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Brick: May I Have Some Advice?  
User currently offlineUSAir_757 From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 996 posts, RR: 8
Posted (15 years 10 months 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 2466 times:

Hi Mark

I understand that you have paid roughly $300 for your current equipment(As i heard in one of your previous posts, to do with the whining about rejections). I would like to know what it is, where you got it, and if it was used. My camera, a Pentax ME Super, is going on 16 yrs old, and it still takes wonderful pics...downside is i've only got a standard 50mm lens. Another downside is i'm not an expert or very experienced at photography. And a third downside is i have no scanner(PhotoCD land for me). You can view all my shots(well, some of the "good" ones - good for my shots anyways) at http://kmht.cjb.net I'd accept any advice, and also - should i always keep my tripod with me so that i dont end up taking "crooked" pics?(i have a big history of those - trust me - and it dates back to long before i ever knew there was an airliners.net) As far as film speed goes - i've learned my lesson on that: Nothing higher than 100. Except for at night. All of the shots on that link above were taken on either 200 or 400 - it was too long ago to remember. But for daytime "shooting" it's ASA 100(or less) and a tripod for me. How about 50 speed? Also looking into slides...

All advice appreciated


-Cullen Wassell @ MLI | Pentax K5 + DA18-55WR + Sigma 70-300 DL Macro Super
13 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineNikonman From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (15 years 10 months 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 2319 times:

I'd suggest you get a little more expirienced before you venture into "Slide territory" Reason: Slides are VERY unforgiving.

User currently offlineCkw From UK - England, joined Aug 2010, 813 posts, RR: 12
Reply 2, posted (15 years 10 months 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 2305 times:

I would suggest that the single best move you could make is to purchase a 70-210 zoom for your ME. There is nothing wrong with your camera, but the zoom would help you both get in closer and assist in framing your pics better. This should not be a major investment - a 2nd hand version from either Pentax or one of the reputable 3rd parties (Sigma, Tamron, Tokina) should be available at a sensible price.

With regard to film, I think 200 ASA and even 400 ASA (certainly the Fuji Superior) should not cause significant grain problems PROVIDED they are properly exposed - fast films tend to look excessively grainy if underexposed.



Colin K. Work, Pixstel
User currently offlineBrick From United States of America, joined Aug 1999, 1703 posts, RR: 7
Reply 3, posted (15 years 10 months 19 hours ago) and read 2300 times:


I've taken a look at two of your photos from your website and the
one SW 737 that wasn't accepted. I'll try to be helpful...I'll also
take your questions in order.

I'm not familiar with other cameras out there. What I have works
for me, so I don't know anything about your Pentex ME. Sorry!
I purchased my used camera equipment from National Camera Exchange
in Minneapolis, MN back in June of 1999. The body I
bought is a Pentax K1000. I chose this because it's a camera
that my parents had when I was a kid and I'm already familiar
with camera basics and how to operate it. I also chose this
camera because it is completely manual. It does have a light
meter which is the only function that I don't have to deal with.
I figured that if I did all of the work taking a picture instead of
the camera doing it all for me, it would allow me to better
understand how the settings (aperture, shutter speed, etc...)
affect the photos. It took me a lot of time, film, and money to
learn what settings I should have on my camera depending on
the scene, light, and film I had in my camera. I look at the
photos I took back in June of 1999 and I'm just embarrassed at
them because they weren't very good. I have two primary lenses.
I picked up a Rikenon 70-210mm zoom for $79.95 and a Sears
25-70mm zoom for $59.95. Don't laugh! They are not the best
lenses, but considering what I paid for them and how surprisingly
sharp they are I think I found a great bargain with them! Total I
spent on my camera setup: $319.89. My recommendation:
Using a fixed 50mm is not going to give you good results in most
situations. I concur with Colin that you need to get at least a
70-210mm zoom, other wise your subjects are going to be too
far away. The quality of the lens is very important! Cheap lenses
will yield bad photos. High quality lenses give you the best photos.
Unfortunately when it comes to lenses, it's you get what you pay for.
I tried several different zoom lenses when I bought mine to see what
level of quality I could afford. Most camera stores will let you return
equipment after a period of 10 to 30 days...use that time to use the
lens in all possible conditions. If you don't like what you see, turn in
back in and try another one.

