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Scale Model Jet shot at the Leesburg Airshow.
I found it challenging to shoot these small aircraft, especially the jets.
Any thoughts or suggestions are welcome.


Tags: Sports and action Model Airshow Airshow Photography jet Scale Model RC Model Jet

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banehawi Plus
16 2.4k 4200 Canada
5 Oct 2018 1:07PM
The 7D mark2 is especially good at tracking moving objects.

Did you use AI Servo for this purpose in the shots in the air? It takes some practice, so if you used it for the first time, you will improve with more attempts usually.

Shooting into the sky needs a +1 exposure comp, easier to do if you had used Shutter priority, auto ISO and Exposure Compensation.

I loaded a quick mod, but its best to know what AF mode you used.

4 31 1 United States
5 Oct 2018 1:32PM
Hi Willie,
Yes, I was set for AI Servo. I have used it before shooting soccer games and birds. These little planes travel much faster.
I initially shot with the small group of focus points around the middle of the view. I then switched to the full 65 focus point spread. My keeper rate increased. I noticed however that even with the full 65 point spread, the focus points had trouble keeping up with the planes.

Thanks for the heads up with +1 exposure comp. I was using manual with Auto ISO and an f/stop of 10. I chose f/10 to help compensate for missed focus points.
With Shutter priority, I believe I lose the ability to choose the f/stop, correct?

Thanks for the Mod.

dudler Plus
17 1.4k 1775 England
5 Oct 2018 4:36PM
There are a couple of differnt ways to work exposure for an action shot, and you're using one of them. I'm not sure if it's possible to use exposure compensation in that case: it certainly works with Program, as well as both Shutter and Aperture priority.

A thought, and it is definitely unproven theorising on my part, as I lack the lenses to test it out properly. BUT, for real aircraft (and models may be different, as they're smaller, and necessarily closer), maybe AF isn't strictly necessary, as the subject will always be 'very far away', and only a little short of the infinity setting. Except with the longest lenses and widest apertures, the right focus won't vary a lot - for practical purposes, perhaps, not at all.

I'd welcome a view from an experienced action shooter on this - and I may well be completely wrong...

For exposure, absolute precision of aperture and shutter speed won't matter, so it's not crucial that it's exactly f/10, or if it varies to f/8 or f/16. Similarly with shutter speed. So I'd suggest it's OK to go with an auto mode - after all, that's what most of the expert airshow togs on this site seem to do.
4 31 1 United States
5 Oct 2018 5:02PM
Thank you for your insights, as always John.
As mentioned, this is new ground for me.
My concern with this, and the other images I took, is the lack of sharpness. While I didn't see much in the way of motion blur, the image is not as sharp as the pictures I took of the larger planes and slower RC Models.

Perhaps this is a lens thing, I am not really sure. It just seems as if focus is off just a bit, softening the image.

4 31 1 United States
5 Oct 2018 5:03PM
I can say that the 7D MKii had trouble tracking the small planes, even with AI Server and using the full 65 Focus points on automatic.
dudler Plus
17 1.4k 1775 England
5 Oct 2018 8:14PM
I am now really itching to watch someone who knows what they're doing with a long lens, simply to see how the focus alters.

As I wrote earlier, I'd expect all the problems to be greater with smaller, closer subjects, and to be greater with faster objects. That's the nature of things.

I went to an airshow a couple of weeks ago, and found my old 500mm f/8 mirror lens to be hopeless in dull conditions. With only nine AF points, and no ability to zoom out to locate the planes in the first place, I was struggling!
banehawi Plus
16 2.4k 4200 Canada
5 Oct 2018 9:07PM
The camera has a large range of adjustments for AI Servo that can cope with faster moving subjects. It will take practice to get the right set up if you want to do more of this type. Its one of the best, and fastest tracking AF systems available, and accessing the controls as mentioned allow you to do a lot of tuning.
dark_lord Plus
16 2.7k 735 England
5 Oct 2018 9:52PM
There are ways of fine tuning the AF performance. There was an interesting tlk about it at the Photography Show earlier this year.
A number of the newer EOS models, including yours have this facility. Different action scenarios benefit from different settings such as sensitivity.
I can't remember all the details but an online search should bring up plenty of advice. I doubt if the instruction manual goes into it in any depth (they rarely do for advanced features and that's often when you need it to).

Exposure compensation works with Auto ISO in manual as it's the ISO that's being adjusted automaticallt by the camera. It is an Auto mode. However, I like to shoot such events on Manua (and fixed ISO)l when the light is constant, based on a reading off the grass of the airfield then I don't have to worry about compensation at all. Just check your reading every so often.

A lower hit rate with smaller and faster moving objects is to be expected in any case, whatever technical aids you use, compaered to larger manned craft, so it comes fown to technique and practice.

I find servo AF useful for tracking an aircraft as it approaches and passes. There is a discernable difference infocus point as although the ircraft usually pass along the same trajectorythis can vary a little and especially from for example take-pff and landing which is in the plane (no pun intended) of the runway or slightly further out for the main display. There can be more variation with smaller models and distancs from the camera.

All that said, looking backat aircraft images I shot on film many years ago, without AF, there was a reasonably high success rate (but my eyes were younger!).
4 31 1 United States
5 Oct 2018 11:20PM
The "sensitivity" setting I use for AI Servo and the focus points is to "not shoot if not in focus" I also had it set to follow the object.
That having been said, the camera sounded like a machine gun for a lot of it and a single shot for other times.
In Manual mode, I can see the red focus points attempt to keep up with the little jets. I believe that in TV "Shutter priority" mode and AI Servo mode, you do not see the focus points as red.

Perhaps the issue is with my panning skills, or lack thereof or perhaps the lens. Or, maybe this is just as good as it gets. I don't know.
I know I thoroughly enjoyed watching and shooting them. I wish there were other local events for me to practice with.

Thanks Keith.
Thanks everyone.

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