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Any advice for Airshow settings?

thauma

Basingstoke, UK
20 posts

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thauma Registered since 11th Jul 2007
Wed 17-Jul-13 08:16 PM

HI Folks,

I'm off to an airshow this coming weekend, and looking for some advice around settings for my camera.

So far I have always shot in RAW, and am happy to continue to do so, but will change if there is a reason to change……

Camera is a D800 and I'll be using a Sigma 50-500 (BigMa) with Image Stabilisation set to mode 1.

Do you have any recommendations for camera settings / config, that would assist me in getting better pictures.

I intend setting down and reading throughout the forum, but thought I'd ask just in case there were any shortcuts I could take to finding the right settings.

Thanks in advance.

Cheers

Dave#...

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Covey22

US
11729 posts

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#1. "RE: Any advice for Airshow settings?" | 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
Wed 17-Jul-13 06:31 PM

Hello Dave,

We have a dedicated Aviation Photography sub-forum here at Nikonians if you have specific technique questions.

I'll turn it back over to the D800 owners since your question is about settings.

wh2005

Rancho Murieta, US
30 posts

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#2. "RE: Any advice for Airshow settings?" | In response to Reply # 0

wh2005 Silver Member Nikonian since 15th Mar 2008
Thu 18-Jul-13 04:28 AM

Hi Dave,

I'm still learning how to get the most out of my D800 and haven't done many airshows recently, but here's some things to think about.

You many want to use a lighter lens (maybe your 70-300). Carrying the BigMa around for a day is going to be very tiring. The D800 has enough resolution to deal with the shorter reach.

I know it's stating the obvious, but with all that available resolution, the D800 can expose less-than-stellar panning technique as motion blur. Faster shutter speeds can help.

Use shutter (or manual) mode, and set the shutter speed to allow an appropriate amount of prop motion, while minimizing the potential for (non-prop) motion blur. For prop blur, I've had reasonable results using 1/100th or 1/125th second exposure. For fast moving jets, try 1/300th or faster.

I'd stick with RAW, but that's mostly a personal preference.

Here's some non-D800 specific considerations;

Unless you're photographing the static display, forget using a tripod. I find a tripod more of a hindrance than a help. That said, a tripod positioned to photograph the runway could be a great place to park the BigMa when you're resting your arms between displays.

Pay attention to background. A large amount of plain blue sky adds little to enhance an image (I know that's a rarity in the UK, but you can always hope). Similarly with take-off/landings, the background can add unnecessary clutter.

With a little forethought, the D800 will give you some great images.

I'm sure you'll get a lot of (much better) advice from the Aviation forum people, so I'd recommend asking your question there too.

What airshow are you going to? I used to live in your neck of the woods, and (back in the day) was a regular attendee of Farnborough and International Air Tattoo.

Regards

Bill

moizes

Brooklyn, US
1322 posts

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#3. "RE: Any advice for Airshow settings?" | In response to Reply # 0

moizes Silver Member Nikonian since 19th May 2006
Thu 18-Jul-13 10:26 PM

If background will be shiny (who knows) do not forget to set compensation about +0.5 to +1.5, to avoid silhouetting. In my experience very well working setting of AF-C AUTO on D800, especially if you gonna use long lens. Try it before, I've never worked with long Sigma, Nikkors only. Good luck! Dimitri

cosmicfires

Lynnwood, US
944 posts

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#4. "RE: Any advice for Airshow settings?" | In response to Reply # 0

cosmicfires Registered since 22nd Nov 2011
Thu 18-Jul-13 10:31 PM

For airshows I use Manual and meter on the runway or grass, I get better expoure that way than using compensation since the sky can vary especially if it's cloudy.

"It's not an adventure until something goes wrong." --Yvon Chouinard

http://www.cosmicfires.com

Just Clickin

Pensacola, US
180 posts

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#5. "RE: Any advice for Airshow settings?" | In response to Reply # 2

Just Clickin Gold Member Nikonian since 25th Jun 2009
Thu 18-Jul-13 10:42 PM

I shot TICO earlier this year with a D800, 300mm on a monopod. Most shots at F4, 1/4000 and -1/3 EV.

Take a look:

http://tomwilby.zenfolio.com/p94974282

Tom Wilby

moizes

Brooklyn, US
1322 posts

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#6. "RE: Any advice for Airshow settings?" | In response to Reply # 4

moizes Silver Member Nikonian since 19th May 2006
Thu 18-Jul-13 10:59 PM

If sky vary I have no time to meter manually. Such the event could last 20-30 sec. It is working for me, your way is working for you. THX! Dimitri.

thauma

Basingstoke, UK
20 posts

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#7. "RE: Any advice for Airshow settings?" | In response to Reply # 0

thauma Registered since 11th Jul 2007
Fri 19-Jul-13 03:41 AM

Thanks for the advice guys. I'll definitely have a play with those settings.

