Aviation photography is really popular amongst photographers and with so many fantastic Air Shows, Displays and Festivals across the UK this time of year there has never been a better time to give it a try!
Camera equipment evolves so fast it’s often hard to keep up with all the latest innovations so let us give you a run down of our best picks from cameras to lenses to accessories across a range of budgets.
The best cameras for aviation photography need to have a good degree of control over exposure, such as shutter priority mode and exposure compensation. A lot of entry level compacts and bridge cameras don’t have this degree of control but all of the cameras we are about to cover do.
The first question you need to ask is ‘Do I need or want to change lenses?’ if the answer is no then a decent bridge camera might be for you. Our pick of the bunch is as follows:
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000
Available now, £529
£50 Cashback from Panasonic UK until September 10th | Free Hoodo Daypack worth £89 until September 1st
Providing a good balance between price and performance, the FZ1000 packs a lot of punch. Full manual control for tweaking that shutter speed to get the aircraft’s movement right and exposure compensation to help pick the plane out against a brightly lit sky. It also has 1” sensor for high quality images and a superb Leica designed 25mm-400mm (35mm equiv lens).
If the ability to change lenses is important, then a DSLR or Mirrorless camera is what you need to look at.
Canon EOS 2000D Body only
Available body only for £329
£40 cashback available until the end of August 2018. Lens bundles also available.
This entry level DSLR from Canon is a great introduction the world of interchangeable lens cameras. Featuring an APS-C sized 24 megapixel sensor, you can be sure of good quality images. Light weight build and wifi connectivity also add to the appeal.
Fujifilm X-T20 Body
Available now body only for £749
Lens bundles are also available.
This mid-level camera from Fujifilm is a mirrorless camera, meaning it is one of the new era of cameras which dispense with the conventional mirror box and optical viewfinder, in favour for a smaller, lightweight body with an electronic viewfinder. Despite its small size, the Fujifilm X-T20 still packs a proper APS-C sized sensor, offering DSLR level quality and fast, precise autofocus.
Sony Alpha 7 III
Available now body only for £1999
Half price Sigma MC-11 EF lens adaptor until September 2nd
Sony are the current market leaders in the mirrorless camera market. The Alpha 7III is a real triumph of design, packing a full frame 35mm sensor into an incredibly small, lightweight body. It also features advanced 5-axis image stabilisation, 4K video, a fast 10 frames per second shutter and lightening fast autofocus.
Canon EOS 1D X Mark II
Available now body only for £5429
Rebates of £10 to £855 from Canon UK when you purchase a Canon lens from us within 90 days
At this level, it’s all about speed and the Canon 1D X Mark II is a literal speed demon! It’s been the professional’s choice for sport, adventure and wildlife photography the world over for years because it’s a solid, reliable workhorse. Lightening fast, precision autofocus, 20mp full frame sensor, 14 fps with full autofocus tracking, high-speed image output to card media and built like and tank.
Picking the right lens for aviation photography is all about length. A telephoto zoom lens with a focal length of at least 200mm at the long end is what you need to be looking for. Fortunately there are options to suit every budget. Here is our pick of the bunch.
Canon EF 70-300mm f4-5.6 IS II USM
Available now for £464
£85 Cashback until August 31st – More if you buy another Canon product from us
A step up from the 55-250 the 70-300 offers better quality image stabilisation, better quality optics and better quality build!
Fujifilm XF-55-200mm f3.5-4.8 OIS lens
Although not a cheap lens, the Fujifilm XF 55-200mm feels built to last. With optical image stabilisation, getting decent tracking shots of airplanes in flight should be a breeze.
Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM
Currently available for £1229
Free Travel Tripod worth £99 until September 1st
The same focal length and maximum aperture as the last lens, but that is where the similarities end. This is part of legendary Canon L series lens line up with far superior, professional spec optics and professional level build quality. This lens will transform the quality of your images but beware; it is a much heavier lens so a monopod is advisable.
Sony FE 70-200mm F4 OSS zoom lens
Available now for £1149
£80 Cashback until September 2nd
This is where lens technology begins to get serious about achieving the best quality images. With Nano AR coatings to cut down on glare, reflection and ghosting, this creates shots with enhanced contrast, clarity and overall image quality. A 9-blade circular aperture lets the aperture remain almost perfectly circular even when stopped down by two stops. This makes it possible to achieve smoother, more natural defocusing in your images – including artistic blurring or ‘bokeh’ – and greater control over the depth of field.
With a Constant F4 maximum aperture across the entire 70–200mm focal length, you’ll always be able to capture sharp, controlled images. At full zoom, you can lower your ISO setting and increase your shutter speed, so you can capture every second of the action without the worry of noise distortion.
Sony FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 OSS G Master
Available now for £2499
£100 Cashback until September 2nd – Double Cashback when bought with an A9, A7RM3 or A7SM2
The aviation photographer’s best friend, the 100-400mm gives incredible versatility and range. This Sony variant is brimming with technology and is a part of their top of line ‘G-Master’ professional lens range. Sony set out on a mission to make the best lenses in the world with their G-Master line and they certainly delivered.
This lens features a 9 blade circular aperture for smooth, natural defocused areas in the image, including ‘bokeh’. Nano AR coatings to cut down on glare and reflections, it is weatherproof so shooting in any condition is possible, double drive AF ensures lightening fast auto focus performance and focus hold means once you lock onto your subject, you won’t lose it.
Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM, Extender 1.4x
Available now for £9299
We will not be beaten on price on this lens. If you find a better deal at any Canon Pro Dealer, give us a call.
When you think of professional photographers, a lot of people immediately picture a sports event, with a bank of photographers with long white lenses tracking the action. The might Canon L-series lens is what you’re seeing.
This line of lenses set the benchmark for professional telephoto lens design. One of their greatest creations is this, the 200-400mm f/4L IS USM with built in 1.4x Extender.
Extendable super-telephoto performance – A professional-grade 200-400mm zoom with a constant f/4 maximum aperture. A built-in extender increases focal length by a factor of 1.4x to 280-560mm.
Maximum sharpness whatever the conditions – Image Stabilizer (IS) technology enables the use of shutter speeds up to four stops longer than normal without camera shake. Three IS modes are available, providing effective performance whilst panning and instant stabilisation only during the moment of exposure.
Durable, lightweight construction – The use of magnesium alloy adds strength and durability, but not weight. The lens is sealed against dust and moisture and the use of fluoride coatings ensures lens elements are easy to clean.
Quick, intelligent focusing – Enjoy fast, near-silent autofocus thanks to a ring-type ultrasonic AF motor. Stay in control with full-time manual focus override, and focus-stop and focus-preset controls on the lens barrel. Power Focus is also available for EOS Movies.
Simply the best aviation photography lens money can buy.
We hope this list has provided some inspiration, look out for our next post on aviation photography tips and tricks, coming soon!