First Airshow and a beginner. What should I use and tips?

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RyanS
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Post by RyanS » Mon Aug 26, 2019 5:41 pm

wfooshee wrote: Mon Aug 26, 2019 4:21 pm BTW, the note above about A mode is incorrect. A is aperture-priority, where the camera sets the shutter. You want S to set your own shutter speed and let the camera set aperture, or M to set both yourself.
That's actually the same thing I said, but reading back I don't think I explained the concept very well.

The idea is that if you set the aperture to the widest open (lowest f stop, usually 5.6 on a zoom lens), the camera will always give you the fastest shutter speed available in the lighting conditions while still exposing properly. This is the best way to shoot anything that doesn't require blur, because you always get the fastest possible shutter speed, and it can update that constantly throughout an aircraft's pass, unlike a human.

In contrast, I disagree strongly with the advice of always controlling the shutter speed, especially for beginners. You can dial in 1/2000th and you'll get it, but the camera will often run out of aperture stops (when the aperture gets wide open, so it can't go further) and from then on, the image will start to get underexposed. If you really want to stay on top of that you can adjust other things like ISO or select a slower speed, but that will be difficult for a beginner to monitor and keep up with.

By using AV, you will get 1/2000th (or even faster) if it is bright enough. If it's not bright enough for that, you may get 1/1000th or on a dim day maybe 1/640th, but your exposure will be correct rather than darkened considerably. I would much rather shoot a jet at 1/800th and get a level exposure than have to add full stops of exposure in post. Even RAWs will struggle with that a bit. If the shutter speeds it is offering aren't fast enough, bump the ISO up a bit and you'll boost them.

Additionally, it removes a burden from the photographer. They are free to focus on proper panning and can rest assured that the camera is taking care of managing the exposure (outside of very dim days or other extreme situations in which case more tools are needed whether you use A or S) while giving them the fastest shutter speed it can physically handle.
The reason I suggest fully manual is the meter may be looking at sky, it may be looking at aircraft. It doesn't know, it just picks exposure for the light it sees, and you'll end up with some frames sharply underexposed if you let the camera meter every shot. If you shoot RAW, you can compensate in post, though. I'll repeat my meter-something-distant settings check between acts to keep it right during the day.

Shoot the slowest shutter you can get away with on propeller aircraft. You're looking to blur the prop, not freeze it. That's where your panning practice ahead of time comes in. On jets, go to 1/2000th or even faster to ensure sharp freeze and no motion blur. If fully manual, don't forget to adjust aperture to match.
Full manual is fine, but even harder to keep up with than exposure compensation. Doable but I think a little tough for many beginners. I use center-weighted auto metering and 99+% of my shots are either spot on or well within easy adjustment range in post (shooting RAW).
Consider turning autofocus off, focusing ahead of time on something out toward the middle of the field and leaving the focus there.
Noooooooooooooooooo this barely works for video and it is asking for a lost day of photos. Any camera with a detachable lens is too sensitive for this to work.
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Ryan Sundheimer
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wfooshee
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Post by wfooshee » Tue Sep 24, 2019 8:39 pm

RyanS wrote: Mon Aug 26, 2019 5:41 pm
wfooshee wrote: Mon Aug 26, 2019 4:21 pm
Consider turning autofocus off, focusing ahead of time on something out toward the middle of the field and leaving the focus there.
Noooooooooooooooooo this barely works for video and it is asking for a lost day of photos. Any camera with a detachable lens is too sensitive for this to work.
The only reason I suggested not using AF is his camera only has 5 focus points, and it would be extremely easy to have all 5 on empty sky at the moment of the shutter press, resulting in focus hunt and missed shots.

EDIT, just rechecked the D3300, and it has 11 focus points. I'd still consider that marginal coverage for air show photography, but much better than only 5, so AF would most likely be OK. most of the time. :lol:
Last edited by wfooshee on Tue Sep 24, 2019 8:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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