EM1 + ZD 150mm ƒ2.0 = 2015 Wings Over Houston Airshow

Discussion in 'Sports and Action' started by Phocal, Oct 23, 2015.

  1. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    So, last year for the airshow I had owned my EM1 for about a month and my ZD 50-200 SWD for 3 days before shooting the airshow. While going thru the photos I realized that most of my shots were around the 150mm range and I decided that this year I would not use the EC-14 because it was not needed. Well, in the last year I acquired the wonderful ZD 150mm ƒ2.0 and over the last few months have been shooting the hell out of that lens. I recently shot a wakeboard competition and @faithblinded@faithblinded persuaded me to only take the 150/2 and leave the 50-200 at home. Something I learned during that was not having the ability to zoom I could concentrate on tracking the subject and getting a good composition. Something else that helped was I would get the camera tracking the subject when they were far out (farther then I wanted to shoot) and when they got to the point I wanted to shoot the camera already had focus and would just fire away. I believe this helped my keeper rate and allowed me to get a lot better photos, even if it did burn thru the batteries. I also tried turning off the IS display in the EVF during the wake boarding event and determined that I prefer a stabilized view in my EVF. I know some people swear that turning off the stabilized view in the EVF produces better in focus rates, I will take the hit because I find it easier to track a subject with it on (if you can't track the subject then your hit rate will be 0, so I just keep it on).

    Based on everything I went to the show with the intention of only shooting with the 150/2. I did bring the 50-200 along just incase (never used or thought about using it) and the EC-14/20 (I did use the EC-14 some). I am really happy with how the lens and camera performed during the show and handholding the Little Tuna for 6 hours was really not that bad. At the wakeboard event I was sitting a lot and bracing on my knees, while at the airshow I had to stand and hold the camera all day. My BlackRapid strap was a lifesaver because it allowed me drop the camera between shots and still have it within easy/fast reach when I needed it. But, it was still a lot easier then trying to handhold a 300mm ƒ2.8 or when I used the EC-14 a 400mm ƒ2.8 and I hate trying to track stuff with a tripod and gimbal.

    Camera setup for the airshow:
    C-AF Lock - Normal
    RIs Priority C - On
    IS for Continuous Shooting - On
    Half Way RIs with IS - On
    AF Mode - C-AF
    Sequential Shooting - Low (6.5fps)
    Focus Point – Single large focus point which I moved for composition
    ISO - Auto (I used auto for the static shots and forget to switch to 200 for airshow)
    IS - S-IS1
    WB - Auto
    RAW only
    Shutter or Aperture Priority

    Shot breakdown:
    Total photos: 4,168
    Fisheye: 98
    150: 2,552
    150/EC14: 1,518

    I was shocked that I had taken 1,000 more photos then last year. I thought I would take less because I would have to wait for them to get into range before shooting. Then looking back at my shot totals I realized that this year they had the Breitling Jet Team at the show and that accounted for most of the additional 1,000 photos. Also, last year my only wide angle lens was the 12-50 which was really not wide enough for the static shots. This year I had my Bower 7.5mm Fisheye so was really looking forward to shooting the static planes because the previous time with my 7D I had the wonderful Tokina 11-16 and got some great wide angle shots.

    In focus breakdown:
    150: 1,833 of 2,255 = 81.29%
    150/EC14: 971 of 1,518 = 63.97%

