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Christian Parley is a Commercial Photographer, Editorial Photographer, an authorized Google virtual tour photographer and a Facebook 360 Photos photographer based in Fresno, California.

He is an award-winning professional photographer with over 19 years experience, 11 of which as a photojournalist with The Fresno Bee newspaper and McClatchy publications.  

His editorial photography work has appeared in the Los Angeles TimesSan Francisco ChronicleThe Christian Science MonitorNBC NewsESPNUSA Today and various Associated Press member outlets.  

•  As an established commercial photographer, he creates visual content for institutional and emerging companies' websites, social media, trade publications, annual reports, corporate lifestyle and events (trade shows, conventions, product launches, ground-breaking ceremonies, award presentations), and personal bio photos including headshots and environmental portraiture. 

Commercial clients include:  Hinds Hospice  •  DragadosUSA/Samsung  •  AGCO/Massey Ferguson  •  Ithaca College  •  Hiebing  •  Schneider  •  ConEdison Solutions  •  Mac Tools  •  Quiring General

•  He is also an experienced Google Trusted Photographer who has been trained, certified and authorized by Google to create high-quality, 360 virtual tours for businesses. These highly-acclaimed Google virtual tours appear prominently in Google Search and Google Maps

Google Business View virtual tour clients include:  Clawson Motorsports  •  Fig Garden Optometry  •  Toyota Motors USA  •  Hobbytown USA  •  Audio Innovations of Fresno  •  Mercedes-Benz of Fresno  •  Vino & Friends Bistro  •  J&E Restaurant Supply  •  Plaza Ventana  •  The Grand at 1401  •  Fresno Piano Gallery  •  Swiggs  •  Piemonte's Italian Delicatessen  •  Bella Pasta  •  Fresno Suit Outlet  •  Aram's Auto Repair Center  •  Bell Memorials & Granite Works  •  Groppetti Automotive  •  Fresno Chamber of Commerce  •  Clovis Chamber of Commerce  

Parley's Blog

The goal of the ParleyShot Commercial Photography blog is to share expert knowledge, pass along informed opinion and support local businesses in Fresno and Tulare Counties

Lens Glossary, A-G

Christian Parley


Abbe Number - Also referred to as the "optical constant," Abbe numbers are an industry standard for categorizing the light and color dispersion qualities of optical glass. The higher the Abbe number, the higher the glass quality. Determined by the composition and optical characteristics of the glass, there are about 250 distinct Abbe classifications, and it's not unusual to find multiple Abbe classifications of glass elements used in a single lens design.

Aberration (Flare, Spherical Aberration, Coma, Field Curvature, Distortion, Vignetting) - Aberrations are visual artifacts that occur when the dynamics of the picture being taken go beyond the limitations of the lens design or the materials used to make the lens. Depending on the specifics of the aberration, aberrations most commonly appear in the form of flare, color fringing along the edges of contrast-rich subjects, and optical distortion. These are typically triggered by the angle and intensity of the light entering the lens, the shapes and configurations of the lens elements, internal reflections, and the fields-of-view of the lenses, singularly or in combination with one another.

Achromat or Achromatic Lens - Achromats are lenses that correct for chromatic aberrations in the blue-violet and yellow wavelengths of the visual spectrum.

AF Stop Feature - AF Stop is an advanced autofocus mode that temporarily locks the focus point of the lens when shooting in AI Servo AF mode. Unique to Canon IS super-telephoto lenses, AF Stop can be activated at any time by simply pressing one of four small buttons located along the circumference of the forward portion of the lens barrel. Once activated, your subject remains in focus as long as the subject-to-lens distance remains unchanged.

Air Lens - An air lens is the space formed when two concave (or one concave and one convex) lens elements are placed together. Having the same refraction index as air (1.0), air lenses are frequently incorporated into the lens design, though because air and glass have opposing refraction indexes, convex air lenses function as concave lenses and concave air lenses function as convex lenses.

Angle of View (AOV) - The area of a scene, expressed as an angle in degrees, which can be reproduced by the lens as a sharp image. Typically given as a diagonal angle of view, this measurement is defined as the angle formed by imaginary lines connecting the lens's second principal point with both ends of the image diagonal.

