Since my first Airshow back in June 2016 I have always wanted to shoot this event with a telephoto lens. A few years ago I purchased a Sigma 150mm to 600mm Contemporary lens. I can honestly say this lens did not disappoint! Although, I was quite happy at the time with my images from 2016 the upgrade in lens has been phenomenal.
I have included an image slider to visually show the difference between a 200mm and a 600mm lens. Even though these aren’t shots of the same planes I think that the difference is easy to see.
Again, the images below aren’t shots of the same planes but the difference is amazing! As I explained in my original post from 2016, it is possible to produce a great set of images based on composition, creative photography and speed. The use of the telephoto lens doesn’t negate any of this. Indeed, using a telephoto lens has it’s own unique set of challenges especially when trying to frame up a fast moving object.
The next comparison is quite a good one because it shows that close range detail can be captured with a 200mm lens. However there is still a difference between a 200mm and 600mm lens. Look closely (zoom in) and you can see that the pilot in the second image (600mm lens), is taking a photograph! This level of detail is not possible at the same range with a 200mm lens.
The final image comparison shows that even though you may only have a 200mm lens you can still achieve pretty good results. The 600mm does still have the edge. Therefore, if you are serious about air show photography then it’s well worth upgrading. The image on the right made the Wex Photographic top ten that week.
Details are certainly clearer with a 600mm. However this is not to say great shots can’t be taken with a 200mm lens. The lens you choose depends largely on what you are trying to achieve. If you really want to get up close and personal then a 600mm is ideal. A 200mm on the other hand allows for a greater field of view so is ideal for plane formation shots.
Photos from the Torbay Airshow 2022
Below are my images from this year’s show (600mm). To make a full comparison please see the images from 2016 (200mm). Naturally, my skill as a photographer has improved since 2016 and if I had used a 200mm lens I feel sure I would have produced something better than 2016. However, having upgraded my kit to include the 600mm lens, the journey to the perfect Airshow set seems much more achievable.