Unable to get a sharp image when shooting aircraft

Rickbb

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Biggest issue I see is just underexposed. Go to manual spot metering, set to expose on the belly and dial it back no more than 1/2 stop underexposed.

I’ve found it works well with most backlit subjects.

I’d get the exposure better then work on speed and panning.
 

ParadiseBizz

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Hi all:

I'm an aviation fan and enjoy going plane-spotting once in a while. I just moved to a location that is right on the landing track for a major airport. Planes fly above my house at about 300 feet, maybe a little lower. I've tried going to a local park to take pictures of them but for some reason can't seem to get a good crisp clear picture.

One thing to consider is the planes are at about 300f elevation, meaning if I'm directly under them, I'm probably closer ro 8,000 10 10,000 feet from them directly when I'm shooting.

I use a full frame Canon 5D Mark iv. My les of choice is the Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC. I attached a few sample shots. These were taken at 1/400 and an ISO of 1600, and the zoom fully extended to 600mm. I used Shutter Priority which resulted in an f11 and f7.1 for the two images, and bracketed the shots. I'm using auto-focus with AI Servo and the setting that auto-focuses on any object that moves into the field. The AF points are doing a great job of locking onto the subject since it's very clear to the camera what the subject it (nothing else but the sky is in the picture). Oh, and of course I shoot raw.

I suspect I need to get more zoom somehow, but would like to hear what you have to say.

I read up on teleconverters and their pros and cons. I see that Tampon has a 1.4x and a 2.0x converter made specifically for my lens. While I realize you make sacrifices on the maximum F, I really don't have $15k to go out and buy a 1200mm lens.

Finally, these two images were my better ones, with the planes closer to me.

Can anyone please help me with this?

Update: This just dawned on me as I was writing this - should I reduce my f down to a lower number? While my subject is 10,000 feet away, my subject is less than 200 feet in depth, a 2% ratio. Any use of a large aperture is only bringing air molecules into focus.

Second update: I always have to crop these images significantly, to the point that a normally ok 1600 ISO is now very grainy. This support my opinion that I need more zoom.
The golden rule for sharp images using telephoto lenses is to shoot with at least the same amount as your lens focal length.
In other words: if your using a 600mm Tele you min. shutter speed should be 1/600 or faster to avoid blur from shaking - which results in un-sharp images.
 

ac12

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The golden rule for sharp images using telephoto lenses is to shoot with at least the same amount as your lens focal length.
In other words: if your using a 600mm Tele you min. shutter speed should be 1/600 or faster to avoid blur from shaking - which results in un-sharp images.

That is not a "golden rule."
It is a "general" rule, or guideline, that is based on certain assumptions.
If the assumptions are not met, the rule may not apply, and it has to be adjusted.

- It presumes no VR/IS, as there was no VR/IS back then.
- - VR/IS is the tool to allow you to break the rule.

- 1/FL was for 35mm film cameras, which was the common film format back then.
- - You have to adjust if you use a different film/sensor format.
- - The formula should be 1 / (FL x crop_factor). APS-C would be 1/(FL x 1.5)

- You and the subject are NOT moving.
- - If the subject is moving, you may need to use a faster speed, just to stop the SUBJECT motion.
- - - The faster the apparent motion, the faster the shutter speed has to be.
- - If YOU are moving, like in a car or on a boat, or being blown around by the wind, you will need to use a faster shutter speed.

- You are in reasonably good condition.
- - At my age and physical condition, I CANNOT hold as steady as I did when I was younger. So I need to shoot at a faster shutter speed to compensate for ME.

- Technique matters.
- - If you use poor shooting technique, you are not steady, and you have to use a faster shutter speed to compensate.
- - If your technique is good, you can shoot slower.
 

RacePhoto

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Biggest issue I see is just underexposed. Go to manual spot metering, set to expose on the belly and dial it back no more than 1/2 stop underexposed.

I’ve found it works well with most backlit subjects.

I’d get the exposure better then work on speed and panning.

All kinds of good advice here, let me say my view, which is going to be some of the same and a bit of my own.

Shoot Manual - expose for the subject, or another way is expose for the shadows. The sky is giving you improper readings.

Use a Monopod and pan - you can actually use slower shutter speeds and get wonderful images

Turn off the IS !

Yes, you can stop things by fast shutter speeds, and maybe slower and getting some bad shots, with one good one, isn't that terrible. Frozen speed is not the same as motion showing action?

Personally I use center focus point only and if I am using anything auto, spot metering, no way averaging is going to work out. Just like shooting in the snow, the sky is just going to trick the meter.

Learning to pan and be smooth and follow is more important than just turning up the shutter speed as fast as possible. As a result, you can get nice colors. Oh and high ISO is also going to cause some loss.

On a nice day, ISO 200 at most, shutter 400, and use the aperture to adjust the lighting. A silver plane body is a different exposure than a black plane or a dark blue. You'll need to adjust for that on the fly. :encouragement:

You don't care about the background or big deep depth of field, just the plane.


sidecar-20-cycle-corner-3.jpg


Panning is your best friend and if you shoot 20 "bad" photos to get one outstanding one, it's just electrons and there's a delete key.

