In sim racing, one massively overlooked aspect of the experience is the Field of View. I have written this article to help you shave those last few tenths off your lap times in a way you might not have considered.
So, what is field of view? Field of view, or FOV, is the amount of the world in the game you are playing that is displayed on your screen. In sim racing, it determines how much of the track you can see, along with the other cars and obstacles around you.
Your sim racing field of view can be easily taken for granted, but there are some real benefits to setting yours up correctly. Below we have outlined why your sim racing FOV is important and how you can calculate it for your setup and get the most out of your sim racing experience.
What Is The Right FOV?
The ability to change the field of view is often unknown. This setting allows you to change how much of the in-game world you see in front of you, but it is easy to just go with what the game gives you at the start. However, this is not an optimized FOV, and it probably isn’t the right one to use for your specific setup.
Strictly speaking, there is only one mathematically correct FOV setting for any sim racing game for your particular setup. This is because it depends on two main criteria:
- The size of the screen on which you are playing
- How far away from the screen you are sitting
These two factors combine to create the ideal field of view setting for any particular game.
More broadly speaking, a lot of sim racers tend to use a much higher than optimal field of view. This makes it easier to see other cars around you, and it may give you a better sense of speed. However, it often means a lot of your screen is taken up by the interior of the car in the game, and it can become very difficult to judge distances.
The Benefits Of An Optimized FOV
You can race just fine using the standard FOV, and you have probably been doing so until now. However, without a properly adjusted field of view, you are not getting a truly 1:1 experience in terms of realism. This is very important for a lot of sim racers, as they want to get the most realistic experience possible. The right equipment is obviously essential, but FOV plays its part too.
Better Spatial Awareness
Aside from the realism aspect, having a properly calibrated field of view will yield several other benefits that will help you to improve your actual racing ability. Firstly, it will allow you to be better able to judge distances. This is essential if you want to become a better racer, and it can be extremely useful for beginners that struggle to stay on the track.
Having your FOV set up correctly will make distances look accurate, stopping corners appearing much farther away than they really are, which often results in your car spinning off the track. It can also allow you to better judge your speed, which can be very hard to do in sim racing, as there are no G-forces involved. Having a solid grasp of how fast you are going will lead to cleaner, more consistent driving.
Finding the right FOV for your setup is essential if you want a more realistic experience, but it can take some time to get used to it when you change things up. But a small change in FOV can really lead to measurable changes in your driving, without needing to spend any money on new equipment. Below, we will explain how you can calculate the right FOV for your setup.
How Do You Calculate It?
Horizontal And Vertical FOV
There are two aspects of your field of view. The first is your horizontal FOV, which covers how far to the left and right you can see at any one time. It is measured in degrees, and in real life you have up to 180o of horizontal vision at any one time. However, it is estimated that only around 115o of it is actually your effective FOV, with as little as 5o of it being what you actually focus on.
You also have the vertical aspect of your FOV, which usually ranges from 5-55o in terms of effective vision. Bringing both of these components together is how you can create the field of view that you see clearly in real life, and this can be translated across to your favorite racing sims as well.
Calculating The Right FOV
The idea of calculating the FOV that works best for your sim racing setup is important because you need to try to match what your eyes are seeing with what the in-game camera is displaying. If they don’t match up, things can start to look distorted and distances and speeds can become difficult to interpret correctly, leading to less efficient driving.
Going back to our two criteria for calculating your field of view, you have to consider first the size of your screen. The larger the screen, the more you can fit onto it. However, if you have a large screen and sit very close to it, you won’t be able to actually take in what is on the far left and far right of the screen. Thus, you also have to think about your distance from the screen.
Generally speaking, the closer you go to your screen, the wider your field of view becomes. However, as we have just explained, there is a balancing act to perform with screen size as well. Thankfully, there are some online calculators that you can check out which will factor in your screen size and your distance from it in order to determine the right FOV for certain games.
Free FOV Calculator
Check out the free FOV calculator below if you are looking to calculate your field of view for your sim racing setup:
Your sim racing field of view is an important setting to consider, whether you are a beginner or a more experienced racer. By setting your FOV to its optimal value based on your setup and the game you are playing, you really can improve your spatial awareness. This is key if you want to become a better racer, and there are some great tools out there to help you calculate your FOV.