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Advice on Lens Upgrade

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Advice on Lens Upgrade

Postby Gracemissmetalgear » Sun Jul 16, 2017 2:19 pm

So having just come back from RIAT, I've found myself thinking it may be time to upgrade my lens. Bear in mind I'm fairly new to the ins and outs of DSLR's and I'm still trying to understand and learn things about settings and what everything means. (And trying to figure out how to take pictures in really overcast conditions!). I currently have a Canon EOS 600D, with a Canon EF 75-300mm lens for 'in the air' shots. I feel the need for a longer range now but I don't know what kind of range is good for getting sharp aviation shots. Is it all in the lens? Is my 600D capable? My images give me the impression I'm struggling with the top end of my lens, the aircraft always look soft, and most of the time very far away!

To sum up: Which focal length is good for sharp air shots? Or any recommendations for lenses, preferably a zoom, something that would suit a 600D, and not too heavy!

Any advice is much appreciated. :thumb:
"If you push the stick forward, the houses get bigger. If you pull the stick back, they get smaller. That is, unless you keep pulling the stick all the way back, then they get bigger again."
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Re: Advice on Lens Upgrade

Postby p6025 » Mon Jul 17, 2017 4:33 pm

Gracemissmetalgear wrote:the aircraft always look soft, and most of the time very far away!

Unlikely soft is simply going to be fixed by getting a longer lens. Just as likely to compound the issue. You should first find out why they are soft, the most likely candidates being camera shake or poor focus. Care to post a couple of typically soft examples (aside from resizing, without post-processing) with the EXIF data intact?


Paul.
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Re: Advice on Lens Upgrade

Postby deerhunter » Mon Jul 17, 2017 5:22 pm

Sound advice.
Canon 7D Mk2 plus long lenses, and lots of hope!

GRIM REAPERS SUPPORTER

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Re: Advice on Lens Upgrade

Postby Gracemissmetalgear » Mon Jul 17, 2017 7:07 pm

So I've looked through some of the data on the pictures and realised I'd been shooting two sets of the jets with a slow shutter speed meant for the prop aircraft beforehand.. :Oops: That probably didn't help things. I wasn't greatly prepared really, I found a quick basic 'guide' to settings before I got there and to be honest I still don't totally understand the relationship between them all yet. This is the first time I've really started to experiment outside of Auto! I'm generally okay when I have a blue sky.. but RIAT was just grey, grey and more grey.

Anyway, here's one of the images of Solo Turk just after he landed, totally untouched and data is below. Constructive criticism appreciated! :lol:

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Image
"If you push the stick forward, the houses get bigger. If you pull the stick back, they get smaller. That is, unless you keep pulling the stick all the way back, then they get bigger again."
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Re: Advice on Lens Upgrade

Postby p6025 » Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:36 pm

You weren't kidding when you said soft. Looking at the EXIF, you seem to have the obvious things set ok (Servo AF, continuous drive mode, centre focus point selected, etc.). Though I would question the 1/4000th @ f5 @ 1600 ISO as being optimal, but that doesn't play a part in the softness here; and 1/4000th certain rules out camera shake...

I can't see an obvious cause, but in the 'creative modes' (Tv, AV, M, etc.) and Servo-AF you can shoot whilst the camera is still focussing. Did you take a series of images, specifically immediately after this one; and do they all exhibit the same level of softness?

Which specific 70-300mm lens do you have - the c.1991 vintage original 70-300/f4-5.6 (without IS and any roman numerals)? That would rule out being 'Image stabilizer related (i.e. it is possible to shoot whilst the IS is not ready).

Must say I am not particularly a fan of 'Auto Lighting Optimizer' (ALO), generally slows the camera down with the in-camera processing - would rather do that in post-processing. But if you shoot only JPEG it might have some value. As an aside you should probably update the camera's firmware to the latest 1.0.3 (from your 1.0.2).


Paul.
Last edited by p6025 on Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Advice on Lens Upgrade

Postby Andy_99 » Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:43 pm

OK here's my take

ISO is too high really that will give you a bit of noise in the picture
Shutter speed is fantastic but I tend to stick at about 1/1000 - 1/1250 or so for fast jets, slower for props & Helo's depends on what they are to speed to get blur.
Aperture most lenses have a sweet spot (F8 ish) to get the best out of them, f5 will give you a reduced depth of field & you may end up with portions out of focus.

Best bet is to practice, practice & practice.

I agree the grey on grey was a bit of a challenge at RIAT, at times I was struggling to get decent focus lock.

Lastly note to self as much as anyone else, remember to set the camera correctly before thinking you have a camera issue, I spent ages thinking I had issues only to find I was using a single focus point offset to the left of the viewfinder.

The customer canon lenses do tend to be a bit soft if conditions aren't perfect so better glass will help but.......... get the best out of what you have 1st before outlaying silly money on glass.
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Re: Advice on Lens Upgrade

Postby Thunder » Mon Jul 17, 2017 11:15 pm

I'm new to DSLR but photography basics remain the same. Agree that the ISO is way too high I would be aiming for somewhere around the 400-600 mark outside on an cloudy day, using a focal length of 220mm I would be aiming for a shutter speed of no more than 1/350 unless for flying shots then increase to around 1/500. By lowering the shutter speed will increase the aperture F number aim for about F8/10, however if you can't achieve this then up the ISO. I tend to shoot in TV mode as I find it easier to control once you've set the ISO. I would also reset the Exp compensation back to zero

However going by the image above I would check your focusing settings on the camera as the perimeter fence in the background looks more in focus than the subject, looks like your camera is looking past the subject, which would be caused by selecting the wrong focusing spot as Andy states above. I've also found in the past with Canon 35mm SLR's, that when using Servo AF the camera/lens can struggle to focus when using the lens at or near the max focal length, and for shots like the one above are best taken as one shot focusing.
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Re: Advice on Lens Upgrade

Postby Nighthawke » Mon Jul 17, 2017 11:33 pm

The filesize suggests that it was shot in RAW. I am no expert but I think that means no in-camera sharpening was done but would be in JPEG.

A bit of post-processing sharpening might help to improve things. However on my small laptop screen it doesn't look all that bad. I'd keep it as a record shot at least.

Hang in there, learn the basics, get comfortable with what you've got and enjoy.
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Re: Advice on Lens Upgrade

Postby The Phantom » Tue Jul 18, 2017 6:23 am

Looking at the image, to me though the aircraft is soft and not in focus, the fence in the background is in focus - as though the lens has focused onto this area; which will be dependant on what auto focus sensors you have set up. With a moving subject it can be very difficult to keep a single auto focus point on the subject - which is down to stance, technique, etc. But if you have multi focus points set, they may have focused on to the subject behind the aircraft.

As for the lens (75-300) that was always their entry level lens and produces soft images. The best of the non-professional white Canon lenses (with that reach) was the 70-300mm IS lens - which produced very good images. I don't think they make these any more, but there may be good quality ones available on ebay. They brought out a newer white lens version of the 70-300 which gives fantastic image quality, but don't know what sort of price these would be second hand.

As others have said (though it's an aside from the softness of the photo) the ISO is set way too high.
Unfortunately grey skies make for very bad aircraft photography - you won't be alone to struggle in those circumstances.
But shooting a fast moving military jet is very very hard. Above all keep practising as then you will improve. But certainly a change of lens will improve the quality available when you do nail a shot.
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