌWe are here to learn what Sigma lens abbreviations mean. Until a few years ago (about 7 or 8 years ago), Sigma was one of the most reliable lens manufacturers. But according to most experts, the Sigma lens was in a lower category than the main manufacturers of cameras and lenses, such as Canon, Nikon, and Sony. you can review these 3 brands by clicking here: canon vs nikon vs sony

But in recent years, the company produced exceptional lenses such as the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 HSM Art. It showed that Japan’s advanced technology in the world of optics can become the world’s top brand in lenses.

Today, most of the lenses of this company are not only competitors for the main lenses of cameras, but in some models, they have become the first choice of photographers. As a result, the products of this brand slowly opened their place among general users and attracted new photographers to Sigma lenses.

Sigma products are diverse for DSLR and mirrorless cameras. Fortunately, these lenses have a precise marking in their name. By knowing them, you can guess the capabilities, technologies, and performance of each one. Naming Sigma lenses are not complicated. You can get to know them quickly. Just stay with us until the end of this article.

Sigma lens naming signs and classification

Sigma offers its new lenses in different groups, which it calls Product Line. This category started when Sigma decided to transform the quality and efficiency of its products and called it the Global Vision of Sigma.

This decision seemed logical. Except for a limited number of photography products, this company only produces lenses for other camera brands. So, it is necessary to guide the photographers to the product they want so that they can choose the right product carefully.

Sigma lens abbreviations guide

Sigma lens abbreviations guide

The signs on a lens can tell you precisely what the lens does. Knowing Sigma lens abbreviations is almost like reading the lens manual so you can get the most out of it.

to know the signs of Sigma lenses, the first thing is to get to know the groupings of these lenses.

Each group of these classifications has a series of general characteristics that make them similar, apart from the focal length, the technology used, or the brand they support. Sigma considers three primary groups for its lenses. Groups A, C, and S, and of course there is a separate group called EX, which we explain.

C or Contemporary Sigma lens group

This group of products usually includes variable aperture lenses for everyday use.

The Contemporary designation is because these lenses are similar to the lenses you see as kit lenses on most APS-C sensor DSLRs. For example, the Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OS HSM Macro C lens belongs to this category. The term C at the end of the lens name indicates the Contemporary class.

Along with good quality and advanced features, these lenses are usually reasonably priced and competitively made against more expensive lenses.

In most of them, the physical size of the lens changes with zooming. That is, they have different focal lengths (from 18 to 200 mm in this example) and by zooming from wide to telephoto, the size of the lens usually gets longer.

This physical change in contemporary lenses usually happens telescoping. Their aperture becomes more closed along with changing the focal length.

For example, in this lens, the aperture in wide mode is 18mm equal to f/3.5. As the angle of view closes down to 200mm, it drops to f/6.3. For this reason, two different numbers are written in front of the term f, which indicates two different apertures for these lenses.

If you list Sigma lenses by price on the Photograph Mastery website, many of the lenses you see at the top of the list will be from the C series. They are suitable for starting photography with a DSLR camera.

C or Contemporary Sigma lens group
C or Contemporary Sigma lens group 2

Group A or Art Sigma lens

Sigma Art series lenses have made the Sigma brand popular in recent years. Contrary to their name, these lenses have nothing to do with art photography or artists (except photographers!), they include Sigma’s fixed aperture prime lenses.

Prime or fixed lenses mean that they have a fixed focal length and you cannot zoom optically. For example, the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens is one of the prime lenses. Most other brands offer various models of this focal length. Of course, we see few zoom lenses (with variable focal lengths) in this class that are of high quality

For example, the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM lens A belongs to this group.

The fixed aperture in these lenses is one of their important features and shows how wide open the aperture you can work with. For this reason, you will see only one number in front of f/…

But the great thing about these lenses is that not only are they of great quality, but they are also usually more expensive than C-class lenses and of course, have more limited use. But limited and specialized use makes their performance in the same work strong and artistic.

These lenses are suitable for low-light photography. Because they usually have open apertures that can absorb more light. They can also completely blur the background of the subject and are suitable for portrait photography (of course, models with a long focal length).

In Art series lenses, we see a variety of focal lengths, ranging from wide distances such as 14mm to long distances such as 105mm. You can choose anyone according to your needs. But whatever you choose, you can be sure of the high quality of optics and course their open aperture.

