Rocky Mountain Airshow

Started Aug 27, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Edward Sargent
Edward Sargent Veteran Member • Posts: 4,691
Rocky Mountain Airshow

Over the weekend Rocky Mountain Airport (a Denver Regional airport) hosted a three day airshow featuring, the usual static displays, aerobatics, vintage aircraft, fireworks, balloons, and the very special F22 Raptor. I had intended to spend three days but due to fategue and sunburn I only attended Friday and Saturday. Still I used four 16GB cards on Friday and 5 on Saturday (I only own 4), I fully discharged 2 batteries on Friday and 3 on Saturday (3,639 images, 4 videos). Lots and lots of 8fps bursts. This was the first time I had the A77 for an airshow so I did a lot of experimenting.

The only lens I used on the planes in flight was the Sigma 70-200 f2.8 and always with the matched 2x TC making it a 140-400 f5.6, There was a Cannon 7D behind me using the same lens and TC.

Release Priority - I tried Release Priority for a while on Friday but discovered few shots were in focus, just not worth it. It might not have been so bad with another lens as this lens tends to search though the entire range if it does not acquire focus immediatly. I have a lot of 3 ft (focus) shots of planes 300 ft away (a lot of grey).

Manual Focus - I briefly tried manual focus at infinity with a small apeture, not worth it, at least with this lens, still seems to have a shallow depth of field even for far away objects. I did manually focus most of Friday but it was tireing and introduced a lot of motion blur. Saturday I mostly used AF and used a lens foot grip, I had tripod and monopod with me but I preferred to sit and not disturb those around me.

EVF experience - Friday I used the evf when panning and shooting bursts. I had no problem tracking planes passing by at 300kts no more than one or two shots per burst with the plane not fully in frame.

RedDot Saturday I only used the RedDot scope (the Cannon guy was really interested in). I did not use Friday because I discovered it had a weak battery and the Dot was not bright enough. The biggest problem with the EVF is acquireing the target and then manage to acuire focus. With the red got finding the target is just as quick as finding with your eyes, insuring you have focus, just put the dot on the subject and listen for the chirp (or press the shutter button until you feel the camera taking pictures.

Recommended Focal Range - Last year I shot this air show with my Bigma and a monopod this year hand held and sitting (except for the Raptor), for most shots 200-300 mm is good. may be more for the stunt planes. I have a tendancy to follow those high fliers all the way but I never like the resulting images. Tiny plane, even at 500+mm and to much distortion due to heat and smoke.

Fisheye - Just for fun shot several sweep panos of the static displays, it can do about 420 degrees. It took several tries the get the speed down.

My biggest problems:

  • When the Raptor was flying I could not get the camera to focus, I don't know what I was doing wrong but I'm sure it was operator error but could be the stealth. I noticed when it flew with the P51 I had no problems.

  • Most of the time I was shooting S mode at 320. But every time I looked the speed was 500 or more, don't know why it changed but I suspect the Cannon guy

Balloons They never even inflated as the wind was over 10kts. Guess I will have to go to Albuquerque

Raptor F22 Wow, you have to see this aircraft to believe what it can do, for instance turn around using zero air space, fly backward at least that was what was decribed I missed it as I looked away for a split second and the Raptor was pointing the other way and seemingly actually still going the opposite direction.

Side note Talked with two A580 shooters, the only Sony DSLR's I saw. I did see about 20 NEX users.

Photos First the P51 and Raptor, more of others to come as I have time

Lens use on the static displays Sigma 18-250 or Bower 8mm fisheye

2 shot panorama

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A77, A700 8mm Bower, 50mm 1.7, 35-70 F4, 90mm Tamron, 18-250 Sigma, 70-200 Sigma & 50-500 Bigma
Toys - Asus Transformer Android 4.0.3 tablet & Colorspace UDMA 500 gb
Albums at

 Edward Sargent's gear list:Edward Sargent's gear list
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 Sony Alpha a99 Sony a77 II Sony 70-200mm F2.8 G Sony 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 G SSM +33 more
Canon EOS 7D Panasonic Lumix DMC-F5 Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sony SLT-A58 Sony SLT-A77
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