Lenses For Aviation Photography


PJMcKenna

Link Posted 14/12/2017 - 17:02
I have both the K-5 and K-3 and am thinking of having a go at aviation photography. My longest lens is currently the SMC version of the excellent DA 55-300. Would it be wise to buy the 1.4x rear converter to use with my lens or look for something better like the DA* 60-250 f4 or the 150-450? I have to keep in mind that I'm only slightly built physically and struggled with handling a Sigma 120-400 when I tried it on another maker's body.
Cheers Paul

Pentax K5, DA 18-55 WR, DA 18-135 WR, DA 55-300 ED, DA 35 f2.8 Macro Limited, A 50 f1.7, DA 50 f1.8
Samsung GX10, D-Xenon 18-55, SEF-36PZF Flash
Sigma 10-20 EX DC f4-5.6

reso

Link Posted 14/12/2017 - 17:17
If its any help i used a sigma 70-200 2.8 and a sigma 1.4 converter results were very good i found that a pentax 55-300 did a lot of hunting and would not lock on
my avatar photo taken with the sigma combo
k5iis tamron 17-50 2.8 pentax f smc 28-80 pentax fa 28-200 tamron 70-200 sp 2.8 pentax da 55-300
kenko pz af 1.5 dg converter and a af 500ftz flash
Last Edited by reso on 14/12/2017 - 17:18

ilovesaabs

Link Posted 14/12/2017 - 22:46
If you can afford the 150-450 get that.

If you can't there's always the 150-500 Sigma or 50-500 Bigma, both very good.

But both are big, weight and length. I had the problem at one airshow (incidentally Shoreham when the Hunter crashed) found that the problem was people started standing too close to me and found themselves in line of the lens hood as I was panning the shots. I get a dirty look, I ask them why they stand so close to me.

Using the converter with the 55-300 I am not sure how well that will work, as the lens will be f9 and autofocus will struggle. No issue with the DA*60-250 as you will make it an 350f5.6.

If you are happy with the DA55-300, keep it on the K3 then you always have the option of cropping if you want to make an A4 print. 300mm might be the ideal focal length as sometimes a longer lens will just be too long.
AKA Welshwizard/PWynneJ
Assorted Pentax/Nikon/Mamiya stuff

Defragged

Link Posted 14/12/2017 - 23:19
The Sigma 100-300mm f4 if you can snag one is also a good option with the K3. I found the K5 very frustrating due to focus hunting but no such problems with the K3.

In the absence of anything else though, the Pentax 55-300 is very competent for a first foray into aviation photography. You may invest heavily in a big fast lens, only to find aviation photography isn't your cup of tea. So I'd suggest have a go with what you have and take it from there.

Good luck.
C.O.L.B.A.S victim
(Compulsive Obsessive Lens Buying Addiction Syndrome)

What you need are lenses, more lenses, bigger lenses, better lenses, faster lenses, and when you have these, your pictures will be perfect!

1stEverPentax

Link Posted 15/12/2017 - 00:06
A lot will depend on the type of 'aviation' you want to shoot. Military or Civil, jets, helicopters , props...all of it?

I notice you are in Lancashire. Manchester Airport is great for airliner shots. I've used a Tamron 70-300 Di LD very successfully there for years but am now trying out a couple of old film era zooms...the 75-150 f4 SMC M and the 80-200f4.5 SMC M. These are both manual lenses but are a doddle to use and focus and are very compact and light compared to the mega Sigma AF zooms...quality is good enough too for cropping purposes.

As important as choice of lens though is the ability to be able to pan with the moving aircraft. Keeping the aircraft in the viewfinder...keeping pace with it, in effect allows to you choose a lower shutter speed which is useful for aircraft shots that include the ground or significant background other than sky, as you can create blur in the background which gives 'speed' and apparent motion to the aircraft you are photographing. This technique isn't particularly difficult to learn but does take practice and is easier to perfect with smaller and lighter lenses.

Regards

Karlo

Kevriano

Link Posted 15/12/2017 - 05:40
Regarding the 150 -450, it's a fab lens, but heavier than the 100 - 400 Sigma, which I owned prior to getting mine. I've seen some great aviation shots recently, on the US Pentax forum, and they were shot on a Sigma 300, f2.8 so no reason a 300 f4 wouldn't be a good shout, though it limits you to that focal length.
K3, K3 II, DA 150-450, 100MM 2.8 Macro, Sigma 10-20 3.5, Sigma 17-50 2.8
Last Edited by Kevriano on 15/12/2017 - 05:42

Chrism8

Link Posted 15/12/2017 - 07:16
I have both the 100 - 300 F4 and the 150 - 450, the latter is better imo for wildlife, I go to the mach loop several times a year and find the 150 - 450 a little unwieldy hand held and difficulty to follow the jets and zoom and harder still on a monopod.

Both, the 100 - 300 is superb and my go to lens on the hill, you can still get them used on this forum and fleabay in PK mount.
Chris

www.chrismillsphotography.co.uk

" A Hangover is something that occupies the Head you neglected to use the night before".

-------------------------------------------------------------
K1 - Pentax 100 Macro F2.8 - Sigma 85mm F1.4, Pentax 150 -450 F4.5 / 5.6

Pentax FA 24 - 70 F2.8, Sigma 100-300 F4, Samyang 14mm F2.8, Sigma 70-200 F2.8,

K5iis - Sigma 17 - 70 F2.8, Sigma 70 - 300 F3.5/F5.6, Sigma 18 - 200 F3.6 / F4.5.