The S or Sports lens group of Sigma lenses

The S or Sports lens group of Sigma lenses
sigma wildlife

Sigma’s Sport or S-class lenses are closer to their names. As you can guess, these lenses use for sports. It means photographing long distances in low light. This is the requirement of almost all sports photographers. But on the other hand, these lenses are used for nature photography from long distances, especially wildlife, and bird photography

In the S class lens group, we see both prime lenses with a fixed aperture (such as Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM S) and zoom lenses with variable aperture (such as Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sport). These also have Class C or Contemporary examples

As you can see, both the C and S class Sigma 150-600mm lenses have almost the same specs, but they’re nearly $1,000 apart in price. This price difference is not because of their focal length or aperture, but because of the speed of the focus motor and the quality of the optics used in each, which makes more professional people go for the more advanced models of the S series instead of choosing the C model.

Sigma EX group lenses

Before new classifications of Sigma lenses entered the market, photographers who wanted to take advantage of the highest quality of Sigma lenses usually looked for the EX-series lenses of the company. Sigma’s EX lenses were almost like Canon’s L series or Sony’s G series or Nikon’s Golden Round series, with high quality and advanced technologies of their time. You can find new and used types of these lenses in the market.

You can find lenses like the Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro on the market that don’t include any of the top three groups.

The second group of signs of Sigma lenses based on the camera

Now let’s go to the characters that are more practical and can help you better when choosing and buying Sigma lenses.

The signs of Sigma lenses related to the camera mount

The signs of Sigma lenses related to the camera mount

To get to know Sigma lenses, you should also familiarize yourself with the guide of other signs of these lenses. Signs that refer to the technologies used in lenses and their optics can have a great impact on the efficiency and of course the final price of the products.

The first point about the signs of Sigma lenses relates to the signs of other brands. We know that Sigma never made a camera, except for a limited-edition model. All lenses of this company are for other brands.

The mount or lens opening of world-famous cameras have unique sizes and specifications. Each has a particular name.

For example, Canon’s full-frame camera lenses have an EF mount. The company’s smaller DSLRs, which use an APS-C sensor, have an EF-S aperture. In the same way, the full-frame mirrorless cameras of this company have an R aperture, and the non-full-frame mirrorless cameras of this company also have an M aperture.

We have a similar variety in other brands. Sony cameras are with F mount and Nikon cameras are with FX, DX, and Z mount.

All these names and phrases and short signs may be a bit confusing. But luckily, when you search for a Sigma lens by name, all mount options are listed as separate products.

For example, the Sigma 50mm lens has three different models on most websites, which are marked as For C, For E, and For N. The word “for” at the end of the name of these lenses indicates the mount supported by them. It indicates that this lens is specifically made for Canon, For Sony’s E mount, or For Nikon. Some websites use the full camera name at the end of the lens name.

Sigma lens signs related to camera sensor size

As we said, different Sigma lenses can place on different cameras. For this reason, the company uses markings to show whether its lenses are full-frame or APS-C. That is, it uses symbols such as DG or DC to tell users what type of sensor this lens is made of.

DG on Sigma lenses: This term indicates that the lens is suitable for full-frame camera sensors. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you can’t use it on APS-C cameras. But you should note that depending on the magnification factor of the APS-C camera, which is usually equal to 1.5 to 1.6 times, the focal length of these lenses will show a closer image by reducing the angle of view.

DC on Sigma lenses: This term indicates that the lens in question is only suitable for small-size DSLR cameras and generally you cannot install them on full-frame cameras.

The DN symbol on Sigma lenses means these lenses are designed for mirrorless compact cameras. But since Sigma also produces lenses for full-frame mirrorless cameras like Sony’s a7 series, it didn’t specify whether the lenses are for full-frame, APS-C even micro-four-thirds sensors.

Sigma lens signs for lens optical technologies
These signs are focused on the structure of the lens

What is the term HSM in Sigma lenses?

What is the term HSM in Sigma lenses?
HSM Sigma lens

Equivalent to USM in Canon lenses or SWM in Nikon lenses, it indicates the silent focus motor in these lenses. This term stands for Hyper Sonic Motor. It is the advanced technology of Sigma’s exclusive powerful focusing engine. Also, it is in the high-quality lenses of this company. Lenses with this sign, when shooting video, focus quickly and have little effect on the sound of the video.

The term OS in Sigma lenses stands for Optical Image Stabilization and indicates the presence of optical stabilization in these lenses. This sign is similar to the IS on Canon lenses and the VR on Nikon lenses.

ASP sign

which stands for Aspherical indicates the use of aspherical lenses in Sigma lenses. Aspherical lenses are a complex technology, and the number of aspherical lenses used in a lens indicates its optical complexity and possibly the quality of the lens output. For this reason, the number of aspherical elements of each lens is usually detailed in the lens reviews and specifications provided on our website.

APO or Apochromatic

Another type of optical technology applies to reduce optical aberrations in advanced lenses. Lenses with this technology have less optical dispersion and colors are recorded more accurately, especially in their high-contrast edges. These lenses usually have a coating of fluorine, which minimizes light reflection on their surface.

