Cameras with interchangeable lenses (for example DSLRs and newer mirrorless cameras) can only use lenses that are compatible with the camera body. Different cameras have different lens threads, also called lens mounts. Each unique lens thread is compatible with a specific set of lenses.

For example, all Nikon DSLRs share a variant of the same lens thread, which means you can use practically any Nikon lens on any Nikon DSLR. Also, 3rd parties such as Sigma make lenses for other manufacturers lens threads, which means you can use certain Sigma lenses on Canon DSLRs and some on Nikon DSLRs for example.

The four-thirds and micro-four-thirds systems from Panasonic and Olympus are interesting too, cameras from both manufacturers use the same lens thread which means they are compatible with each other's lenses.

Common Lens Threads

Here are a sample of some of the lens threads (or mounts) used by interchangeable lens cameras:

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