Second, you don't have to be an expert or very experienced to
take good aviation photos. This is something that I've been trying
to drill into people for a long time now. If you have the proper
equipment (it doesn't necessarily have to cost big $$$), can
recognize good photography conditions (weather, sun angle,
distance to subject, etc...) and are using the proper speed film
getting good photos is not hard. I have 593 photos on here
currently, with about 300 more to add from trips just in the past
month. I do not consider myself and expert. I still make mistakes.
I still make BIG mistakes, but I still learn from them everyday on
what to do or not do next time. I still underexpose photos...I
overexpose them too. I ruined a full roll of film of a Delta Air
Lines L-1011 last year. I was able to talk the gate agent to let
me on board early. I shot a lot of photos of the flight deck,
interior, galleys, everything that I could. I got the film back and
that's when I discovered I forgot to change the film speed setting
on my camera (it was set for ASA 100, I was using ASA 400).
I still haven't forgiven myself for doing that.   (Though I may
get another shot at an L-1011 next month!) My point to all of
this is that a person who has taken a lot of photos doesn't make
them an expert. Quality is the more important feature of a photo.
That's why this site is a little strict on what will be added to the
database and what will not be added.

Third, the fact that you do not have a scanner is really hurting
you here. I got a Photo CD ONCE. The scans
were terrible! There was dirt and debris in the scans and there
was no effort make sure they went into the scanner straight.
I blame this on the fact that the Minnesota job market is doing
too well (we have a lot of morons here working jobs that they
shouldn't be working because they're not qualified but
employers are desperate for them anyway). I can image that
you'd have a better experience elsewhere though. Another
problem using the Photo CD's is that the images are
unprocessed. All images need minors adjustments in the
gamma, color curves/balance, contrast, cropping, etc...!

You have got to have the ability to do this (ie Adobe PhotoShop
or similar) or the images won't look their best. I took your two
photos on your website, the Southwest 737 and the UPS 767
and did some real quick adjustments to them (because of their
size, I couldn't crop or look for potential graininess):



See the differences? My recommendation: You've got
to get a scanner and scan the images yourself and have the
ability to adjust them. I know a scanner is a significant
purchase, but it's something you have to do. If you buy a
Kodak Photo CD every month (and get poor results) for a
year, you will probably spend more money than if you just
bought a scanner. (NOTE: Be aware of the window glare
when you shoot, as seen on the UPS 767 above!)

Fourth, a tripod will help with the crooked photos, but it will
probably be a hindrance more than it is a help. You need
to ability to follow your subject quickly (such as an aircraft
landing), without herky-jerky movements which you cannot
get easily on a tripod. The only thing I use my tripod for
is when I do cockpit photography at night. My photos are
crooked also at times, but they can be easily fixed during
the scanning and cropping process. My recommendation:
Don't worry about the tripod right now. You can rotate any
crooked images when they are scanned (which is another
reason why the Photo CD's aren't working for you right now.)

Fifth, you seem to have the film speed thing worked out. I too
try to stay at or under 100, but sometimes I'll use 200 if I know
ahead of time that the conditions will warrant it. I usually
carry an arsenal of film with a variety of speeds with me when
I travel: 64, 100 (normal use), 200 (hazy, cirrus overcast days
or very close up zoom lens photography), and 800 (night time
cockpit/interior photography). My recommendation: Stick
with 100 speed for now and make sure any photo you take is
with the subject lit with the sun (no high sun angles...shoot in
the morning or evening when the sun angle can light the subject
uniformly) and don't shoot in cloudy conditions or subjects that
have lots of shadows.

