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Drew1980

Plane Spotting with A7R III

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Hello everyone,

 

I'm new here and hoping someone can help me out with my question. I'm an aviation enthusiast and currently, it seems Nikon and Canon still dominate so it's hard to get advice because no one I know that spots aircraft uses a Sony Alpha system. 

 

My question is regarding the focus mode. I normally use the "wide area" with AF-C. A lot of pictures come out blurred, or the tail and cockpit of the aircraft are 'soft" while the main fuselage in focus. On the flip side, I got the most crisp photo using AF-C "Center" which I found to be odd. I attached that picture here, but I couldn't upload the full version as it's around 18MB. Does that seem odd that a "center" mode would give me a super crisp photo? 

 

Any advice is truly grateful. 

Thanks!!AJA01234.jpg.125a08599f3507f5d612e4f87b937bd0.jpg

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Probably you are looking at circular movement blur. Your camera turns slightly as you press the shutter. I cannot understand how at that distance you could get the cockpit and the tail out of focus while having the center of the fuselage in focus.
Try with a tri- or a monopod and a shorter time. With Sony you can be liberal with high ISOs.

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I don't know how far you were from the plane, your f number used, focal lenght, shutter time, but when you use autofocus c-wide, you should realize the camera picks the closest item to your camera, in this case the closest wing tip. With autofocus c-centre you can aim at a point of your choice. For situations like this I use expand flexible spot, you can set this point anywhere, and in this way choose a composition you like. But I agree with martti, at that distance dept of field should be sufficient to cover the whole plane, regardless of your f number. I would try the following settings:  Aperture priority, f8, iso auto, with ISO auto min.ss set at 1/1000, focus area expand flexible spot. 

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Try setting the AFC area focus to Tracking and wide and then you can use the AF-ON button to press and it will concentrate on the centre area, once locked on the subject the tracking will stay on the aircraft - have a look at the Mark Galer videos on setting up tracking for sports -

 

 

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Thank you everyone!! I am going to try your tips. Honestly... the pic that I posted, the focus was set to centre. I don’t know why it was set that way, but I always use “wide”. 
 

And I do watch Mark Galer! He’s amazing and extremely helpful. I’ll look at that specific video. 
 

I’m thinking I should’ve went with the A7 III or A9 for its superior tracking. However, I wanted to print my photos large which I do, and I don’t think I would be able to do that with the 24mp sensor. 

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1 hour ago, Lescatalpas said:

I don't know how far you were from the plane, your f number used, focal lenght, shutter time, but when you use autofocus c-wide, you should realize the camera picks the closest item to your camera, in this case the closest wing tip. With autofocus c-centre you can aim at a point of your choice. For situations like this I use expand flexible spot, you can set this point anywhere, and in this way choose a composition you like. But I agree with martti, at that distance dept of field should be sufficient to cover the whole plane, regardless of your f number. I would try the following settings:  Aperture priority, f8, iso auto, with ISO auto min.ss set at 1/1000, focus area expand flexible spot. 

I have tried flexible spot, but it can’t seem to keep up with the fast moving aircraft. It loses focus. The details for the photo I posted are:

ISO 50, 85mm prime, f/4.0, 1,1000 sec. 

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1 hour ago, Iansky said:

Try setting the AFC area focus to Tracking and wide and then you can use the AF-ON button to press and it will concentrate on the centre area, once locked on the subject the tracking will stay on the aircraft - have a look at the Mark Galer videos on setting up tracking for sports -

 

 

Thank you so much! I do watch Mark Galer. He’s a plethora of great information but I haven’t watched this video yet. I’ll be sure to check it out. 

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1 hour ago, Lescatalpas said:

I don't know how far you were from the plane, your f number used, focal lenght, shutter time, but when you use autofocus c-wide, you should realize the camera picks the closest item to your camera, in this case the closest wing tip. With autofocus c-centre you can aim at a point of your choice. For situations like this I use expand flexible spot, you can set this point anywhere, and in this way choose a composition you like. But I agree with martti, at that distance dept of field should be sufficient to cover the whole plane, regardless of your f number. I would try the following settings:  Aperture priority, f8, iso auto, with ISO auto min.ss set at 1/1000, focus area expand flexible spot. 