    The first thing you may notice is I said that I took 2,552 shots with the 150 and that is true. But, during the Tora Tora Tora performance the very light wind blowing towards the spectators caused an almost white out from all the smoke. It was almost impossible to track the planes thru the smoke, let alone try to get focus and shoot. This was not a fault of the camera, as the Nikon/Canon shooters around me could not track them either and most just gave up. What I did was switched to manual focus and pan with them as they entered the smoke (hopefully at the correct speed as the aircraft) shooting the entire time. So, I subtracted 297 photos from that total where I was using manual focus. Now, the difference with the EC-14 is easily explained also. I was using the EC-14 mostly for shooting the prop planes where I was in shutter priority and using a shutter speed anywhere from 1/250 to 1/400. My technique for panning with a slow shutter speed is terrible (mostly I do high speed shutter panning), but I wanted to capture the props in motion for a more realistic look. I seem to have lost the piece of paper where I figured out the actual hit rate (if you saw my desk you would understand how) of just shooting in aperture priority but it was around 84% in focus rate. One other thing that hurt the EC-14 was the slow shutter speed was causing the aperture to mostly be in the ƒ11-22 range (it was a pretty bright day) and suffering from diffraction (a 1 or 2 or 3 stop ND would have been nice to have). I also believe if I shot airshows more then once a year and new the performance I could get better then 90% in focus rating.

    Final photo totals
    Total photos: 1085
    Fisheye: 62
    150: 747
    150/EC14: 276

    The above numbers are after going thru and deleting any photos that I know I would never try to process. So far, and for this thread, I have edited 8 photos and I have a lot more that I could have edited and posted to this thread. I will probably go back and edit some more for my website as I think I have another 20 outstanding shots. I am always so far behind on my editing that I may never go back (I shoot faster then I can edit)......good thing disk space is cheap and I can afford to keep all of them.

    For anyone who is in the area and thinking about going to the Wings Over Houston Airshow next year, I highly recommend getting the Photo Pit Pass. It is well worth the extra money and not having to fight for a spot or really having to worry about your gear when you go to the bathroom. Oh, having a bathroom in the pit is a huge time saver and great convince compared to standing in the long lines at the other ones. Next year I will get the Sunrise Pass so I can get even better static shots as the sun comes up.

    Ok.........on to the photos.....................

    After checking in at the photo pit I headed out to the runway where the warbirds are parked. I wanted to get there early before it got to crowded and made getting any shots without people even harder. I was really looking forward to shooting the static planes this year with my fisheye lens. Here are two of my favorite shots I got of the planes.

    This one could not have been taken with anything but a fisheye lens (inside the bomb compartment of Betty's Dream, a B-25J Mitchell belonging to the Texas Flying Legends). There is only a very small crop from when I straitened the photograph. I have a shot without the young girl in the opening but I really liked what having her added to the photograph.

    EM1 w/ Bower 7.5mm Fisheye, ISO 800, 1/100 @ ƒ4.0
    View attachment 443593

    Here is one of my favorite planes of the Tora Tora Tora performance, a Nakajima B5N "Kate" torpedo bomber.

    EM1 w/ Bower 7.5 Fisheye, ISO 200, 1/4000 @ ƒ4.0
    View attachment 443594
    Rising Sun

    Next up was the Tora Tora Tora performance, one that I always like to photograph. I found that because of all the smoke that black and white was the only way to process these photos, brought out detail that seemed to be hiding in a color version. It also fit the aircraft and gave a much better period looking photograph.

    EM1 w/ ZD 150mm ƒ2.0, ISO 200, 1/400 @ ƒ14
    View attachment 443595
    Unseeing Attack

    EM1 w/ ZD 150mm ƒ2.0, ISO 200, 1/400 @ ƒ16
    View attachment 443596

    After the Tora Tora Tora performance came the Breitling Jet Team. This was their first year performing in the United States and I am so glad I got to see them. They put on an amazing show and do some really awesome maneuvers that I have not seen done by the Thunderbirds or the Blue Angels. I do hope they are back next year as I missed some shots that I would really like to get.

    EM1 w/ ZD 150mm ƒ2.0, ISO 200, 1/6400 @ ƒ4.0
    View attachment 443597

    EM1 w/ ZD 150mm ƒ2.0 + EC-14, ISO 200, 1/5000 @ ƒ4.0
    View attachment 443598

    The show finished with the United States Air Force Thunderbirds once again putting on a great performance.

