Now before you come at me with pitch-forks, I don't hate photo-realistic scenery, and X-Plane's performance with orthophoto-based scenery is very, very good. But...the term "Photo-Realistic"...it makes me crazy. Here's why:
First, photo-realistic scenery links the use of photographs in scenery to realism in its very name, and I don't buy it.
Yes, some photo-based scenery packages are realistic looking, by today's standard of flight simulation. Some are not. Just look at any old photo-realistic package to see what I mean...realistic is a relative term, defined by how much fidelity we expect, and that expectation has steadily gone up. Even with a modern package, a photo-based scenery pack might not be realistic if the photos are not used well.
(For example, is a package that uses orthophotos on the mesh but provides no 3-d in a city still considered realistic now? What kind of review would such a package get?)
Nor do photos have a monopoly on realism. They can look nice when well used, but I would put Sergio's custom panel work up against any photo-based panel. (Sergio does not manipulate photos for his panel, he constructs them from scratching. He has thousands of photos for reference, but the pixels you see are not originally from any photo.)
Second, the term photo-realistic (in the scenery world) is most commonly applied to scenery that applies orthophotos to the terrain mesh in a non-repeating way. But orthophoto base meshes don't have a monopoly on the use of photographs, which can be used to form land-class textures or to texture objects.
Okay, so "hate" is a strong word. But I feel some frustration whenever I see scenery discussed in terms of "photorealism".