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Arkayem

Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
6107 posts

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter Member
Mon 02-Apr-12 02:39 PM

I was at Sun n Fun in Lakeland, FL last week and took my D800 to see how it does when focusing on fast-moving subjects. I am a complete novice when it comes to air shows, so please overlook the blurring I got with my poor panning techniques.

I was using my D800 with a 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens with a 1.4x Teleconverter, which gave me an effective 98 - 280mm, f/4 lens. I found out from the real air show experts that you really need 400mm minimum for air shows, so I was considerably low. However, the high resolution allowed me to crop and you can see the results.

The D800 is lighter than my D3, and it caused me much less fatigue over a long day.

Here's a link to my gallery:
http://www.russmacdonaldphotos.com/Airplanes/2012-03-30-Sun-n-Fun/22209268_DNhM7c#!i=1775022514&k=jNbzc6q

Russ
Nikonian Team Member
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

Ferguson

Cape Coral, US
5701 posts

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#1. "RE: D800 Air Show Pics" | In response to Reply # 0

Ferguson Silver Member Fellow Ribbon awarded for the generous sharing of his high level expertise in the spirit of Nikonians Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004
Mon 02-Apr-12 01:32 PM


Very nice, I can almost read the serial numbers in the originals, very impressive with the relatively short lens!

Comments welcomed on pictures: Http://captivephotons.com

Arkayem

Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
6107 posts

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#2. "RE: D800 Air Show Pics" | In response to Reply # 1

Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter Member
Mon 02-Apr-12 09:13 PM

>
>Very nice, I can almost read the serial numbers in the
>originals, very impressive with the relatively short lens!
>
>Comments welcomed on pictures: Http://captivephotons.com

Thanks! I took a look at your pics. I have never tried shooting RC, but I know where a really active field is located. I guess I will have to go there one of these days and see what I can do. Another photo hobby for my retirement in a year or so.

Can't wait to become a hobby photographer! No one will tell me what shots to take anymore (with total disregard for artistic merit)!!

Russ
Nikonian Team Member
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

Ferguson

Cape Coral, US
5701 posts

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#3. "RE: D800 Air Show Pics" | In response to Reply # 2

Ferguson Silver Member Fellow Ribbon awarded for the generous sharing of his high level expertise in the spirit of Nikonians Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004
Mon 02-Apr-12 09:53 PM

>Thanks! I took a look at your pics. I have never tried
>shooting RC, but I know where a really active field is
>located. I guess I will have to go there one of these days and
>see what I can do. Another photo hobby for my retirement in a
>year or so.

Thank you. And then go whenever they have the jet RC's!

>Can't wait to become a hobby photographer! No one will tell me
>what shots to take anymore (with total disregard for artistic
>merit)!!

I often wondered if people who do photography for a living retire to doing it for a hobby, or throw the camera in a lake somewhere and do something different. I take it I know your answer!


Comments welcomed on pictures: Http://captivephotons.com

Arkayem

Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
6107 posts

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#4. "RE: D800 Air Show Pics" | In response to Reply # 3

Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter Member
Mon 02-Apr-12 10:03 PM

>I often wondered if people who do photography for a living
>retire to doing it for a hobby, or throw the camera in a lake
>somewhere and do something different. I take it I know your
>answer!

I think many of my colleagues that I work with will throw their cameras in a lake. Most don't love it anymore, and you can tell it by the way they work. I still love it after all these years. I just can't get it out of my blood. I think it's become a part of my DNA.

I can't way to retire, so I can shoot what I want, when I want, the way I want!

Russ
Nikonian Team Member
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

WhereRu

Pleasant Prairie, US
95 posts

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#5. "RE: D800 Air Show Pics" | In response to Reply # 0

WhereRu Basic Member
Mon 02-Apr-12 01:51 PM

Very impressive indeed! I really love the Stearman images, especially RM_80486. Looking at the original is breathtaking. You can even see which way the pilot is looking, incredible detail! Thanks!

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Arkayem

Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
6107 posts

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#6. "RE: D800 Air Show Pics" | In response to Reply # 5

Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter Member
Mon 02-Apr-12 09:06 PM

>Very impressive indeed! I really love the Stearman images,
>especially RM_80486. Looking at the original is breathtaking.
>You can even see which way the pilot is looking, incredible
>detail! Thanks!

Thanks! I like the Stearman shots too. But my favorites are the T-Birds! By the time they were performing I had already begun to improve my skills with the D800, and most of those later shots were sharp. I had to delete a large percentage of the earlier ones due to motion blur.

