Photographing Saturday's SpaceX launch Question

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red sled Contributing Member • Posts: 570
Photographing Saturday's SpaceX launch Question

Planning to be in Titusville for this Saturday's SpaceX launch. I'll have my D500 and Nikon AF-S 500 f/4 VR lens and TC-20EIII.   Can anyone suggest whether at this distance I should have the TC installed or just use the 500 f/4 without the teleconverter ?  I wish I'd had this equipment when we watched the final launch of the Space Shuttle Columbia.

Nikon D500
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sybersitizen Forum Pro • Posts: 19,348
Re: Photographing Saturday's SpaceX launch Question

The very best lens/TC combinations I've personally tested provide only slightly better results than shooting without a TC and upsampling later. My inclination would be to skip the TC.

tony field Forum Pro • Posts: 11,300
Re: Photographing Saturday's SpaceX launch Question

red sled wrote:

Planning to be in Titusville for this Saturday's SpaceX launch. I'll have my D500 and Nikon AF-S 500 f/4 VR lens and TC-20EIII. Can anyone suggest whether at this distance I should have the TC installed or just use the 500 f/4 without the teleconverter ? I wish I'd had this equipment when we watched the final launch of the Space Shuttle Columbia.

I really don't know what the best choice is. I found that shooting with my Canon 1D series I'm a long lens with a teleconverter, the 2x converter was significantly worse than the 1.4x converter. It was a matter of final image contrast. I do not have a converter for my d750 so I cannot really comment on the Nikon system

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Charles Darwin: "ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge."
tony

Mark Scott Abeln
Mark Scott Abeln Forum Pro • Posts: 16,624
A quick estimate
1

red sled wrote:

Planning to be in Titusville for this Saturday's SpaceX launch. I'll have my D500 and Nikon AF-S 500 f/4 VR lens and TC-20EIII. Can anyone suggest whether at this distance I should have the TC installed or just use the 500 f/4 without the teleconverter ? I wish I'd had this equipment when we watched the final launch of the Space Shuttle Columbia.

Do you know precisely the launch site and where you will be shooting from? If so, you can use Google Maps to determine how far away you'll be. If you are using the desktop Google Maps website, you can right click on an object and measure a direct distance from another place.

Do you know how tall is the SpaceX vehicle?

We know that your sensor size is 15.7 mm x 23.5 mm and that your focal length is either 500 mm or 1000 mm with the teleconverter.

Simple geometry, the law of similar triangles, suffices for this, and so we get this equality:

Height of rocket / Distance to rocket = Size of image / focal length

Let's assume that the Falcon 9 is 229.6 feet tall and the distance from Space View Park in Titusville to Launch Complex 39A is 12 miles away, or since there are 5280 feet per mile, that would make it about 63,360 feet. I have no idea if these values are correct, but these are just quick values gotten off the Internet. But this isn't rocket science, and so perfect accuracy isn't really needed.

So we have:

229.6 feet / 63,360 feet = Size of image / focal length, or

Size of image = focal length x 229.6 feet / 63,360 feet

For 500 mm we get a 1.8 mm image height and for 1000 mm we get 3.6 mm. Your sensor is 15.7 mm high on the short dimension, and so the rocket will cover about 11.5% of the sensor height at 500 mm and about 23% with the 1000 mm.

Whichever one you choose will depend at least partly on how well you can track a moving object. I'd definitely use the teleconverter to get shots of the rocket on the launchpad.

Good luck and share any good results with us!

 Mark Scott Abeln's gear list:Mark Scott Abeln's gear list
Nikon D200 Nikon D7000 Nikon D750 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8G Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D +3 more
DenverSteve Contributing Member • Posts: 573
Re: A quick estimate

Since you likely won't know your location until Saturday, I would just have it and my tripod and shutter release, and lens hood and ..... (just like on any other shoot) as well as my camera, lens(es), converter... and once setting up has commenced, decide to use it or not.  You will absolutely have the space to use it.  It's supposed to be partly cloudy - so you may not see it. Otherwise, it's a late-morning launch so light shouldn't be an issue.

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It's just my educated opinion. Don't get bent out of shape.
Steve

 DenverSteve's gear list:DenverSteve's gear list
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX400V Sony RX10 IV Sony a7R II Sony a6500 Sony a7R IV +8 more
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