A sunny morning, Jandakot Aerodrome, and the new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mk II camera. And the 300mm f:4 IS PRO lens buckled on...it's my own local air show for free.
All I have to do is brave the traffic on Karel Avenue ( and I get the easy part of it - the poor people who have to join the roundabouts from the side can be waiting for ages... ) and the grassy space in front of the Aviator's Cafe is open to all.
Light planes are an amazing variety of shapes, but unfortunately they can have a sameness about their colour schemes - white is used for most of them with a little trim. You can see them against the sky to some extent, but I find myself wanting a different hue. Fortunately this last Saturday saw several aerobatic aircraft working the runways.
The Olympus camera features stabilisation in a variety of planes ( not a pun ) to a degree that other manufacturers do not match. You can roll, tilt, yaw, and displace the camera and lens to a remarkable degree while the IS systems - in the camera and in the lenses - iron it out. The Olympus Pro lenses talk electronically to the computer in the camera to figure out which system does which correction.
Experiment one was to set the camera to give a continuous autofocus and to shoot with it doing a low rate of shots. I took a couple of passes at the taxi strip but found that it was just wasting frames with no real movement between the aircraft. So I took it off the continuous and selected single AF shooting.
This proved just as good, as the Olympus responds extremely quickly to the first pressure on the shutter button. When you hit it, the IS starts up instantly and the bounce or jitter of the viewfinder smooths out like a calm sea. It is much easier to find and follow the subject with the IS on. There was no perceptible lag as I pressed the button for the final exposure - I was able to freeze the selected airplane as it passed through the belts of colour in the backdrop.
Shutter speed was left at 1/1000 or 1/2000 for most in-air shots. The stopping power is awesome, though viewers will note the heat shimmer on the tarmac spoiling some shots - it was the same on the car race day out at Barbagallo Raceway. For the close liftoffs or passes the detail in the shot is phenomenal.
Two tricks with this lens: Select the 4 metre to infinity limiter on the side of the lens barrel - saves the lens hunting and losing time. Any aircraft closer than 4 metres will be engaging your attention in ways other than focus. Also unlock and rotate the tripod foot up over the top of the lens as you hand-hold it. It is a weighty combination - you do not want that metal bracket digging into your palm for hours as you stand waiting for the takeoff.
Labels: Air Show, airplanes, image stabilisation, mirror-less, New, Olympus, telephoto