Category Archives: Tamron

Air Show Photos – 60D

My last post was about using my new Panasonic FZ1000 at the Planes of Fame Air Show.  I was able to attend all 3 days of the show, and brought 3 cameras with me including the FZ1000, the Olympus E-M5, and my Canon 60D.  This post is about the time I spent with my 60D.

Although I did bring the 60D to the 1st day of the air show, I didn’t use it after that.  Why?  Because I was so impressed with the capabilities and performance of the FZ1000.  It’s not physically smaller than the 60D, at least not the body, but when the 60D is connected to my Tamron 200-500mm lens it’s much smaller and lighter.  It also seems to focus faster, and can shoot at 12 fps which is more than twice as fast as the 60D’s 5.5 fps.  Is there a downsize for using the FZ1000 in place of the 60D?  Maybe.  My 60D can accept different lenses – the FZ1000 has a fixed lens.  With the Tamron 200-500mm lens the 60D has more reach.  The 60D has a larger APS-C sensor, the FZ1000 has a smaller 1″ sensor.  There are some people that think this automatically disqualifies the FZ1000 for air show photography.  In fact, I’ve been told that the FZ1000 lacks color depth, saturation, and other subjective things.  I respectfully disagree, and am not going to get caught up in an endless debate about technical details and pixel peeping.  There are plenty of examples out there that disprove this notion.  And besides, I judge a photo by how well it’s composed, how the light is used, does it tell a story, etc…  Not very scientific, but that’s just the way I roll!

So, what does this mean for my 60D?  Unfortunately it means I will be using it even less than I do now.  I’ve been on a quest to get my gear smaller while retaining image quality.  My FZ1000 could probably fill all of the roles I ask of my cameras including air shows, landscapes, and family photos.  For now I think I’ll keep the FZ1000 as my multi-role camera, my E-M5 as my low light landscape camera, and my RX100 as my fast and discrete pocketable camera.  That doesn’t leave any room for my extra equipment, like the 60D and Panasonic GX-1, and I may be selling them sometime soon.

I don’t have a lot of 60D photos from the air show, but wanted to share some of them.

That’s it for this post, until next time – Happy Shooting!

My FZ1000 at an Air Show.

Wow, I can’t believe how fast time flies!  The 2015 Planes of Fame Air Show has already come and gone.  It’s one of my favorite photo events of the year.  Well, there was one thing new about it, they had an afterburner after dark feature.  This part of the show is exactly what it sounds like, and the F-18 and F-22 really delivered!  It was a lot of fun and made the usual Friday routine much better!  Oh, there was one more thing, I used my new camera, the Panasonic FZ1000.

As usual, I’m not here to do an exhaustive scientific review, but rather share my impressions after having used the FZ1000 for 3 days straight and making several thousand photos.  I’m also not doing an in-depth air show review, sorry.  Let’s just say that if you are in the Southern California area in May and you love vintage aircraft, including WWII Warbirds, late model Korean/Vietnam War era planes, and even some modern high tech jets, than you owe it to yourself to check out the Planes of Fame Air Show and Museum!  If you do go, bring your camera, plenty of memory cards and batteries, a wide brimmed hat, chair, and sun screen.

I actually had 3 cameras set up for the air show this year.  My trusty Canon 60D with Tamron 200-500mm lens, and the Olympus E-M5 with 7.5mm Rokinon Fisheye, Olympus 17mm f/1.8, and Panasonic 45-200mm.  I also brought along my Red Dot Sight (RDS) for my E-M5.  The idea was to use it instead of the electronic viewfinder (EVF).  I could keep both eyes open, put the red dot on my target, follow it in the sky and snap away.  It didn’t quite work out for me, more than likely because I need more practice.  So the RDS went back in the bag and while I did use the E-M5 from time to time, it mostly stayed in the bag.