Russ
Nikonian Team Member
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

Arkayem

Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
6107 posts

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#7. "RE: D800 Air Show Pics" | In response to Reply # 0

Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter Member
Mon 02-Apr-12 05:39 PM

I should have mentioned that I shot some of these in raw and some in jpegs, using Active d-Lighting. I was surprised by how accurately the camera hit the exposure and tone curve on the jpegs. Later, using Lightoom 4, I didn't have to do much editing at all, and I really couldn't see any quality difference between raw and jpeg.

I am hoping to be able to use jpegs for shooting events in good lighting conditions where I don't expect to do much post processing. This will greatly reduce my memory requirements, both in the CF card and on the hard drive later.

Also, I should have mentioned the D800 focusing system. It's awesome!!! I was using AF-C in 21 and 51 point dynamic area modes and even when the subject drifted away from the center it held the focus rock solid. I think the 51 point mode is best. It would snap the aircraft into focus almost instantly even when it only appeared as a tiny speck in the frame. The only problems I had were from motion blur due to my (poor) panning technique. I found that I need 1/250th second shutter to be able to keep the subject sharp while panning. I was in the NPS area, shooting beside some air show pros. They were using 1/125th shutter and every frame was sharp. They have really smooth panning skills. That will take me a lot of practice to learn to do that.

Russ
Nikonian Team Member
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

Covey22

US
11730 posts

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#8. "RE: D800 Air Show Pics" | In response to Reply # 0

Covey22 Moderator Expert in various fields including aviation photography Awarded for his contributions to the Resources and The Nikonian eZine Charter Member
Mon 02-Apr-12 08:07 PM | edited Mon 02-Apr-12 08:08 PM by Covey22

Not bad for a self-proclaimed novice airshow photographer. A couple of near-frozen props, but otherwise very servicable shots. You have some really nice ones there, especially the knife-edge pass with the T-birds Solo Performers. I think with a 300mm f4 and a 1.4 or 1.7 TC, the D800 will make a great airshow camera.

Arkayem

Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
6107 posts

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#9. "RE: D800 Air Show Pics" | In response to Reply # 8

Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter Member
Mon 02-Apr-12 08:54 PM

>Not bad for a self-proclaimed novice airshow photographer.
>A couple of near-frozen props, but otherwise very servicable
>shots. You have some really nice ones there, especially the
>knife-edge pass with the T-birds Solo Performers. I think with
>a 300mm f4 and a 1.4 or 1.7 TC, the D800 will make a great
>airshow camera.

LOL Thanks!!

I know that the shutter has to be down pretty low to allow the props to show like a spinning disk. My problem is that I don't pan very well yet, and almost all my shots showed way too much motion blur. I had to turn up the shutter to about 1/250th before I could get the plane to be sharp. I need more practice!

And, I guess when I retire as a wedding photographer, I'm going to need a longer lens. One pro I was talking with was using a D4 with a 200-400mm f/4 VR. The other was using a D3s with a 500mm f/4 VR.

I will never be able to afford one of those, but I agree with you. I think the D800 would be extremely good for air shows with a 300mm f/4 VR with the 1.4X converter attached. I guess the converter would make it into an f/5.6 lens, but I think the focus system is fast enough to handle that.

Russ
Nikonian Team Member
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

kolson

Auburn, US
73 posts

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#10. "RE: D800 Air Show Pics" | In response to Reply # 9

kolson Silver Member Nikonian since 10th Dec 2009
Mon 02-Apr-12 10:12 PM

Russ,

I think you did very well!!! Did you or the pros use a monopod or a tripod? From what you have said, I guess the optimum shutter speed for blurring the props is 125th of a second. Is that correct?

KEN OLSON

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Arkayem

Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
6107 posts

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#11. "RE: D800 Air Show Pics" | In response to Reply # 10

Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter Member
Mon 02-Apr-12 10:43 PM

>Russ,
>
>I think you did very well!!! Did you or the pros use a
>monopod or a tripod? From what you have said, I guess the
>optimum shutter speed for blurring the props is 125th of a
>second. Is that correct?
>
>KEN OLSON

Hi Ken,

I didn't use a monopod or a tripod, but I think that it may have helped me if I had.

However, the other two NPS pros were not using them. They just had great panning skills. They would keep their elbows tucked tight against their ribs and rotate their upper torso smoothly as the aircraft when by.

The best shutter speed depends on the engine RPM of the plane you are shooting. Some planes, like the Stearman or a T-28 have very low RPM radial engines, and they need a slower shutter than a plane like an Extra 300 or a Piper Cub. It also depends on whether the plane is going at full speed in a dive or slow and near stall speed. You can tell by listening to the sound of the engine.

A single engine Cessna, Piper, or Beech all run about 2500 or 2600 RPM and 1/125th to 1/160th is a good starting point. Then chimp the images to make sure you are getting enough prop blur without blur of the plane itself.

