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ZonePhoto … the ZL16 Photo Real Scenery


I felt I needed to write a short impression about photo-real sceneries. For some it’s not their favorite, for others it’s a chance to explore their own countries or province. Since SimHeaven stopped with the distribution of their ZL17 Europe photo real scenery packages, I and perhaps you, felt into a black hole with nothing that could replace this which isn’t 100 percent true. A perfect alternative, and yes, they only offer ZL16 packages, is the packages from ZonePhoto.

Although a ZL16 packages isn’t of the same quality as a ZL17, it’s still a nearly perfect alternative to download, implement and explore you own flying area in X-Plane 10 scenery. At the end of this short impression, you’ll be amazed that it was worth the downloading. But first a couple of things related to what is ZL and where is the value 16 or 17 for. Besides that, there’s also the question or issue how to install these packages, but you will learn soon that that isn’t difficult. And before you know, you can fly over a totally different landscape.

Yes, it is true that the photo real sceneries tiles aren’t always perfectly blended next of each other, but hold on, the offered packages from ZonePhoto are free of charge although they would appreciate when you donate ZonePhoto to keep them staying in the air. Although I still own the SimHeaven ZL17 packages from the Netherlands, I was curious what to expect when flying above my own country with the ZL16 from ZonePhoto installed.

The result is amazing. Oh yes, when I compare these with SimHeaven ZL17 photo real tiles screenshots with ZonePhoto ZL16, you’ll see the difference, but even the ZL16 flying at a VFR cruising altitude of 4000 feet, gave me a good idea that even ZL16 quality is a great way to fly. Another not unimportant item to mention is the advantage of downloading ZL16 packages with a maximum size of 1.7GB.

ZL16 versus ZL17

ZL means “Zoom Level” and stands for the quality of photo sceneries. The higher the ZL, the higher the quality, but also the more disk space you need. You’ll have much longer download times and a longer X-Plane scenery loading time. If you have sceneries of high ZL, X-Plane can freeze during flight while loading the next scenery or tile. Of course, this depends on your PC or Mac specifications.

For a ZL15 (approximately 4.8 m / pixel), each tile fills about 400 to 600 MB.
For a ZL16 (approximately 2.4 m / pixel), each tile fills about 1.8 GB or less.
For a ZL17 (approximately 1.2 m / pixel), each tile fills between 7 and 8 GB.
For a ZL18 (approximately 60 cm / pixel), a full tile would fill about 32 GB.

A tile is a 1° longitude x 1° latitude area, so a square km. surface varies its latitude about 111 km. (70 miles) x 111 km. (70 miles) and 78 km. (49 miles) x 111 km. (70 miles) at 45° latitudes.

What do you need?

Although the following explains which files/packages are needed to cover the Netherlands, the principle is basically the same for other European countries, so that said, what packages do you need for the Netherlands?

The following Dutch files including those that cover parts of the border with Germany and Belgium are needed:
– zPhotoXP_+53+004_16_Texel_XP10_2012-10.7z
– zPhotoXP_+53+005_16_Leeuwarden_XP10_2012-10.7z
– zPhotoXP_+53+006_16_Groningue_XP10_2012-10.7z
– zPhotoXP_+53+007_16_Emden_XP10_2012-09.7z

– zPhotoXP_+52+004_16_Amsterdam_XP10_2012-10.7z
– zPhotoXP_+52+005_16_Utrecht_XP10_2012-12.7z
– zPhotoXP_+52+006_16_Enschede_XP10_2012-09.7z
– zPhotoXP_+52+007_16_Osnabrueck_XP10_2012-09.7z

– zPhotoXP_+51+003_16_Domburg_XP10_2012-10.7z
– zPhotoXP_+51+004_16_Rotterdam_XP10_2012-10.7z
– zPhotoXP_+51+005_16_Eindhoven_XP10_2012-10.7z
– zPhotoXP_+51+006_16_Duesseldorf_XP10_2012-09.7z

– zPhotoXP_+50+005_16_Liege_XP10_2012-10.7z
– zPhotoXP_+50+006_16_Aachen_XP10_2012-09.7z

You can, to extend your photo-real scenery, add sections of Belgium, Luxemburg and/or Germany. Even sections of England, across the Channel, can be added. To get an idea, see the screenshots below. The first screenshot shows you all European packages while the second screenshot is basically showing the Netherlands.

