Workshop – How photograph planes

Technical Prerequisites:

Digital camera ( any )  –  Example photos done with SONY A7RMIII

Zoom Lens 


How to Photograph Planes

1) Plan your airport visit / air show visit.

2) At home – clean your sensor to remove dust . Dust shows up most prominently on areas of flat color, like the sky. Especially when shooting photos with narrow apertures.

3) On site,  look for a good spotting position. 

4) Mount camera with  zoom lens to monopod.

5) Focus your lens in AF mode. 

6) On an airshow photography day, I almost always have continuous shooting engaged. Shooting in continuous mode improves your chance of getting  sharp images.

7) Camera settings – RAW Format.

a) For planes on ground – Set exposition to AUTO mode  (600mm, ISO AUTO, AWB )  

b) For flying planes with jet engine – Set exposition to M mode (600mm,ISO 100,AWB,F/8 , 1/2000s)  c) For flying propeller-driven aircraft – Set exposition to M mode (600mm, ISO 100,AWB, F/8 , 1/125s) 


ISO – The use of ISO is heavily dependent on the lighting conditions at the time of shooting. For a bright and sunny day outdoors, you will only need an ISO of around 100-200. On cloudier days you may need a higher ISO, like 400-800 for example.

Shutter speed

For an aircraft with propellers, you want to use a slower shutter speed so that the propellers are slightly blurred. An aircraft with completely frozen propellers can look unnatural or broken. Because propeller aircrafts are slower, you can afford to lower your shutter speed while you pan to get some nicely blurred blades. A good starting point for blurring propellers and rotors is around the 1/125 mark. Adjust from there if necessary. On helicopters, the main rotors rotate slower than those on a conventional aircraft. Blurring may not be as pronounced, but a little movement is much more realistic than none at all.

8) Track the Aircrafts

    – for Airport – You can track airplanes on 

    – for Airshow – Airshows may look a little chaotic, with aircraft approaching from different directions at different speeds and altitudes. An announcer will usually keep the crowd informed.

9) Start exposition and, based on the results visible on your camera screen, fine tune camera settings.

Planes on ground or in slow motion

Planes on ground or in slow motion

Flying propeller-driven aircraft 

Flying jet planes

Flying jet plane 02