Aperture (f/stop)Commonly called f/stops (or f-stops), the lens aperture is the opening formed by the lens's diaphragm blades, allowing an adjustable amount of light to pass through the lens. Just as the iris in the human eye opens up to allow more light into the eye when light levels are low and gets smaller as light levels increase, the lens diaphragm blades similarly open and close, allowing more or less light through the lens. Along with the camera's ISO setting and shutter speed, the lens aperture is a key component of a camera exposure.

APS-C Format - Named after a similarly sized (25.1 x 16.7mm) and named film format, the 22.3 x 14.9mm APS-C imaging sensors found in Canon's APS-C DSLRs and mirrorless cameras have a 1.6x crop factor compared to full-frame (24 x 36mm) imaging sensors.

Aspherical Lens ElementsConventional or spherical lens elements have limitations when it comes to controlling spherical aberrations in wide-aperture lenses and distortion in wider-angle lenses.

To counter these issues, lens designers incorporate additional "peaks and valleys" into convex and concave lens element designs, called "aspheric" lens surfaces. In addition to damping aberrations and distortion, one aspheric lens element can often replace two conventional lens elements, enabling lens manufacturers to produce smaller and lighter lenses.

Autofocus - The ability of a lens to electronically lock focus on a static or moving subject without the need of manual assist. Many autofocus lenses can be set to fix the focus at a set distance or track the subject continuously as it moves across the image field.

Auxiliary Lens - A secondary lens that screws onto, or otherwise attaches to, the front of a camera lens to either increase or decrease the effective magnification of the primary lens, therefore simulating a wider or narrower field of view. Macro auxiliary lenses that enable the lens to focus closer to the subject are also available.


Bokeh - Bokeh is a transliteration of the Japanese term "boke," which describes the visual characteristics of the out-of-focus portions of a photographic image. "Good" or "pleasing" bokeh is typically identified as smooth, rounded out-of-focus highlights, while "bad" bokeh typically describes out-of-focus highlights that mimic the more geometric form of straight diaphragm blades.


Chromatic Aberration - Most common in pictures taken with longer focal length lenses, chromatic aberrations occur when the lens fails to focus all of the color frequencies at the same point of focus, with blue being the shortest frequency and red being the longest frequency.

Chromatic aberrations typically appear in the form of "purple fringing," which is recognizable by the purple halos that run along the more contrast-rich edges of objects in the frame. Axial chromatic aberrations appear as color blurring or flare.

When this occurs, there is a loss of perceived sharpness and an increase in color flare and fringing. Chromatic aberrations are less problematic among lenses containing extra-low dispersion and fluorite lens elements.


Circle of Confusion - There are limits as to how far down a lens can focus a point of light. Circles of confusion (CoC) are defined as the largest blurs of light a healthy human eye can perceive as a point of light at the image's final output size from a distance of 25cm.

Circular Apertures - Circular Aperture diaphragm units, found in select Canon lenses, use curved aperture blades to create more rounded aperture openings and, therefore, pleasing bokeh by rendering out-of-focus background highlights as naturally rounded shapes.

Circular Polarizing Filter (Linear Polarizing Filter, Polarizing Filter)Polarizing filters are used to reduce or eliminate reflections on glass, water, and other non-metallic reflective surfaces. Polarizing filters also darken blue skies and make clouds 'pop' from their blue surroundings by polarizing stray light from the scene.

Circular and linear polarizing filters look and function the same with one difference. Unlike standard linear polarizers that filter light in a linear fashion, circular polarizers utilize a quarter wave plane to filter light in a circular pattern, enabling normal functionality of TTL, auto exposure, and autofocus systems. Circular polarizing filters can be used equally well with manual and autofocus lenses, but linear polarizers should only be used with manual focus lenses.

Dark gray in appearance, polarizing filters absorb 2 to 3 stops of light.

Click Stops - Also referred to as detents, click stops are touch-sensitive positions often found on shutter speed, aperture, and other exposure adjustment dials that physically identify specific camera settings.

