focal length

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focal length

, distance
the distance from the focal point of a lens or mirror to the reflecting surface of the mirror or the centre point of the lens
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005

Focal length

A measure of the collecting or diverging power of a lens or an optical system. Focal length, usually designated f in formulas, is measured by the distance of the focal point (the point where the image of a parallel entering bundle of light rays is formed) from the lens, or more exactly by the distance from the principal point to the focal point. See Geometrical optics

The power of a lens system is equal to n/f, where n is the refractive index in the image space (n is usually equal to unity). A lens of zero power is said to be afocal. Telescopes are afocal lens systems. See Diopter, Lens (optics), Telescope

McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Physics. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Focal length and focal planeclick for a larger image
Focal length and focal plane

focal length

Symbol: f . The distance from the center of a reflecting surface or refracting medium to the focal point or focus (see illustration). With a converging system, such as a paraboloid surface, a concave mirror or thin convex lens, the focus, F, is the point to which a narrow beam of light, radio waves, etc., from a distant object, i.e. a parallel beam closely aligned to the axis, is brought to a sharply defined or focused image. In a convex mirror or thin concave lens it is the point from which a parallel beam, made divergent by the mirror or lens, appears to diverge. If the two surfaces of a lens do not have identical curvatures the lens will have two different focal lengths and focal points, depending on which surface the light falls.

The focal plane is the plane through the focus, at right angles to the optical axis, in which the image of a distant object will be formed. In some cases, as in the Schmidt telescope, the image is focused on a curved surface – the focal surface – rather than a plane. See also effective focal length.

Collins Dictionary of Astronomy © Market House Books Ltd, 2006

focal length

[′fō·kəl ‚leŋkth]
The distance from the focal point of a lens or curved mirror to the principal point; for a thin lens it is approximately the distance from the focal point to the lens. Also known as focal distance.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

focal length

focal length
The linear measurement along the optical axis between the center of the film and the center of the lens, with the camera focused at infinity.
An Illustrated Dictionary of Aviation Copyright © 2005 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved

focal length

Focal length is the optical distance in millimeters between a camera lens and the sensor or film. It determines the height and width of the scene being captured, known as the "field of view."

A prime lens has one focal length and thus a fixed field of view. In order to change it, the photographer has to move closer or farther away from the subject. A zoom lens has a range from wide angle to telephoto.

Focal length is one of the two primary measurements of a camera lens. The other is the "aperture," which is the lens opening (see f-stop).

The Field of View
These photos were taken with an 18-70mm zoom lens on a digital SLR (see DSLR). At 18mm (top), the field of view is the greatest (wide angle). At 70mm (bottom), the scene is the narrowest (telephoto). This lens is equivalent to a 27-105mm lens on a 35mm SLR camera (see crop factor).

The Field of View
These photos were taken with an 18-70mm zoom lens on a digital SLR (see DSLR). At 18mm (top), the field of view is the greatest (wide angle). At 70mm (bottom), the scene is the narrowest (telephoto). This lens is equivalent to a 27-105mm lens on a 35mm SLR camera (see crop factor).
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References in periodicals archive ?
Interestingly, true macros are prime lenses of short telephoto focal lengths, most commonly 90mm, 100mm or 150mm, but macro lenses of 50mm and 60mm focal lengths are also widely available.
Digital sensors are currently smaller than the area of a 35mm image, so the effective focal lengths of lenses are increased by about 50% when attached to a digital camera.
The three design parameters for this type of bootlace lens are the focal lengths F and G, and the design scan angles [+ or -] [Alpha] (with a fixed boresight beam).
Ultra wide-angle lenses of 20mm focal length or less bring more of the foreground into the overall field of view, resulting in a closer subject-to-camera distance for any subject that occupies this part of the image, such as a rock, lake or river edge, or gate post.
Subjects such as dragonflies and damselflies are usually photographed using long focal length macro lenses, but a wide-angle lens will enable you to include its surroundings.
That downward tug flattens the droplet, increasing its focal length by up to 30 percent as the voltage is raised.
At the highest focal length, the pictures turned out to be sharp but I did face a bit of a challenge to get the subjects in focus.
The essential and familiar eyepiece characteristic is its focal length. Using the same units of measurement, a telescope's focal length divided by an eyepiece's focal length gives the telescope's magnification.
With its focal length of 135mm and the shallow depth-of-field that comes from using a telephoto, the cameraman can maintain a relatively long distance from the subject while also isolating the subject from the background area.
Other brands, notably Nikon, Sony and Pentax, use a smaller image sensor known as APS-C, which results in the focal length of 35mm-format lenses extending by a factor of 1.6.
The focal length of the objective is, more or less, the distance from the objective to the image that it forms.