My 60D and big Tamron always work.  And I did start out using them.  That is until I got the FZ1000 out of the bag.  It felt perfect in my hands.  Larger in size than my E-M5, and maybe even a bit bigger than my 60D’s body, but much lighter.  It has a much better viewfinder than my E-M5 (in my opinion), and shoots faster than the 60D or E-M5 (12 fps vs 5.5 fps and 9 fps).  And the best thing is that it does very well with fast moving objects, especially in good light, which was very plentiful.  Although I’ve read many, many reviews and personal accounts on the FZ1000’s performance, I was still impressed when I experienced it in person.  Once I got the feel of the FZ1000 on the first day of the show, the 60D went back in the bag and stayed there.  I never used it again for the next 2 days of the air show.

The FZ1000 looked a little out of place compared to my photography friends Canon 1DX and other photographers equally large Canons and Nikons.  But I wasn’t there to impress anyone with my gear.  I was there to enjoy the show, and that meant not lugging around a heavy bag of stuff.  Yes, my 60D and Tamron 200-500mm offer a lot of reach but the FZ1000 can get out there too at 400mm.  And did I mention that it’s fast?  Wow (again), is it fast?!  As soon as I brought it up to my eye and half pressed the shutter, it would almost immediately lock on and I could fire off a burst at 12 fps.  There were plenty of misses, but also a lot more keepers.  In fact my keeper rate was so good that I came home with upwards of 4,000 frames to sift through.  I’ve been steadily reviewing my photos since the event last week and have deleted hundreds.  Having so many is allowing me to get very picky, which is a good thing.  There’s really no reason to have 4 or 5 near duplicates of virtually the same image.  Having such a fast burst rate can really fill up a memory card too.  Not complaining, just sharing.  One more thing to share is memory card write speed.  My Transcend 32 GB SD cards are not quite fast enough to keep up.  Looks like I’m going to need to upgrade them.  Good thing they don’t cost too much.

Getting back to the reach, the 60D and 200-500mm Tamron have an advantage over the FZ1000’s 400mm.  But as the show went on and I got more used to the FZ1000, I found 400mm to be quite enough.  The trick is to wait for the planes to come closer.  I noticed that everyone around me would start shooting when the planes were much too far away.  All you are going to get when you do that is a little dot on the screen with a bunch of sky.  All of the planes made plenty of passes and would usually come around for what’s known as a photo pass.  That means when they flew by they would bank and tilt their wings giving you a much better view.  They were also much closer than when they were grouping up and trying to get into a formation.  I also took advantage of takeoffs, landings, and the planes moving back and forth on the hot ramp.  This was another area that the FZ1000 worked perfectly.  I didn’t need to change lenses when I wanted a wide shot.  I just zoomed out and pressed the button!  If something changed, I could quickly zoom back in and grab a detail shot.

Are there any downsides to the FZ1000?  Sure!  Compared to my 60D the battery life is poor.  But the same can be said for my E-M5.  The remedy is to have extra batteries, no big deal.  For it’s size, the FZ1000 is fairly light weight.  It doesn’t have the build quality that my E-M5 does.  That doesn’t mean it’s a delicate little flower, you just need to be mindful not to get too rough with it.  No different than any other piece of electronic equipment.

And now for the results!

Something to note about the photos above, they’ve all been edited in one way or another. None of this is straight out of the camera. I shoot RAW with the express intention that the images will be post processed.

I have so many photos from this air show that I’m going to create a new gallery for them, so check back from time to time for that. And since I brought them with me, I am going to do a follow up on the air show and my 60D and E-M5.

That’s it for this post, I hope you enjoyed it! Until next time, Happy Shooting!

Air Shows with my 60D

Recently I wrote about using my Olympus E-M5 at an air show, and I mentioned that I would share my thoughts about using my Canon 60D in another post.  Well, here it is!

