Because of my shooting technique--and I include camera settings in that--I do get a lot of blurry shots. My camera and lens do tend to get heavy after a while, but I try to keep my elbows tucked into my body to help keep the camera steady, and help reduce some of the weight. I use the same breathing technique I learned in the military for shooting rifles, and that seems to keep things steady. I keep my 70-200 set at IS
position 2, for panning. I rarely shoot IS
position 1 since I seldom shoot static shots, although sometimes the aircraft may be taxiing by relatively slowly. I also keep the camera's auto focus set to AI
Servo, instead of AI
Focus, as I tend to shoot a burst as soon as the aircraft gets close enough, and passes in front of me. I normally shoot 3-4 frame bursts, sometimes longer burst if the aircraft is maneuvering. This seems to give me a good shot, bad shot, good shot, kind of result. Better than bad shot, bad shot, bad shot, I guess. I tried using a monopod (at the local zoo) and found it awkward and clunky. Can't imaging trying to use it to follow fast moving jets. I would think a tripod would be even clumsier.
If my local camera store had 300, 400, or 500 primes available for rent, of course I'd use them. But 100-400 is the longest focal length they offer. I've only gotten fair results with the rented 100-400, even when I was the first renter after it returned from Canon for repair/cleaning/calibration. Also, when I upgraded from the Mark I to the Mark II
70-200, it was crazy sharp, and made the 100-400 shots look even worse, by comparison. So I've dropped the 100-400 from my wish list, and am now leaning toward purchasing the Sigma 150-500, to get the "reach" that I'm not getting with my current set-up. I have the Mark III 2.0x tele-extender, but have only used it for (static) wildlife shots.
The general consensus I'm getting from everybody's responses is that a large percentage of factors affecting my low "keeper" rate are environmental, and that most of my camera settings are OK
, except perhaps shooting at too low a speed. As I said in an earlier post, I'm fully aware that changing my shooting position to where the sun is at my back would vastly improve my "keeper" rate. But, because I'm stubborn, I'll likely continue shooting from the same spot. So maybe what I'm really asking for, is what the ideal camera settings should be to overcome the environmental conditions that I'm stuck with. I've learned that using Spot Metering has improved the underside detail and reduced the number of airplane silhouettes I used to get. Keeping the ISO set as low as possible will reduce the amount of grainyness. Even with a 70-200 lens and positioned at air show center, the fighter-sized aircraft rarely fill my frame, so I must crop heavily, and we all know what those results produce. Most air shows that I've attended seem to begin their flying displays late morning or noon, and run into late afternoon. So I'm dealing with backlit subjects nearly the entire show.
Unfortunately, the best sun angles for photographing my subjects are when they're far away, which introduces too much heat haze and too much cropping. When they're close enough to me where they nearly fill the frame (OK, maybe half the frame), then I deal with back-lighting. It seems to be a lose-lose situation I've forced upon myself.