Camera Settings - Airshow

Aviation & Simulation Topics
Post Reply
User avatar
Teej
Virtual Thunderbird
Posts: 1530
Joined: Fri Jul 31, 2009 9:29 pm
Location: Milwaukee, WI

Camera Settings - Airshow

Post by Teej » Fri Nov 11, 2011 3:13 pm

Thought I'd share this for all.

OK, I'm something of a photographer and Panther had asked me a question regarding settings with her rig for airshow work with overcast skies. I had previously advised her to use "TV" mode (Canon. "S" for Nikon) for airshows so that she could slow down the shutter (1/125 - 1/400) for prop & rotor aircraft, and crank up to 1/800 - 1/1000 or more for jets.

The latest question was what to do about ISO on an overcast day. The short answer is - bump it up to ISO 200 and maybe 400 if it's a strong overcast.

Let's start with the "Sunny f16 rule" which states that at high-noon CAVU conditions, you will be very close to a "proper" exposure if you set your aperture to 16 and your shutter & ISO are reciprocals (i.e. 100 ISO, 1/100 shutter). If you keep the same ISO in those conditions and speed up the shutter, your fstop will drop in relation. If you went to 1/200, your fstop would be more like f11... and 1/400 = f8, 1/800 = f5.6.

An overcast day is probably taking out 2-3 stops of light depending on exactly how overcast - very light haze in the air where you can still see the sun takes a stop...which would mean at ISO 200 and 1/400 shutter, under heavy cloud cover, you'd still be shooting f4. If you need faster, go to 400 ISO.

The more likely change you'd need is to throw in ~ 1/2 stop or more of + exposure compensation since you're shooting a "dark" object (airplane) on a "bright" background (clouds). This will fool the camera's metering and result in underexposed airplanes.

I'd say start with ISO 200 and + 1/2 stop exposure compensation. If it tells you it's too dark for the shot, bump up the ISO to 400. If that's still not enough light for jets (1/800 or so shutter) with an f5.6 or f8...you're probably about to ride out a thunder/hail storm. :D

Bumping up the ISO will not counter for the overcast skies by itself.
User avatar
Convertible
Virtual Thunderbird Alumnus
Posts: 1069
Joined: Thu Apr 07, 2005 5:59 pm
Location: Phoenix, AZ

Post by Convertible » Fri Nov 11, 2011 5:10 pm

This is great. I just bought a Nikon D3100 and was wondering about some of the settings for this. Great advice Teej. Can't wait to try this out.

Con
Image
User avatar
Panther
Virtual Thunderbird
Posts: 1008
Joined: Wed Sep 13, 2006 4:41 am
Location: Las Vegas, NV

Post by Panther » Fri Nov 11, 2011 8:12 pm

Thanks for the tip Deuce! I'm afraid most of my shots look like garbage just because of the weather. :oops: I guess this is just how it's going to be this year, too bad. Again thanks for the info, it will go in my quick look reference pamphlet.
User avatar
Teej
Virtual Thunderbird
Posts: 1530
Joined: Fri Jul 31, 2009 9:29 pm
Location: Milwaukee, WI

Post by Teej » Sat Nov 12, 2011 1:23 am

Airshows are quite a bit different for me.

Usually I'm shooting ISO 5000 at f2.8 to get 1/400 shots - most of my paying work is youth sports, and generally indoors.

Not long after I got my current rig (which is getting a bit long in the tooth) we were shooting 7th grade girls basketball. One of the parents saw my camera and said "Oh, I just saw that on sale for $800." I replied "Well, that'll get you about half of the lens or 1/3 of the camera." Her jaw dropped and said "Well, I guess that's why you got shots of my daughter and I didn't."

Yup. That, and some practice and skill. ;)

Not bragging...I bought my gear to make a profit from, and I have. Of course, I think my camera now has ~ 130,000 snaps on it. Heh.
User avatar
Teej
Virtual Thunderbird
Posts: 1530
Joined: Fri Jul 31, 2009 9:29 pm
Location: Milwaukee, WI

Post by Teej » Sat Nov 12, 2011 1:32 am

Panther wrote:Thanks for the tip Deuce! I'm afraid most of my shots look like garbage just because of the weather. :oops:
Yeah, the cloud cover will kill the camera's metering. I'd use at least +.5 and probably +1.0 compensation for that...and it might even need more. Depends how smart the camera's metering is. Almost none will get it right, but they'll vary in how much comp you need to add. Don't trust the histogram - it's going to tell you you're blowing out the shot because the sky will be overexposed.

You may even need to go full manual depending on exactly what you're shooting and how much of the frame it fills. Close, light (white) colored aircraft will work better on the sensor than a small (far) dark aircraft.
Post Reply