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on Feb 7, 2020 in Aviation

Airshow Season – Start Now

B-25 Mitchell
captured by D5 / 200-400VR2

The first airshow of the season is already in the books with many, many more coming. With the posting of my new KelbyOne Airshow class, the questions are pouring in about getting a sharp image. The #1 reason folks are reporting to me their issues with getting sharp images is their autofocus not working. They say their AF is either not locking on or losing focus so I’m being asked what’s the best AF mode. Answering that question for my own aviation photography is real easy, Auto Area AF. Be it birds or planes in the sky, AAAF nails the focus but here’s the rub. Any AF mode will only work if, if your PANNING is spot on!

F-35 Lightning II
captured by D5 / 180-400

All the focus issues I’m reading about in emails are not camera problems but operator issues. Folks panning skills are just not as sharp as they should be. You can figure this out for yourself by looking at your images, sharp or out of focus. Simply ask yourself, is the aircraft in the frame where you wanted it? If it’s not, like you have tips or tails, the aircraft is high or low in the frame, these are signs your panning is not as smooth and tracking as it should be. If this is the case, you need to practice your basic hand-holding and your panning. The camera needs that stability for the AF to do its job and without it, often the AF will start searching. And shooting at slower shutter speeds to blur props, stability and panning are essential in getting a sharp photo. So, you want your AF to perform its best, start practicing you panning now. You want sharp images, start practicing your panning now. The sharp results are in your hands!

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