Airshow advice please

Discussion in 'Transportation' started by Paul Evans, Apr 14, 2007.

  1. I recently traded my 80-400VR towards a 70 - 200VR with TC14-II. Up until now I had been using the 80-400 for airshows.

    The thought was that the fast focusing of the new lens would provide more keepers... and that the VR would be essential for capturing prop blur at 320 / sec.

    However, after reading some comments on this forum... I am wondering if my 300 f4 would focus faster than the 70 - 200VR with TC14-II? AND... if I am shooting at a minimum shutter speed of 320 sec, will I miss it not being a VR lens?

    Ultimately I will try out both lens.... but I would like to hear you opinions...
  2. Bill K

    Bill K

    Jan 29, 2006
    Reno, Nevada
    I have both the 80-400 (Never Use it) and the 70-200 vr which I use all the time for air shows and NASCAR races, I also have the 1.4 and 1.7 tc and won't use them in action photos because it really slows down a great lens, If you have a 300 f4 I think it would do a better job that the 70-200 with a TC. I have great results just using my 70-200vr.

    These 3 shots were taken with my old D70 and 70-200vr.



  3. Stephen Fox

    Stephen Fox Guest

    The 70-200 f2.8 VR Nikkor is probably the fastest focussing Nikon lens. Its therefore good for airshows the only drawbacks I find are 200mm is not quite long enough and at f2.8 its a bit soft but quickly comes very sharp at f4 therefore TC14 can be used to increase focal length. Focus is still very quick using a TC and quality is still good. I find the TC17E II a better teleconverter to use gaining a few more mm and used beyond f6.3 quality is nice but not spectacular. Quality with any Nikon TC is better than the 80-400VR which I used for airshows for two years before moving on to faster ED glass.

    The perfect lens for all airshow is the 300mm 2.8 VR - its made for the job!
  4. eng45ine


    May 11, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Hi Paul,

    I used to own an 80-400mm lens, but sold it to a co-worker because it was too slow to shoot sports with. But, I do borrow it each year for the Chicago Air and Water Show and it is a fine performer. I like the advantage of zooming rather being straped with a fixed focal length. The lens focuses plenty fast for air show shooting.


    I don't think that there is anything wrong with shooting with a 70-200mm and a 1.4x TC, but I think the loss of focal length might disappoint you and I would be curious to know if the AF with the 70-200mm will slow a bit because of the TC.

    View attachment 90739

    I just bought a 300mm f/2.8 AF-S VR and 1.4x TC...but I still plan to shoot the next airshow with the 80-400mm....something about the benefit of the zoom is hard to pass on.

    View attachment 90740
  5. Pete


    Jun 10, 2006
    Denver, CO
    I use both the 70-200 and the 300 F4 with the TC14E. I find that for the Jets, the 300 with and without the TC is awesome and I normally shoot at 1/2000 sec or faster. For propeller planes, I like to use the 70-200 and TC because of the VR and I can shoot at 1/500 or slower to get some blur in the propeller. They both work well for AF on my D200. I now have the 300 2.8 VR but have not been to any airshows yet. I sure hope that Stephen is right.

  6. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
    I know you are asking 70-200 vs 300f4, and in that case I would go for the 300f4 because of the reach. I have not used the 80-400VR lens. In real use it depends on how close you will be!

    Actually in my opinion the 200-400VR is the best airshow lens, the zoom range is perfect, and the lens works well. It does get a bit heavy after a full day workout, but I love the results, I have used the 300mm f4 and it works well too. On slower prop planes VR is very usefull because you are shooting and panning with a slower shutter speed. When Panning the CPU in the lens can tell the difference between your smooth panning and the jiggles of the lens.

    tons of photos here, all are with the 200-400 except the ground shots and F-22 shots.

    Photos here are with the 300f4, I was to lazy to take the big gun and carry it all day:

    panning thread:

    Other threads with settings and info:
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  7. sypher


    May 24, 2006
    Cougar Country
    I agree with Wade. The 200-400 is an awesome airshow lens. Last one I went to I even had my tc1.7IIe and got some great pics.