It also helps to know a little about the different models. I am an active pilot and flight instructor, so I have experience that helps me from many different types of planes.

Russ
Nikonian Team Member
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

kolson

Auburn, US
73 posts

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#12. "RE: D800 Air Show Pics" | In response to Reply # 11

kolson Silver Member Nikonian since 10th Dec 2009
Tue 03-Apr-12 12:19 AM

Russ,

Thanks so much for the information. I took some shots of the Blue Angels. The shots of the jets looked great, but the shots of their cargo plane looked terrible because the props were frozen with the high shutter speed I was using.

By the way, I also used a polarizer on those shots. Of course, the clouds looked great, and at times the sky looked bluer. Some of the reflections on the paint were eliminated, and the glass on the jets seemed more transparent. I was a little worried about using the polarizer, but my shutter speeds seemed fast enough, so I pressed on. I just wish I would have taken some shots without the polarizer, so I could have seen the difference. I was totally unprepared for the airshow. I was visiting my parents (they are in their 80's) in Montana. I had no idea there was going to be an airshow. The airline lost my luggage, found it, and I just happened to be at the airport getting my luggage back when the airshow started. I had my D700, my 28-300mm lens, and my polarizer with me, so just started firing away. I love airshows.........what a blast! Ok, I'm through reliving that really wonderful experience now, so back to the question I was going to ask you. Do you shoot with a polarizer at airshows?

KEN OLSON

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beemerman2k

Ellington, US
440 posts

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#13. "RE: D800 Air Show Pics" | In response to Reply # 12

beemerman2k Silver Member Nikonian since 27th Mar 2006
Tue 03-Apr-12 01:30 AM

Very nice shots! I'd be proud to call this my collection.

Of course, I love aircraft as well. When those F-XX jets take to the skies (F18, F15, F16, F22), it's a whole new ball game. Those jets are an incredible display of power and grace and agility and why you always want to negotiate with the USA and never let it come to blows. What was Saddam Hussein thinking?!

But I love the WWII aircraft as well. The P51's, the P38's, and the big birds -- the B17's (the most beautiful of them all in a strange kind of way), B24's, B25's, and the unconquerable, the unstoppable, the incredible B29's!

Great shots. Wish I were there.

Beemerman2k
2000 BMW R1100RT Motorcycle
Nikon D7100
Nikon D70s w/ SB600
Nikon N70 w/ SB28

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Arkayem

Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
6107 posts

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#14. "RE: D800 Air Show Pics" | In response to Reply # 13

Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter Member
Tue 03-Apr-12 10:45 AM

>Very nice shots! I'd be proud to call this my collection.

Thanks!

Russ
Nikonian Team Member
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

andrewwx

Ventura, US
110 posts

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#15. "RE: D800 Air Show Pics" | In response to Reply # 0

andrewwx Silver Member Nikonian since 15th Aug 2008
Tue 03-Apr-12 06:59 AM

wonderful shots - I hope to have enough in my piggybank to aquire a D800 sooner than later. Its getting tough with all of these posts.

Was the F4u just a static display or did you just not get any good flying shots of it?

Cheers

Andrew

Arkayem

Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
6107 posts

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#16. "RE: D800 Air Show Pics" | In response to Reply # 15

Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter Member
Tue 03-Apr-12 10:44 AM

>wonderful shots - I hope to have enough in my piggybank to
>aquire a D800 sooner than later. Its getting tough with all of
>these posts.
>
>Was the F4u just a static display or did you just not get any
>good flying shots of it?
>
>Cheers
>
>Andrew

Thanks for the compliments Andrew,

I flew in and landed about two minutes before the air show began, so I missed the warbirds. The F4u may have flown then, but I didn't see it, because I was busy tying down and paying my fee. I just saw it on static display right before I left. The reason I took two very similar shots of the F4u engine/prop is because I wanted to examine the differences between raw and a normal large jpeg in a minimally cropped image. The first is raw and the second is jpeg. I really can't see much difference even at original size. Take a look for yourself. The D800 does an outstanding job with jpegs.

Russ
Nikonian Team Member
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

andrewwx

Ventura, US
110 posts

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#17. "RE: D800 Air Show Pics" | In response to Reply # 16

andrewwx Silver Member Nikonian since 15th Aug 2008
Tue 03-Apr-12 11:18 AM | edited Tue 03-Apr-12 11:20 AM by andrewwx

Your right they are too close to tell really. I love the way it shows the Corsair's deep blue paint. It looks like the D800 has enough computing horsepower in it to really do a good job with the JPEGs. Thats good to know. You can probably save some file space in casual / non critical shooting. Darn - now I want one more.

It says the focal length was 34mm did you switch to a 24-70 2.8?

Thanks for posting and for clarifying.

