Photo community for Plane Finder and Ship Finder

Hi All.

I am a new to aircraft photography. Can anyone give some information on the basic equipment needed? 





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As I am a Nikon user myself I would recommend you start with either a Nikon d3100 or d5100 if you want a DSLR with kit lens 18-55 and if possible a 55-200 or 70-300 zoom lens. Remember that the focal length will be x1.5 so a 300mm lens would become 450 as the camera sensor crops the image compared to the old 35mm film.
Otherwise you could look at a bridge camera all the main manufacturers have pretty good ones to offer with good zooms

A lot of it depends on how much money you have to spend!


If you have the cash, go for a DSLR. Nikon as suggested by Haydn or a Canon, you won't go far wrong with either brand. Personally I use a Canon EOS 500D (£440 ish), recently upgraded from a 300D.

They have good fully auto functions and plenty of manual settings to play with.

I use a 55-250mm lens with Image Stabiliser (£150 ish) which I like and covers most of what I want to do. I also have a 300mm but I found that towards the full zoom (270-300) the quality dropped off, hence the 55-250.

But again, this is budget based. If you have deep pockets then invest in your lenses.


Before the DSLR I had a couple of Fuji Bridge type cameras, I had some really good results with them. Recently I tried the Fuji Finepix HS10. Good camera for the price, £230 ish. Had a good optical zoom too.

One thing is be sure to have a good play with a couple before you part with your hard earned. I found some are not that user friendly for changing settings or switching to video mode etc. (if that is something you'd use).

I use a Canon 40D married to various lenses. Sigma 28-135,Canon 75-300 mainly. I also have a Sigma 170-500 which I use at airshows.
If a DSLR would be too expensive or bulky then there are some good bridge type cameras. If I am going away or don't want to carry all my kit then I take my Panasonic FZ30 which covers 35-420 in one fairly compact package. My son uses it if I'm using my SLR and we both get good results.
Depending on how close you can get to the planes a normal compact digital camera can get decent photos. A fairly cheap camera can get good photos through a viewing area fence of aircraft nearby eg Bournemouth or Manchester. Unfortunately most UK airports have stopped providing good facilities for photography.
Location, then, is as important as kit. Folk on here would probably be able to give info on good locations across the UK and further afield.
Also, if you want to edit and print your efforts at home, good photo editing software is useful. I use Adobe Photoshop Elements, though an older version. It's amazing how a pretty ordinary photo can change with some tweaking of the colours and contrast and a little bit of cropping. Almost all my photos are cropped to some extent. It means I don't cut noses and tails off whilst I'm actually taking the photo.
Welcome to aviation photography - the best thing is you can always keep learning new stuff.

Hi Hayden, David, Phill and David.


Thanks very much for your advise. I did look around and realised that a DSLR would be beyond my current knowledge and experience. Hence, especially thanks for the advise of a 'Bridge Camera'. I never knew they existed! 

I have got myself a Fuji S2960. I am still exploring the manual, and have yet to use it in anger. But, I am impressed with it and hope next week to try it out for real. I live close by Norwich Airport. Not as much traffic or aircraft, as the major airports but keeping an eye on their web page for departures and arrivals helps!





If Norwich proves a bit quiet (and if you like military stuff) a visit down to Lakenheath on a mid-week day is usually quite good. Just off the A1065 south of Brandon and just north of the runway is a dedicated car park/viewing area and just to the south of the runway is a lay-by on the opposite side of the road. Both offer good veiws of the F15's as they launch (usually about 8.30 - 10.00am and then about 2.00 - 3.00pm) and return to the base (about 12.00 - 12.30 and then 4.00 - 4.30). A police car often comes past on the inside of the base but only to check all is well. On a good day they launch loads! Unfortunately they are all grey so don't look too great on a cloudy day!
Best of luck and just don't zoom in too far initially as you'll probably cut bits off (I did!), you will have plenty of pixels so you can crop and zoom in on the PC!
You can pick up a nikon d3000 quite cheap on ebay now, youll need a 300mm lens for sure, sigma or tamron do some good cheap options, , for close up the kit lens is fine. If you want to spend a little more the nikon d3100 or even d5100 or better still d7000 are all amazing. Note if you di go forcthe d3000 the lens will need to be motorised. If money is option then nikon d3 !!! Thats the one i dream about haha,..... Also a stirdy tripod, amazon is the best bet as uou can read reviews. Sd card and sd card reader. When you go out dont forget a pen n paper. ;) 
Please excuse typos, im trying to type on my iphone which is proving to be rubbish for typing on forums:p

I'm also new to photography and would like a good starter camera and Nikon seems the way to go from reading here.


If i bought a D3000 what lens would be recommended for moving objects?? i.e. Planes, Trains etc.


Also what size SD cards would be recommended??



Being a Canon man I know little about Nikon so I can't help on those. However, regarding SD cards I would recommend having a few lower capacity cards rather than one high capacity one. They aren't the largest of items and can be lost relatively easily. Better to lose only some of your photographs should you misplace a card rather than maybe two or three trips worth! Just a thought.

That sounds a great idea, however having multiple cards on me and having to change on site id end up losing them, also if you have a plane or ship entering your viewfinder then realise you only have 1 shot left the chances are you would miss that perfect shot. my routine is as soon as I get back download photos to laptop, then put card back in camera straight away. card being the fastest speed and high capacity.

Thats just my way, not the way for everyone, just suits me best. :)


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