Dobster
Topic Author
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Jun 26, 2013 7:07 am

Photographing Aircraft at height (contrails/vapor trails)

Sun Jan 07, 2018 11:33 am

Hi,

Apologies in advance I'm know there are a few threads on this subject already but most I have found are very old or do not contain the information I need.

I'm new to aviation photography and have yet to purchase my equipment.

My main aim is that I'll be able to photograph aircraft at height with contrails ie FL350 etc and I'd like to be able to photograph the aircraft at full frame and be able to read the registration number.

What equipment will I need? I'm guessing a DSLR but what make/model would you suggest, what lens(es) would I need to ensure I get full frame and clear shots? Assume telescopic with a 2x converter?

Assume for the moment a budget of £1500-£2000. Would that get me what I need? I'm currently looking at the Canon EOS80D.

Many Thanks for your input, appreciated. Jason.
 
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SheikhDjibouti
Posts: 995
Joined: Sat Sep 30, 2017 4:59 pm

Re: Photographing Aircraft at height (contrails/vapor trails)

Sun Jan 07, 2018 2:33 pm

Dobster wrote:
Hi,

Apologies in advance I'm know there are a few threads on this subject already but most I have found are very old or do not contain the information I need.

I'm new to aviation photography and have yet to purchase my equipment.

My main aim is that I'll be able to photograph aircraft at height with contrails ie FL350 etc and I'd like to be able to photograph the aircraft at full frame and be able to read the registration number.

What equipment will I need? I'm guessing a DSLR but what make/model would you suggest, what lens(es) would I need to ensure I get full frame and clear shots? Assume telescopic with a 2x converter?

Assume for the moment a budget of £1500-£2000. Would that get me what I need? I'm currently looking at the Canon EOS80D.

Many Thanks for your input, appreciated. Jason.

I am not qualified to give you the answer, but if you search using "OFF Airport" you will come up with numerous photos that include vapour trails.
Alternatively, this photo collection (654 photos) is almost entirely vapour trails, and some of the photographers append notes as to what equipment they are using.

http://www.airliners.net/photo-albums/v ... 45000/8418

Of course this is no substitute for getting it from the horse's mouth, so hopefully somebody better qualified than myself will help you out.
I promised myself I'd leave before the party turned ugly. I would quit at 1000 !
Here I am stuck at 994; each time I'm tempted to post, I find myself wondering who will even read it / what is the point?
Or maybe I've just got nothing left to say.
 
Bostrom
Posts: 521
Joined: Tue Feb 02, 2016 7:11 pm

Re: Photographing Aircraft at height (contrails/vapor trails)

Sun Jan 07, 2018 3:01 pm

I've taken som decent photos of aircraft at height using a Canon EOS 70D and a 300 mm lens. But for something resembling the photos in the link above, a 2x converter or a longer lens is probably needed.
 
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spompert
Posts: 360
Joined: Tue Jun 06, 2006 3:46 am

Re: Photographing Aircraft at height (contrails/vapor trails)

Mon Jan 08, 2018 8:57 pm

Hi, you need at least 400 mm or more. I would suggest a good dslr (Canon 80D sounds good enough, crop sensor gives 1.6 times more zoom!). And the Sigma 150-600mm for example. A Canon 100-400mm plus extender can also be sufficient. I try to shoot them as well but find it extremely hard to get good shots because of all the bad air affects (heathaze and other distortions) at such a distance and zoom. I have some on this site but succes rate (for getting them accepted on this site) is around 1 at 20 or so.
 
DM
Posts: 354
Joined: Thu Aug 31, 2006 10:27 am

Re: Photographing Aircraft at height (contrails/vapor trails)

Mon Jan 08, 2018 9:03 pm

I'd definitely recommend a crop sensor over full frame for the purpose of getting more reach with whatever lens you use. With Canon you get a 1.6x crop on a lot of different bodies (EOS 80D included) and with Nikon a 1.5x crop. To get the aircraft to fill the frame you'd need a huge lens of 2000mm+ focal length which is probably best achieved with a telescope of some kind which I don't have any experience with. I do have some experience in the research of lenses (Nikon) for doing contrail photography myself which include things like a 300mm + 2x, 400mm + 2x, 500mm + 1.4x or 2x, 600mm + 1.4x or 2x but the bigger lenses can be quite expensive! Also compared to telescopes these telephoto lenses plus the teleconverter won't get the aircraft to fill the frame. If you don't mind not filling the frame completely then maybe consider an old manual focus prime lens with teleconverter. An AF prime would be quite expensive but with a MF lens at these distances of aircraft at cruise altitude having the lens set to the infinity focus point should be sufficient.

Canon have manual focus FD 300mm, 400mm, 500mm, 600mm and 800mm lenses which could be used with a teleconverter. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canon_FD_ ... #Telephoto

Nikon also have MF lenses of 300mm, 400mm, 500mm, 600mm and 800mm which can be used with teleconverters https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikon_F-m ... ime_lenses

There are also other brands of lenses but I've not done research on them.

I was considering a Nikon 600mm f/5.6 Ai/Ais lens with a 2x teleconverter for a 1200mm f/11 lens but I didn't go for it because we don't have too much big aircraft traffic passing overhead where I live!

If you like Canon then maybe an FD 500mm f/4.5 L lens plus a 2x teleconverter for a 1000mm f/9 lens?

Like I mentioned earlier there are AF verions but they're more expensive! Less costly AF versions like 300mm f/4 with 2x only get you 600mm.

Here are some examples with an 80-400mm zoom at the 400mm end. Taken with D80/D200 so a 1.5x crop sensor. Images are uncropped right from the camera only resized. It's not really much of a view but imagine with 800mm the aircraft would be twice as big and 1000mm slightly bigger etc. Hope all of this helps a little!
Image

Image

Image

Image
 
DM
Posts: 354
Joined: Thu Aug 31, 2006 10:27 am

Re: Photographing Aircraft at height (contrails/vapor trails)

Mon Jan 08, 2018 9:46 pm

Sorry in my previous post I didn't realize that the Canon FD lenses won't mount onto EF bodies!

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