DCS Photography Guide/Tips

by [Delta-P39] Metal

Useful camera angles & hotkeys for DCS

These are all the camera angles that are most useful for in-game Photography and Videography:

  • F1: Cockpit cam, useful for in-cockpit shots. Though limited in versatility, well-modeled cockpits such as those made by Heatblur can look excellent.
  • F2: 3D view, useful for shots from outside the cockpit. Good for all shots, but the camera isn't bound to movement of the plane (ex: if the plane rolls right, your camera will not follow the roll of the plane) and can only get so close to the plane.
  • F3: Flyby view, Not very useful for screenshots, but good for videos.
  • F4: Tail View, Although unwieldy, this is one of the most versatile cameras, the camera is bound to the movement of the plane (meaning no turbulence effect that is normally created by F2 view) Also there is no limit to how close the camera can get to the plane, so cockpit photos from the third person are best done with F4. Track IR makes the use of F4 way easier, being almost impossible to use without it with some shots.
  • F6: Ordinance view, tracks fired bombs and projectiles, good for videos, and alright for screenshots, hard to be creative with this view but it is possible.
  • LCtrl - F11: Free camera, very versatile for both photo and video, extremely easy to be creative with. Can lock on to objects (I believe using the Numpad but I don't use it too much). By placing the camera on the ground and locking on to a plane you can get an “Airshow” camera.
  • LAlt - F9: Plat cam, Good for videos and alright for screenshots, though screenshots look a little bland. (Be sure to disable Track-IR before moving into LAlt - F9 view).

Software

Suggested Screenshot Program

The main program I use is steam, as the ease of use in taking a screenshot is unrivaled, its probably already downloaded on your computer, and the screenshot quality is very good (given you save uncompressed). This can be used in both standalone and steam edition. I use standalone but have added it to my game library in steam and can still use overlay + screenshot functions

To save an uncompressed copy of your screen using steam:

  • Go to “Steam” in the top left corner of Steam menu,
  • Go to “Settings”, “In-Game”,
  • And click “Save an Uncompressed copy” and choose a folder to save it to.

Suggested Video Recording Program

I use OBS, but I don't take many videos so don't take my word as gospel or anything. It's very easy to use and the video quality remains very good.

General Quality Tips:

Always try to get the highest screenshot quality possible, this means minimizing compression when sending screenshots, and making sure the quality of the original screenshot is up to standards.

I've heard setting texture quality to the highest setting doesn't make much of a difference (Around 3 fps), I haven't tested this personally, but seeing as I run max settings on a Laptop I don't find this hard to believe. Aim to have water at max settings (Given that it doesn't cause significant performance issues) as water at max settings looks amazing.

Tips to make screenshots better (Important):

There are many tips to take a well-versed screenshot, one of the most useful tips I've ever learned was to hold RCtrl - * for a second or two and zoom back out. This “blends” the background together and through some photography magic makes all screenshots 100x better. This is an example of a very basic screenshot but with a little RCtrl - * magic.

Another thing to note is the rule of thirds, this is the idea that humans are naturally attracted to images where points of interest are along the lines that would spit the image into thirds

Editing:

Editing is a vital aspect of the screenshot process, a well-edited screenshot can turn a good shot into a great one.

Style:

There is no set way to edit a screenshot, I suggest finding a style that sets you apart without being too jarring. A great example of someone who does this extremely well is MadFox. He has a very unique style that both looks good and fits him. (Forgive the quality)

My general style is to up the saturation of the photo a tad (don't overdo it) just to blue up the sky, and brighten up the photo as needed. Other settings are fiddled with to make a nice, bright photo. Screenshots in the sunrises or sunsets are a different situation and require a little more fiddling. But my number one tip for editing is DONT OVERDO IT. A screenshot that looks like it was taken in the WillyWonka factory is something to avoid, edits should be meaningful and deliberate.

The Screenshot Community: The DCS screenshot community is a very accepting place of new members, and I've met some very cool people. So go get involved in the community, they’ll be willing to help if you need help and are very supportive of each other. They are are all very friendly and very experienced. All I can really say is GET INVOLVED IN THE COMMUNITY!
Here's a few notable names:

  • MadFox
  • DCS.World.Australia (and his friends)
  • DCS_World_Japan
  • DCS_Pictures
  • DCS_World_Canada

Plagiarism:

Don't plagiarize, It's very shunned upon in the community. If you get plagiarized against, settle it in DMs (direct messages) before taking it public. And It will happen, its happened to me by accounts that have thousands of followers, and most are willing to at least credit you. A good rule of thumb is to just not be an ass.