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4.4 Rating
Understanding Focal Length

Focal length, usually represented in millimeters (mm), is the basic description of a…

Beginner

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4.2 Rating
Prime Lenses

What is a prime lens? Well, it's a lens that isn't a zoom. A prime lens has a fixed focal length which means…

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4.3 Rating
Zoom Lens Maximum Aperture: Fixed and Variable Apertures

Zoom lenses can have either a fixed maximum aperture or a…

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4.2 Rating
Using Teleconverters

Teleconverters let you extend your photographic reach

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4.6 Rating
Popular Nikon Lenses for Shooting Video

Primer on popular NIKKOR lenses for HD video shooting

Advanced

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4.4 Rating
Using legacy NIKKOR lenses with the Nikon Df

How to set the Df to accept legacy Non-Ai or Ai lenses

Advanced

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4.6 Rating
Extend Your Reach with Nikon 1 Cameras and the FT-1 Mount Adapter

Extend your reach with your favorite NIKKOR lenses on a…

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3.7 Rating
CX Format Image Sensor

Nikon 1 digital cameras utilize the Nikon CX-format super high speed AF CMOS imaging sensor.

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4.3 Rating
Which NIKKOR Lens Type is Right for Your DSLR?

Learn what the different types of NIKKOR lenses are and which ones will…

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4.3 Rating
How to Choose Your Next Nikon 1 Lens

Go beyond your Nikon 1 camera's kit lens

Beginner

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4.5 Rating
The DX and FX Formats

Understand the differences between the formats to determine which is the one for you.

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4.4 Rating
How to Read Your NIKKOR Lens Barrel

Understanding what all of those markings and designations on your lens really mean.

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4.6 Rating
One Shot: Crop Factor

Carol Freeman field tests the new AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR lens

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4.3 Rating
Macro Lenses

Reproduce objects up to life size using a Nikon Micro-NIKKOR Lens

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3.6 Rating
1 NIKKOR Technology: Retractable Lens Barrel

Retractable lens barrel technology offers ultra-compact lens design.

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4.3 Rating
How to Choose Your Next DSLR Lens

What to look for when choosing your next lens for your DSLR

Beginner

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4.0 Rating
Extreme Adventure

Adventure photographer Corey Rich goes to great lengths—and great heights— to get the shot.

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4.1 Rating
Nikon 1 Advanced Camera with Interchangeable Lens System

Revolutionary camera system designed for today’s picture taker.

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4.2 Rating
Shooting a Rock Concert

Whether you're taking photos at a major rock concert or at your child's school performance, these…

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4.7 Rating
Extra Added Attraction: How to Boost the Reach of Your Nikon 1

Mark Alberhasky on using the FT-1 and NIKKOR lenses on…

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3.7 Rating
Chromatic Aberration

Chromatic aberration is a phenomenon in which light rays passing through a lens focus at different…

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4.2 Rating
Photographing Sports Indoors and Out

Capturing the action of a sporting event is easy when you follow a few simple…

Advanced

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4.5 Rating
Using the D810A DSLR for Deep Space and Nebulae Astrophotography

Photographing Nebulae and other celestial objects with…

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3.3 Rating
Taking Close-up Photos

How do I take close-up photos of flowers and small objects?

Advanced

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3.8 Rating
The Importance of Composition When Shooting Nature

Pat O'Hara had to go far from home to really appreciate the…

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4.2 Rating
Multi Story

In which smart gets smarter

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4.0 Rating
Resources to Enhance your Photographic Experience

Learn more about the helpful resources available from Nikon

Beginner

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5.0 Rating
First Look: The All-Seeing, 360° Nikon Action Cam

Corey Rich describes his experience shooting with the KeyMission 360

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4.4 Rating
Photographing the Night Sky: Star Trails

Astrophotography: tips for making great star trail images

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3.9 Rating
No Limits: For Better Photos, Think Like a Photojournalist

David Handschuh on thinking like a photojournalist

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4.3 Rating
Imagine That

Nope, we didn't make a mistake. The photos you see here were not taken by several different photographers;…

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4.2 Rating
51-Point Autofocus System

The 51-point AF system positions 51 points of focus within the frame to allow photographers to…

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4.7 Rating
COOLPIX Cameras and Cool Lighting with Speedlights

Lucas Gilman shows you how to use Speedlights with COOLPIX cameras

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4.0 Rating
Capture NX 2: Lesson 9

Find out how to brighten up the dark edges of an image caused by vignetting.

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2.9 Rating
Subject Tracking

Subject Tracking enhances your shooting experience by automatically adjusting focus as it follows the…

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4.7 Rating
Preservation and Protection of Wildlife Through Photography

Photographer Moose Peterson's respect for wildlife and the…

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Understanding Focal Length

Focal length, usually represented in millimeters (mm), is the basic description of a photographic lens. It is not a measurement of the actual length of a lens, but a calculation of an optical distance from the point where light rays converge to form a sharp image of an object to the digital sensor or 35mm film at the focal plane in the camera. The focal length of a lens is determined when the lens is focused at infinity.

The focal length tells us the angle of view—how much of the scene will be captured—and the magnification—how large individual elements will be. The longer the focal length, the narrower the angle of view and the higher the magnification. The shorter the focal length, the wider the angle of view and the lower the magnification.

Zoom or Prime

There are two types of lenses-prime and zoom. Prime lenses have a fixed focal length and zoom lenses have variable focal lengths. The advantage of the zoom lens is its versatility. They are ideal when you are photographing a variety of subjects such as landscapes and portraits, and you just want one lens for both situations. Using a zoom lens also reduces the number of times you need to change the lens which saves time and limits the possibility of getting dust in the camera's mirror box or on the sensor.

The main advantages of prime or fixed focal length lenses are their size and weight as well as their maximum aperture or f/stop. Prime lenses tend to be more compact and lightweight than zoom lenses.

Prime lenses also tend to have a larger maximum aperture (f/1.4 to f/2.8). This is an advantage when shooting in low light conditions as it will increase the possibility of hand holding the camera and freezing the subject without shake or blur caused by the longer exposures. Photographing using prime lenses with large apertures also means you can get a shallow depth of field which is useful for portraiture where you might want a softer or blurred background (also known as bokeh).

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