Brightness inside vs. outside the plane constantly changing - how to stop this?

hope that title makes sense, I don’t know any technical term to this. What I mean:

Sitting in the C172 for example, high noon daylight, with the normal “look forward” the scenery is bright and the inside of the plane (panel) is so dark I can hardly make things out. When I move the panel into view it gets brighter and now it looks ok. But if there is a bit of scenery still on screen this is now heavily “over-bright”. When I move the viewpoint to look outside again, the scnery normalizes and the panel gets too dark again.

I hate that “brightness/contrast changing all the time” stuff.

How can I turn this off?

Thank you

Its simulating that mostly correctly. Notice how the cockpit lights up as the sun tracks across it. If it’s bright outside, it will be harder to see the darker stuff, your eyes need to adjust IRL and will not be as noticeable.
… However it seems a little overdone. I run the panels/glareshield lights and it helps :upside_down_face:


I like the effect too, seems natural to me.
I do understand someone not liking it though.



Yes this is an effect of “iris” adaptation, that is real and can make almost impossible taking a good picture of the cockpit and of the exterior view at the same time.
That being said though, it must also be said that:
1 - this is an issue affecting much more the cameras than the human eye, which is capable of compensating much better this light intensity difference on different areas. If you take a picture of a person against a snow background you have the landscape overexposed or the person underexposed. That is where HDR solves the problem. But in real life the eye can see the person AND the background quite well. So
2 - the process is overdone and it would be a good thing to be able to decide if one likes it or prefer to turning it off, like what happens with G-effects or head movements, all very realistic, but is reasonable to have the choice to activate them or not.


The sim tries to mimic " eye adaption", and I agree, I too don’t like the blown out whites when the scenery fills only a portion of the screen. In usercfg.opt there should be an option to switch it off and so I did but with no discernible effect. Making the monitor brighter helps to a certain extent. Don’t know how it looks on a hdr monitor though.
Edit: Airmax is right, this exposure behaviour we all know from (cheap) phone cameras and does not show what a human eye perceive.

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Correct, the last generation smartphones can obtain almost perfect pictures even in high contrast light situations, the sky looks blue even if taken from inside a car or a house, while on older phones or cameras you had an unrealistic image if compared with the image catched by your eyes of the same scene.
Best of all to have a slider for setting it or simply an option to activate or deactivate it.
I am also a home cockpit builder so for me this adaptation is meaningless and problematic.

This effect is almost as useless as the so called " chromatic aberration" which many game engines use.
In fact MSFS uses it too but fortunately only with the hangar scene. Devs think ,how can we spice up the image and what is cheap to do: postprocessing!


The only situation when it could be of some interest is when you have the sun in front of you, and as in real life, you have difficulties in reading your panel.

in “%appdata%\Microsoft Flight Simulator” theres a file called UserCfg.opt and in there, is an option related to eye adaptation near the bottom in the PostProcess block. Sounds like what you want to turn off. Just set it to 0 and check if it worked. I never tried it.


Can totally understand your frustration. While the effect is to simulate real life lighting it does make it difficult to see the instrumentation. It would be great if you could turn it off and brighten the dash without having to adjust the view down.

It is eye adaptation. I understand it often makes reading instruments or scouting scenery challenging, but this is how camera and human eye works. IMO it is one of the major visual effect that makes the game look such realistic when you put screenshots side by side with an actual photo. It was the most immediate feature of this game that blew my mind as a VFX Artist. In real life, when you fly towards low sun, the instruments become just as hard to see despite glare shield. Yes it is more emphasised than real life in the game, but it has to be like that. Human eye have wider and more dynamic exposure range than a standard camera. Even worse, the display mediums we are using are more limited than cameras. HDR monitors help a bit, but not as much. Until we get displays that have a range which matches human eye, we have to fake it with exposure shifting effects.

