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Is A Digital Camera Best For Aviation Photography?

Mon May 22, 2000 12:39 pm

Which is better for aviation photography, a digital camera or a regular camera? Has the Sony Mavica FD-95 come out yet? I'm interested in getting on of those!

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran
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RE: Is A Digital Camera Best For Aviation Photography?

Mon May 22, 2000 3:33 pm

As for myself, I guess I'am a photography is still the way to go, if you want quality. Digital IMO has still some quality issues to be addressed, but given another 5-10 years or so digital imagery will probably be on the same level as film, perhaps even passing film in quality reproduction.

Then there is the issue of todays current crop of digital cameras. Myself, if I had to choose a digital camera, I would purchase one of the high end (read $$$$$) digital SLRs that are being offered by Nikon, and Canon..e.g. Kodak/Nikon's DCS600 ($6000.00) Nikon D1 (5000.00) Kodak/Canon DCS520($12,000) ect.. the Nikons are usually F-5, or N90 mounted on digital packs, and the Canons are EOS 1ns. As you can see these are not marketed to the average shooter, but to the pro photog, newspapers, and wires. If I had the bucks I would probably purchase one (the Canon model). As for the consumer models, well... myself I'll wait until Canon produces a complete SLR (read interchangable lenses) that are fully the equalivant of the current selection of todays SLRs, but most importantly within the $2000.00 price range.

Sorry for the lengthy reply.

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RE: Is A Digital Camera Best For Aviation Photography?

Tue May 23, 2000 10:01 am

Although Digital photography may be a thing of the future, negatives and
positives provide better grain and overall photo...primarilly when enlargements
are needed. Film also provides much better color tone and sharpness.
Try Kodacrome 64 or 25 slide film or Fuji Velvia, which rates around iso 40-50.
Compare the same shot with a digital camera and you'll see the difference.
If one would like a mega-pixel product out of one, you may have to settle
for the "pro" line such as those like Canon's EOS-1 and Nikon's F-5 or D-1
bodies. They're way too expensive now. Give it some time before digital
can compare to film.
For aviation photography, most will use slides or slow print film (iso 100 or less).
Some of the air to air photographers rely on larger format cameras such as
Mamiyas. But most or all still shoot film.
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RE: Is A Digital Camera Best For Aviation Photography?

Tue May 23, 2000 11:02 am

The big drawback to digital aviation photography are the lens choices right now. Even the better (more expensive) cameras have a very limited zoom range, so they are not the hot tip for distant shots.

The best exception to this rule is the Nikon D1, on which you can mount your own Nikkors and shoot "like normal". However, this camera body is in the $5000 range and not suitable for casual shooting at that price.

The other limitation is resolution, if you want to print any of these pictures. The current 2+ and 3+ Megapixel 'consumer' cameras may afford you the ability to print smaller pictures, but they still are choked by the long focal length limitations.

I carry my Olympus C-2020Z dig cam wherever I go for quick shots, but when it comes time to get serious it can't hold a candle to good 35mm slide film with a long lens. Couple that with a hi-end slide scanner and printer, and you'll notice the difference right away...
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RE: Is A Digital Camera Best For Aviation Photography?

Thu May 25, 2000 8:08 pm

I agree....SLR's are the way to go. This question is answered in the FAQ section of and it is said there that digital cameras can't compete with regular SLR's at the moment  
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RE: Is A Digital Camera Best For Aviation Photography?

Fri May 26, 2000 1:36 am

As a digital photographer myself, I can agree that NOTHING comapres to a good SLR with a solid lens. My digital frustrates me more than it makes me happy, and I sometimes have to ask my self why I stick with it for aviation photography. Yea, it's great for close-up stuff, but I REALLY have the itch to start doing some action shots (which usally require a good zoom).

BUT - digital is great for everyday stuff. Check out this website to see what people are doing with their digital cameras (non-aviation site):

So, for me, it's starting to look like this: I will aquire a good 35mm setup for aviation stuff, but the digital will remain for everyday 'snapshots'. I have to admit though...the new Nikon 990 is a KILLER digital camera. If it offered more zoom, I wouln't even be considering a 35mm SLR. The new crop of digicams are getting good, and I can't wait to see next year's products...

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