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General photography questions and answers: Discuss Focussing...Hi, Can you help me? What is the best focussing setting for airshow photography and why? Thanks in advance...
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Old 06-01-2008, 04:53   #1 (permalink)
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Focussing

Hi, Can you help me?

What is the best focussing setting for airshow photography and why?

Thanks in advance
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Old 06-01-2008, 11:04   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Focussing

You have a Canon 350 Trooper I assume you will be using this. I would set the Focus mode to A1 Servo. It does depend what direction the aircraft is travelling relative to your standpoint.
The reason if you use one shot focus and you are "panning" or "tracking with the aircraft with your finger on the shutter release your focus distance will be changing and hence when you take the shot you are not at the point at which the camera set its optimum focus point.
The Servo setting is constantly readjusting the point at which optimum focus is correct.
Also you should partly pressing down the shutter release whilst you are tracking the shot so that when you think you have the perfect shot the camera will have no lag and the
A1 servo focus will have correctly adjusted as you pan.
I hope this helps.
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Last edited by brian wright22; 06-01-2008 at 13:52.
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Old 06-01-2008, 12:32   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Focussing

Since the aircraft in flight will usually be more than 30ft or 10 metres away, personally, I would set the camera to manual focus and use the hyperfocal distance method i.e. determine your aperture (use aperture priority if desired to maintain the f/No.) and use the maximum depth of field for that aperture. In this way you can forget about the need to focus and any aircraft within the depth of field range will be acceptably sharp.

This will allow you to concentrate on the aircraft position without worrying about technicalities or whether your AF system is going to mess you about.

Since AE systems (aperture priority etc) may be unduly influenced by the amount of sky around the aircraft, which may make the subject too dark, you may want to consider using manual exposure control also. If the light is variable you would need to do periodic checks of the exposure required.

Of course, you may need to set a particular shutter speed to control the aircraft movement so this also begs for manual exposure. Set the necessary shutter speed and f/No. e.g. 1/250 @ f/16 (sunny 16 rule with 200ISO on sunny day or whatever settings are needed for prevailing light) and set the manual focus to around 6 metres and you should have no problems.

I know this might upset those folks that pay loads of dosh for all these 'auto everything' gizmo's on a camera but there are many times when 'manual everything' is the best option for a particular subject/circumstance and for me air shows, which I love, are ideal for at least the manual focus technique described.

Cheers

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Old 06-01-2008, 13:50   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Focussing

Les has given a ver good example of how to do this but I tend to favour the method Brian has suggested setting the shutter speed between 250th and 500th with centre weighted or spot metering. Maybe try a few different methods and see which one suits you best.
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Old 06-01-2008, 14:21   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Focussing

I will post some of my 'lucky' shots in the gallery later.
I have tried the Auto & Hope (take 200 pics and hope i get 1 good one) method, but would really like to understand what i am doing and take consistently good shots.
Thank you for your advice. I will give them all a trial at Cosford Air Show this year.

Last edited by TrooperUK; 06-01-2008 at 14:27.
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Old 06-01-2008, 16:58   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Focussing

It depends what type of shot you take. I occasionally go to air shows and usually stand near the end of the runway near a point that the aircraft will just have taken off. I would normally use manual focus and manual exposure.

For focus I pre-focus onto a spot on or very close the the runway and follow the aircraft pressing the shutter when that pre-focus point is reached. For exposure, I would normally set the exposure as for the surrounding grass in the airfield. I used to use a formula which involved several readings of incident and reflected light but found the exposure of the grass to be much the same. Using a spot meter and recomposing is very difficult with an aircraft travelling at several hundred miles and hour.

You can try auto focus as well but I did get my best results with manual.
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