Critical things for aircraft


Critical things for aircraft – I used to do quite a bit of this – are really good viewfinders and really good tripod and heads. My favourite is an ancient Vinten cygnet post head, because it can go up to vertical and a bit more! Ordinary heads can’t do this. You also spend a lot of time moving diagonally so your head needs to have friction in the pan and tilt directions that match. You need a viewfinder that can pick out a grey aircraft against a grey sky, and isn’t prone to reflections. If you wear glasses, especially varifocals, the steep angles you get make viewing tricky – I often mount the viewfinder to the head, rather than the camera, so that when you tilt up, the viewfinder doesn’t.

Last thing – lenses. You need a lens that stay in focus – if you go for photographic style lenses that zoom – most do NOT stay in focus, while video lenses do. Servo zoom is pretty important, along with a pan handle demand. left hand on focus, right hand on zoom and it works smoothly. If you want to go in close, then the head, the lens and the controls are all important – did I forget the camera? Probably, because the good ones are all capable – it’s the extras. I’d probably choose a BlackMagic at the moment, with a good second hand lens and second hand head and legs – that budget will also get you a nice viewfinder with decent contrast and adjustments. I would NOT, for aviation buy any of the normal one piece products as they won’t do exactly what you want. The bits and pieces system will also do practically any other job you might want. It won’t be as pretty, but there are lots of quite young decent heads and legs on ebay at the moment – probably set you back 1-1.5K, but once you get a fast moving aircraft in the frame, keeping it there is impossible without a decent head.

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