For DSLR beginners, Canon Canada has launched “Outside of Auto”, an interactive online addition to learning resources, enabling study and practice at the same time.
As its name implies, it could be the first step up from taking photos in auto mode, introducing users to the fundamental elements of exposure: aperture, shutter speed and ISO settings.
“Outside of Auto” is split into three sections: Learning, Playing, and Challenge
Getting started with an activity usually means reading about it.
Fortunately, the website’s Learning section is kept to a minimum of text and a good amount of visual information. The exposure triad is explained clearly, using photo examples from opposite sides of each element’s range.
In addition to this, the learning segment features explanations on how each exposure setting affects “the mood”, and tips about how to speed things up using the shutter and aperture priority modes.
As for the fun part, the Playing section, users who have thoroughly covered Learning should get a hang of it immediately. The DSLR simulator interface is so intuitive that it could produce fast results, even in the case of having inspected just the photos in the learning section. Still, speed is not an issue here and users can mess around to their heart’s content, until they figure it out.
The next part though, is reserved for those skilled enough to glide through settings. The Challenge section tests photography know-how in 6 different scenarios, where users have to replicate photos, against the clock.
The Challenge was probably the go-to section for today’s first wave of users, more experienced photo enthusiasts who naturally find out immediately about such projects.
This is why the website experienced heavy loading for a couple of hours, but in due time, the simulator will be put to good use, helping DSLR beginners with the basics.
Other notable examples of SLR simulators
An altogether different kind of application is Nikon’s Lenses simulator. It’s placed in the advanced photographers’ domain, a great tool for testing Nikkor optics, zoom capabilities, and how different lenses interact with Nikon’s various cameras’ sensor cropping.
Getting back to the beginners territory, the single comparison to “Outside of Auto” worth mentioning is The SLR Camera Simulator. It’s very similar, and as intuitive as Canon’s application, additionally bringing distance and focal length into the equation.
Both “Outside of Auto” and “SLR Camera Simulator” would benefit from 2 extra features though: more ambient light options and the aperture dial actually affecting the depth of field in real time. All in all, they’re alright applications, but it’s a long way to virtual photography learning.
In case you’re planning to invest into a DSLR, either “Outside of Auto” or “SLR Camera Simulator” can be a valuable source for deciding if you really want more than auto settings in a camera.
If you already own a DSLR, these simulators are a good starting point before getting into the real deal, hands-on experience of photography.