10 Photographic Simulators (To Practice Without Leaving Your Chair)

Although nothing will ever be like practicing with a camera in hand and with the light conditions available at the time, you are lucky to have tools that can help you at any given moment. One of them is the photography simulator.

Because we cannot deny that practice is essential. I repeat for the millionth time on the blog, that it is useless to learn theory and terms if you don’t know how to apply them later. No one would think of reading a bunch of books or articles related to driving and then not getting behind the wheel or doing it once a year. Anyone who drives daily even if they haven’t read a single line about it beyond the driving manual to test themselves will do much better.

The same thing happens in photography. It doesn’t matter how much you read and study, if you don’t put it into practice it will be forgotten and it will be fruitless learning.

And yes, as I anticipated at the beginning, the ideal is to practice with the camera, which does not mean that there are not times when certain tools are useful to us. Today we are talking about simulators. But first, let me tell you about two mega guides that we have prepared for you and that I am sure will be very useful to you. One is the mega guide to learn photography and the other is to lose the fear of Manual Mode.

What is a photographic simulator?

It is a tool that you can access online, and that simulates a photographic situation offering you the possibility of practicing the theory. It would be something similar to the plane simulators with which pilots practice, the only thing that instead of piloting a plane you take a photograph.

There are different types, from those that simulate different focal lengths, to those that play with the triangle of light to achieve correct exposure. We will see them later.

When are simulators useful?

As I’ve told you, it’s much better to shoot with your camera, of course, but… what happens if you don’t have it at hand? What happens if you are convalescing? Does boredom kill you in a waiting room? You are in a place that you cannot move from and there is no light, nothing that you can photograph, or you cannot find a model that positions itself for you. Or your card is full and you don’t want to delete photos.

It may also happen that you are thinking of buying a lens and as much as you have articles where they tell you the best focal lengths for different situations, you want to see how it really is, how is the effect of 200mm compared to 85mm, for example. You can’t do this if you don’t have the objective, but with the simulator. You see? Other utility.

There are many situations in which these tools can be useful. That is why I present them to you in this article, with the hope that they will facilitate the task of learning photography.

Exposure simulators

A way to test a camera without having it in your hands. To play with the different parameters such as aperture, ISO or shutter speed (among others). Very useful for practicing with the exposure triangle.


Although the explanations are in English, the buttons are in Spanish, so you can manage perfectly if you don’t master the Anglo-Saxon language.

It allows you to vary the light from “indoors dim” to “sunny”, play with the distance to the model, the focal length, the ISO value, the shutter speed and the aperture. You can shoot in shutter priority, aperture or manual and pretend you’re using a tripod, although since the girl moves this last option isn’t much use 😉 but it does help to see how the background and the moved girl would turn out. Great for playing around with the exposure triangle and seeing how you can compensate with one when you modify another.

2.SLR Camera Simulator

Similar to the previous one but with significant differences. You can only touch aperture, speed and ISO. To practice with the exposure triangle. The good thing is that you don’t need to shoot to see the result, as you move the cursor to one side or the other the image changes, it would be like the camera function that allows you to see live how the photo would look. You have three photos to try and you can “pin” aperture or shutter speed, if you wish, to make it work as either aperture mode or shutter mode. It’s also in English and it doesn’t matter either ;).


In this Canon simulator you can also select Manual Mode, Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority. In the exposure meter it tells you if the exposure is correct or not and you can vary aperture, speed and ISO. The good thing here is that the helicopter blades move and you can check the effects of freezing the movement or capturing it at a slow speed. Something that you cannot do with the girl and the grinder because the girl moves all the time (of course, if you have a daughter like mine, it can be good for you to practice with her 😉 ).

At the top right you have three sections: a little book, which leads you to a basic manual; a camera, to practice or play; and a clock, which takes you to a challenge where it asks you for different types of results that you have to achieve (in English).