    Dont mind the dust bunnies :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 15, 2007
  8. thanks gentlemen!

    as soon as the airshow season starts up here in tropical Michigan, I will have a LOT of experimenting to do..

    For the first airshow of the season, I am thinking of taking the 70-200 on a D70 for prop planes and a D2X with the 300f4 for jets...

    thanks again...
  9. InitialD


    Mar 12, 2007
    Like what others have mentioned, the 200-400mm f/4 VR is the perfect lens for this type of shooting.
  10. InitialD


    Mar 12, 2007
    I'd take just the D2X + 70-200mm f/2.8 VR + 1.4x TC and relegate the D70 as a backup. I think the focusing speed of the 70-200mm f/2.8 VR + 1.4x TC should be equal or faster than the 300mm f/4.
  11. thanks Jason...

    I may just do as you suggest and try the D2X + 70-200mm f/2.8 VR + 1.4x TC first and then check out the IQ...

    I am sure the 200-400VR is outstanding... and it sounds like it can be hand held, so I may go that route at some time..
  12. You are goping to run into a problem with the D70 and 70-200+TC 17.. it focuses a bit slower than on a D2x..

    I use the 70-200VR + TC17 all the time for airshows.. I also shoot in HSC mosed on the D2x when needed for airshows...
  13. Did you get the photographers pass to Thunder Over MI?
  14. Have you tried the Photographers pass? Is it worth it?

    What I would really like to do is fly in a B-17 and photograph out the side gunners window at a Spit or P51 flying along in formation, high above the clouds of course.... I wonder what that would cost?
  15. mcdicky


    Mar 10, 2007
    wow. i missing shooting airshow. but everytime i come back i'll get sun burn..
  16. I'll find out this year! Shade, water, and early morning access...yea it's worth it. Going Saturday to the air show, and I'll watch it sunday from the lake.
  17. Ming

    Ming Guest

    Settings question and a Hullo...

    Hullo everybody, first post and just a quick question on Airshow settings specifically for the D200. Going to RAIT at Fairford in Gloucestershire England for the weekend this month and want to make certain i get the "keeper" rate up as high as possible! Did a quick search of the site but could not find anything definitive, i know a lot of this is down to personal choice but anyway here goes... Just after a bit of a consensus here.
    Thinking of using AFC/Lock on to off/Focus proiority and Fps/Dynamic focus/Pattern one or two? Not sure here because pattern one seems safer becausre it always uses the cross sensor? Though the second pattern seems more logical for panning? Will be using the Camera with the 70-200 AFSVR and 1.4/1.7 Tc,s oh and the 300f4 AFS... Thanks in advance any help is greatley apreciated... Jules. :confused:
  18. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
    Hello Ming, Welcome aboard,

    Can't believe your search didin't turn up anything, infact right above you in this post is a ton of links I have. about 5 posts above this one..... just scroll up.....

    on my D200 I use AF-Constant, Focus priority set to FPS plus rate, lockon normal, Dynamic pattern and usually use the center focus reticle, I do use pattern 2 the horizontal one on my D200 and I also use the wide reticle format too. It really helps on flight shots. The wide combines several sensors into one large one. Both pattern 2 and 1 use the center sensor.

    Metering I use all three depending on conditions. spot on shiny aluminum planes and also centered wieghted too. And matrix at times too.

    I shoot ISO 200, unless I need to lower the speed for prop planes, VR on all the time, shutter as fast as possible on the jets, 1/320 for props, sometimes slower depending on the aircraft types, I shoot in aperture and shutter mode both.

    panning thread:

    Other threads with settings and info:

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  19. Welcome aboard!

    Use the wide focus areas, 11 AF points is too much.

    Try shooting in RAW, it'll give you the ability to recover areas that are underexposed. This will happen more than you think, especially on a sunny day.

    Bring plenty of water and definitely take breaks. All the equipment won't help when you're tired!
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