Thank you!! Ironically, for this specific pic it was set at centre. I don’t even know why because I always use wide. The metadata for this pic is:

ISO 50, f/4.0, 1/1000, 85mm prime. 

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How big is a big print in your terminology?
With 24MB you get up to 16" x 24" photo quality.
How close is the viewing distance? Where will the pictures be displayed?
Do viewers carry microscopes?


 

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Just now, martti_s said:

How big is a big print in your terminology?
With 24MB you get up to 16" x 24" photo quality.
How close is the viewing distance? Where will the pictures be displayed?
Do viewers carry microscopes?


 

As an example, I attached a photo that I blew up to cover my entire wall above my bed. Roughly 27”x18”

AJA07252.jpg

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I use my a7r3 a lot for birding. Birds go a lot faster than planes (relatively) given the distance between subject and camera. Another variable is , is the plane flying towards you or perpendicular to you. Birds against a blue sky are perfectly picked up by the camera using wide focus area, but as soon as trees are in the frame I use the expanded flexible spot. 

By the way, iso50  is not meaningful , as the base iso of the cam is 100. It is best to keep your iso at 100 and increase your f number for more depth of field.  Better still: use iso auto and iso auto min.ss at 1/1000.  And use aperture priority, f8 or more. 

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26 minutes ago, Lescatalpas said:

I use my a7r3 a lot for birding. Birds go a lot faster than planes (relatively) given the distance between subject and camera. Another variable is , is the plane flying towards you or perpendicular to you. Birds against a blue sky are perfectly picked up by the camera using wide focus area, but as soon as trees are in the frame I use the expanded flexible spot. 

By the way, iso50  is not meaningful , as the base iso of the cam is 100. It is best to keep your iso at 100 and increase your f number for more depth of field.  Better still: use iso auto and iso auto min.ss at 1/1000.  And use aperture priority, f8 or more. 

The aircraft are coming in perpendicular. 

I think ISO still confuses me. I just thought the lower the ISO, the less grain and cleaner the photo. 

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5 hours ago, Drew1980 said:

The aircraft are coming in perpendicular. 

I think ISO still confuses me. I just thought the lower the ISO, the less grain and cleaner the photo. 

Have a look at this video on youtube: 

 

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22 hours ago, Drew1980 said:

No. That was at LAX. 

In case you are wondering about my question, do a Google image search on your picture and you will find it signed by somebody else, placed in Osaka. World is strange. 

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10 hours ago, martti_s said:

In case you are wondering about my question, do a Google image search on your picture and you will find it signed by somebody else, placed in Osaka. World is strange. 

I can’t find it. Show me... it’s my picture! I’ll post the raw file with the all the copyright data 

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It's been taken down now. I should have screenshotted it.
I do not question your honesty.
I just right-clicked on your picture and did 'search google' and Osaka popped up with your picture signed by somebody else. I checked the 'contrails', they were exactly the same. It was your photo.
Happens. It is a good idea to check every now and then, especially a perfect shot like yours.
 

Edited by martti_s

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1 minute ago, martti_s said:

It's been taken down now. I should have screenshotted it.
I do not question your honesty.
I just right-clicked on your picture and did 'search google' and Osaka popped up with your picture signed by somebody else.
Happens. It is a good idea to check every now and then, especially a perfect shot like yours.
 

Good I’m glad it’s down!! I’d have liked to see it. Was it the American Airlines pic, or the China Air with vapor trails? 

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2 minutes ago, martti_s said:

It was the same one you posted on this page, judging from the 'contrails' that were identical.
 

Well, if anyone wants to see, I can post the RAW pic with the copyright data. It’s posted on my Instagram as well. 

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