People often know they need a longer lens but don’t know just how long is long enough, or need a wider lens but have no idea if the extra 2mm on the wide end of the 14-24mm are worth $550 more than the 16-35mm.
Nikon’s lens simulator is a great resource for anyone debating which focal length they need or how various focal lengths compare to each other.
The simulator starts at 14mm and zooms all the way in to 800mm for FX format lenses and 10mm to 300mm for DX lenses, showing the resulting angle of view at any given time.
Camera wise you can select between FX (full frame), DX (APS-C) and CX (mirrorless) format models, going back about 6 years and up until Nikon’s newest models.
This simulator can be just as helpful for Canon, Sony, Olympus and any other brand users. All you have to do is take into account the slightly different crop factor.
The default setting in the simulator is a 14-800mm slider showing these focal lengths using full frame lenses on a full frame camera.
You can select a specific lens (FX or DX, zoom or prime) as well as a specific camera body, though this is not necessary.
Since all models of the same format share the same crop factor, selecting just the camera format will suffice.
You can also switch between FX and DX format lenses without selecting a specific lens.
The only benefit of selecting a specific lens is that you will be shown only the specific focal length of that lens, making it easier to quickly zoom in and out.
A very useful feature as you move up from the widest focal length is a thumbnail in the bottom left corner showing you the widest frame possible with your current camera/lens combo. The top image is of a mirrorless camera fully zoomed in to 800mm, and the small preview is of the same camera at the widest focal length – 14mm. You’ll have to look closely to see that the lighthouse even exists at 14mm!
If you’re not a Nikon user you can still use this simulator by simply calculating the different crop factor (or accepting ballpark results).
Full frame DSLRs obviously don’t have a crop factor, but APS-C and smaller sensors (most mirrorless) cameras do:
- Nikon, Sony and Pentax APS-C: 1.5X crop factor
- Canon APS-C: 1.6X crop factor
- Nikon CX (mirrorless): 2.7X crop factor
- Micro Four Thirds: 2X crop factor
A quick Google search or look at your camera’s manual will tell you your camera’s crop factor if you do not know it and it’s not listed above.
One thing to note about the simulator is that while it will provide an accurate angle of view when simulating a fisheye lense, the simulated image will not be true to form.
If you know your focal lengths and want to get a better understading of various apertures, check out Fuji’s aperture simulator.
You might also be interested in the studio simulator we shared a while ago, if you want help planning the lighting for your next shoot.