I’ve been using Canon DSLR’s at air shows for many years now.  Starting with my Canon XT, then my 40D, and now my 60D.  It’s been quite a while since I’ve used that XT, but going back through my photos I see that the results were mixed, in other words – not that good.  Some of it was due to the XT being very slow.  Slow to focus and a slow frame rate (3 fps approx.).  Most of it was due to my lack of skill or technique.  It was easy to fix the “slow” camera part, I bought the 40D.  The 40D was superior in every way compared to the XT.  And to be fair, I went back to my archives of 40D air show photos, and they were indeed better.  At least most of them.

How do I know they are better?  Good question!  I have a very bad habit of keeping almost all of my photos, good and bad.  Unless they are very, very bad, I tend to keep them.  This may seem like a silly waste of hard drive space, but I actually do go back to them and try to learn what went wrong.  In almost all instances, the fault was with me.  Poor technique.  If I could consistently follow a plane in the air and pan smoothly while firing off a few frames, I’d usually nail a couple of them.  If I was off by just a little, the camera wouldn’t focus where I thought it should and I would miss the shot.  Then it would hunt back and forth trying to lock on.

Fast forward.  The 40D has been replaced with the 60D.  I’ve been to many air shows and other aviation related events and practiced.  My results have been improving and overall I’m pleased, both with my equipment and my technique.  The 60D is perfectly capable of air show photography, within it’s limitations (and mine).

What limitations?  Another good question!  I’ve shot alongside some very talented photographers, and some high dollar equipment.  Hopefully this doesn’t come across as gear envy because I certainly don’t mean it that way.  But being a guy that likes gear (yes, I still do believe that it’s the photographer that makes the photo), I can’t help but notice some of the differences.  It doesn’t really matter what the other guy is using (usually a high dollar Canon or Nikon), I can just tell that they may not have the same limitations with their equipment as I do with mine.  I’m ok with the limitations and try to work within them (just like I do when I use my E-M5).

The Canon 60D isn’t quite obsolete yet.  It is still being sold in many camera stores such as B&H and Adorama.  It is however, at least a few years old now and a generation behind in technology.  Does that mean it can’t be used anymore and it’s time to upgrade?  I’d have to say no!  While the processor and sensor aren’t the latest and greatest, I find the image quality to be more than acceptable.  The 60D has a great auto focus system (phase detection) and in AI Servo mode, does a very good job of tracking a subject.  There aren’t as many focus points available as in the newer models, but I tend to keep mine on the center points anyway.  I’d say the biggest limitation is the frame rate (fps).  The 60D tops out at 5.5 fps.  For fast action photography, that’s on the slow side.  In fact, when the action is really heavy, I’ve missed some shots during peak times because it happened in-between frames.  It doesn’t happen a lot, but it does happen.  Knowing this and working with this particular limitation means that I need to anticipate the action a little more, and time my shots better.

I’ve been told that my 60D is more of a landscape camera than an action camera.  That may or may not be true.  I’ve used it for Little League games, auto racing, and yes, landscapes.  I think of it more as a very versatile tool, able to be used for more than just special situations.  The same thing goes for one of my main lenses, a Tamron 200-500.  I love the reach of this very large lens, but it is also slow.  It takes it a while to lock focus, especially if it starts hunting back and forth.  Sometimes I’ll switch it to manual and dial it in just to get it back in the game.  Is there a remedy for this?  Probably not with this lens.  I think I’m going to rent a Canon “L” lens for the next air show.  I actually had an “L” lens in the past and there is a difference.  The “L” lens is quiet and lighting fast in comparison to my Tamron.

To sum it up, I’d like to say that both my Canon 60D and my Olympus E-M5 may not be the best tools available for what I am using them for, but they aren’t the worst either.  Each one has its strengths and weaknesses, like all cameras.  To be successful you need to know your equipment and work within its limitations.  If you’re wondering what you may be missing by not having the latest and greatest, then consider renting.  If you can afford to chase technology or want the latest/greatest, then by all means go for it!  For me at least, I’m going to work with what I have.

Here are some of the results from my last air show using my 60D at the LA County Air Show.

That’s it for this post, until next time – Happy Shooting!