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A physically based model of camera, sensor, light source, object geometry and surface characteristics in conjunction with the path tracing algorithm is suggested and enhanced to allow for accurate simulation of active photogrammetric 3d measurement systems. This allows for effects to be simulated which are not inherent to common simulation approaches. The theory is based on the rendering and measurement equations which are solved using Monte Carlo methods. The minimal number of samples to achieve an accurate physical simulation can be adapted for each pixel by estimating the residual standard deviation of each calculated gray scale value.