Air Show photography with the EM5 + 75-300

04/09/2012 - 11:57

I would typically shoot this type of event using Shutter Priority or Manual but, it being a bright day and not having any suitable ND filters to control Aperture (it wanted to shoot with f22+ a lot of the time, very bad for diffraction effects,) I decided to experiment using Aperture priority.


After some experimentation I set the camera up as follows:

ISO200, SAF+M focus, Low Speed multi-shot (4fps), EVF in high fps with Live View Boost on, IS/1, Aperture priority set to f8, IS on with half-press of the shutter button.

For most of the time I was using all focus points active but for some shots I switched to 9 points active (I couldn't see a lot of difference in focus speed)

Based on earlier experiments I have found that focus speed and accuracy + image sharpness appear best when keeping focal length to around 250mm maximum, which is what I did here.


So, what did I find?

Well, I shot over 1800 frames on the second day and got a better collection of images than I have ever achieved with my canon 7D / 5Dmk2 + "Long Zoom lenses".

I managed to record just about all the "Cross-overs" whether it be the Red Arrows, Tornados at speed or the fabulous Breitling Wing Walkers and the detail recorded was very good

I was suprised that using the camera in IS1 seemed to work better for me than IS/2 but suspect that relfects the fairly slow panning speed even with the fast jets, because of the distance they were away from the crowd.

When shooting at 4fps EVF blackout between shots was so short that it was easy to track fast moving aircraft when panning (in fact it felt very similar to using my canon DSLR's in this way) Note that I had image review switched off to achieve this.

Switch on to focus was quick enough that I felt confident in switching off the camera between bursts of action, not missing a single bit of the action shooting this way

Some interesting observations on what was / was not a good subject to AF with came to light during this time, confirming both the strengths and weakness of the Contrast Detection focus system of the EM5:

- Strong blocks of colour, sharp edges and linear patterning provided the best subjects with the system snapping into focus consistently and accurately

- bright but random patterns, smooth rounded shapes and pale colours were difficult to impossible to get clear focus lock on against a brigh grey sky, becoming easier against darker skies or the sea

- the low inertia of this system is demanding a different hand-holding technique than with my canon system in order to maintain stability of the image in the view finder


The low weght of this system meant that I was able to shoot all day without any aches or pains the next day


Overall it was a most enjoyable and satisfying photoshoot and I now have confidence in this system for Air Show photography


Images from the days are shown in a new gallery on this website





Steve Albano
23/03/2014 - 16:11
Some good info here (I found you from the Flickr forum). I may try slowing down my fps to help with the EVF blackout.

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