Lens for aerial photography


RobE17

Link Posted 28/07/2009 - 19:50
I have been fortunate enough to be offered the chance to go up in a helicopter to take some aerial shots of London and now have the dilemma as to what lens to use. I have the DA 18-250 which I think will be okay or should I use my recently aquired DA* 60-250? Having said that I think that lens may be slightly too big and heavy

Any other ideas/suggestions?

Rob

Spad

Link Posted 28/07/2009 - 21:45
I would not know what to suggest...

I have only shot them from the ground up. From what I have been told they vibrate a bit so if using a long lens you might get camera shake! I'd go with the 18-250 then you have best of both worlds.
Rock and Roll ain't a music genre...

IT'S A WAY OF LIFE!!!
Last Edited by Spad on 28/07/2009 - 21:46

titchgamer

Link Posted 28/07/2009 - 22:06
Well all I can say is make sure its fast as possible! u will be moving alot and flash or shake reduction wont do much good! :-p
Lil Andy

K20D, PENTAX DA 18-55, TAMRON DI 70-300, PENTAX SMC-K 135 f2.5

www.ajohnson-photography.co.uk

Mannesty

Link Posted 28/07/2009 - 22:55
I've used an SMCP-FA 28-200mm zoom mostly. Covers most needs for shots of inside and outside of the aircraft but it all depends really on how high you'll go. I've been up to 5000 feet in a Piper Warrior but I doubt you'll go to that kind of altitude.
Peter E Smith

My flickr Photostream

ChrisA

Link Posted 28/07/2009 - 23:36
RobE17 wrote:
I have been fortunate enough to be offered the chance to go up in a helicopter to take some aerial shots of London and now have the dilemma as to what lens to use. I have the DA 18-250 which I think will be okay or should I use my recently aquired DA* 60-250? Having said that I think that lens may be slightly too big and heavy

If you're shooting through the canopy, you certainly don't want to worry about ultimate sharpness, since it's not achievable. 60mm as a minimum is a restriction I would not want, so I see no advantage in using the 60-250. You probably won't be very high at all if you're over London, so you may well not need the extreme long end either.

Shake reduction is just as useful shooting from an aircraft as it is anywhere else, since the apparent movement is not great, and camera shake is just as present as ever. This is especially true, since holding the camera and pointing it in the direction you want is often quite awkward, given the restrictions of the safety belt.

Personally I'd go for the 18-250. It's likely to be a half-way decent day if you're flying at all, so there'll probably be enough light for such a relatively slow lens.

The most serious problem you'll have to contend with is reflections from the canopy. In practice, a polariser is quite difficult to manage from inside a small aircraft, since even without it, you'll have very little time to frame and shoot as you go past whatever catches your interest. If you're not accustomed to it, faffing with the polariser will simply take too much time, and in any case I don't find it as effective at eliminating reflections from the canopy as I might think it should be. Unless it's an extremely bright day, the two stops you lose, coupled with the slowness of the 18-250, are not worth the additional effort.

One thing you must avoid at all costs is bracing the end of the lens against the canopy, since the high-frequency vibration through the aircraft structure will vibrate the camera beyond the SR's ability to correct.

In my experience, the wider the angle, the more likely you are to catch unwanted reflections, or include unwanted bits of the aircraft, so it may be that you don't need as wide as 18mm.

I don't have an 18-250, but I do have the FA 28-200, and it does quite well...

I took this, this, and this with the K10D and 28-200. You'll probably do better with both hands on the camera.

Edit: and this, which was from a heli, that I wasn't flying.

Edit2: I'd be interested in Dirk's views on this one, since he also has quite a bit of experience taking pictures from an aeroplane.
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Pentax K-3, DA18-135, DA35 F2.4, DA17-70, DA55-300, FA28-200, A50 F1.7, A100 F4 Macro, A400 F5.6, Sigma 10-20 EXDC, 50-500 F4.5-6.3 APO DG OS Samsung flash SEF-54PZF(x2)
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Last Edited by ChrisA on 28/07/2009 - 23:56

pentaxian450

Link Posted 28/07/2009 - 23:53
You use whatever lens gives you the coverage you need. It can be ANY lens. Forget about the speed of the lens if you are shooting during daytime. Even if you are flying at 200 km/h, things down there won't be moving out too fast due to your height. Use a good polarizer to avoid glare in the glasses of the plane, or better yet, if you are flying in a Cessna, remove the bracket that keeps the window from opening fully (my favorite, I took it off permanently on my Cessna) and gently open the window. It will settle about an inch from the wing, and you have an unobstructed view. Just remember, if you have back seat passengers, they're going to hate you. As for vibration, just don't let the camera rest against any part of the plane. In a way, the human body is an outstanding vibration isolator.
Yves (another one of those crazy Canucks)
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