Coatings (Lens Coatings) - Only a fraction of a wavelength thick, lens coatings help eliminate flare and low contrast levels while increasing light transmission efficiency and overall image quality. Applied to all lens surfaces in single or, more commonly, multiple coatings (multi-coating or multi-layered coating), lens coatings play a dramatic role in a lens's ability to produce top-notch image quality.

Lens coatings are applied using a vacuum vapor deposition process that coats the surface of each lens element with a micro-layer of magnesium fluoride or similar compound. While uncoated glass reflects upwards of 7% of the light that strikes its surface, Canon's multi-coated EF-series lenses reflect as little as 0.2 to 0.3% of the light, effectively reflections of all wavelengths in the visible spectrum.

Coma (Comatic Aberration) - Coma is an optical phenomenon that causes off-axis points of light to appear as a comet-shaped blurs of light rather than sharper round points of light. The "tails" of coma shapes usually point toward or away from the center of the image, and the degree of coma usually increases proportionally to the angle of the light entering the lens. Depending on the lens design and the nature of the light source, coma can often be reduced or eliminated by stopping the lens down to a smaller aperture.

Contrast - The degree of distinction between darker and brighter areas of a photographic image. High contrast is when the ratio between white and black is clearly distinctive and crisp, while low-contrast images contain higher degrees of gray tones, making for lower-contrast photographs.

Coupled Rangefinder - An in-camera rangefinder viewing and focusing system that is mechanically coupled to the focusing mechanism of a lens. Focusing is achieved by turning the focusing ring until the dual images in the viewfinder overlap. Coupled rangefinders are usually parallax-corrected.

Crop Factor - A mathematical formula for determining the field of view of a lens used on a smaller-format camera compared to the same lens used on a full-frame camera. As an example, the APS-C sensors used in Canon's APS-C-sized DSLRs and EOS M-series cameras have a 1.6x crop factor compared to a full-frame (24 x 36mm) imaging sensor (whose crop factor is essentially 1x). This means a 50mm lens mounted on an APS-C format camera has the field of view of an 80mm lens (50 x 1.6 = 80). The lens is still a 50mm lens but the smaller APS-C sensor can only record the central 40% of the lens's actual image circle or, rather, it is cropping into the full image circle of the lens.

Curvature of Field - Unlike macro lenses, which feature flat planes, that when focused parallel to a flat subject deliver sharp edge-to-edge detail even at wide apertures, conventional lenses focus on a curved, bowl-like plane. As a result, when photographing a series of same-size objects lined up perpendicular to the lens at the lens's widest aperture, the objects in the center of the frame often appear sharper than the objects located closer to the edges of the frame.


Depth of Field - Depth of field (DoF) describes how much of the area in front of and behind the main point of focus appears sharp. The actual depth of field of a lens is determined by the aperture of the lens (how wide or stopped down it is), the focal length of the lens, the size of the imaging sensor, and the distance between the focus point and the camera. Depth of field can be characterized by the following attributes: -Depth of field is greater at short focal lengths and shallower at long focal lengths. -Depth of field is greater with small apertures and shallower with larger apertures. -Depth of field is greater at longer shooting distances and shallower at closer shooting distances. -Front depth of field is shallower than rear depth of field.

Depth of Focus - The area fore and aft of the plane of focus (the point where the image comes into and leaves focus) that retains enough definition to reproduce a sharp photograph. Unlike depth of field, depth of focus is distributed equally in front of and beyond the plane of focus.

The depth of focus of a lens, regardless of focal length, can be determined by multiplying the minimum circle of confusion by the F-number.

Detents - Also referred to as "click stops," detents are touch-sensitive positions on shutter speed and aperture dials that physically identify camera settings.

Diaphragm - The lens diaphragm is the mechanism that creates f/stops by opening and closing the diaphragm blades to preset positions.

Diaphragm Blades - The individual blades that collectively act as an iris, opening and closing, allowing more or less light to pass through the lens. The size of the openings created by the blades as they open and close is what we call aperture, incrementally quantified by the term "f/stop."

Diffractive Optics (DO) - An optical design technology that enables engineers to design longer focal length telephotos that, in addition to greatly reducing the appearance of chromatic and spherical aberrations, are shorter and lighter than conventional telephoto lens designs.

