'Auto-exposure' effect when using the cockpit camera needs to go

These are 2 pictures of MSFS. One is absolutely gorgeous. The other is way too bright, overexposes the clouds and washes out what would otherwise be MSFS’s beautifully curated ground scenery. But want to see the beautiful sim both INSIDE and OUT, why are we being made to choose between either seeing the cockpit exposed correctly and the outside being exposed correctly?
MSFS is trying to simulate a digital camera’s dynamic range, but our human eyes don’t work like that so it seems absurd that this is a ‘feature’ that we can’t even turn off.


Can’t you turn this off in the config file? There’s a EyeAdaptation setting in UserCfg.opt. I haven’t tried changing it myself though.

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Or at least reduced a bit.

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Personally I like it as it is.
Here’s my thinking:

I’d MSFS is the first sim doing a decent job portraying the huge differences of brightness between sunlit clouds outside and the much less illuminated cockpit IRL …
I say this coming from flying both helicopters and fixed wing in very varying conditions, including snow-cowered peaks north of the arctic circle. Sometimes I even have to cover the “outside” with my hand to be able to see the instruments/screens clearly.

There’s a huge difference in brightness between a “shadowed” cockpit and bright sunlit outside, even the human eye will struggle with this.

To make this look good on a computer-screen, some sacrifices must be done. But trying to squeeze in the full dynamic range of an eye into a computer-screen, we would end up with a horribly flat picture lacking in contrast. There’s a reason this is avoided in both photography and videography, it would simply look “unreal”…

I’ think MSFS is definitely closer to human eye than camera in this regard, having snapped thousands of photos from various cockpits during my aviation career, often ending up with a close to pitch black cockpit if taking photos including sunlit clouds or snow cover. MSFS has a much bigger dynamic range than a camera.


I for one don’t want to go back to something like FSX cartoon-look where both incredibly bright outside and much darker inside is “correctly exposed” at the same time, like the screenshot below. But if that’s what you’re used to, I can understand the current tech seems “too dark”.

Sure it’s easier and more convenient to read instruments and enjoy the outside at the same time. But bottom line, it simply just doesn’t look real. Neither camera nor human eye would “expose” like this.

But some users might prefer this, so an option to compress the dynamic range would be a good call, as long as it isn’t forced on the rest of us.


The problem with this “eye adaption” method is (among other things): when your view is half cockpit and half outside, you get a washed out exterior scenery. This is something you would not experience in real life, because your eyes adopt to where you look at. Especially in VR it can be destracting. With headset eye tracking it would be a different story though.


Not quite. As I said: Sometimes I even have to cover the “outside” with my hand to be able to see the instruments/screens clearly.

As well as IRL, I wouldn’t view “half cockpit and half outside” ,
I either look outside or looking down at the instruments.

Just like I do in the sim.

TrackIR I have a quick peek at the instruments, and the “camera” adapts accordingly, or I have a button on the yoke to “peek” below the glare-shield when not using TrackIR.

Above the dash, or under it, like I do IRL.

Like I said, to make this look good on a computer-screen, some sacrifices must be done…
Regardless of realism, some prefer the old FSX style, other prefers the new.

User option would satisfy both would be preferable instead of taking us all back to old tech.
For instance, a control to increase cockpit ambient lighting to reduce dynamic range…
And like you said: headset eye tracking , that would be a great way to set exposure sampling point instead of screen average or center-point.

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When direct sunlight (or bright reflections of sunlight) hits your eyeballs, you can be blinded, and the more so the older you are. This is due to lens cloudiness and should not be simulated by the Sim :grinning:
But I agree, making it adjustable would serve us all. Atm it can’t be switched off.


Hey now, I’m not that old :laughing:
I had this buggering me from the beginning of my heli-career (age of 21) , most often reflected light over snow-covered plains/mountains.
But also in close proximity of clouds illuminated by sunlight, it doesn’t have to be direct sunrays into the eyes, is what I’m trying to say. Sun in the back 45 degrees above the horizon with clouds close by in front of you will give a very dark shadowed cockpit and very bright “outside” . Sometimes to the point instruments are really hard to read unless blocking off the outside view with your hand while trying to see the instruments.


But the dynamic range has been compressed quite a bit already during the life of MSFS
(for both good and bad)
Compare the following two shots

I personally liked the look in the first one, based on my RW experience it “felt” more real to me, compared to the more compressed artistic look we have now. So I’d say MSFS is still closer to what my eyes see compared to what my camera sees in terms of dynamic range.

Taking this even further would bring us closer to FSX and further from real life. Imho…

Announcement / Reveal trailer 2019:

Current (WU6)



Thanks for taking the time to express your opinion about the “auto-exposure” option. From seeing snowy caps of mountains… sounds like you had a pretty awesome flying career!

I don’t think it’s right to use FSX as a benchmark to assess lighting against though. We all know that sim may as well not have any lighting model at all… A more realistic comparison would be with X-Plane, where (although I do not have a screenshot on hand right now), there are actually cockpit shadows etc to darken the cockpit relative to the bright outside.