Sixth, I strongly agree with Nikonman that you don't attempt
using slide film at this time. While slide film is superior than print
film, it is also more difficult to work with and can be very unforgiving.
I used some Fuji film last month (I think it was Asti? Maybe not...I
just don't remember) that was really tough to use. If you were as
much as a half to full stop off the slides wouldn't turn out well.
I started using slide film in December of 1999 and it took me a
very long time (as well as $$$) to find the film that worked best
for me AND how to take decent photos with the slide film.
My recommendation: Don't worry about using slide film yet.
There's still some room to grow using print film before it would be
advantageous for you to venture into slide film.

There's some other information on my website that you may or
may not be interested in.
Click here to go to it or just find it through the main page here

Finally, if you get anything from this post, please get this: Keep
trying. You seem to be on the right track. Improve upon the
techniques that have been discussed here and in the past and
make some adjustments with the equipment that you use. Your
photos will improve.

Sorry for any typos or grammar mistakes... I welcome any additional questions or comments.

Mark Abbott
Minneapolis, MN

A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man...
User currently offlineCkw From UK - England, joined Aug 2010, 813 posts, RR: 12
Reply 4, posted (15 years 10 months 5 hours ago) and read 2275 times:

Just to pick up on Brick's comments on tripods - I tend to agree with him that they can be difficult to use. They are, in my case anyway, a necessary evil when shooting slow film with long lenses on a dull day. It is VERY difficult to smoothly follow moving aircraft when using a tripod, and I have found that to be of any value the tripod needs to be both large & heavy and equipped with a GOOD QUALITY ball & socket head - this can amount to quite a bit of cash, more than the cost of say, a zoom lens.

Having used a couple of apparent "bargain" tripods in the past, I have learned that this is a major mistake and in my opinion a cheap tripod is worse than no tripod as it gives you a false sense of security!



Colin K. Work, Pixstel
User currently offlineUSAir_757 From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 996 posts, RR: 8
Reply 5, posted (15 years 9 months 4 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 2270 times:


I have a tripod, also inherited, and it was no "bargain" tripod. It turns VERY smoothly. I took it to a camera shop recently to have it appraised and it came up to over $170. Thanks for your help guys, I really appreciate it.


-Cullen Wassell @ MLI | Pentax K5 + DA18-55WR + Sigma 70-300 DL Macro Super
User currently offlineCityBird MD-11 From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 31 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (15 years 9 months 4 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 2278 times:

Hey, USAir

I would suggest a monopod with some sort of ballhead instead of a tripod for the time being. You can find decent deals on all sorts of monopods and ballheads in photo mags and the like. I've found that it seems to all but eliminate vertical movement of the camera during shooting. Monopods are also very portable ... mine fits nicely in the belt straps on the back of my Lowepro bag. You dont have to worry about setting it up, either - once you extend the leg sections, you're all set. I use it in all of my other photo situations, also (wildlife, landscape, travel, etc.)

This probably won't correct your problem of crooked photos, though. I've found (and read elsewhere) that one becomes easily distracted by the lines of the aircraft, making it easy to shoot crooked shots. You might want to try using the top or bottom of your camera's viewfinder to keep the horizon straight -- pan up or down while composing -- to get a horizontal reference.

Hope this helps!

User currently offlineBrick From United States of America, joined Aug 1999, 1703 posts, RR: 7
Reply 7, posted (15 years 9 months 4 weeks 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 2262 times:

The most common photos of mine that are crooked are of an aircraft on final. My brain tries to correct the angle of attack of the aircraft by making it level.  

Mark Abbott
Minneapolis, MN

A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man...
User currently offlineUSAir_757 From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 996 posts, RR: 8
Reply 8, posted (15 years 9 months 4 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 2262 times:

My tripod, also inherited, was VERY expensive when it was bought new. Not by any means a "bargain" tripod. And it turns VERY smoothly. Thanks for all your help guys.. Mark is a 70-200 an acceptable lense? I can get one for $150 used...