Diffractive elements are created by applying diffractive coatings to the surfaces of two or more lens elements and bonding them together into a single DO lens element that contains light dispersion characteristics that, when combined with optical glass elements, cancel the effects of chromatic aberrations across a broad range of wavelengths.


Dispersion - Also known as color dispersion, dispersion is the breakdown of white light (the visible spectrum) into its individual color components. Light passing through a prism, cerating subsequent rainbows, is an example of color dispersion.

Colors always break down in the order in which they appear in the visible spectrum: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet (mnemonic: Roy G. Biv) in varying proportions.

Distortion - Even the best lenses can display signs of distortion. Most commonly noticed when photographing scenes containing straight or parallel lines, optical distortions fall into two main categories.

Barrel distortion is when straight lines curve outwards from the center of the frame (like a wooden barrel), and pincushion distortion is when the lines curve inward. A third type of distortion-mustache distortion-is when straight lines take on a handlebar mustache-like shape, especially towards the edges of the frame.

Though distortion is easier to detect in photographs taken with wider-angle lenses, it can also appear in images from normal and telephoto lenses. Zoom lenses often, but not always, display barrel distortions toward the shorter focal lengths of the lens and pincushion distortion toward the telephoto end of the zoom range.

Barrel and pincushion distortion can often be corrected, post capture, in a number of photo-editing programs.


Element - One of a number of glass "pieces" in a lens.

EMD (Electromagnetic Diaphragm) - All Canon EF-series lenses contain electromagnetic diaphragms, which unlike their mechanical-linkage counterparts, offer higher levels of precision, quicker response times, and aperture openings that remain accurate, exposure after exposure.

Designed as part of Canon's EF lens mount, the EMD is a diaphragm drive control actuator made up of a deformation stepping motor and diaphragm blade unit that opens and closes the lens's diaphragm blades quietly and smoothly, and-because it's electronically controlled-extremely accurately.

Exposure - Camera exposures are determined by calculating, manually or automatically, a proper balance of shutter speed, lens aperture, and the ISO sensitivity. If you change any of these variables, one or both of the other variables must be changed reciprocally in order to maintain consistent exposure.

Changes to the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO sensitivity levels are typically made in full, half, or third-stop increments, though in certain auto-exposure modes, changes to the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO can be made in much finer increments.

Extension Tubes - Tubes with male and female lens mounts on either end that enable a lens to focus closer to the subject by extending the distance between the rear element of the lens and the film or sensor plane. Extension tubes are available in several sizes, can be stacked for further extension and, depending on the brand and model, may or may not enable automatic exposure or autofocus control. When using extension tubes, the lens will not be able to focus to infinity.


F/stop (Aperture, F-Number, or Focal Ratio) - The quantitative measurement of the iris opening created by the lens's diaphragm blades. The formula for determining the actual f/stop is N = f/d (The f-number equals the focal length of the lens over the diameter of the entrance pupil (effective aperture).

F/stops and shutter speeds are reciprocal: if you stop the lens down a stop (make it a stop smaller), you must increase the shutter speed by one stop to maintain a consistent exposure. And when you double the f-number, you decrease relative brightness by a factor of four.

Field of View (FoV) - The diagonal measurement of the image captured by the lens as recorded by the imaging sensor or film. The field of view of any given lens is greatly determined by the size of the camera sensor or film format. (see Angle of View)

Filter Thread - Filter threads, located inside the front lip of the lens barrel, are for attaching filters and other accessories to the front of the lens. They are measured by the diameter and typically expressed in millimeters.

Fisheye - An ultra wide-angle lens that captures circular or full-frame images with image fields of up to 180º. Unlike retro-focus type wide-angle lenses, which render straight lines parallel when the camera is positioned at a level angle, fisheye lenses display distortion regardless of how level the camera is positioned.

Fixed-Focus (Focus Free) - Lenses that maintain a fixed point of focus and require, nor allow, any further focus adjustments. Fixed-focus lenses are commonly found on inexpensive point-and-shoots and security cameras.

