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What amount of optical zoom is required for digital video of flying planes?

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What amount of optical zoom is required for digital video of flying planes?

Old 03-19-2005, 08:22 AM
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Default What amount of optical zoom is required for digital video of flying planes?

Hi All,

I am about to purchase a digital video camera and was wondering what optical zoom is typically used in the plane videos that are around? My flying will typically be in fairly close (3D). I am probably going to purchase a fairly low budget camera. I am thinking that i need one with image stabilisation and relatively good low light capacity.

Any other requirements I should look out for?

Thanks

Lang

Old 03-19-2005, 04:16 PM
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Default RE: What amount of optical zoom is required for digital video of flying planes?

To be honest, the highest optical zoom you can get is always best.
You will most likely NOT need a high optical zoom to tape flying planes because there is a usable zoom limit when taping. Meaning that there is a certain amount of usable zoom before it is nearly impossible to follow the plane in flight. Once you lose the plane in the viewfinder it is a major task to re-acquire it.
Probably no more than a 10X optical would be needed but I would still get the highest you are willing to pay for. Just in case you wish to tape something other than your plane.
Another tip: Set the focus for infinity while taping a plane that is out a ways. The auto focus can have problems locking in the plane so you get the sharp/fuzz/sharp/fuzz strobe effect.
Old 03-19-2005, 05:39 PM
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Default RE: What amount of optical zoom is required for digital video of flying planes?

Hi Fubar-one,

Thanks, your feedback is helpful. You can never get any idea from watching the multitude of in flight videos around of what camera specs were ued during the filming. Do you know if image stabilisation is also an important part of good quality filming? I've never had a video camera before.

Cheers

Lang
Old 03-19-2005, 10:50 PM
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Default RE: What amount of optical zoom is required for digital video of flying planes?

Image stabilization is helpful. Will take out the micro-shakes from holding the camera. if you get a camera that has this it is beneficial.

A 10x zoom is good but 6x-8x is probably fine for what we do shooting planes. If you go in with a big zoom the shakes are magnified and staying tight on the plane is more difficult for most.

Most important is a good auto focus. 2 years ago I bought a cheaper canon mini-dv. It would not focus on the stuff in the air well while flying. My buddy had a sony that was five times better at auto focus and was only 200 bux more. I dumped the canon and took a 100 loss in 30 days and got the sony which worked great. This was 2 years ago so maybe the lower end canon's are better now? They are fine for normal type shooting but in the sky it just didn't cut it for me as it was always out of focus.
Old 03-19-2005, 10:55 PM
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Default RE: What amount of optical zoom is required for digital video of flying planes?

Generally speaking, image stabalization does not help much when using medium to full zoom. It's nice to have, but a good tripod does a much better job.

Just for interests sake, the videos on my web site were shot with a JVC digital camcorder. It has 10x optical zoom, but I sometimes wish it had 12x or 15x. It also has a widescreen mode (16x9) which I like as I have a wide screen TV at home, so the DVD's I make for myself look quite nice.

Most of the videos were done with the camera mounted on a good quality tripod. It takes a bit of practice to get reasonable results with the tripod, as you you have to move your head and body around much more than when shooting handheld. It's also a lot easier to loose the plane and as mentioned above, it's a bugger to get it back. Best bet is to zoom back out quite a bit, and look for the little black dot that's moving across the sky/clouds, then zoom back in.

As mentioned above, setting the focus manually is a must. Nothing more annoying that having the autofocus go in and out of focus. I usually point the camcorder as something that is about midway between the closest and farthest I figure I'll shoot, and set the focus there. With a bit of practise, I'm now able to refocus on the fly (as it were) should I need to do so.

Another trick I use when shooting with the tripod is to angle the view finder up. Again, with practise, I'm able to change the angle of the viewfinder as I'm shooting. This helps a bunch as I don't have to half crouch down when the plane is high. Remember, with the tripod, you're not moving the camera up or down, only tilting it. Consequently, it's your head that has to move up and down (as well as left and right.) Think about it for a minute.

Regards,
...jim
Old 03-20-2005, 12:04 AM
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Default RE: What amount of optical zoom is required for digital video of flying planes?

Image stabilization is helpful but at high speed passes you can notice a sort of jerk-jerk or strobe effect as the camera tries to stabilize the image. It does help tho.
All of my onboard videos use wireless video systems so the camera stays on the ground.
A camcorder with AV inputs (RCA) is very handy to have. When doing the aerial video thing, I use my Sony TRV-120 digital 8 camera to record the onboard video while my father uses his Sony Hi-8 to video the plane from the ground. At the end of the flying session we dub our respective videos back and forth between the camcorders. Both of our camcorders are also S-Video equiped so we use that for the video feed and RCA connect for the audio.
Mine is also firewire equiped so I can upload to my computer for editing.
Best investment I ever made.
Old 03-27-2005, 06:29 PM
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Default RE: What amount of optical zoom is required for digital video of flying planes?

Thanks for your feedback. This has helped me with establishing the criteria for the camera I plan to buy:

Sony/Canon
16 x 9 wide angle
Hotshoe
Optical zoom 18+
Image stabiliser
Manually adjustable focus.

Thanks

Lang
Old 03-30-2006, 04:51 AM
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Default RE: What amount of optical zoom is required for digital video of flying planes?

HI Langster

I use a PANASONIC GS250 3CCD...excellent camera you may wish to consider...they are now available for $1100-00 advertsied here in Sydney due to a new, and supposedly inferior model coming out.

I have found this to be a very good camera even if I'm pissed when I compare to the price I bought in at. - Regards Dino
Old 03-30-2006, 05:04 AM
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Default RE: What amount of optical zoom is required for digital video of flying planes?

Hi DinoR,

Thanks for your feedback. In the end I purchased a Canon MV850i with a 22x zoom. It clearly does not have the up to date specs that you have specified but I purchased it soon after my last post last year.

I have been very happy with the camera so far and it is working well for videoing aircraft.

Cheers

Lang
Old 04-01-2006, 11:35 AM
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Default RE: What amount of optical zoom is required for digital video of flying planes?

If you want TRUE 16:9, make sure you buy a camcorder that will pull it off without cropping (most camcorders simply crop the top and bottom to make it look like a wide screen shot). The difference between true 16:9 and a simple crop is HUGE. So be careful when you make your purchase.

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