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Moving Up The Camera Chain  
User currently offlineFLPhoto From United States of America, joined Jun 2013, 115 posts, RR: 0
Posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 3666 times:

Hello guys,

It's me again. I have had many other posts on the forums here, and I think that out of all my crazy ideas, like switching to Canon, I have come to a realistic one. My current setup, a Nikon D3100 with a Nikon 18-55VR, 55-200mmVR, and a 35mm f/1.8, isn't doing too well for me. I like to shoot avation and a little bit of macro, and usually post my pictures on either Facebook or Airliners.net. I rarely print, and if I do it is not larger than 8x10. My current setup does not do too well for me for a many reasons:
- The zoom range is small, and I have to crop often
- Whenever I crop, it looses sharpness very quickly
- ISO above 800 is completely unusable
- Whenever I try panning, the pictures usually turn out blurry and not sharp
- The contrast is also very poor, creating very flat pictures

Now, I understand that much of this stuff comes with pro setups and D4's and D800's with great glass, but I have used my D3100 for a year and a half and used point and shoots for about three years before that. Getting on to my problems with my current setup, I understand that this is expensive to fix and takes a lot of practice. I have attended many classes and have watched basically every video you can find online. To fix this, I have a few ideas:
- Buy a new Nikon D90 with 18-105 and spend the remaining $500ish on a Tamron 70-300VC
- Buy a new Nikon D7000 and use my current setup
- Buy a refurbished Nikon D7000 or D300s and a new Tamron 70-300VC

Thanks for all of your help,
Spencer

53 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineFLPhoto From United States of America, joined Jun 2013, 115 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 3641 times:

One other thing I could do is just buy a D7100 body only and use my lenses I already have

User currently offlinesouthwest9 From United States of America, joined Nov 2012, 63 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 3620 times:

Quoting FLPhoto (Thread starter):

- The zoom range is small, and I have to crop often
- Whenever I crop, it looses sharpness very quickly
- ISO above 800 is completely unusable
- Whenever I try panning, the pictures usually turn out blurry and not sharp
- The contrast is also very poor, creating very flat pictures
...

To fix this, I have a few ideas:
- Buy a new Nikon D90 with 18-105 and spend the remaining $500ish on a Tamron 70-300VC
- Buy a new Nikon D7000 and use my current setup
- Buy a refurbished Nikon D7000 or D300s and a new Tamron 70-300VC



I will address these in order:

1. So above, you say the zoom range is too small when you have a "55-200VR" Depending on how close you can get, 200mm is totally sufficient.

2. You should not have to crop so much, especially if you have up to 200mm. It sounds like you simply are not getting close enough the aircraft.

3. Post-processing can help take out some of this noise but no guarantee that it will be totally usable.

4. If your lens doesn't have IS (Image Stabilization) then panning is going to be a challenge.

5. Post-processing can also help with this, I think that it is ridiculous to assume that the camera can do all the work for you in terms of contrast / saturation / hue, etc.

Quoting FLPhoto (Reply 1):

One other thing I could do is just buy a D7100 body only and use my lenses I already have

 
I see a big contradiction with the quote at the top of this reply and the one right above this sentence.  

Solution:
1. Classes are great, you can learn alot, but it is not the same as real world experience with your D3100.
2. I think you just need to go out and take pictures with the gear that you already have.
3. Don't forget to edit your pictures on the computer.
4. The saying "Practice makes perfect" could not apply any better to this situation.


User currently offlineFLPhoto From United States of America, joined Jun 2013, 115 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 3614 times:

I have tried to practice a bunch... I shoot in full manual and it still doesn't cut it. When I said a D7100 body, I would use the extra 1.3x crop, and then that would help me. My 55-200 has IS or VR for Nikon and I have tried very hard but it just doesn't work. For post processing, I don't really do much. I find it very unethical that you are completely changing what you saw... Anyway I have Photoshop Elements and mainly use it for cropping but I also use it for small sharpening and removing small objects.

User currently offlinesouthwest9 From United States of America, joined Nov 2012, 63 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 3601 times:

Quoting FLPhoto (Reply 3):
For post processing, I don't really do much. I find it very unethical that you are completely changing what you saw

Editing is not a new thing, actually it goes back to the film days, that's part of what photographers did in a dark room (other than develop the actual photo) Be honest with yourself, I don't think any photos currently in the Airliners.net Database, that were accepted within the past year, have NOT been edited. All of those pictures had atleast some small amount of editing done to them. Maybe that is another issue with the photos that you take.

Hopefully a screener will come along here to explain the importance of post-processing when it comes to trying to get photos accepted here. But I will say this... Remember, not everything that comes straight out of the camera is going to be perfect. In fact, most pictures could be better with editing.