Flange Back (Flange-Focal Distance, Focal Flange Distance, or Flange Distance) - The distance between the rear of the lens mount to the surface of the camera's imaging sensor or film plane. A key attribute of mirrorless and rangefinder cameras is that they have shorter flange distances compared to SLRs and DSLRs, which is why they readily adapt to non-OEM and third-party lenses. Nearly any lens designed with a longer flange distance can be adapted to fit a camera system with a shorter flange distance, whereas lenses from short flange distance systems cannot be adapted to longer flange distance systems without the addition of corrective optics for attaining infinity focus.

Flare - A lens aberration caused by stray direct or reflected light from the lens or camera's mirror box that strikes the film or imaging sensor, causing loss of detail and contrast-reducing aberrations. Though not always desirable, flare can often be used as a creative element in a photograph.

Flare, a term used to describe the blurring and halo effects caused by spherical and comatic aberrations, can often be controlled by using a lens hood or shade.

Floating System (Floating Elements) - In order to better control aberrations when focusing at closer distances with certain lenses, select elements move independently from the other element groups in order to reduce aberrations and improve edge sharpness among wider-angle lenses. This is also referred to as a close-distance aberration compensation mechanism.

FluoriteFluorite is a rare-earth mineral known for its extremely low refraction and dispersion indexes compared to traditional optical glass. In 1968, Canon's optical engineers created a method of manufacturing artificial fluorite crystals, making it possible to design affordable, high quality, and high performance lenses for professional applications.

Focal Length - The distance, typically expressed in millimeters, from the rear principal point of a lens to the surface of the camera's imaging sensor or film along the optical axis of the lens when focused at infinity.

Depending on their respective focal lengths in regard to specific film or sensor sizes, lenses fall into three main categories – wide-angle, normal, and telephoto. Zoom lenses can "zoom" from wide-angle to telephoto, normal to telephoto, ultra wide-angle to wide-angle, or telephoto to super-telephoto.

Because there are numerous sensor sizes, manufacturers continue to use the 35mm film format (24 x 36mm) as a standard when referencing lenses designed for smaller sensor formats. This is why a lens described as a 28mm to 90mm equivalent zoom might have an actual focal range of 18mm to 55mm or 14mm to 45mm.

Focal Plane - The flat plane (film or sensor surface) onto which the lens focuses the light to form an image.

Focal Point, Focus - The focal point of a lens is the convergence point of the light rays entering the lens. A good example of a focal point is the sharp point of light that forms when you focus the sun's light onto a smooth surface with a magnifying glass.

Focus - The point at which the image projected by the camera lens onto the recording surface of the imaging sensor is sharpest.

Focus Preset - A special feature found on many Canon EF IS-enabled telephoto lenses that memorizes a preset focus point and can quickly return to that point by simply turning a "playback" ring located on the lens barrel, regardless of where the lens is focused at the time.

Fungus - Lenses stored in dark, humid environments for long periods of time can sometimes develop a spider web-like fungus that, if left unchecked, can cause permanent damage to the lens. If spotted early enough it can usually be stopped from causing further damage to the lens elements.

Full-Frame Image Sensor - An imaging sensor measuring approximately 24 x 36mm, which is the size of a 35mm film frame. Many modern digital cameras are modeled after traditional 35mm film cameras, which is why the focal-length range of many smaller-format camera lenses is invariably referred to in regard to a 35mm equivalent.

Full-Time Manual Focusing - A signature feature of USM-enabled Canon EF lenses, instant manual focus override of the lens's AF system is possible by simply rotating the manual focus ring.

Fully Electronic Interface - When all of the components of a camera system, including the camera, lenses, flash, remotes, and related electronic components in a system share a common source of real-time exposure, flash, and white-balance data to better ensure consistently exposed stills and video.


Ghosting - A type of flare that typically appears when a strong light source, i.e., the sun, a spotlight, etc., causes strong reflective flare on the side of the image field opposite the light source. Ghosting greatly reduces contrast and detail in the affected areas. Reframing the image, use of a lens hood, or otherwise blocking the light source can usually eliminate ghosting.


Source: Canon USA

©2016 Christian Parley Commercial Photography