In any event, the exposure effect is still exaggerated in my opinion. The way human eyes work with the brain is something far more complex than I would ever properly understand, but I do know enough to say that it compeneates for any differences in brightness to produce an image that is actually useful to us where we can see the light and dark areas of an ‘image’. If Asobo wanted to bring in some kind of effect to simulate these brightness differences, they’ve definitely gone way too far, at least insofar as looking at a monitor remains the predominant way of perceiving the images produced by the sim. Maybe if one day we have super accurate eye trackers or a sunglasses mode then sure, some kind of autoexposure effect as it is now would be warranted, but in its current state, there isn’t really a reason why a sim pilot who use to control where his eye looks using a mouse and zoon scroll wheel has to have his sim experience compromised by an effect which is forced upon the user with no option to turn it off.

So you’re absolutely right in that we should be given the choice - to each their own. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be forthcoming with MSFS Zendesk. I’ve submitted two tickets over the last month discussing this issue and asking for an option to have the effect turned off, just to be marked as “solved” both times instantly after submitting the ticket, and I know this is not how they respond if they’re actually investigating the issue (there is one other matter about camera location loading for which they’ve been in continued correspondence with me). I just hope this gets solved sooner than later, and that I haven’t actually been ignored on the matter about the exposure effects. It is absurd that there’s an option to disable lens flare, but not even a slider to adjust the effect that’s causing bleaching and overexposed clouds.


Agree here, but not really the issue as the difference in what is visually seen with my eyes does not change IRL if I angle my head down by one degree to look at the PFD screen. In MSFS, that makes the scene outside the windows look like a nuclear explosion is going off until I look back up the one millimetre I moved. Lol

IRL, it is possible to see what it looks like outside from inside the cockpit.


So glad you brought this up and wrote it in a much easier way to “see” than I ever could. This is one of my gripes w/ the sim – in cockpit, everything during the daytime is way over exposed. Especially on a great HDR monitor (which I saved all my $$ to spend for this sim!) – at least give us in-sim controls to change it, that’s all I ask. Being forced to see it overexposed is what is frustrating.


I agree, it’s way over exposed. Horrible in VR but also terrible in 2D. Just panning the view around makes everything white, even the trees.


Our eyes absolutely do work like that. Cockpits are very dark, and outside can be very very bright. I’ve flown 42 different types including the A320, and would say it’s pretty accurate.

However I know many simmers would like the effect reduced, and it would be fairly easy to implement the option. Also, manual exposure controls already exist in drone mode - and it would be great to be able to adjust it in the other camera views as well. Then there’s also the requested sunglasses mode which would be pretty cool to see.

I don’t think I’d like to see the feature removed completely though, it would look pretty bad IMO…


Whether it’s over exaggerated is up for debate, but it’s one of those areas where even though it’s nice to make it “real life” the Devs need to use some common sense and realise that playing on a monitor or even VR is totally different.

Make something like this an Option, or with Sliders if possible to help alleviate the issue for different people.

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As said above, it might be true for real life, even tho our eyes adapt but it doesn’t work the same way in a video game and it’s absolutely terrible in VR.
Another game with this issue is Cyberpunk 2077 for example.

Agree it should be an option. However, as a pilot, I can testify that the current implementation is realistic. Indeed outside brightness versus cockpit brightness can be highly contrasting at times with respect to each other, especially with largely enclosed (darker) cockpit environments and a few bright spots (windows) or when flying against the sun even. It can be hard on the eye to read instruments too in such cases. Luckily human eye adaptation is brilliant, but not perfect. From light to dark the eye requires a dark adaptation period of 2 hours on avarage to adjust sensitivity. Pretty unfair if compared to light adaptation which is in minutes. This works against your eye in those highly contrasting situations in the cockpit. And I havent even factored in the use of sunglasses pilots might wear on sunny and/or high altitude daylight flights, darkening their scene even more (I assume there aren’t many vpilots wearing sunglasses behind their monitors :stuck_out_tongue:). Pilots learn to live with it. How I see it, MSFS tries to help the vpilot by brightening the cockpit a bit when the FOV is centered inside the cockpit, but otherwise simulate this realistic contrast. This “constraint” is as much part of flying as a flightcontrol moving your plane up, down, left and right… perhaps it is perceived as terrible for some, but I reckon that we all shout for the most realistic experience do we not? Seems silly to shout wanting all of this, but then be picky on flying with constraints like this, lol! :smiley:


Please keep it Asobo. It’s a great effect and really adds to the realism.


Where the heck is the user.cfg?

No such file, that’s why you can’t find it. It’s usercfg.opt or something similar; perhaps someone will confirm or correct me.


Indeed. Most VR headsets do not have eyetracking right now, or monitors even for that matter. Currently the software has to make an assumption based on where the center of the head is looking at and adjust/approximate correct exposure from there, whilst your eyes might by looking somewhere completely else. As a VR simmer, I have learned to work my head position a bit more (which I need to do anyway since my lens sweetspot is relatively tiny in the Reverb G2)…

On a physical level though, looking at VR monitors or regular monitors the human eye will perceive a homogeneous bright surface, which will never translate to real eye adaptation. So future eyetracking and coded effect would have to make assumptions too. (okay okay unless future displays are next level OLED and HDR :stuck_out_tongue:) Pretty sure it is not going to be perfect then too, but yes much better at least.