Does that mean that every photographer with photos in Airliners.net is unethical, because they edited their pictures?
I hope you know the answer.

Just look at these, GREAT PHOTOS! but also GREAT EDITING (And if these aren't edited then I want the camera that they have )

http://cdn-www.airliners.net/aviation-photos/photos/8/0/1/2284108.jpg

http://www.airliners.net/photo/Anton...au/Antonov-An-225-Mriya/2282560/M/

http://www.airliners.net/photo/Delta...ir-Lines/Boeing-747-451/2282845/M/


User currently offlinehenkita217 From Australia, joined Apr 2007, 388 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 3597 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Let me be blunt and just reply to your quote in saying "I shoot full manual and it still doesn't cut it.."

What is the point in shooting full manual when you are just starting out? Shooting full manual won't cut anything if you don't understand the basics in photography.

From the examples shown in previous threads, the issues was leaning towards technique than equipment. What would help also was to go out in optimal light, which was part of the problem.

Feel free to ignore this post..

Cheers,
HB


User currently offlinemlevert From United States of America, joined Oct 2009, 29 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 3597 times:

For me post processing is not changing what you saw it is recreating it. The human eye is a much better camera than a machine held in your hands. Post processing aims to restore the sharpness, and contrast and color balance that you saw in a digital image. A computer allows you to edit those things in many more ways and can expand those features to beyond what the eye can see but not without changing photo in other ways that do not represent reality. I estimate that it took me about 3 years using my camera before I would consider my own photos truly good. During that time I did waste some money on gear that I never really used or got any improved pictures out of them, and I think that is what everyone is warning you about.

Your thought process is very normal. I too occasionally think I want to upgrade my body (D5000) because I don't like the detail in my landscapes and cityscapes shots. My thought process typically leads me to thinking I would want a Full Frame camera where I find the D800 to be too expensive, the D700 to be out of stock and a lacking some updated features leading me to the D600. But the D600 has comparable image quality to the D7100 with a slower shutter and has been known to have oil problems for twice the cost. So then I consider getting the D7100 but I ask is that really going to solve what I want it to and is it much better that my D5000. For me the thought process always leads me to it is better to save my money. None of us can tell you what to do with your money or can tell you what you want to do but I think we all at some point have been in your shoes and wasted some of our money on something that didn't produce a better picture.


User currently offlineFLPhoto From United States of America, joined Jun 2013, 115 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 3597 times:

Yea there almost all edited... Many of my shots are just not that cool, and I can't take shots at air shows because of my range... I have a week of spotting coming up here soon at KMCD in Michigan and just need to get some good shots while I'm there to get accepted here.

User currently offlinesouthwest9 From United States of America, joined Nov 2012, 63 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 3591 times:

Quoting FLPhoto (Reply 7):
Yea there almost all edited... Many of my shots are just not that cool, and I can't take shots at air shows because of my range... I have a week of spotting coming up here soon at KMCD in Michigan and just need to get some good shots while I'm there to get accepted here.

Before you go and take pictures there, look at the Airliners.net acceptance criteria and try to keep that in mind as you take pictures to better your composition and your likelihood of getting pictures accepted here.


User currently offlineFLPhoto From United States of America, joined Jun 2013, 115 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 3591 times:

Quoting henkita217 (Reply 5):

I definantly understand all of the ISO and Aperture and Shutter speed, and I spend very much time online looking at videos of how to take better pictures. Usually I spot around noon to 2pm so the light is very bright.

mlevert-
I have had so many ideas, switch to Canon, buy a $1500 lens... Currently I like all of my purchases, and would do the same ones again. Now, I feel that I have outgrown my camera and want better pictures.


User currently offlineFLPhoto From United States of America, joined Jun 2013, 115 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 3586 times:

Also, I have tried to remember the main rules for A.net, and I hope some of the pics will be accepted. I see you don't post pictures on the DB, so where do you post?

User currently offlinevikkyvik From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 9945 posts, RR: 26
Reply 11, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 3569 times:
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Ahhh, Mr. FLPhoto.

I'll try and go point-by-point, but I'm sitting at LAX waiting for a flight.

1. I looked at your shots on FB a week or two ago. A new camera would not have helped. A new lens probably wouldn't either. I've already told you what would help.

2. Reading all the articles and watching all the videos in the world will only help you so much. How many actual shots have you taken? On how many different days? I'm not asking to be a dick, but because that info might be useful, given your reluctance to post photos.

3. You said that you post photos to A.net, but also that you find editing to be unethical. Unfortunately, A.net will just about always require some editing. So those statements don't jive.

4. I thought ISO800 was totally unusable....until I realized that it isn't. And that was only after maybe 15,000 shots. Took even longer to learn how to handle it, both in-camera and with noise reduction.