PJMcKenna

Link Posted 15/12/2017 - 08:31
Thanks everyone, my interest is photographing airliners, so I think I'll give my 55-300 a go at Manchester Airport. I did use that successfully on the Vulcan farewell tour when the aircraft overflew Barnoldswick
Cheers Paul

Pentax K5, DA 18-55 WR, DA 18-135 WR, DA 55-300 ED, DA 35 f2.8 Macro Limited, A 50 f1.7, DA 50 f1.8
Samsung GX10, D-Xenon 18-55, SEF-36PZF Flash
Sigma 10-20 EX DC f4-5.6

Gajan

Link Posted 15/12/2017 - 10:20
I took these using my K5 and HD PENTAX-DA 55-300mm F4-5.8 ED WR from my back garden. I had to use manual focus to avoid hunting and missing the target though.



Flickr



Flickr

Gajan
Best Regards,

Gajan

Flickr : link

Pentax K-1, Pentax FA 77mm 1.8 Limited, Pentax HD D-FA 28-105mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR
Pentax k-5, Pentax 18-135 mm f/3.5-5.6 ED AL IF DC WR, Pentax DA 55-300mm F4-5.8 ED WR
Pentax K100D Super, SMC Pentax 3.6-:5.4 18-55mm AL

johnha

Link Posted 15/12/2017 - 16:48
1stEverPentax wrote:
As important as choice of lens though is the ability to be able to pan with the moving aircraft. Keeping the aircraft in the viewfinder...keeping pace with it, in effect allows to you choose a lower shutter speed which is useful for aircraft shots that include the ground or significant background other than sky, as you can create blur in the background which gives 'speed' and apparent motion to the aircraft you are photographing. This technique isn't particularly difficult to learn but does take practice and is easier to perfect with smaller and lighter lenses.

As Karlo mentioned, once you have reasonable lens, technique is more important. 300mm is a long lens on APS-C - especially for large aircraft. Something 400mm+ adds weight, bulk and can become a pain to handle if you have to hold it for long periods.

Concentrate on framing - when going for a tight crop you can easily lose the tip of the tail or wingtips out of the frame. Avoid shake, blurred landing lights immediately emphasise shake and ruin a shot. Keeping on top of your technique is more important than your gear.

If using the 'viewing mounds' at Manchester (small raised platforms), keep an eye on your surroundings - be aware that other photographers may be lining their shots up behind you - try to avoid moving across their sight-line. Once you've got your shot(s), consider whether moving out of the way would help them. When framing, watch for the fence across the bottom of the frame.

Hope this helps.

John.
PPG Flickr
Last Edited by johnha on 15/12/2017 - 16:48

jeallen01

Link Posted 16/12/2017 - 09:03
If, as it seems to be, weight is a real issue then I'm with reso about using the 70-200 Sigma and 1.4xTC.

I used that combo for a long time on the GX10 (=K10D) and K-5 until I got my hands on a 100-300 F4 - but that's a lot heavier than the above combo, as are the "larger"150-500 & 50-500 Sigmas (and as for the 150-450 Pentax, that's heavier still!).

Still occasionally use the combo when shooting at small venues like Old Warden (Shuttleworth Trust). However, at most airshows nowadays, as a direct result of the Shoreham crash (was also there on the day of the tragic accident), the display lines are a lot further from the fronts of the crowd lines, and the minimum display altitudes are higher, than they were a few years ago. Therefore I've normally got the 100-300 F4 & 1.4xTC on the K-3 II, and the 150-500 HSM (a very slow-focusing lens by comparison with the 100-300 F4 ) on the K-3.

Having tried it several times, the 55-300 Pentax is not much use at airshows because of the slow focusing (though the very latest PLM version is said to be a lot faster, it won't work on the K-5, and - I don't think - on the original K-3).
K-3 II, K-3, K-5 & K-30, & some Sigma and Pentax lenses (and a lot of old 35mm gear!)
Last Edited by jeallen01 on 16/12/2017 - 09:05

PJMcKenna

Link Posted 16/12/2017 - 22:08
Thanks to everyone for your very kind advice. One lens I have thought at looking eventually at is the Tamron 70-200 f2.8 with the Pentax 1.4x converter. I wonder if that would work or if the AF would be too slow?
Cheers Paul

Pentax K5, DA 18-55 WR, DA 18-135 WR, DA 55-300 ED, DA 35 f2.8 Macro Limited, A 50 f1.7, DA 50 f1.8
Samsung GX10, D-Xenon 18-55, SEF-36PZF Flash
Sigma 10-20 EX DC f4-5.6

jeallen01

Link Posted 16/12/2017 - 22:12
PJMcKenna wrote:
Thanks to everyone for your very kind advice. One lens I have thought at looking eventually at is the Tamron 70-200 f2.8 with the Pentax 1.4x converter. I wonder if that would work or if the AF would be too slow?

Sounds like a potentially pretty good combo - and might be cheaper than the Sigma alternative.
K-3 II, K-3, K-5 & K-30, & some Sigma and Pentax lenses (and a lot of old 35mm gear!)

MrB

Link Posted 17/12/2017 - 09:35
jeallen01 wrote:

Having tried it several times, the 55-300 Pentax is not much use at airshows because of the slow focusing (though the very latest PLM version is said to be a lot faster, it won't work on the K-5, and - I don't think - on the original K-3).

Quote K-3 Firmware update V.1.30:
"Enable new lens HD PENTAX-DA 55-300mmF4.5-6.3ED PLM WR RE to shoot stable by updating firmware".

Cheers.
Philip

jeallen01

Link Posted 17/12/2017 - 09:48
Thanks for the heads-up on the V1.30 f/w - last time I looked, the latest was V1.21, and (as the PF article mentions) it seemed that the PLM update for the K-3 would never be released.

In that case, the 55-300 PLM version might be a good idea for the OP (albeit that it is quite expensive).
K-3 II, K-3, K-5 & K-30, & some Sigma and Pentax lenses (and a lot of old 35mm gear!)
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