Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Pic(k) of the week 37: Pitts Special S-2C in action - Fujifilm X-T2 with XF100-400 lens

Next weekend is an important one when it comes to Airshow/Aviation photography for me... I'm planning to fly my 1954 Piper Super Cub to document one of the largest  (if not "the largest"?) vintage/antique aircraft event in Europe. The "Oldtimer Fliegertreffen" at Hahnweide, near Stuttgart Germany, is a three day get together of over 350 historic aircraft which normally takes place, every two years in early september.

Because, I'll be shooting the show with new photo-gear, Fujifilm X-T2 and XF100-400 lens, I wanted to give it some more practical testing during a small private aviation event last weekend! Especially, since my pre-production copy of the X-T2 is now on its final release firmware, I was very much interested in how it would perform for high speed aviation photography. 

The image below is of a friend flying his Pitts Special S-2C; a high performance US built aerobatic airplane which remained in production till 2008 and today is still amongst the best available.

Image details:
Fujifilm X-T2 with the XF100-400 lens
ISO 400, f13, 1/240s, 159mm
Lightroom CC for RAW development
Nik ColorEfex Pro4 with Pro Contrast filter

Fellow photographers might be questioning the small f13 aperture used (and therefore a relative slow shutter-speed of 1/240s). This is done on purpose in order to have a nicely "blurred propellor"; a must when photographing propellor airplanes in-flight! Yes, I should have reverted back to ISO 200 as enough light was available. Anyway, the challenge is trying to have sharp images while displaying a nice prop arc (or partial arc); something that with the longer focal length needs a lot of practise to perfect!

I've been mainly experimenting with the new AF-C Custom settings, something that is amongst the X-series cameras, unique to the X-T2. For photographing airplanes in-flight, I've had the best keeper rate so far with "Set nr 2" (Ignore Obstacles & continue to track subject). I'm in process of fine-tuning Set 6 (Custom) for a perfect match between tracking sensitivity, speed tracking sensitivity and Zone area switching. Obviously work in progress!

Meanwhile, isn't it an exciting time to be a photographer? We have finally come to a moment where mirrorless cameras like the Fujifilm X-T2 are on par or in some ways even better than the heavy and large DSLR's! Yes, the +6000USD top-end DSLR's still have an advantage when it comes to focus tracking, but I just don't see myself hauling one of these for 10-12hrs at an airshow anymore. Been there, got the T-shirt!


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