    EM1 w/ ZD 150mm ƒ2.0, ISO 200, 1/5000 @ ƒ4.0
    View attachment 443599
    4 of Diamonds

    EM1 w/ ZD 150mm ƒ2.0, ISO 200, 1/8000 @ ƒ4.0
    View attachment 443600

    I will say that I am very happy with the performance of the EM1 when using 4/3 lenses for action photography. Looking at my results I am not sure I could have done much (if any) better using another system. I defiantly know that any other system would be a lot heavier to get the same reach and would suck to handhold for 6 hours while tracking airplanes. No, I am not delusional and I know that for a lot of action/sport stuff the EM1 is not as good as say a 7D or 1D, but it is not as far behind those cameras as people like to make others think. I do get sick of people coming on this forum and saying the system sucks because they tried to capture birds in flight (or kids playing soccer, or football, or baseball, or motocross, or car racing, or an airshow) and could not get any in focus and come to find out it was their first or second attempt. Just like any other type of photography, it takes practice and good technique to get great results no matter what gear you are using. I love pushing this system as far as I can and seeing what I can get out of it. I know that it is not the best for a lot of the stuff I use it for, but I like the system for the huge size/weight savings it provides and it does allow me to get shots that I would struggle with when trying to use much bigger and heavier lenses.

    I could tell a difference between last year and this year with firmware 3.0. There was a definite improvement in continuous autofocus while tracking the planes. I really can’t say how much because this year I did use a different lens that also has a focus limiter switch. This did save me time getting back focus when I missed, but I am not sure how much faster it was then just moving the focus ring by hand on the 50-200. I am really looking forward to the 300 Pro coming out and using it on the EM1 mk2 as I am sure they will narrow that gap even more in the next generation.

    If anyone has any questions or would like more information about my experience feel free to ask.

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  2. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Great pictures Ronnie!

    A polarizing filter (PL or CPL) would give you ~1 stop, and might help cut through the smoke a bit as well.

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  3. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    Heh - those 82mm filters don't come cheap ;)
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  4. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    Awesome shots, Ron, as we've come to expect from you. I'm still learning and still having trouble getting C-AF to work well for me. Got some shots at the Kaneohe Bay Airshow with the Blue Angels last week. Some OK, but some not so good. Still a lot of work in progress. Thanks for the great tips! That's super helpful.
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  5. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    That is on my list, just bitting the bullet on the cost of one for a lens this large is tough.
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  6. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    I'd love to have one, but $200 USD for a filter call it $250 CAD is not an easy purchase for the few times I would need it (most of the time I can get by with LOW ISO and 1/8000 and live with the glare).
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  7. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    If I had a few more lenses close to that size it would make getting one not so bad. I wish they had made the Little Tuna with the rear drop-in filters.
  8. Speedliner

    Speedliner Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 2, 2015
    Southern NJ, USA
    Thanks for taking the time to calculate and provide all of that data.

    Next year I'll meet you there.
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  9. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    Sounds good. I will be going on Saturday and getting the Photo Pit Pass as well as the Sunrise Pass. OH, buy early as they sell out fast.
  10. knikki

    knikki Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 28, 2015
    Up North, UK
    Great images really do like the ones where you have used the fish eye lens.
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  11. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    Tickets are on sale now
  12. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    Thank you @barry13@barry13 for the feature, it is greatly appreciated.
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  13. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    @barry13@barry13 it's kind of funny that you featured the post the day after I bought my tickets to this years show. The show is late October but if you don't buy tickets for the photo pit area early you will not get one. They only have 75 tickets for each day (Saturday and Sunday) in the photo pit area, which is the only place to be if you are there for photography.

    @Speedliner@Speedliner if you are going and want in the photo pit area I would suggest getting your ticket soon or you will be stuck in the general admission area with the masses.
  14. shesmu

    shesmu Mu-43 Rookie

    Dec 18, 2013
    The first shot is beautiful.
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  15. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    Thank you