It also tells you, depending on the setting you modify, the effect you are approaching. For example, playing in Aperture Priority (Av), a little arrow moves to tell you if the background will be more or less sharp. In the example image, when you select the maximum aperture, the cursor goes to the maximum sharpness (lower right).

4. Bokeh simulator & depth of field calculator

What I like most about this is how complete it is. If it included lighting it would already be “la repanocha”. The bad thing is that it is not a real model, but a drawing and this is not very cool. But hey, to understand the concepts, playing with different planes, different focal lengths, calculating the focal length, etc. is great.

It is good to be able to understand, for example, how depth of field works, how it is affected not only according to the aperture, but also according to the distance at which the subject is. You can choose, in addition to the model for the image or the background, the camera model. There are many, surely you will find yours.

5.CameraSim: Exposure Compensation

CameraSim offers us another simulator, very, very simple and at the same time very graphic in terms of exposure compensation. You can burn and burn to see the effect it has on the image.

lighting simulators

In this case we find simulators that allow you to practice with lighting, direction, intensity, etc. It is the ideal option to practice light schemes comfortably from your computer or tablet. Set up your next session this way if you can’t get a head start in a studio.

6. Foundations of Lighting Placement

With this simulator, you have the option to play with a main light and a fill light. You can place them around the model, at different angles. You also have another option where you can place the focus at different heights and see how the results change. A very good way to understand how different light schemes work in a portrait.

Although the explanations and clarifications are in English, you don’t need to understand it to mess around. You click on the hours (it simulates the hours of a clock on the ground) to decide where you want the focus and that’s it. In the height simulator you will see how the focus goes up and down and you can guess the position (even if you don’t know that eye lebel means eye level).

7.Virtual Lighting Studio

This is another simulator of studio lights and it is in Spanish (among other languages). It is somewhat more complete than the previous one, it allows you to play with up to six points of light, you can change the direction, intensity, distance or add colored gels. The only thing is that the “models” are a bit scary ;). The appearance of this simulator is not the prettiest, although this does not prevent you from practicing, since that is its function.

Lighting Diagram Creator

Well, this is not really a simulator, that’s why I don’t list it, but I put it here because once you use the simulator, if you want to jot down notes, you have this option through which you can create the lighting schemes that you want to save , instead of filthy in a paper that you just end up losing.

target simulators

Now I am going to introduce you to simulators that recreate different focal lengths.

8. Test our lenses: Fujifilm

You choose, through the arrows, the objective, then the aperture, the zoom if it is the case of a variable focal length and, finally, you shoot (“Take photo”). Next, it shows you how the photo has turned out. You can have a good time playing to see how the different optics work according to their focal length and aperture.

If, once the image appears, you click on the red box at the top left (“Save to lightbox”), then you can see the saved images and compare them by clicking below the button to shoot (“View Lightbox”).

9.Canon Lens Simulator

A simulator to test your lenses with which you can also see the issue of focal length. You choose which group of lenses you want to try (tele, macro, angular…), in some cases you will only get an image without the possibility of modifying anything, because they are fixed lenses, but in the variables, you can move the cursor (I indicate it with the red arrow in the image) to one side and the other to see the difference between shooting, for example, at a distance of 75mm or 300mm. You see it in the moment, there is no need to shoot and wait for the “reveal”, the image adjusts as you move the cursor.

10. NIKKOR Lens Simulator

I leave it for last because it seems to me that it is the one with which you can best see the difference when using one focal length or another, because in the same image you can “use” a 14mm focal length and an 800mm focal length, simply by moving the cursor. Very useful when you lose the focal length issue and with the theory you are not clear.

You can then choose different lenses, place them on different cameras and simulate how they work. Very interesting.

An added bonus is that you can check, with just one click, the difference between Full Frame (or full DX format) and FX, with the crop factor. You just have to click on the FX and DX buttons to the right of the lens selector (I indicate it with a red arrow).

Did you find it useful? If so, don’t forget to share it before you start messing with the simulators or your camera, because… you’re already thinking about getting down to work, right?

Thanks for getting here ;).