The tripod is being left at home, although I was planning on taking a monopod, as I've not used one before, and thought it may take some of the weight

The BigMa is a very large and heavy lens, but generally it's good for most shots as it has a very very wide range. Fortunately at 6'4" I can just about manage it all day

I'm an occasional airshow attendee - so all the advice is very useful, and as for where……… RAF Fairford for RIAT (Royal INternational Air tattoo)

Cheers

Dave#...

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w0gm

Fort Collins, US
103 posts

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#8. "RE: Any advice for Airshow settings?" | In response to Reply # 0

w0gm Registered since 03rd Jan 2006
Fri 19-Jul-13 07:19 PM

Dave, I'd definitely use a monopod for that lens. I use one with my 200-400mm Nikkor. It'll do a couple of things. First, your images will be sharper. Second, you'll be able to take more images since you won't be nearly as tired at the end of the day. I suspect that you'll be quite tired hefting that huge lens around all day, even with your size, without some kind of camera support.

As someone else mentioned, for the "air" part of the airshow, I usually use manual exposure. The exposure difference between a shiny P-51 and a dark Spitfire would be many clicks of the compensation wheel. Set the exposure, then check once in a while.

For propeller aircraft, the shutter speed should be less than about 1/160th second. Otherwise, you'll stop the prop resulting in an unnatural looking airplane. For jets, I set use the widest aperture the lens has. That will allow the fastest shutter speed possible.

When shooting ground displays, patience is a virtue. I've often waited many minutes for people to get out of the way for a shot. Be ready, though, because an opening never lasts more than a second or two at a busy show.

Oh, and have fun!

Bill

Bill Standerfer
Fort Collins, CO

My website.

Cowleystjames

UK
116 posts

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#9. "RE: Any advice for Airshow settings?" | In response to Reply # 8

Cowleystjames Silver Member Nikonian since 02nd Mar 2013
Fri 19-Jul-13 09:04 PM

I may see you at RIAT, I'm there both days to see some old friends.
I seem to have the best luck with my D800e set to spot metering rather than trying to sod about with manual on the actual flying displays.
Those fast jets are to damn quick for me in my old age!
I'm taking my 300 F2.8 VRII with 1.7 and 2.0 TCs plus my 70-200F2.8 VRII and 14-24 F2.8 for the ground displays.
Found to my dismay last year that the 24-70 F2.8 was lacking a bit in the wide angle due to the sheer amount of people there. I could get in close to the aircraft but couldn't get many good photo's of the whole aircraft due to people.
Take plenty of water and a hat, it's gonna be a hot one!

thauma

Basingstoke, UK
20 posts

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#10. "RE: Any advice for Airshow settings?" | In response to Reply # 0

thauma Registered since 11th Jul 2007
Mon 22-Jul-13 04:28 AM

Well, I had a great day.

Unfortunately there was too much linear grey cloud in the sky to get get any dramatic shots (unlike last time when it was ….. very atmospheric.

I've tried a number of the settings / tidbits of advice, and now just need to look att the photo's.



The major surprise was how hard it is to get a good shot of the prop based planes without freezing the prop completely whilst keeping everything steady (even with a mono-pod)………
need some / lots of work in that area.

The other area of surprise was the autofocus……… again I think I need lots more practice with the various options.

Thanks Guys.

Cheers

Dave#...

_________________________________________
when your enemy comes
- welcome him
when he goes
- send him on his way
_________________________________________

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Cowleystjames

UK
116 posts

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#11. "RE: Any advice for Airshow settings?" | In response to Reply # 10

Cowleystjames Silver Member Nikonian since 02nd Mar 2013
Wed 24-Jul-13 06:12 PM

Did you go on Saturday as the cloud base was horrendous and it was a really flat day weather wise. I concentrated that day on the static displays. On Sunday, it was different day altogether, great light later in the morning, thankfully just as the Vulcan came out to play!

thauma

Basingstoke, UK
20 posts

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#12. "RE: Any advice for Airshow settings?" | In response to Reply # 11

thauma Registered since 11th Jul 2007
Sun 28-Jul-13 06:50 AM

Unfortunately Saturday was the only free day I had, and the cloud affected the atmospherics quite badly, as you say making everything very flat.

It was interesting watching the planes (as always) and for me I learned a lot about the camera especially with the big lens, bit there won't be any earth shattering shots.

_________________________________________
when your enemy comes
- welcome him
when he goes
- send him on his way
_________________________________________

Visit my Nikonians gallery

Visit Winchester Aiuchi Jiu Jitsu

G