That one is hand held but a monopod is easy to carry and takes a bunch of possible shake, jutter or wobble out of the equation.

mountain-dew-16-flames.jpg


Example is 1/400 - F/6 ISO 200 because I wanted to get the flames.

HAVE FUN!

ps neither of these is using a monopod, but still, it's a stability aid, and I shoot JPG not RAW, so pretty much shoot in camera.
 

wfooshee

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^^^^^ Good advice for nearby subjects, but the OP is shooting from a mile or two away from his subject. He simply needs VERY fast shutter speed, VERY good focus, and exposure for the subject rather than everything in the frame (i.e., bright sky.)
 

RacePhoto

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^^^^^ Good advice for nearby subjects, but the OP is shooting from a mile or two away from his subject. He simply needs VERY fast shutter speed, VERY good focus, and exposure for the subject rather than everything in the frame (i.e., bright sky.)
Except shooting from a mile away the relative motion isn't as fast, so why would anyone have to stop it with a faster shutter speed? Yeah tele, and camera shake are problems. But the plane can be moving 300 MPH and it's not going very fast, relative to the photographer. Take offs and landings are around 165MPH

Plus since you created the "mile or two away" there's atmosphere, haze, and some things that will make the image softer no matter what someone does. Landing and take off path near an airport? Good plan, loads of available shots. I could spend hours doing that.

Sunny overcast, Manual Exposure, center focus point (on the plane of course) and pan, 1/400th is fast enough. ISO 100, since it's during the daytime and planes are generally light colored probably f/5.6 with a dark plane ISO 200. Bright Sun you can go up in shutter speed, f/stop hardly makes any difference at a distance.

If someone wants to expose for the shadows, set the camera using a field on the ground, grass or something in the lighted shadows. But you can't expose auto or expect a shiny aluminum plane, flying against a bright or white sky, to ever be exposed properly with the camera making the decisions.

ps panning and getting a close object sharp, is much harder than a distant object. :stung:

Biggest issue I see is just underexposed. Go to manual spot metering, set to expose on the belly and dial it back no more than 1/2 stop underexposed.

I’ve found it works well with most backlit subjects.

I’d get the exposure better then work on speed and panning.

I think that's a good possible answer also.
 

wfooshee

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He needs very fast shutter speed because of the relatively small size of the subject and the distance involved. It's about camera shake, not subject motion. A tiny vibration is equivalent to a significant distance of motion at a mile or two away.
 
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LWW

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Using NIKON verbiage:

- CONTINUOUS AUTOFOCUS.

- MANUAL MODE or APERTURE PRIORITY if you aren't ready for that.

- MATRIX METERING.

- SHUTTER SPEED 1/1000 or higher.

- Shoot WIDE OPEN to no more than F8 aperture, depending on lighting.

- AUTO ISO.

- For propellers, more specifically prop blur, you need to adjust everything to where you are 1/250 shutter speed or less.

- Be sure VR is set to ON or FULL ... i prefer this over a tripod for maneuverabliity, but you can't go wrong with stability. I have a non VR 300 f4 and 400 f5.6 that I can't see replacing and with those I use a monopod.

I hope this helps.
 

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petrochemist

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When I go to air shows I use shutter priority for prop aircraft where there is something to show the movement, for jets I switch to aperture priority & shoot wide open or one stop under, I want the fastest reasonable shutter speed and would not usually go below 1/1000s.
 
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RAZKY

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The golden rule for sharp images using telephoto lenses is to shoot with at least the same amount as your lens focal length.
In other words: if your using a 600mm Tele you min. shutter speed should be 1/600 or faster to avoid blur from shaking - which results in un-sharp images.
Not only is that not a golden rule, it is not a rule of any sort! It is merely an old wife's tale, with no basis in fact.
 

LWW

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Not only is that not a golden rule, it is not a rule of any sort! It is merely an old wife's tale, with no basis in fact.
Yes and no.

Its a decent rule of thumb, but I've received good results shooting a 500mm lens at 1/30 to 1/60 second ... but my keepers rate was low as expected. Experience is the best teacher on handholding without VR.

Wind, both speed and direction, lens/camers weight, age, condition, M/F all play a factor.

I'm 66 yrs old, 5 foot 10.5 inches tall, 190.5 pounds with 25.5% body fat, 115/75 BP with a 70 resting pulse, all as of my last checkup so I'm in pretty decent shape for the mileage ... a special shout out to Drill Sergeant Eisenhower at Fort Knox, Kentucky US ARMY basic training for instilling the value of physical fitness/
 

RacePhoto

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He needs very fast shutter speed because of the relatively small size of the subject and the distance involved. It's about camera shake, not subject motion. A tiny vibration is equivalent to a significant distance of motion at a mile or two away.
Good point, so I'll revise to Monopod. :encouragement:

Atmospheric haze, yup, that's another ever present condition that will make the images softer.

I guess I wasn't thinking that the plane were a couple miles away and long Tele being used. I somehow felt that they were near the airport. Miles away is going to create all kinds of issues that shutter speed alone won't fix. And back to what people said initially, the sky will fool the meter, so Manual.

If you have many MM then M&M. :stung:
 

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