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Microsoft Flight Simulator photo mode guide

Active pause + showcase camera = photo mode

Manhattanhenge recreated in Microsoft Flight Simulator Image: Asobo Studio/Microsoft Corporation via Polygon

One of the most stunning aspects of Microsoft Flight Simulator is its recreation of the entire planet. While it’s good fun seeing the sights from the comfort of your virtual cockpit or in the simulator’s external camera mode, you might have wondered how to enable photo mode in Microsoft Flight Simulator.

So how do you enable photo mode to get clean screenshots? While there is no specific “photo mode,” there is a way to get beautiful images by taking advantage of the game’s showcase camera done. In this guide, we’ll show you how.

How to enable photo mode

To take photos without your plane or the user interface in the way, you need to enable the showcase camera.

The Showcase camera settings in Microsoft Flight Simulator
The Showcase camera lets you fly around freely
Image: Asobo Studio/Microsoft Corporation via Polygon

Before enabling the showcase camera, turn on active pause first. This feature stops all of your aircraft’s motion and lets you move the camera freely. By default, active pause is bound to the Pause key on your keyboard. To make things easier, set it to a more common, unused key like Control as we suggest in our Microsoft Flight Simulator beginner’s guide.

To enable the showcase camera, highlight the toolbar at the top of your screen with your mouse and select the camera icon. Doing so will open up a set of camera options for the cockpit, external, and showcase camera. Once you highlight the options for the showcase camera, you will begin controlling it.

How to control the showcase camera

If you’re playing the game with a standard controller and your computer’s keyboard, flying the showcase camera around with your game pad is much simpler.

With a controller, use the left thumbstick to move forward, backward, left, and right across a flat plane. The right stick allows you to look in all directions. The left bumpers (or L1 and R1 buttons if you’re a PlayStation controller) roll the camera, and the triggers (or L2 and R2) move the camera up and down.

If you’d rather use a keyboard, then prepare to use a mixture of the left side of your keyboard’s alphabet keys plus the number pad. Together these keys control the movement of the showcase drone camera.

The drone camera settings in Microsoft Flight Simulator
If you don’t have a numpad, you’ll have to remap
Image: Asobo Studio/Microsoft Corporation via Polygon

The WASD control scheme is used for forward, back, and side to side movement. Your F and R keys move your drone up and down. The number pad keys control roll, rotation, and other camera angle settings. If you don’t have a numpad, map all of these settings to the right side of your keyboard around the J, K, and L keys.

If for some reason the showcase camera doesn’t move right away when holding down the WASD keys, we’ve learned that holding down the Shift key makes a difference.

How to get good screenshots

When flying around in showcase mode, the user interface will disappear (as long as you dismiss any floating windows around your screen like the camera settings). Once you’ve placed your drone where you want it, just take a screenshot and you’re all set.

The drone camera’s position becomes wholly independent of your plane the moment you start controlling it. While its position spawns next to your plane, once you command it, you can fly it wherever you like. Use this freedom to fly low around some of the world’s wonders, get down close to animals walking across large fields, or fly right up to your house.

Lastly, if the camera is moving too slow for your liking, there are several speed settings in the showcase camera options, such as how fast it flies or how quickly it rotates on any given axis.