5. Blurry shots when panning are a result of bad panning technique, or incorrect settings (like having IS on).

6. Poor contrast is likely due to shooting in low-contrast light. A new lens may help a bit, but shooting in good light would help more.

7. If you're lacking range, get a longer lens or get closer to the aircraft. It's a very simple solution.

Look, if you're dead-set on spending the money, no one's gonna stop you. But seems like a misguided expenditure (otherwise known as a waste of money) to me. But best of luck with whatever you choose.



"Two and a Half Men" was filmed in front of a live ostrich.
User currently offlineSilver1SWA From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 4782 posts, RR: 26
Reply 12, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 3560 times:
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Vik nailed it, dead on. Couldn't agree more with everything he said.


ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
User currently offlinestevemchey From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 369 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days ago) and read 3533 times:

I would highly recommend you take the time and read Vik's post. Then think about what he said. Then read it another 10 times. It's the best advice one can give you.

Listen, nobody wants to be rude here, but as it has been said many times in several of your posts: Your equipment isn't the problem. Your skills are.
There is nothing wrong with that. We all have been there. But the only way to fix that is by taking pictures. Take another 5000 pictures (and think about what you are doing when you take every single one) and your pics will look better then. Then take another 10,000 and they will look better yet. Then another 20,000. Then, just maybe, you will be ready for better gear.


User currently offlinestevemchey From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 369 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days ago) and read 3532 times:

Quoting southwest9 (Reply 2):
4. If your lens doesn't have IS (Image Stabilization) then panning is going to be a challenge.

If you are doing panning shots you do NOT want any IS turned on. Unless you have IS mode 2 (or whatever the equivalent is on the Nikon side)


User currently offlinesouthwest9 From United States of America, joined Nov 2012, 63 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 3520 times:

Quoting stevemchey (Reply 14):
If you are doing panning shots you do NOT want any IS turned on. Unless you have IS mode 2 (or whatever the equivalent is on the Nikon side)

Sorry, I should have been more clear with that, I use Stabilizer Mode 2 on my 300 f/4 when panning.


User currently offlineviv From Ireland, joined May 2005, 3142 posts, RR: 29
Reply 16, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 3513 times:

If you want to buy new gear, do it.

But do not expect that your photography will improve as a result.



Nikon D700, Nikkor 80-400, Fuji X Pro 1, Fujinon 35 f/1.4, Fujinon 18 f/2
User currently offlineFLPhoto From United States of America, joined Jun 2013, 115 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 3496 times:

Vikkyvik-
Funny that you are at LAX, I was at Orange County/SNA waiting to come back home to SEA yesterday. I would say how many photos I have but I am not quite sure how to find it out. Realistically, I probably have about 10,000-12,000 shots of planes and the rest (5,000ish) of other things. Now, I have always used VR for panning. I will fix that. I have a week of spotting up here in a few weeks, and I would be so sad if I get back and all of my photos were bad. I already had this happen at Portland International, Sun Valley Municipal, Kenmore Air Harbor... I know that I really just have to practice more. I will do this also, and I really appreciate ail of your help.
Spencer


User currently offlineFLPhoto From United States of America, joined Jun 2013, 115 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 3494 times:

Also, what is a good editing software? Is lightroom good?
Spencer


User currently offlineJOshu From United States of America, joined Jun 2010, 157 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 3477 times:

Quoting FLPhoto (Reply 18):

Lightroom can help, but I would not advise using it. Photoshop is where it's at. Use the editing guide that can be found when you try to upload your photos. It worked wonders for me.


User currently offlineFLPhoto From United States of America, joined Jun 2013, 115 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 3474 times:

Yes, but at 13 a $600 editing program is kinda overkill...

User currently offlinemlevert From United States of America, joined Oct 2009, 29 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 3464 times:

Student discounts will get you down to $350 or so for Photoshop. I think you might have to buy from a 3rd party now since Adobe switch to subscription services, but plenty of stores still sell the boxed student versions.

User currently offlineSilver1SWA From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 4782 posts, RR: 26
Reply 22, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 3463 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Quoting JOshu (Reply 19):


Lightroom is fast taking over most photo editing needs.

Quoting FLPhoto (Reply 20):

Photoshop Elements would do you just fine, and for under $100.



ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
User currently offlineFLPhoto From United States of America, joined Jun 2013, 115 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 3458 times:

I have elements, but I don't think I am using it to its full capabilities. I can crop and saturation and all of those things but there's more to do. Now, when do I know I'm ready for a camera upgrade?

User currently offlineKPWMSpotter From United States of America, joined Dec 2006, 443 posts, RR: 2
Reply 24, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 3458 times:

Quoting FLPhoto (Reply 9):
Usually I spot around noon to 2pm so the light is very bright.