Of course, there are lenses such as the SLD and ELD series that reduce this color dispersion. Sigma also indicates the use of these lenses with the same name APO. the presence of this term, especially in telephoto lenses of this company, means that you can take pictures of high-contrast subjects from far distances (for example, photographing a tree against a bright background).

What is the term RF in Sigma lenses?

It indicates the Rear Focus capability of these lenses. This means that during focusing, only a few lenses that are located behind the diaphragm blade are moved. This technology is faster and more accurate than the general focus technology in normal lenses. the lenses that have this technology introduce it as an important advantage.

IF or Internal Focus

It is also one of the advanced designs in lens manufacturing that keeps the size of the lens constant during focusing. This type of design is much preferable to lens designs that increase or decrease in size when focusing. For example, in lenses like 18-55mm, we see on most cheap APS-C cameras. the front lens pops out or rotates when focusing. it makes it impossible to use some special filters like Graduated ND.

Also, internal focus lenses are usually faster than lenses that require you to mechanically move the lens body to focus.

Sometimes we see SLD, ELD, and FLD signs in Sigma lenses. These are abbreviations of Special Low Dispersion, Extraordinary Low Dispersion, and F Low Dispersion. It indicates the optical technology of the lens to prevent color dispersion and higher accuracy of color separation in the lens. SLD and ELD are lenses with the lowest chromatic aberration or Chromatic Aberration. the ELD type is even better than the SLD.

FLD is the better of the two, and the F could be due to the presence of Fluorite components in these lenses.

TSC or Thermally Stable Composite

Some Sigma lenses indicate the use of combined polycarbonate and metal technology. it uses in the body structure of these lenses. According to Sigma, the use of this combination makes the body about 25% more resistant than a purely metal lens. But what we get from these lenses is more of the handiness of the lens bodies that we see in most of the Art series lenses.

Signs of Sigma lenses related to lens application


But the less interesting thing is that many of them have a magnification of 1:2 or even more. It is not compatible with what we have experienced with Canon or Nikon lenses made for macro photography.

This phrase indicates the use of these lenses for macro photography or close-up photography. For years, lenses like the 150mm f/2.8 OS HSM Sigma were the company’s most popular lenses for macro photographers. But you see this phrase in the name of many Sigma lenses. It should naturally indicate that this lens has a magnification of 1:1 or at least 1:1.5 for macro photography.

We suggest that even if you choose lenses with this term for macro photography, read the lens specifications. Ensure that the lens magnification matches what you need.

Fisheye lens

It’s another phrase that you see on a few Sigma lenses and it’s pretty clear that you’re dealing with super wide lenses. These lenses have a wide angle of view (although not necessarily 180 degrees) and a lot of distortion at the edges of the frame, which are used for certain shots.

An example to recognize the Sigma lens abbreviations

One popular Sigma lens (Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM | S) is for Nikon. Let’s take a look at this.

The term 120-300mm, which stands for 120mm to 300mm, indicates that this lens is a zoom lens with a variable focal length. That means you cover from 120mm telephoto focal length to 300mm super-telephoto focal length. it is likely to be useful for long-distance photography, such as wildlife photography and sports photography.

The term f/2.8 indicates what the widest aperture is for this lens. only one number is written in front of f/. It shows that the aperture of this lens does not change with the change in focal length. it is equal to 2.8. It also creates a blurred background for portrait photography.

  DG indicates that this lens is made for Nikon full-frame cameras like the D750. Although you close it on non-full frame cameras like D7500, its focal length at 1.5x zoom is 180mm to 450mm. it is a close focal length and probably difficult to handle indoors.

  The OS in this lens indicates that you can use the optical image stabilization of this lens in low light. These stabilizers usually give you 3 to 5 stops below the allowed shutter speed, which is essential for a lens with such a long focal length.

  HSM also shows that this lens uses the latest and fastest focusing technology in Sigma lenses, which is vital, at least for sports photography.

Finally, we see S in the name of this lens, which indicates that this lens belongs to the Sport class of Sigma lenses. It probably has body insulation, high-quality optics, and naturally has a higher price than similar lenses in the C-class lenses of this company.

Note that…

if the words FLD, and SLD are not used in the name of this lens, it is probably because the name is short enough (probably for commercial marketing reasons). Because both F Low Dispersion and Special Low Dispersion lenses are used in their structure. To know this, you can read the complete specifications of the lens.

Sigma lenses are among the best lenses in the world. we offer a complete list of these lenses with which you can turn your interest in the world of photography into unique images.

If you still have any questions about the signs of Sigma lenses, be sure to ask us about them in the comments section.

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