The tips in this article complement the curriculum of the Travel Photography program at MatadorU.

BEFORE SHELLING OUT $1,000+ on that Nikkor lens you want, check out Nikon’s slick web-based simulator which allows photographers to try out various focal lengths. In essence, test driving the lens without leaving your laptop.

The Nikkor Lenses Simulator provides a slew of settings and functions that allow you to customize your camera with different optical options before buying additional lenses.

First, you choose your base Nikon camera. Current cameras supported within the simulator are FX formats: D3x, D3, and D700 and DX formats: D90, D300s, D5000, D3000s. Once a camera is selected, you can slide a bar across various focal lengths from 10mm to 600mm or pick the exact Nikkor lens to try from a selection of wide-angle, macro, fixed, telephoto, and zoom Nikkor lenses.

This capability allows you to distinguish between the effects of multiple lenses. For example, a wide-angle versus telephoto lens or a macro versus fixed lens and many more combinations. You can also test out different sensor formats and change your angle of view.

The lead picture above of Amsterdam depicts a photo shot using a wide-angle lens at a focal length of 10mm. The shot below is from the same photograph but it depicts a telephoto zoom length of 600mm.

Here, you can get right onto the balcony and make out nitty-gritty details such as the lounging woman, the red book she’s reading, and what she’s wearing.

As a photographer who swears by Nikon cameras, this is hands down one of my favorite photography-related finds of 2009.

*In the MatadorU Travel Photography course, you’ll learn the skills you need to become a travel photographer.