LENS BASICS

Lens terminology

[FL] Fluorite Lens / [Super ED] Super ED (Extra-low Dispersion) Glass / [ED] ED Glass

Lenses built with conventional optical glass have difficulties with chromatic aberration and, as a result, images suffer from lower contrast, lower colour quality and lower resolution. To counter such problems, ED glass was developed and is included in selected lenses. It dramatically improves chromatic aberration at telephoto ranges and provides superior contrast across the entire image, even at large aperture settings. Super ED glass and fluorite lens provide enhanced compensation for chromatic aberration. Fluorite is also lighter than normal optical glass, contributing to reduced overall lens weight.


[1] Glass [2] ED glass [3] Super ED glass and fluorite lens [4] Focal plane

[Aspherical] Aspherical Lens

Spherical aberration is a slight misalignment of light rays projected on the image plane by a simple spherical lens, caused by differences in refraction at different points on the lens. That misalignment can degrade image quality in large-aperture lenses. The solution is to use one or more specially shaped “aspherical” elements near the diaphragm to restore alignment at the image plane, maintaining high sharpness and contrast even at maximum aperture. Aspherical elements can also be used at other points in the optical path to reduce distortion. Well-designed aspherical elements can reduce the total number of elements required, thus reducing overall lens size and weight.


[1] Spherical lens [2] Aspherical lens [3] Focal plane

[XA] XA (Extreme Aspherical) Lens

Aspherical lenses are much more difficult to manufacture than simple spherical types. New XA (extreme aspherical) lens elements achieve extremely high surface precision that is kept to within 0.01 micron by innovative manufacturing technology, for an unprecedented combination of high resolution and the most beautiful bokeh you’ve ever seen.


[1-1] Conventional aspherical lens surface [1-2] Undesirable bokeh result [2-1] XA (extreme aspherical) lens surface [2-2] Beautiful bokeh result

[AA] Advanced Aspherical Lens

Advanced Aspherical (AA) elements are an evolved variant, featuring an extremely high thickness ratio between the centre and periphery. AA elements are exceedingly difficult to produce, depending on the most advanced moulding technology available to consistently and precisely achieve the required shape and surface accuracy. The result is significantly improved reproduction and rendering.

[APD] Apodization

"In a conventional lens, the amount of light collected at the periphery of the lens is roughly equal to the amount of light at the centre. This results in uniformly sharp dots at points "b" and "c" below. However, a special filter called an "apodization optical element" collects less light at the lens periphery, which results in diffusion at the edges of the dots instead. Smoother defocusing is obtained due to this optical characteristic.

T numbers
Because the STF lens with the apodization optical element collects less light overall than conventional lenses, F-stops are replaced by T (transmission) numbers. In practice, the two types of values can be used interchangeably to determine exposure".

[1] STF lens [2] Conventional lens [3] Apodisation optical element [4] Defocusing of STF lens (around focus point "a") [5] Defocusing of conventional (around focus point "a")

[Nano AR] Nano AR Coating

Original Sony Nano AR Coating technology produces a lens coating that features a precisely defined regular nano-structure, which allows accurate light transmission while effectively suppressing reflections that can cause flare and ghosting. The reflection suppression characteristics of the Nano AR Coating are superior to conventional anti-reflective coatings, including coatings that use an irregular nano-structure, providing a notable improvement in clarity, contrast, and overall image quality.


[1] Incident light [2] Reflected light [3] Transmitted light [4] Glass [5] Anti-reflective coating [6] Nano AR coating

With Nano AR

With Nano AR

Without Nano AR

Without Nano AR

[F coating] Fluorine Coating

The exposed front element of any lens can pick up water, mud, oil, fingerprints and other contaminants that can not only compromise image quality, but in some cases even damage the lens. Sony provides a potent solution with a fluorine front-element coating that results in a greater liquid contact angle, reducing the lens's wettability and effectively "repelling" contaminants. Any water-based or oil-based grime that does become attached to the lens can be easily wiped away. In addition to protecting valued lenses, the fluorine coating reduces the need to worry about keeping lenses clean in the field.