Downloading, unzip, install and then ……

The first problem I faced, not necessary to everybody, was the downloading process. Lucky, ZonePhoto is aware of the Java issue, and therefore on their dedicated web page a lot of information is given how and what to set to be able to download ZonePhoto packages. Since the ZonePhoto packages aren’t that big as with ZL17, the download times aren’t that long, of course, all depending on your Internet download connection.

Next, unzip the “7z” packages. Since I’m a Mac user, unzipping “7z” it’s part of the OSX. For Windows users I’m not so sure anymore, but what I know, you need an unzipper that is able to unzip “7z” packages.

Next the installation.
Place the complete package into the subfolder of the X-Plane “Custom Scenery”. After you’ve copied and paste the previous packages in the Custom Scenery sub-folder, it’s time to add these “ZonePhoto folders” in the scenery_packs.ini file which resides in the Custom Scenery folder.
You can either enter these entries manually in the scenery_packs.ini, but perhaps it’s easier to start first X-Plane, and once X-Plane is fully loaded and up and running, shut it down. Then open scenery_packs.ini, and cut and paste the ZonePhoto lines to the bottom of the scenery_packs.ini file, but remember …. they must be placed above, if you have installed, the AlpilotX.Net mesh global_scenery packages.

So nice, but how will your scenery_packs.ini file look like? See for that the following example:

1000 version

SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/Aerosoft – EBBR Brussels/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/Aerosoft – EDDF Frankfurt/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/Aerosoft – EDDT Berlin Tegel/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/Aerosoft – EDLP Paderborn-Lippstadt/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/Aerosoft – EGBB Birmingham/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/Aerosoft – EGKK London-Gatwick/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/Aerosoft – EGLL Heathrow/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/Aerosoft – EGPF Glasgow/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/Aerosoft – EGSS London-Stansted/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/Aerosoft – LEBL Barcelona/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/Aerosoft – LEMD Madrid/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/Aerosoft – LFMN Nice Cote d Azur X/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/Aerosoft – LFPG Paris CDG/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/Aerosoft – LFPO Paris Orly/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/Aerosoft – LPFR Faro/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/Aerosoft – LSGG Genf/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/Global Airports/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/KSEA Demo Area/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/KSEA Demo Terrain/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/LOWI Demo Area/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/OpenSceneryX/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/zzz_Treelines_Farms_Europe/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/zzz_Treelines_Farms_USA/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/zPhotoXP_+50+005_16_Liege_XP10_2012-10/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/zPhotoXP_+50+006_16_Aachen_XP10_2012-09/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/zPhotoXP_+51+003_16_Domburg_XP10_2012-10/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/zPhotoXP_+51+004_16_Rotterdam_XP10_2012-10/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/zPhotoXP_+51+005_16_Eindhoven_XP10_2012-10/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/zPhotoXP_+51+006_16_Duesseldorf_XP10_2012-09/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/zPhotoXP_+52+004_16_Amsterdam_XP10_2012-10/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/zPhotoXP_+52+005_16_Utrecht_XP10_2012-12/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/zPhotoXP_+52+006_16_Enschede_XP10_2012-09/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/zPhotoXP_+52+007_16_Osnabrueck_XP10_2012-09/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/zPhotoXP_+53+004_16_Texel_XP10_2012-10/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/zPhotoXP_+53+005_16_Leeuwarden_XP10_2012-10/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/zPhotoXP_+53+006_16_Groningue_XP10_2012-10/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/zPhotoXP_+53+007_16_Emden_XP10_2012-09/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/zzz_uhd_global_scenery1/
SCENERY_PACK Custom Scenery/zzz_hd_global_scenery3/

I assume you found them already in the list; the red lines are related to the ZonePhoto packages. Important note … do not rename the folders whose names begin zPhotoXP voluntarily with “z”.

Ready for the Dutch Impression?