Cheers

Andrew

Arkayem

Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
6107 posts

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#18. "RE: D800 Air Show Pics" | In response to Reply # 17

Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter Member
Tue 03-Apr-12 02:01 PM

>It says the focal length was 34mm did you switch to a 24-70
>2.8?

Yes, that is exactly the lens I switched to. I only shot three or four images with it before it was time to leave. Next year, I think I will camp out overnight and spend two days there.

Russ
Nikonian Team Member
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

Neilwww1

Sydney, AU
229 posts

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#19. "RE: D800 Air Show Pics" | In response to Reply # 0

Neilwww1 Registered since 12th Mar 2012
Tue 03-Apr-12 09:08 AM

Hi Russ, as others have mentioned very impressive

Arkayem

Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
6107 posts

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#20. "RE: D800 Air Show Pics" | In response to Reply # 19

Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter Member
Tue 03-Apr-12 10:46 AM

>Hi Russ, as others have mentioned very impressive

Thanks!

Russ
Nikonian Team Member
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

nrothschild

US
10916 posts

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#21. "RE: D800 Air Show Pics" | In response to Reply # 0

nrothschild Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Registered since 25th Jul 2004
Tue 03-Apr-12 12:33 PM

Nice work, Russ

The problem with a monopod is that it is difficult to use when tilted up unless you use a head. If you use a head you need to be able to adjust it quickly, yet it needs to be tight enough to keep everything stable. It's tough to shoot a monopod with a loose head (such as a gimbal). Probably could be done though in, principle, maybe .

On a tripod, a gimbal would be needed and that would cause problems with high passes and stalling vertical climbs. A standard gimbal will not generally tilt up more than about 45 degrees or so. A Sidekcik can be cocked back but then it would be problematic with low passes over the field where the shooting distance is closest and the potential for high quality images the greatest.

I can't imagine shooting an air show with a 500/4 hand held.

Air shows are for masochists. I try to subject myself to that abuse only once a year or so . There is something fundamentally wrong with shooting a 200MPH subject at ISO 100 f/16 to intentionally add blur to a tiny part of that subject.

_________________________________
Neil


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Arkayem

Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
6107 posts

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#22. "RE: D800 Air Show Pics" | In response to Reply # 21

Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter Member
Tue 03-Apr-12 01:57 PM

>Nice work, Russ

Thanks!

>The problem with a monopod is that it is difficult to use when
>tilted up unless you use a head. If you use a head you need
>to be able to adjust it quickly, yet it needs to be tight
>enough to keep everything stable. It's tough to shoot a
>monopod with a loose head (such as a gimbal). Probably could
>be done though in, principle, maybe .
>
>On a tripod, a gimbal would be needed and that would cause
>problems with high passes and stalling vertical climbs. A
>standard gimbal will not generally tilt up more than about 45
>degrees or so. A Sidekcik can be cocked back but then it
>would be problematic with low passes over the field where the
>shooting distance is closest and the potential for high
>quality images the greatest.

I didn't see any pros using monopods or tripods. I did see a few amateurs, though. Maybe they know something the pros don't?

>I can't imagine shooting an air show with a 500/4 hand held.

I watched him doing it! And he showed me some of his images on the camera monitor. They were up very close and sharp.

>Air shows are for masochists. I try to subject myself to that
>abuse only once a year or so . There is something
>fundamentally wrong with shooting a 200MPH subject at ISO 100
>f/16 to intentionally add blur to a tiny part of that
>subject.

LOL!! I find them to be lots of fun to TRY to shoot. Very rewarding challenge. It's probably going to become my main retirement hobby.

Russ
Nikonian Team Member
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

nrothschild

US
10916 posts

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#23. "RE: D800 Air Show Pics" | In response to Reply # 22

nrothschild Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Registered since 25th Jul 2004
Tue 03-Apr-12 02:11 PM | edited Tue 03-Apr-12 02:14 PM by nrothschild

Here's how I would ideally do it, and I've seen it done that way by advanced air show amateurs:

500/4 on a tripod on a gimbal.

A small 500 on a 2nd camera, slung over the shoulder and used hand held.

The hand held camera gets the high shots and the erratic shots where an F16 comes in from behind, out of nowhere, showing off its ability to pass by before it is heard. Realistically most of the work needs to be done hand held.

The gimbal gets those low passes and there I think it would excel for those with modest skills.

That assuming one is not fully comfortable panning the sky with a 500/4 (like me!).

The show I try to shoot every year is held on a fine sand beach right on the ocean, and parking is a good distance away. I haven't brought my 500/4 and gimbal because I am not quite sure how to haul all that stuff out there or what to do if the sand starts blowing. But short of that, this is how I would try to shoot an air show, assuming I had a "front row seat".

_________________________________
Neil


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G