ZEISS T* Coating 

The fact that lens coating technology – vapour deposition of a thin, even coating on the lens surface to reduce reflections and maximise transmission – was originally a ZEISS patent is well known. The ZEISS company also developed and proved the efficacy of multi-layer coatings for photographic lenses, and this is the technology that became the T* coating.

Until the introduction of coated lenses, the lens surface would reflect a large percentage of the incoming light, thus reducing transmission and making it difficult to use multiple elements in lens designs. Effective coatings made it possible to design more complex optics that delivered significantly improved performance. Reduced internal reflection contributed to minimum flare and high contrast.

The ZEISS T* coating is not simply applied to any lens. The T* symbol only appears on multi-element lenses in which the required performance has been achieved throughout the entire optical path, and it is therefore a guarantee of the highest quality.


[1] Light source [2] Image sensor [3] Reduced reflection

Multi-layered Coating

Although most of the light that falls on an optical glass transmits right through, some of it reflects at the surface of the lens to cause flare or ghost images. In order to avoid this problem, a thin layer of anti-reflective coating must be applied to the lens surface. α lenses use exclusive multi-layered coating to effectively suppress such problems over a wide spectrum of wavelengths.

[IF] Internal Focusing

Only the middle or rear groups of the optical system are moved to achieve focusing, which leaves the total length of the lens intact. Benefits include fast autofocusing and a short minimum focusing distance. Also, the filter thread at the front of the lens does not rotate, which is convenient if you’re using a polarising filter.

[PZ] Power Zoom

Sony α mount lenses that feature power zoom offer enhanced control and expressive potential for moviemaking, with smooth, consistent zooming that is difficult to achieve manually. Details like smooth acceleration and deceleration are important too, and of course tracking is excellent throughout. All of this is made possible by a blend of our mature camcorder technology with state-of-the-art innovation, from optical and mechanical design to original Sony actuator technology that all comes together through exacting in-house manufacturing. Internal zoom is another beneficial feature: the length of the lens remains constant while zooming, and the barrel does not rotate so polarisers and other position-dependent filters can be used without the need for additional support.

[SMO] Smooth Motion Optics

SMO (Smooth Motion Optics) is a Sony optical design concept for interchangeable lenses that is specifically aimed at achieving the highest possible image quality and resolution for motion images.

SMO design addresses three main issues that are critical for moviemaking:

- Focus breathing (angle of view instability while focusing) is effectively minimised by a precision internal focus mechanism.

- Small focus shifts that can occur while zooming are eliminated by a special tracking adjustment mechanism.

- Lateral movement of the optical axis while zooming is eliminated by an internal zoom mechanism that keeps the length of the lens constant at all focal lengths.

The level of precision required demands both exacting design and constant monitoring during manufacture, but the benefits for moviemaking with large aperture lenses, particularly on large format sensors, are spectacular and well worth the effort.

[IZ] Internal Zoom

A type of lens zooming method. The benefit of the internal zoom is the length of the lens remains constant while zooming, and the barrel does not rotate so polarisers and other position-dependent filters can be used without the need for additional support.

[LR MF] Linear Response MF

Linear Response MF refines controls for manual focusing operability. The focus ring features high control resolution so that user input is precisely followed when focusing manually. Linear Response MF also realises intuitive focusing and is almost equivalent to mechanical manual focusing. The focus changes linearly in response to focus ring rotation, giving the user the control immediacy needed for fast, accurate manual focusing.

[Floating F] Floating Focusing 

The floating focus mechanism achieves consistent high resolution from infinity to the closest focusing distance. This system helps to reduce all types of aberration to minimum levels and thereby maintain sharp, high-resolution rendering from infinity focusing for landscapes, for example, all the way down to close-up focusing for portraits and similar subjects.

[XD LM] XD (extreme dynamic) Linear Motor

The XD (extreme dynamic) Linear Motor has been developed to deliver higher thrust and efficiency than previous types, in order to make the most of the rapidly evolving speed performance of current and future camera bodies. Linear motor design and component layout have been thoroughly revised to achieve significantly higher thrust.

[DDSSM] Direct Drive Super Sonic wave Motor

A new DDSSM system is used for precision positioning of the heavy focus group required for the full-frame format, allowing precision focusing even within the lens’s shallowest depth of field. The DDSSM drive system is also remarkably quiet, making it ideal for shooting movies where focus is constantly changing while the scene is being recorded.