IMO it is a matter of realistic vs comfortable visuals. You can not change how light, camera and human eye works, and still expect to get a realistic look. But if you are ok with getting more stylised, comfortable look, yea an option to turn it off might be great as an accessibility setting. :slight_smile:

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After a search I found the address of the above mentioned UserCfg.opt file as follows:

C:\Users\your name\AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.FlightSimulator_8wekyb3d8bbwe\LocalCache

Hope that helps people find it. DO MAKE A COPY of any file before altering it so you can revert if you make it worse etc.

I get the explanations about how real-live that behavior might be. But this is a game and I’d rather not have this forced on me.

Found the file in a LocalCache on the drive where the game is installed. I confirmed it’s the right file by simply setting PostProcessing Enabled to 0 to get a totally different image (not the solution to the question)

Then I changed just the EyeAdaptation to 0 but it does not seem to make a difference, same effect still there.

Thats unfortunate. I was hoping that would work. Did you happen to notice if the dark cockpits issue was resolved with post processing disabled entirely?

Ok… Shaders in the game are designed to mimic real life. You can’t simply expect to change those dramatically and get similarly good looking result.

Disabling eye adaptation will only get rid of the brightness shift. What you’ll be left is a scenery with static exposure. Some parts will still be too bright, some parts will be too dark. And it’ll stay that way since there wont be a dynamic exposure change to balance the brightness of the area you are looking at.

To get a more balanced overall look without dynamically adjusting the exposure, you’ll need to disable more shaders. Bloom, AO, etc… And tone down the overall contast considerably, so brightest and darkest points of the image fit into display’s tone range.

What you will be left is a contrast limited image. Kinda similar to default Xplane look. You might try to come up with something in between increasing the contrast with post processing filters, like Reshade. But with or without dynamic exposure change, you’ll have the exact same problem as you push the image to a more realistic look.

Like I said, it’ll be nice to have a setting for more comfortable visual tone balance, for simmers like yourself. As long as you are not looking for a realistic result. You simply can not have both at the same time.

L (panel lights) and Alt-L (flashlight) help me a lot with this.

Not just „cheap phone cameras“ are affected, but every camera. That specifically also includes expensive DLSRs.

The reason: digital sensors (and analog film) has a limited „dynamic range“, and the camera adapts the brightness to a given (small-ish) area (typically around the focus point).

The typical „hard case“ are photos of „people in the snow“ or taking a photo „inside a room with a sunlit window“. Either people (roomk are dark silhouettes, or the snow (window) is all white.

The human eye on the other hand supports a feature called „local adaption“. Something which can only be (somewhat poorly) be simulated with „multiple exposures“ (= taking several photos with different exposures and calculating a single photo - „HDR“).

Then the next question is the medium (photo paper, computer monitors, …) on which the picture is shown. Most computer monitors have a way too low dynamic range to properly reflect reality (enter „HDR screens“…).

But nothing beats the human eye :wink:

Note: my explanation is simplified and maybe not even fully accurate - but you get the idea (plus what others have written before me).


That‘s usually done by taking multiple shots with different exposure - aka „cheating“ :wink: The human eye does that with „local adaption“.

Very accurate and useful explanations, I summarized much roughly…
Following these insights I can add that, since the program is aiming to simulate the human pilot inside the cockpit, it was more realistic to try to mimic the local adaptation of the eyes, and not a simple camera, since one can find today more sophisticated cameras that integrates multiple exposures in order to obtain a more balanced image! So what kind of camera is simulated in the cockpit ? Best of all would be to simulate the human eye, but this is very complex…
In conclusion : Ok, the effect they obtained is scenographic and can be appreciated or not, so I still would like to have the option to exclude it and maybe to reactivate it sometimes!

while realistic, with TrackIR its even more present since you are constantly changing perspective from the cockpit controls to the windscreen. the shift is very obvious and it does it in most lighting. I wish it would only do it when its extremely bright out and dark in the cockpit (high wing airplane for example) and reduce the effect by 50%. but that’s just me.