When I was a little boy, we lived practically across the street from a military base and international airport. My big brother Christopher and I would race up the hill as soon as we heard the faintest sound of an airplane. We would sometimes grab our Dad’s binoculars to get a closer look at the action. As I grew up I eventually forgot about aircraft spotting. My brother never stopped however. He routinely spends an afternoon at the end of any runway that has a view and access.
He recently visited and since he’s caught the photography bug from me he suggested we go aircraft spotting so I can give him some tips on how to photograph airplanes. Little did I know I would catch the plane spotting bug all over again. This was only a few days ago and now today I spent my sunset at Sacramento International Airport (SMF) on the lookout for special airplanes – the ones with unique livery, colors and paint jobs. Both occasions have been great opportunities for me to test my gear and add yet another dimension to my photography experience.
The shot at the top is a panorama taken with the Canon 5DsR and EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM with EF 2x Extender III. That a shot this sharp and detailed could be taken handheld at 600mm is a testament to the effectiveness of the camera system. The original image is about 20x more detailed. You can read the fine print on the rear door. This is one of those ideal conditions where the Extender III works at it’s best. It did however soften the incredible sharpness of the EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens ever so slightly.
Yes, I am well aware that the 5DsR is not really designed for this kind of action. However these are the kind of challenges I like to give myself. Yes it is possible to photograph action with the 5DsR – by carefully framing and tracking your subject, paying very keen attention and holding a steady hand. The 5DsR’s fast and effective AF system and accurate metering system more than compensate for it’s slower shutter speed. You just can’t “spray and pray” that you got your shot. You have to focus a little more. I also used the Canon 7D Mark II today. It was just too easy as this is exactly the kind of photography it was designed for.
I also rented the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens from Photo Source for the second day. I noticed that the fixed focal length of the 300mm was not well suited for this type of photography. My 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II was just not long enough for half the scenarios. I have to say the 100-400mm was nothing short of perfect. I simply forgot, stopped thinking about my lens configuration and focused more on my shots. I am tempted to add this lens to my kit.
This was fun and relaxing!