[RDSSM] Ring Drive Super Sonic wave Motor

RDSSM is a piezoelectric motor that contributes to smooth and silent AF operation. The motor produces high torque at slow rotation, and provides immediate start and stop responses. It is also extremely quiet, which helps keep autofocusing silent. Lenses that feature RDSSM also include a position-sensitive detector to directly detect the amount of lens rotation, a factor that improves AF precision overall.

RDSSM consists of a rotor (left) and a stator (right) on which piezoelectric elements are mounted.

[LM] Linear Motor

Specially designed linear motors provide direct, contactless electromagnetic drive of the lens focus group for extremely quiet, responsive operation. The quiet operation, fast response, and precision braking provided by the contactless linear drive system are not only an advantage for still photography, but offer the type of smooth, silent operation required by moviemakers as well. 

[SAM] Smooth Autofocus Motor

Rather than using the focus drive motor in the camera body, SAM lenses feature an autofocus motor built into to the lens itself that directly drives the focusing element group. Since the built-in motor directly rotates the focus mechanism, operation is significantly smoother and quieter than conventional coupled autofocus drive systems.

[STM] Stepping Motor

A stepping motor (STM) is a motor with a mechanism that divides the rotational operation into a number of steps for controlled rotation. It rotates one step each time it receives an electrical pulse. The STM allows the lens to focus smoothly and quietly when shooting photos and movies.

[FHB] Focus Hold Button 

Once you've adjusted the focus to where you want it, pressing this button on the lens barrel will keep the lens locked to that focusing distance. The preview function can also be assigned to this button through the camera's custom settings.

[FRL] Focus Range Limiter

This function saves you a little time during AF operation by setting a limit on the focusing range. In macro lenses, this limit can be on either the near or far range (as pictured). In the SAL70200G, the limit is set on far ranges only. In the SAL300F28G, focusing can be limited either to a far range or to a range that you specify yourself.

[I/A ring] Iris / Aperture Ring 

The iris/aperture ring allows intuitive aperture control. It provides seamless aperture control for outstanding usability.

[I/A click] Iris / Aperture Click Switch 

An iris/aperture ring provides the type of immediacy and response that professionals need for both still photography and videography. A Click ON/OFF switch allows the aperture ring click stops to be engaged or disengaged as required. Engaging the click stops provides tactile feedback that can make it easier to gauge how much the ring has been adjusted by feel and is, therefore, a good choice for still photography. When the click stops are disengaged, the aperture ring moves smoothly and quietly, providing seamless, silent control for moviemaking.

[ZRDSL] Zoom Rotation Direction Select Locking Switch 

Switchable zoom ring direction. A simple mechanical operation is all that is required to switch the direction of the zoom ring to match individual user preferences. Zoom ring direction can be easily switched as required.

[OSS] Optical SteadyShot 

The provided Optical SteadyShot modes make it more convenient to capture sharp images in handheld shooting under various conditions. For example, Mode 2 stabilisation facilitates dynamic panned shots and Mode 3 provides a more stable viewfinder image that makes tracking and framing easier.

[OSS mode] Optical SteadyShot Mode

The provided Optical SteadyShot™ modes make it more convenient to capture sharp images in handheld shooting under various conditions. For example, Mode 2 stabilisation facilitates dynamic panned shots, and Mode 3 provides optimum stabilisation for tracking and shooting dynamic, unpredictable sporting action.

[DMR] Dust and Moisture Resistant Design 

The lens is designed to be dust and moisture resistant, ensuring reliable operation when shooting outdoors in challenging conditions.

[Circular] Circular Aperture 

In general, if an aperture uses 7, 9 or 11 aperture blades, then the shape of the aperture becomes a 7-sided, 9-sided or 11-sided polygon as the aperture is made smaller. However, this has a certain undesirable effect in that the defocusing of point light sources appears polygonal and not circular. α lenses overcome this problem through a unique design that keeps the aperture almost perfectly circular from its wide-open setting to when it is closed by 2 stops. Smoother, more natural defocusing can be obtained as a result.


Comparison of aperture design [1] Conventional aperture [2] Circular aperture