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Micro Four Thirds For Airplane Photography  
User currently offlineDubi From Slovenia, joined Mar 2006, 14 posts, RR: 0
Posted (3 years 3 months 2 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 5593 times:

Is anyone using m4/3 for photographing flying airplanes (landing actually) with success, small Cessnas an Pipers etc?
Has anyone tried? How is difficult with live view?

5 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlinemjgbtv From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 939 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (3 years 3 months 2 weeks 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 5555 times:

I have used a Panasonic G1 for 2-3 years now. Shooting a burst while panning is challenging with Live View. I typically find that my first couple of images are okay but in later ones the aircraft 'drifts' toward or off the edge of the frame. On the other hand, my local airport is quiet so I have really not had that much chance to practice.

I am generally most interested in large aircraft, but I have had decent results with action shots:

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Photo © Marty Gleason

I see no reason why you could not get good results with small planes.

User currently offlineckw From UK - England, joined Aug 2010, 813 posts, RR: 12
Reply 2, posted (3 years 3 months 2 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 5527 times:

I'm a big fan of m4/3 though probably not my first choice for aviation photography, still possible.

For me the challenges are

1 - lack of viewfinder with many models. The screen is fine (in fact I prefer it when shooting close and wideangle), for some purposes but I find as the focal length increases, and/or action photography its struggles, When I got the 45-175 zoom for my GF1, I soon found that the separate detachable EVF was a must buy.

Happily my OM-D has both built in - and the EVF is pretty good. Not Canon 5D quality, but probably more useable than the viewfinders on older crop body DSLRs as it has some tricks that they don't, like adjustable brightness. And these get better with each new model.

2 - the poor servo focus performance - it can't track a moving object anything like a DSLR. On the other hand on my OM-D, static focus is unbelievably fast and accurate which reduces the need for servo mode. And of course you can focus on any visible part of the screen, not just a handful of focus points. For static aircraft, side -on approaches and the like, the AF will be fine. Fast jets coming toward you - unlikely to be in focus.

I believe we'll be seeing hybrid focus systems in M4/3 real soon (I think Sony already have them), which should be the best of both worlds.

Another plus for the aviation photog. is you can mount (with adaptors) pretty much any lens ever made, which opens up the possibility of getting hold of old exotic lenses at affordable prices.

Finally, the best camera is the one you have with you when you need it. I don't want to carry my Canon outfit with me wherever I go - too big and heavy. But I have 2 m4/3 bodies, and 5 lenses which don't even fill the bottom compartment of my everyday all purpose Lowepro backback, and together way much less than my Canon 500 f4.



Colin K. Work, Pixstel
User currently offlineJakTrax From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2005, 4939 posts, RR: 7
Reply 3, posted (3 years 3 months 2 weeks 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 5520 times:

I tried micro 4/3 for situations where a DSLR was just too cumbersome - e.g. discreetly shooting through fences or shooting in airport terminals - but I found the performance to be a compromise. I had a basic Olympus (E-PL1), which was very 'plasticky' and produced very soft images. They were also excessively noisy compared to my DSLR. It did however fit nicely through fences but if the subject started moving tracking it in live view became difficult.

I'm of the opinion that micro 4/3 is okay for those who prefer not to pixel-peep; they compliment DSLRs, rather than offer a truly viable alternative. A micro 4/3 camera can sometimes get you shots that a DSLR simply can't - it's whether you don't mind such shots not quite being up to DSLR quality.



User currently offlineckw From UK - England, joined Aug 2010, 813 posts, RR: 12
Reply 4, posted (3 years 3 months 2 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 5480 times:

It depends on which model you opt for - mirrorless cameras are improving at a rate far faster than DSLRs at the moment. My OM-D smokes my 7D in terms of IQ (up to 1600 ISO), and the latest Sony's (if you have the money) are nothing short of amazing.

But this class of camera covers a huge range in terms of performance, capability and IQ - you need to do a bit of research to identify the one which suits your needs and pocket.

Personally I'm sitting on the fence at the moment having a foot in both the Canon and m4/3 camps. I still need my 5D3 for performance AF and use of my 500, But, if, as I suspect, Oly produce a pro spec m4/3 with comparable AF in the next year (which I think is reasonably likely), I'll very likely sell off my Canon gear.

In terms of IQ, while you can get better, m4/3 can be very good - certainly up to pro requirements and may be taking a leap forward real soon as Panasonic seem poised to release a new type of sensor which dispenses with the bayer filter.



Colin K. Work, Pixstel
User currently offlineJakTrax From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2005, 4939 posts, RR: 7
Reply 5, posted (3 years 3 months 2 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 5474 times:


Should have been clearer really. I was making reference to the entry-level and mid-range micro 4/3 cameras (such as the E-PL1). I've no doubt they get better as the price increases but paying as much as an entry-level DSLR for something I'd use so infrequently made little sense. Micro 4/3 was a good idea but it just didn't work for me. That said if improvements are being made at pace I may try again in the future.


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