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Thread: Lens for Contrail Spotting

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2014

    Lens for Contrail Spotting

    Sorry if I post too much on this forum, but I plan on buying a DSLR in the next few days. I have a few questions to ask before I buy one. My price range is in between 500-920 USD.

    What is the best camera for quality?
    What is the best lens focal length for contrail photography (without a telescope)
    Is an 18-55mm lens or a 75-300mm lens enough for a decent picture of contrails (if not, what is?)

  2. #2
    Passenger Gyn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Any DSLR camera it's ok.
    300mm focal length means nothing, the minimum focal lenght is 800mm.

  3. #3
    Captain fungus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Sydney, Australia
    As Gyn has stated, any good quality DSLR camera should suffice, as long as it will take a decent lens. I use a larger Sigma 150-500mm lens on my Canon DSLR because the genuine Canon would have cost me truckloads of cash I don't have, but it's probably pointless talking prices here as the aussie dollar has dropped a long way in recent times against the greenback (US $) and I've had both cam/lens for some time.

    Gives good results (that please me) for both aircraft and contrails, and I can't hold the cam/lens combo all that steadily so I use a good quality tripod. Not altogether easy either for me to 'pan' aircraft but much easier than by hand. Make sure it has image stabilisation (or whatever it is called by the manufacturer). Using a telescope for me is out of the question, and what constitutes the best cam/lens can be a debate that can go on endlessly. Also, try searching all the reviews on the internet (just google them, he's our best mate/friend).

    I'm certainly no expert either just between you and me. Some of the guys on the chat use cameras for aircraft spotting so it might be worth your while to jump on there and ask.

    The following 2 pics admittedly haven't got contrails (the aircraft are at approx. 10,000ft over my place) but it gives an idea of what I (and almost anyone) can accomplish with a fairly cheap cam/lens combo and a bit of luck holding the cam still enough;
    VH-OJA.jpg 9V-SKT.jpg

    Qantas 747 VH-OJA / Singapore A380 9V-SKA


    ... with some (free) software to remove the 'noise'. Some guys use programs like Photoshop etc to enhance their pics, I chose not to for reason of both cost and simplicity. Some post to here via Flickr (I think it's called) or other websites but that's all above my head. Good luck.
    Last edited by fungus; 2015-02-01 at 12:59.
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