What is Premium Glass and why do I need it?

You may well of heard the saying before that a camera is only as good as the lens that is attached to it. Basically speaking this is correct as this is the point at which the light is captured, the higher the quality of this process (optics) affects everything that happens (to your image) from that point on.

So enter the world of "Premium Glass" or "Premium Optics" which is confusingly called different things by different manufacturers.

  • For Canon = L-Series (Shown by a red ring at the end of the lens)
  • For Nikon = ED
  • For Sigma = ART
  • For Tamron = SP

Here are the detailed explanations for each manufacturers lenses.

Canon - L - Series

Canon says "these lenses use special optical technologies like; Ultra-low Dispersion UD glass, Super Low Dispersion glass, Fluorite elements, and Aspherical elements." What this means for you is high quality sharp images, so much so that once used you may very well never want to use any other lens.

Some of Canons most popular L-Series lenses are 

Nikon - ED Lenses

Nikon, as always, get a lot more technical with their explanations. Here we go;

Nikon developed ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass to enable the production of lenses that offer superior sharpness and color correction by minimizing chromatic aberration.

Put simply, chromatic aberration is a type of image and color dispersion that occurs when light rays of varying wavelengths pass through optical glass. In the past, correcting this problem for telephoto lenses required special optical elements that offer anomalous dispersion characteristics - specifically calcium fluoride crystals. However, fluorite easily cracks and is sensitive to temperature changes that can adversely affect focusing by altering the lens' refractive index.

So Nikon designers and engineers put their heads together and came up with ED glass, which offers all the benefits, yet none of the drawbacks of calcium fluorite-based glass. With this innovation, Nikon developed several types of ED glass suitable for various lenses.

They deliver stunning sharpness and contrast even at their largest apertures. In this way, NIKKOR's ED-series lenses exemplify Nikon's preeminence in lens innovation and performance.

Popular Nikon ED Lenses are:


The Sigma ART Series

Sigma have recently upped the ante with their new range of ART lenses. Great results have been had with these lenses and they are representing truly great value for money. Sigma says; 

"Designed with a focus on sophisticated optical performance and tremendous expressive power, our new Art line of lenses delivers top-level image quality. With unsurpassed expressive performance, these lenses reach the high standards demanded by photographers with an artistic, creative inclination. Along with landscapes, portraits, still-life, close-up and casual snaps, they’re perfect for the kind of photography that unleashes the inner artist. Ideal for studio photography, they offer just as much expressive scope when capturing architecture, starry skies, underwater shots and many other scenes."

The stand out Sigma ART Lenses are;


Tamron SP Series Lenses

SP (Super Performance)

Only two letters - but what an impact they have on the results. SP stands for Super Performance and represents the high-performance lens class from Tamron. Their engineers were given a free hand in the design of these lenses and left no stone unturned to produce the optimal performance characteristics in each case. Take your camera to new frontiers - and pave the way for Super Performance.

Standout Tamron SP Lenses are:


Note: All SIGMA and TAMRON Lenses are available in both NIKON & CANON Mounts.

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