Once again, thanks for your help!


-Cullen Wassell @ MLI | Pentax K5 + DA18-55WR + Sigma 70-300 DL Macro Super
User currently offlineNikonman From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (15 years 9 months 4 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 2251 times:

You might want to invest in a 300mm lens. It'll cost a bit more, but it's worth it.

Don't go running around getting a tripod, you'll probably never need it. I hand-hold my 300mm lens with no problem, or my 200mm lens that weighs about the amount a sack of concrete weighs (~90 lbs)

That's a gross exaggeration, but still. You dont need to use a tripod unless you're doing time-exposures...

Mark, I have the same problem with crooked horizons. God, it's annoying!

User currently offlineCkw From UK - England, joined Aug 2010, 813 posts, RR: 12
Reply 10, posted (15 years 9 months 4 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 2254 times:

USAir - given what you've told and shown us so far, I would go with the 70-210 zoom rather than the 300mm

1 - Your current kit is, if you don't mind me saying, a bit limited - the zoom will give you a lot of flexibility

2 - 300s are great but a) they're slow (f5.6 unless you've got LOTS of cash) b) they take a little getting used to - focusing is absolutely critical and very "selective" c) they're heavy(ish) and a bit unweildy

Try and get a zoom with an aperture of a least f4 - f3.5 or f2.8 would be better but probably out of your price range. Later you can add a GOOD quality (7 element) 2x convertor which will give you a very useful 150 - 420 zoom for use in bright conditions.

I use both a 70-210 and a 300 - I would guess I take images at a ratio of about 10:1 in favour of the zoom, not 'cause its a better lens (it isn't), but it gives me just the right length more often than not.

On those sloping horizons - I get them too, but I try and make sure I leave the aircraft a little "room" in my pics so I can straighten things up at the scanning/ post processing stage.



Colin K. Work, Pixstel
User currently offlineNikonman From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (15 years 9 months 4 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 2247 times:

Just to clarify, I ment a 70-300 zoom. I have one for my Nikon and it's perfect. Just a bit slow. A regular 300mm is probably a bad idea. I've never liked "Fixed" zooms...

User currently offlineCkw From UK - England, joined Aug 2010, 813 posts, RR: 12
Reply 12, posted (15 years 9 months 4 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 2244 times:

I traded in my Canon 70-210 a while back for a Sigma 70-300 thinking it would be the ideal av. pic tool.

Well, I perservered with it for about a year but then sold it and bought another Canon 70-210 (can't afford too many mistakes like that!). Reasons?

Firstly it was too slow - a whole stop slower than the Canon at max zoom PLUS while I could comfortable hand hold the 70-210 at 1/125th, the bigger Sigma required 1/250th for safety - so that's the equivalent of 2 stops gone ... or the difference between using 100 and 400 ASA film.

Worse for me was the fact that it had a variable max aperture ... 3.8 at min zoom 5.6 at max. I don't know about the rest of you, but as a manual metering person I find zooms with variable f-stops a real pain!

Finally, the image quality simply wasn't as good - I'm sure part of this is due to Canon glass being better than Sigma glass, but I suspect part of it was down to the design of the longer range zoom.

I have since bought a fixed, fast, 300mm to use along side my 70-210 - a combination which works well for me.



Colin K. Work, Pixstel
User currently offlineUSAir_757 From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 996 posts, RR: 8
Reply 13, posted (15 years 4 months 2 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 2181 times:

WHAT? it isn't archived? well... anyways an update. I'll be sticking with Pentax and getting either the ZX-50 or the ZX-7. The ZX-50 seems to have more features but theZX-7 is certainly a nice camera. I'll be getting the Pentax 80-320 zoom with it.

C. Wassell

-Cullen Wassell @ MLI | Pentax K5 + DA18-55WR + Sigma 70-300 DL Macro Super
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