Fuji XC 50-230mm vs Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS – Air Show shootout

The Blue Angels practiced just outside our office today (and yesterday) in preparation for the air show tomorrow. Here are some shots I was able to get with my Canon 7D with 70-200 f/4L IS and my Fuji X-T1 with firmware 4.0 and with XC 50-230mm f/4.5-6.7 OIS.

These photos are jpegs straight out of the camera and have only been cropped. I included the uncropped shots to give you a perspective of what each was capturing. (*Updated* replaced 400×400 100% crops with 300×300 100% crops so this page displays better.)

Disclaimer: any motion blur in the photos are my fault as I was doing multiple tests. I believe the blur could have been avoided with a higher shutter speed.

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This was my first time shooting airplanes so I have a lot to learn. Next time, if I am not doing testing, I’m going to go aperture priority around f/8 (but not any higher to avoid diffraction), set a low-ish ISO (depending on the weather), go ev+1/3 to +2/3 and let the shutter speed fire fast and loose.

**Update 9/2015**

Here are the settings that I used:

  • High performance mode
  • Pre-focus off (the nearly constant going in an out of focus is distracting and unpleasant)
  • Image display (image preview) off – essential for fast shooting. 
  • Zone AF mode
  • Multi metering
  • Single focus (this time) for more FPS (continuous focus is slower)
  • (Should have shot Aperture priority) **note added 6/2017** for propeller driven planes, the slowest shutter speed you can get away with is more important.

Notes:

  • I started in full auto with minimum ISO shutter speed at 1/500 to see if it would shoot at a faster shutter rate (since it was so bright outside), but it didn’t.
  • I switched to 1/1000 (but should have gone to 1/2000 except in my head I was still testing low ISO)
  • I have never shot an air show, but next time I will shoot Aperture priority with a low ISO and let the shutter be as fast as it wants to be.

Handling:

  • It was more difficult to follow the planes with my X-T1 than my 7D – there was a slight delay that was making me over-compensate – but I have been using my 7D for years and I just got my X-T1 a few months ago. I think that I could get a better feel for it with more experience.
  • The X-T1’s EVF was definitely darker than the 7D in daylight. I could have boosted that a little, but adapted to it fairly quickly (I wasn’t wearing sunglasses).

Image quality

  • Photos from the X-T1 are definitely sharper and better balanced. Jpegs from the 7D were duller and would take some RAW work to correct. I think ev+.3 or ev+.7 might be all the X-T1 needed to be better.
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