Aspherical lens elements
Aspherical lens design dramatically reduces spherical aberration while also reducing lens size and weight. Spherical aberration is a slight misalignment of the light rays projected on the image plane. This is caused by differences in refraction at different points on conventional spherical lenses which degrade image quality in large-aperture lenses. Specially shaped "aspherical" elements near the diaphragm restore alignment of light rays at the image plane, maintaining high sharpness and contrast even at maximum aperture and 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 in the lens, thus reducing overall size and weight. Advanced Aspherical (AA) elements are an evolved variant, featuring an extremely high thickness ratio between the center and periphery. AA elements are exceedingly difficult to produce, relying on the most advanced molding technology to consistently and precisely achieve the required shape and surface accuracy, resulting in significantly improved image accuracy and quality.
ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass
As focal lengths get longer, lenses built with conventional optical glass have difficulties with chromatic aberration, and as a result images suffer from lower contrast, lower color quality, and lower resolution. ED glass dramatically reduces chromatic aberration at telephoto ranges, and provides superior contrast across the entire image, even at large aperture settings. Super ED glass provides enhanced compensation for chromatic aberration.
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.
The distance encoder plays an integral part in ADI flash metering, which delivers high precision flash metering that is unaffected by the reflectance of subjects or backgrounds. The distance encoder is a lens component that directly detects the position of the focusing mechanism, and sends a signal to the CPU in order to measure distance to the subject. During flash photography, this data is very useful in calculating how much flash output is appropriate to the scene.
Only the middle groups of the optical system move to achieve focus, so the overall length of the lens does not change. Other important 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 polarizing filter.