a-z of Nikon lens jargon
Nikon uses many suffixes and abbreviations with its lenses. Some are common enough for their purpose to be widely known. Others, not so much. Here, we take a look at all the terms the company uses in the names of its optics and on the barrels themselves. This indicates a second-generation version of a lens. This can sometimes be confused with Nikon’s VR II system, which indicates the second generation of Nikon’s Vibration Reduction technology (explained below). When it’s inscribed on a lens, however, it only indicates the version of the lens, rather than anything to do with the VR system.
The third generation of a lens. At the time of writing, however, Nikon has only used this on a few selected teleconverters, such as the Nikon AF-S TC-14E III, rather than some of the more conventional optics.
AF lenses are those that offer autofocus. Nikon has traditionally used the term AF in conjunction with another letter, such as D or S. The majority of its current
optics are AF-S lenses (see below). Nikon lenses that do not have AF anywhere in their title are manual focus optics.
One of Nikon’s most recent suffixes, this shows that a lens has been designed with a ‘pulse’ stepping motor. These are designed to produce smooth autofocus during movie recording, as opposed to AF-S lenses, which were designed before video was made available on DSLRS. AF-S lenses can still be used to perform autofocus during video recording, it’s just that they do not manage to do so as discreetly as AF-P lenses. AF-P lenses are not compatible with all Nikon bodies, and firmware updates may be required with bodies that are compatible.
An AF-S lens is a lens that contains Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor (SWM), which Nikon claims is designed to be fast and silent (which is what the ‘S’ stands for). Some of Nikon’s most junior DSLR cameras, such as the D3400 and D5600, lack a focusing motor in their bodies, so they need to be used with either AF-S or AF-P lenses for autofocus to be possible. Most of Nikon’s most recent lenses offer AF-S motors.