The fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, has been used for decades as a genetic model for unraveling mechanisms of development and behavior. In order to efficiently assign gene functions to cellular and behavioral processes, early measures were often necessarily simple. Much of what is known of developmental pathways was based on disrupting highly regular structures, such as patterns of cells in the eye. Similarly, reliable visual behaviors such as phototaxis and motion responses provided a solid foundation for dissecting vision. Researchers have recently begun to examine how this model organism responds to more complex or naturalistic stimuli by designing novel paradigms that more closely mimic visual behavior in the wild. Alongside these advances, the development of brain-recording strategies allied with novel genetic tools has brought about a new era of Drosophila vision research where neuronal activity can be related to behavior in the natural world.