Now that's an easy problem to fix. Try taking your current gear out and taking some shots from 4pm on to sunset. Quantity of light is rarely a problem, but quality of that light can certainly be an issue. Remember, for most shots here on Airliners, you want the sun at your back. The goal is to illuminate the parts of the aircraft you're taking a picture of, while avoiding as much shadow (back-lighting) as possible.

If you're out shooting at noon and the aircraft are above you, any camera will have trouble getting a good exposure of the relatively dark aircraft against the very bright sky.

I haven't uploaded here for a few years, but all of my accepted shots were taken using a point-and-shoot on full auto. I didn't try anything artistic, and I shot in the "easy" light. A while back there were a couple of photos accepted to the database which were shot with cell-phone cameras. If you're shooting a well-lit stationary aircraft, almost any camera will do. Get some practice in these conditions, built up your confidence, then get more adventurous. I'll echo everyone else's opinion here, your camera is probably fine, you just haven't found the right conditions for it to perform its best yet.



I reject your reality and substitute my own...
25 FLPhoto : But $350 is still a lot... An I don't think I apply for discounts because I believe that is for college students
26 FLPhoto : KPWM- I looked at your pictures, I really like the Kenmore Air Turbo Beaver. That's my home in Seattle. I do need to shoot at a later time,.. Sometime
27 southwest9 : Personally I use Lightroom 5 for everything and I haven't bought Photoshop since CS4. It really does a good job of saving photos that have a little to
28 derekf : Any beginner who buys Photoshop needs their head examining. There are plenty of other cheaper solutions such as Photoshop Elements and Paint Shop Pro
29 KPWMSpotter : Yes, it certainly can be. Just make sure you look at the aircraft when they fly by; are there shadows on the fuselage or the tail? There will always
30 FLPhoto : Ok. So I will have to shoot at about 10am. I will stick with elements and mabye buy some new lenses or cameras, because I can't stand the chromatic ab
31 stevemchey : There you go again with thinking that more expensive equipment will solve your problems. And if you have the money, sure, try it. All we are saying i
32 FLPhoto : What cameras do you use?
33 vikkyvik : $1400 or whatever for new cameras/lenses, and $350 is a lot. Oh well.
34 FLPhoto : I don't think I need to spend $350 on a pro software... Just a little overkill I think. And I have no idea how to use it anyway
35 southwest9 : I think that is the attitude you should have towards getting pro gear.
36 ptrjong : So why are you asking for another program. Same story as with the camera.
37 dazbo5 : For me, photography is 50% planning, 40% technical abilities (knowing how to use the camera) and 10% the actual equipment being used. No matter how m
38 FLPhoto : Ok guys- I am going to the Arlington Airshow today. It's a big one so I will take some pics and hopefully turn out well
39 dazbo5 : You may want to post a couple of examples on here so people can take a look and may be able to advise on your technique and how to improve things. en
40 FLPhoto : I will do that! I will try panning again without VR this time...
41 Post contains links FLPhoto : Ok- Just got back from the airshow/ fly-in. Took over 100 photos. I will post the links of my favorite. Tell me what you think. http://www.flickr.com/
42 dazbo5 : The quality isn't great really. They are all pretty noisy, oversharp and heat haze on some of them to name but a few issues for here. None will make
43 FLPhoto : Ok. I have them at 1200x800. Noisy??? They are all at ISO 100... I haven't sharpened them much in elements... Anyway I knew that they wouldn't be post
44 dazbo5 : I can only say what I see on my screen. They are heavily compressed, probably by Flickr that doesn't help. My offer above stands. Darren
45 FLPhoto : I reduced the size greatly that they were. I still have the originals but there pretty messy
46 dazbo5 : That's why everyone has been saying it's not your equipment. You need to get your planning and execution in order first. Darren
47 Post contains links FLPhoto : I worked on my Flickr more today. Tell me what you think of my photos. http://www.flickr.com/photos/98830090@N05/ Spencer
48 JakTrax : "My current setup isn't doing so well for me" Okay, I'm going to be straight here: YOU are not doing so good for you. It's not your equipment. I had a
49 viv : Karl is absolutely right (Reply 48). It's not about the gear, it's about the skill.
50 trvyyz : Most of your shots are panning, at 1/60secs at longer focal lengths. Panning is not easy, for me it is a hit and miss, since i don't do a lot. For pan
51 ptrjong : For a.net, the light aircraft photos are all motive rejections by the way, for cutting the tails off.
52 vikkyvik : My advice is to put some more thought into your images. These aren't questions with regard to A.net; they're simply things I would look for, when I s
53 FLPhoto : Yea- you are way more observant than me. I was sitting outside a burger place when I took these., so there is some strange foreground objects like con
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