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Which Config For Spotting?

Posted: Sun Sep 02, 2012 9:08 pm
by battiste

Can you help me chosing best configuration for spotting planes in final approach and taxi.

Nikon D7000 18-105 mm

RE: Which Config For Spotting?

Posted: Mon Sep 03, 2012 10:02 pm
by CaptainKramer
Hi battistie,

This is a trickie question to answer. Not because I don't use the Nikon D7000 with the 18-105mm lens, but because I don't know which day or, or time of day or season for that matter, you plan on using the camera and what the prevailing weather conditions are going to be at that time.

You may ask what has that got to do with how you set the camera up, alot really. If you are photographing aircraft early in the morning on an overcast day or if you are photographing aircraft, early morning on a bright sunny day you will need to use different settings and judgement while using your camera to get acceptable results for the two situations I mentioned here. In reality there are an infinite number of variables. The main one's are is it in focus, well exposed, well framed, eye catching angle, unique subject matter, creative etc, etc.

Shoot early morning or early evening, best time, magic hour, if midday, and it's mid summer, not so good. However there is an exception to every rule, shooting midday in winter is fine, that's if the sun decides to show, it will remain low, which is good! All this comes with experience.

If you are shooting in low light, then you will need to select a high ASA or ISO setting. Or if your 18-105mm is a fast lens, i.e. has a low f-stop aperture setting, then you can select a relatively low ASA/ISO setting keeping the noise in the photo to minimum. A good thing by the way, or maybe you have software that can remove noise all together, then a low ASA/ISO setting is not so critical.

Does your particular lens you use, have a sweet spot? A dedicated photographer intent on taking quality photo's will go out and find what that sweet spot is i.e. the f-stop setting which gives the sharpest images. To find this out, use your camera and lens in different scenario's, clear day, overcast day, change settings, i.e.use high and low f-stops, then view the results on a decent monitor to judge which setting gave the best results. Get a second opinion if need be. Read reviews to see what other users have found through their own experiences.

Once you have found your lens sweet spot then try to use it at that setting, which will require you to use Av Priority setting and let your shutter go high and low depending on the available light and the amount of zoom you use. Having said that staying at that f-spot sweet spot is still only optional, it's still up to you to decide and as I have said that comes with knowledge and experience.

Also read books on photography, and get to know your camera by reading the manual. Search past discussions on photography forum regarding how to take great aircraft photo's. It all helps!

Ultimately, I hope this gives you a basic impression of how variable your camera settings will be on any given day.

Cheers Frank.

[Edited 2012-09-03 15:07:19]

RE: Which Config For Spotting?

Posted: Tue Sep 04, 2012 12:04 am
by megatop412
That 18-105 is probably going to be maxed out to 105 for most of those shots so you want to stop it down to f/8 and stay there via the 'A' mode to keep things as sharp as possible. On the D7000 you can probably set it for Auto-ISO with a max of 800 before grain starts to creep in.

Autofocus should be set to AF-C, AF area should be set to one of the dynamic settings. You can try the 3D setting and see if it works for you but it doesn't work as accurately as I'd hoped on my D90. Maybe the D7000 has an improved version of it.

Center-weighted or Matix Metering for most accurate exposure of the aircraft.

Continuous exposure mode to ensure the camera shoots multiple shots without you having to keep pressing the shutter while you're also trying to keep the plane centered in the viewfinder.

One other thing: 105mm isn't that much magnification. When you have the funds you will want to consider one of the Nikkor telephoto zooms(55-200, 55-300, 70-300). There are also third-party zooms worth looking into but I have no experience with those.

Good luck and happy shooting

RE: Which Config For Spotting?

Posted: Wed Sep 05, 2012 9:01 am
by battiste

thanks both of you for theses answers ! That's the first time with a reflex so I don't know so much how to take a good picture. I'm gonna try in different lights and weather conditions. I need to know better my camera as you said !

I'm gonna buy a Nikkor 70-300 when my wallet will be bigger 

Bye and thanks for help