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Old Jun 7, 2013, 8:12 AM   #1
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Default Lenses for Airshow?

Hello, I'll be attending the RAF Tattoo here in the UK next month and wish to take my current DSLR setup with me. My only concern is my lenses. I have an Olympus E-300 with the standard 15-45 & 40-150 lenses that came with the body all those years ago. I was tempted at getting the 50-200 lens but I'm worried I'm flogging a dead horse with the E-300 body. Do people have any other suggestions?
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Old Jun 7, 2013, 11:17 AM   #2
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Hi: I don't own the E-300, but I have shot airshows with E-330, E-520, and E-3. While my preferred lens is the 50-200, that does not mean that you will get bad results with the old lens. But the 50-200mm is a great lens and will deliver excellent shots. I shoot airshows in the States, but I think that Harjtt has previously shot the same UK airshow that you mentioned. Do a search on this Oly forum and you should be able to find some of Harj's shots from that airshow.

But just as important is your technique in shooting fast moving planes. Have you shot airshows before? Or is this your first experience? We will be glad to provide some tips if requested.

I have the older version of the 50 -200 lens that I acquired second hand, and it performs great. I see no reason to spend more money on the newer version. Here is a long distance shot made with the 50-200mm lens:

Last edited by Steven R; Jun 7, 2013 at 7:21 PM.
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Old Jun 7, 2013, 6:27 PM   #3
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I've never shot an airshow before. My gear incluudes a Tri-pod and Mono-pod but I believe the mono-pod is best for an airshow. I've been to a few airshows but ever took photo's - more wide angle video. My only flying plane pic was took while I was walking on a hill
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Old Jun 7, 2013, 6:56 PM   #4
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Hi Wil

I'd hire the 50-200 either SWD or the original from the E- group and the website link if below:

http://e-group.uk.net/hire/hire_info.php/

The pricing is really good so you should be able to hire the lens for 3 days or the entire week and it won;t cost you hardly anything. In fact I think postage back to them might cost more ! You could even hire an E5/E3 from them as well.

I've hired the EC14 from them twice an the service has been brilliant. They have basically all of the FT and m43 lenses so if you wanted to really pull out the stops you could get the 150F2 or the 300F2.8 or even the 90-250F2.8 although I'd hate to see how much the postage for returning the last two would be.

Drop them an email and see whether they have the can help out.. Ian/Julie are both extremely helpful and you cant go wrong.

Cheers

Harj




PS

Let us know what you decide to go for and post some pics from the show !
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Old Jun 7, 2013, 9:01 PM   #5
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I'll be glad to share a few tips for airshows. My experience is photographing on large military airbases in the USA. Harj will need to comment on what's to be expected at the show that you will be at in England. (Okay, my advice is probably worth what I'm charging you, but maybe some of it will help make your time more enjoyable. LOL! ) I only do shows at military bases, but my general guidelines should be the same for a civilian airport.

First: wear good sunglasses, and a good hat; (preferably a bush or safari hat that also shades your neck as well as your face.) Apply sunblock before you go, and wear good athletic shoes. You are going to be walking around a lot more than you realize, as the static displays are usually well spread out. (Not to mention the walks to the concession stands and the port-a-potties.) And bring a lot of money. While military air shows are free, plan on spending for food and drinks from the many concession stands. (If it's a hot day, you'll probably buy more cold drinks than you anticipate.)

Second: go early. The real flying exhibitions will not usually start before 11 am or so, but the gates usually open by 9am or earlier. The static displays are usually many and varied, and always offer some great photo ops. You can wander around to cover the displays, and also check out where you want to be located when the flying starts.

Photo talk: You are going to carry your equipment around all day. You may be tempted to carry a lot of lens, filters, etc. But by 5:00pm you will be feeling every ounce of the weight of your gear. A common mistake is to take only tele-zooms, but don't forget the wide angle. You are going to be very close to the static display aircraft; (even inside some of them), and the wide angle will be the most used lens before the flying starts. My personal selection for airshows is to carry only one tele-zoom (50-200) and one wide angle zoom (12-60) , plus a circular polarizing filter. Use the wide angle in the morning, and then the telephoto for the flying parts. I usually spend the mornings shooting the static displays with just the 12-60, and don't mount the 50-200 until the flying portion starts.

It's not always necessary to have the biggest glass for your best shots. When you attend airshows more frequently, you will learn that the maneuvers are like dance steps, the planes go thru several routines which are repeated no matter which show or which aircraft. Most of those routines will bring the planes back over center line, that is where you want to concentrate your action photos. So try to get a good spot to stand with a clear view of the centerline at midfield, and you will be in a great position to take your shots. Scope out a position where you will have a view of the center-point of the runway for the flying actions. Smooth panning to follow the planes in flight is very, very important to getting some great shots. Choose a spot over the field that you want to take the shot.

Enjoy the show and just bring your camera up to your eye about 5-10 secs before the plane will arrive at the center point. That should give you time to acquire and lock focus before the shot. It will be much easier on your neck and shoulder muscles if you are not holding the camera up to your eye all day.

Tripods are more of a hindrance than a help at an airshow. But I've noticed that when the pros use tripods for their really long lens, they tend to keep it aimed in the same general spot most of the times. Again, when you understand the basic maneuvers, you know in advance at which spot the plane will fly over and where you want to catch the shot.

It also helps when you are familiar with the particular maneuvers so you can anticipate when the aircraft will be doing the particular turn or climb that you want to catch. Your auto-focus should be fast enough to keep the aircraft in focus; if not, then just manual focus to infinity and fire away. For jet aircraft, keep the shutter speed high and capture the water vapor that streams over the body in high speed turns. For propeller planes, lower your ISO and lower your shutter speed.

Last edited by Steven R; Jun 7, 2013 at 9:03 PM.
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Old Jun 10, 2013, 3:52 AM   #6
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Many thanks for the detailed reply. I went to the Farnborough air show last year and loved it. Sure it was raining (welcome to the UK!) but it meant the planes remained low and did a lot of quick flat banks and nice low level passes. I might look into hiring a lens but due to us camping for a week it may work out best to buy one.
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Old Jun 10, 2013, 11:11 AM   #7
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I don't know the E300 but I do like airshows. Farnborough is such and event just getting shots at static planes and people watching would be fun. Birds in flight would be cream.
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Old Jun 10, 2013, 5:16 PM   #8
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Wil,

I'm hoping the weather holds out .. I've not been to Farnborough, only upto Duxford as its way closer to home and its in a prettier part of the country

I think if you hire the 50-200 you can't go wrong.. or even better if you can find a good copy for sale.

Cheers

Harj
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Old Jun 10, 2013, 6:49 PM   #9
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With large planes the 50-200 will work, but if you will need a longer lens. 400mm is not long enough allot of times for the smaller fighter planes.
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Old Jun 11, 2013, 4:37 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarjTT View Post
Wil,

I'm hoping the weather holds out .. I've not been to Farnborough,
Well Farnborough is only on every 2 years. Last year was fun, it was great to see the Vulcan flying but what made my chest vibrate was the F-18 Super Hornet as it washed the crowd as it took off and went near vertical

This year I'm really looking forward to seeing the B-17 & P-38 Lighting. I have a soft spot for anything WW2

The cost of rent a lens is 50ish so I might plum for that option
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