Camera questions?

Hi I have a question for people good with cameras I wanna get into airplane spotting just for fun.  I'm not a techy person when it comes to cameras I do down a go pro. Do you think that will be good. Or can you recommend a good camera that's not too complicated

6 Answers

  • Sumi
    Lv 7
    4 months ago
    Favorite Answer

    The problems with photographing airplanes are that they're far away, small (relative to you), moving quickly and the background is often a plain blue sky.

    Being small and far away means you will need a fairly strong telephoto lens.  If you want to get a camera with a crazy strong zoom lens, you may want to consider a super-zoom camera like a Nikon P900 or a Canon SX70 or something similar.  These cameras often have lenses with an equivalent focal length (in 35mm format) up to 2,400mm.  These cameras can have such a strong lens while being very compact because they use a very tiny 1/2.7" sensor which has a crop factor of 5.6x.  Thus a 100mm position on these cameras has the equivalent angle of view as a 560mm on a full-frame camera.

    Another option would be to go with a Micro 4/3 camera like a Panasonic (avoid Olympus since they've recently gone out of the camera business).  The Micro 4/3 format has a crop factor of 2x.  A good option for plane spotting would be the 100-400 which is equivalent to a 200-800 on a full-frame camera.

    Generally, one would not need a 2,400mm lens for plane spotting especially if you're taking photos of aircraft flying overhead as they come for a landing.  At this close distance, all you'd need is a range about 75-300mm on an APS-C camera which has a crop factor of about 1.5x.  But if you go to an air show, that is when having a very strong lens can really shine.

    Down side to a super zoom camera like the P900 and SX70 is focusing.  These cameras are basically simple point-and-shoot cameras although they are designed to look like mini DSLRs.  They do not have the sophisticated focusing systems that you'd find in an interchangeable-lens camera such as mirrorless or DSLR.  In practice this results in out-of-focus shots because the plane is moving too fast towards or away from the camera.  Another problem is that these cameras use a far inferior AF system based upon contrast.  This often causes the lens to hunt for the focusing.  You don't have this problem anywhere nearly as bad (if at all) with a DSLR.

    The down side to a DSLR or mirrorless APS-C camera is that the lenses needed are going to be significantly larger, heavier and more expensive than the super-zoom cameras.  But they will produce far better image quality and a vastly higher amount of in-focus shots/keepers.

    I don't know your budget, but a decent place to start would be the Canon T8i, or an upgrade to it would be something like the 77D or 80D.  I'd avoid cameras with less than 5 or 6 frames per second (FPS) shooting rates.  Be careful about stats on super-zoom cameras.  While they may claim to have really high FPS, this is only when in single-shot focus and NOT when in continuous AF.  Even with DSLRs, the FPS listed is not in continuous AF mode, but in single or manual focus.  Once in continuous AF, the FPS drops by 1-2 frames on most DSLRs.

    Another benefit of the DSLR is that they have a much larger internal buffer allowing for a longer burst of shots.  This is typical on the mid to upper end models only.  The low or entry models will claim 5-7 FPS, but the buffer often fills up after 1 second.  Once that happens the FPS drops to just 1 FPS.  This is why cameras like the Canon 7D, 7D Mark II, 5D Mark iii/iv, 1D, and the Nikon D850 and D5/D6 are so popular among sports/wildlife photographers.

    I'd go with a mid-level body like a Nikon D5xxx series or a Canon 80D and then get a telephoto zoom around the 100-400, 75-350 range.

  • 3 months ago

    I have a Panasonic TZ-80 with a 20 something times zoom lens. I can photograph an airplane at the front of a contrail and identify what airline it is. It would be my choice and it is. but I find the autofocus hunts as the image is mainly sky and the camera can't 'latch' on to anything. That is where manual focus comes in. The TZ80 has it. Keep it on infinity and snap away to your heart's content.

    The biggest feature of the Panasonic that makes if great for this type of shot is the viewfinder. It has an electronic finder. I find it much easier to use the camera on long tele with the camera pressed against my eye, it holds it firmer, there's less shake and you point it at distant objects more intuitively.

    there are models higher or lower than the TZ-80, have a look.

  • 4 months ago

    Get a DSLR and learn to use spot focus and panning techniques. For example, Canon's 55-250mm lens on an APS sensor camera should be adequate to get you into spotting. If you get a bigger sensor camera the lenses will be bigger, heavier and more expensive.

    The article in the link about photographing air shows on the Bhphotovideo site might give you some useful ideas.

  • keerok
    Lv 7
    4 months ago

    Technically, the GoPro is a POV camcorder. It is ideal for shooting videos from your point of view, like when attached to your body or helmet. It's great for sports and outdoor activities. It can also tolerate some wet conditions. If you want something more powerful, get a Sony Handycam. 

    If you're interested with pictures (still shots), get a dSLR or mirrorless camera. Any will do. For airplanes, a long telephoto lens, at least 200mm, is a must.

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  • Anonymous
    4 months ago

    Get a DSLR camera, a Nikon, Canon, Sony or Pentax or a mirorless camera with an APS-C sensor. You will need a zoom lens, one that you can change focal length so if the subject is too close you can zoom back and if it is far away you can zoom in. A 70-300mm zoom lens would do. DSLR cameras are not that hard to use. You really only need to set the camera to P or program exposure. Learn how to remove and mount the lens (push a button on the camera and twist the lens and it comes off). Then the rest is just pointing the camera at the subject, look through the viewfinder and push the shutter button half way for it to autofocus and then push it down to take the picture. You can learn as you go, by reading the camera manual.  Avoid Olympus as they tend to be expensive and they are in financial trouble. Fuji too is pretty expensive but they are doing well in the market. Do not buy into the Micro 4/3 format as it has a tiny sensor, and it is mainly supported by Olympus. Have fun.

  • 4 months ago

    There are Very few cameras that are good that aren't complicated, 

    so learning how to use any of them is pretty much a requirement.

    For point-and-shoot, I suggest a Panasonic Lumix.  

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