Sigma Lens Abbreviations & Acronyms (A Quick Guide)

Welcome, to a guide and list of Sigma Lens Abbreviations and Acronyms. Sigma is a company that manufactures third-party lenses for Nikon, Canon, Sony, and Pentax cameras. But even though Sigma is a Greek word, please don’t be confused that they are some western company… Sigma is actually a Japanese company founded in 1961.

With over 50 years of experience in manufacturing lenses, Sigma is definitely an old reliable player in the industry. In fact, they have some really good lenses, priced only at a fraction of the “original”. If you have already purchased one of their lenses, congratulations on the good choice – This guide will walk you through how to read their top-secret lens lingo.




  • DG: Lenses built for full-frame cameras. No official information on whether this means “Digital Grand” or “Digital Grade”.
  • DC: Lenses built for crop sensor (APS-C) cameras. Again, no official information if this is “Digital Compact” or “Digital Crop”.
  • DN: Lenses built for mirrorless cameras (APS-C and MFT sized sensors). Most likely “Digital Neo”.
  • Deluxe (DL): Lenses built for film cameras.
  • FF: Lenses built for video production. For full-frame and super 35 cameras.

The bad thing with Sigma is that they are not really consistent and explicit with the mount compatibility of their lenses. On their website, some of the lenses are only labeled “For Nikon, For Canon, For Sony”.

But as we all know, Nikon now has the F-mount and Z-mount, Canon has multiple versions of EF-mount, Sony has A-mount and E-mount. Which one do they mean? So before buying a Sigma lens, you may want to do your own additional research on the compatibility.



Sigma offers quite a range of lenses to choose from.

  • Contemporary (C): Mainly zoom lens for general use, or if you prefer, the “regular Joe” lens.
  • Sport (S): Rather expensive range of long telephoto lenses meant for sports and wildlife photography.
  • Excellence (EX): Sigma’s top-performing lens. The equivalent to Canon’s luxury red ring or Nikon’s gold ring. Sigma seems to have dropped this in favor of the newer art series.
  • Art (A): The highest-performing, large aperture, top-grade optical lens. Generally expensive, but still cheaper than the Nikon/Canon counterparts.
  • Ultra-Compact (UC): Small and lightweight lens.
  • Cine: For video production.




  • Aspherical (ASP): The lens is shaped like the human eye, actually a common term used throughout the photography world. You can read more on Wikipedia if you are interested.
  • Apochromatic (APO): Another common term on the shape of lenses – Read more on Wikipedia if you are interested.
  • Special Low Dispersion (SLD): Lens designed to minimize chromatic aberrations.
  • Extra Low Dispersion (ELD): Lens with even lower dispersion, supposed to be better than SLD glass.
  • ‘F’ Low Dispersion (FLD): Lens with performance equal to fluorite glass. Low dispersion, low refraction, and high light transmission. Simply put, the current best technology among the low dispersion family.



  • Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM): Sigma’s auto-focus motor. The equivalent of Nikon’s SWM or Canon’s USM.
  • Helical Focusing (HF): The front element does not rotate during focusing.
  • Rear Focusing (RF): Only a few rear elements moved during focusing. Supposedly speeds up auto-focus speed.
  • Internal Focusing (IF): Lens does not extend nor contract during focusing. Everything is “done” internally within.
  • Dual Focus (DF): The outer focus ring is disconnected during auto-focusing; The focusing ring does not turn during autofocus.




Sigma calls their stabilization Optical Stabilizer (OS). Pretty much the same stuff as Nikon and Canon, where the elements move to counter the shake.



  • MACRO: Shoots up-close, but please take note, some Sigma lens is not necessarily 1:1 magnification.
  • Fisheye: Super ultra-wide-angle lens.



  • Thermally Stable Composite (TSC): Some kind of special material. Elastic as polycarbonate and tough as metal, supposedly takes temperature changes better and makes better lens bodies.




Thank you for reading, and we have come to the end of this short guide. I hope that it has helped you to better understand, and here are a couple of extra links that may be useful to you.

2 thoughts on “Sigma Lens Abbreviations & Acronyms (A Quick Guide)”

  1. Actually, “DG” stands for “Digital Grand.”

    We often use “grand” interchangeably with “large” in Japanese.

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