Shutter or Apeture priority outdoors?
I have been shooting a lot of airplane photos lately. I always try and shoot on a clear AND sunny day. I have had mixed results between the two priority settings. Is one better than the other for action/ moving objects under these conditions?Al.


'I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now'.

Sony A100Minolta Maxxum 50 1:1.7(22)Tamron 28-75 XR DiBeercanSigma 70-300 1:4-5.6 DG APO Macro..

Comments (9)

The LAST principle of exposure.

* If you want to control action, then the Tv is the most important setting* If you want to control depth, then the Av is the most important setting* If you want to control noise, then the ISO is the most important setting* If you want to control contrast, then work with the flash/lamp/sun/filters.

For you, it sounds like taking pictures of planes in motion is fun. Depth isn't an issue, the sun is the light, and noise isn't a factor. So Tv it is: choose a speed that freezes the action if you want it to look crisp, or a speed that lets the propellers blur a little so it doesn't look like a plastic model..

[ e d @ h a l l e yc c ]

Comment #1

If you have a fast enough shutter speed the pictures will be sharp. 'Fast enough' depends on how much the plane is moving and, just as much, the focal length of your lens: the more you zoom in and magnify the image, the more camera shake will be magnified. To err on the side of caution, use a shutter speed whose number is double the focal length of your lens (e.g. at 300mm, use 1/600 sec or faster)..

Whether this shutter speed is achieved using Av or Tv mode is irrelevant. As the previous poster pointed out, the easiest thing to do is set the camera to Tv, and dial in (say) 1/1000 sec. As long as there is enough light for the aperture to fall within the limits of your lens, job done. If you need an aperture of f/4 and the lens only opens to f/5.6, the picture will take anyway but will be underexposed (and an exposure warning will flash somewhere) so you need to watch that and increase the ISO if necessary..

With cheaper lenses the aperture range you can use is actually pretty limited. Suppose you have, for example, a Sigma 70-300 f/4 - f/5.6 and are shooting aeroplanes. At 300mm and f/5.6 the image will be noticeably soft: this is the range where cheap zooms usually perform badly. So you want to stop down a bit which helps sharpness a lot. Below about f/11 you end up with a shutter speed far too long to hand hold, and again image quality drops off. Result: a 'sweet spot' range of only two stops, f/8 - f/11.

The result will be the same if the shutter speed is fast enough. I use my Pentax DA50-200 in this way: image quality is good at f/8 throughout the range so unless I want particular depth-of-field effects I use Av mode, f/8, and keep an eye on the shutter speed..

Best wishesMike..

Comment #2

Thanks for your input Ed.Al.


'I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now'.

Sony A100Minolta Maxxum 50 1:1.7(22)Tamron 28-75 XR DiBeercanSigma 70-300 1:4-5.6 DG APO Macro..

Comment #3

Thanks for your input Mike. I am posting a shot of a plane that I took with my Sony and a Sigma 70-300 DG APO at 270mm, F9 (A priority)and ISO 200. It didn't come out bad, I just wondered if it'd have been better shot with Shutter priority..

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'I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now'.

Sony A100Minolta Maxxum 50 1:1.7(22)Tamron 28-75 XR DiBeercanSigma 70-300 1:4-5.6 DG APO Macro..

Comment #4

That's a very nice pic - and it looks pretty sharp (on a computer monitor). You don't mention shutter speed... but at f/9, ISO 200, and a bright sunny day, I'm guessing about 1/1000 sec. On that basis I can't imagine that you could have done better in Tv mode - if you had chosen 1/500 sec for example it might have been a bit more blurred; if you had chosen 1/2000 sec it might have been fractionally sharper, but then you would be using the lens close to it's maximum aperture which would soften the picture slightly.I think you've done a good job with that one..

Best wishesMike..

Comment #5

I have a couple of friends who are aircraft fanatical photographers, both with published photographs. They both use Canon, which is why I will be talking in Canon speak..

First, with aircraft photography how fast your camera is - shots per second - and how large your memory card is can be huge issues..

I'm sure after you saw my title - forget aperture or shutter - you're wondering what's left. Put your camera is "sports" mode and let the camera software figure the exposure settings, it will be weighted to shutter priority..

I don't have to tell you that things happen quickly with aircraft photography - especially at air shows - so you don't have time to do the mental arithmetic as to what exposure values is best, let your camera work it out - again using the sports mode setting..

Instead make multiple shots of your subject. With my friends, it isn't unusual at air shows, and off the end of the airport runway, that they take around 500 to 700 images. They fire their camera in bursts, usually shooting around 5 to 7 images in one "go." So one hundred bursts can result in 500 to 700 images. Again your sports mode is often your best "burst" mode. So your flash card size is important, having back up cards is important, and developing good habits for image storage and retrieval will be important as you will have so many images..

In Canon speak, the de facto lens for air ports and air shows is the 100 - 400 IS zoom lens. If you have two camera bodies, you can muck around with a 300 and 400 prime, with a TC 1.4..

Happy hunting...

Comment #6

Completely agree...its like shooting kids in play...sports setting & burst are good options..

'All the technique in the world doesn't compensate for an inability to notice.' - Elliot Erwitt..

Comment #7

Most replies suggest shutter priority but why not Av? To get the fastest shutter speed set Av to it's widest setting and the camera will select the fastest speed available for proper exposure..

If it's more than enough then perhaps take the Av down a stop and simply have the best of both worlds.Regards,Hank..

Comment #8

I went and looked at the plane pictures on the link, and they looked pretty good to me..

I'm curious how much exposure adjustment you did using a computer after taking the picture?.

If I was taking airplne pictures from the ground, I'd use manual exposure, determined by matching the light hitting the part fo the plane I wanted properly exposed..

Using Av or Tv means the meter int he camera reads the underside of the airplane, and the sky, and determines an exposure based onhow much sky is in the shot, how bright the sky is, and what metering pattern you use centerweighted? matrix or evaluative? Partial? Spot?.

As the plane gets closer and then farther away, the amout of sky changes, and the exposure will change. Try a series of, say, seven shots, and you'll see the exposure change from shot to shot..

Taking a reading off, say, a mid-toned car getting the same light on it as the side of a plane, will let you set an exposure manually that will be fine for the plane, and not change from shot to shot..

You'll need to take another reading if the sun goes in, of course..


Comment #9

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