As you might know, I live in the Netherlands, or to be exactly, in the province Flevoland. I’ll will depart from Lelystad Airport (EHLE). From here, cruising at 4000 feet, I fly towards the north, making a right hand turn somewhere near the island of Texel, and then back to Lelystad. I’m aware that this covers only a part of the photo real Netherlands, but more important, it will give you a good idea what you can expect from ZL16 photo real scenery. And, when you feel just as happy as I feel, you can start downloading your own ZonePhoto countries packages.

The Netherlands is a small country with a lot of restricted areas and, from the province of North Holland crossing to the island of Texel can only be via a special corridor. Although I know these rules should apply during a real VFR flight, for this VFR flight I ignored all those rules. That said, from Lelystad Airport I climb out to 4000 feet along the protected natural area “the Oostvaardersplassen”, and then heading for the city of Enkhuizen.

While passing Enkhuizen, it’s then straight to the north to the city of Den Helder. Officially, right of Den Helder you have the special VFR corridor between Texel and Den Helder or North Holland. What said before, ignore this and go straight to Texel. Flying over Texel isn’t complex although even her are a lot of restricted areas not even speaking about the North Sea. East of the island of Texel are the famous “Waddensea” which is protected, but for this time I cross it in the direction of Harlingen, Sneek en then via Emmeloord and the Ketelbridge back to EHLE.

Curious how that was?
Check out the following screenshot collection of this ZonePhoto VFR flight.

Freeware and Payware Add-ons

For this impression I used besides the Carenado C337 Skymaster, the following payware and freeware software:
Freeware: ZonePhoto Photo Real Sceneries
Payware: SkyMAXX Pro 3.x from X-Aviation
Payware: Cessna C337 Skymaster from Carenado

If there’s something you would like to know or to ask, you can always contact me via email or via

Feel free to contact me if you’ve got additional questions related to this impression. You can reach

With Greetings,
Angelique van Campen



Add-on:Freeware Photo Real Sceneries from ZonePhoto
Publisher | Developer:ZonePhoto | ZonePhoto
Description:Realistic ZL16 rendition of the Netherlands
Software Source / Size:Download / Depending on (unzipped)
Reviewed by:Angelique van Campen
Published:August 1st 2016
Hardware specifications:- iMac 27″ 3.5Ghz Late 2013
- Intel i7 3.5Ghz / 3.9Ghz during Boost Mode
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M 4096 MB
- 32 GB 1600 MHz DDR3
- 1 internal 1TB SSD (El Capitan 10.11.4)
- 3 external 1TB SSDs
- Saitek Pro Flight System
Software specifications:- El Capitan (10.11.4) | Sierra (10.12.0) | Mavericks (10.9.5)
- Windows 10 Professional
- X-Plane 10.45c | X-Plane 10.45m


  1. deanwings

    hi well such a good subject.. i’ve been there and got the T-shirt. . being just over the channel from you i also wanted to fly VFR in my country with realism. my experience with much zonephoto level 16 tiles was the zig zag angular waterways and/or coastal. eg. your shots i came to the conclusion the exclusion zones were done quickly with a ‘stanley knife, ruler and a generous helping of french lager’. For me it ruined realism and i went back to Alpilot 3d mesh + autogen. until reading blogs.. so last month invested in RC simulations’ VFR photo scenery (aka Flight1 ) (available aerosoft) it’s 4 x 3 DVDs for the UK because it’s 1 pixel per mtr. i’ve worked out (wikipedia) that equates to about zoom lev 17 or 18. the results are v good and gone are the triangular/rectangular waterways yippeeee. If you want SPAIN/Portugal you are lucky, the good spanish folk at have developed excellent z17 downloadable.

    • Angelique van Campen

      Hi Deanwings,

      I’m aware that the ZL16 packages from ZonePhoto aren’t perfect, in particular for example the items you highlights with the borders of the island of Texel. I’ve seen that too, but remember, it’s freeware. It doesn’t cost anything which was also applicable with the ZL17 of SimHeaven. I know one developers group, NL2000, who made a gorgeous photo-real scenery for the Netherlands however, this is only for FSX and perhaps right now also for P3D. Anyway, I’m also aware of Span HD ZL17 which is also presented on X-Plained with a new article and perhaps when I have the time, I’ll write an impression about that too. But your comment is welcome and appreciated.

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