Final weekend I attended the world’s largest army air present at MCAS Miramar in San Diego, California. Additionally in attendance with me was a Sony a9 and the brand new FE 400mm f/2.Eight GM lens. This is the way it went down.

After arriving on base the place the air present is staged, I really started the occasion taking pictures with the Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM lens on an a9 digital camera. This premium zoom lens afforded me with flexibility in my compositions, and it turned out to be fairly useful with the extra nimble airplanes that create fascinating smoke patterns within the sky which can be value together with so as to add depth to pictures. The 100-400mm has a zoom ring friction setting that I am so used to leaving on “tight,” however on this present day having the zoom prepared to regulate freely is that option to go along with topics which can be always altering distance from the digital camera. If I wasn’t so desirous to lastly get my arms on the brand new 400mm f/2.Eight GM for the primary time, it could have made for an ideal lens to make use of all day.

However alas, that stunning 400mm was ready for me to check out. This new lens is Sony’s first foray into prime super-telephotos for mirrorless cameras. Whereas the focal size nonetheless is not fairly there for my private interest of wildlife and fowl images, getting this style for what’s down the highway is all I wanted proper now. And naturally, for air present images it is proper at that candy spot between getting most magnification and element for fly-bys and taking pictures too far within the distance the place warmth waves and the ambiance will destroy picture high quality.

One of many headlining specs of the 400mm f/2.Eight GM is the low 6.Four pound weight for its class. A part of the burden financial savings is because of the glass parts distributed in direction of the digital camera finish the place they do not should be made so giant. Due to this, lighter cameras do not feel so unbalanced both. To check this reported portability, I shot the 400mm f/2.Eight handheld all day and did not use a battery grip on the a9 digital camera (which is normally a should to stability heavier lenses on DSLRs). The entire weight was in all probability someplace round Eight kilos for the setup.

The quick model of the story is that on the finish of the day, I felt advantageous and if I may redo the day I nonetheless would not use a monopod or tripod gimbal head. I loved having the liberty to simply modify my place and the (semi) low footprint of utilizing a digital camera handheld, and the instances once I was holding up the digital camera in a taking pictures place for a chronic interval weren’t that frequent. So long as my left arm obtained somewhat break every time there was a break within the motion, I used to be able to go for the following collection of pictures, and I used to be capable of preserve that course of up for round 5 hours.

Remaining picture high quality is, as you’ll be able to guess, ridiculously advantageous. However hey, we’re speaking a few $11,998 lens. I had shared a few of my photographs from the air present on Instagram and all I may assume was “you guys do not even know.” The advantageous element is all there while you pixel peep the jets flying at 600 mph; it is actually one thing. If I’ve a possibility to shoot one other air present, little doubt I am renting the 400mm f/2.8.

To not be neglected, the Sony a9 paid an ideal praise to the 400mm f/2.Eight for photographing jets blazing throughout the sky in good formation. Keep in mind, with the a9 there is no blackout throughout steady taking pictures, it fires as much as 20 frames per second with no buffer restrict in sight, and there are 60 focus evaluations per second even whereas taking pictures.

I used to be astonished to seek out out that at 20 fps, when photographing two jets coming at one another to carry out a detailed move I might find yourself with solely two to 4 frames with each jets within the body. And even then, I solely had one crossing shot on the finish of the day that turned out what I might contemplate OK. It goes to point out how troublesome of a shot that’s to tug off with any lesser digital camera. However for an entire newbie like me to get considerably near proper on the cash on day one, that is the benefit of the a9.

One other think about what I’d contemplate a profitable occasion shoot have been the bodily dials on the a9 physique and with the ability to change steady taking pictures pace from 20 fps for jets, decrease burst speeds for the aerobatic bi-planes, and single body taking pictures for what was taking place on the bottom. It was additionally quick access shifting from +1 EV or so for the planes within the sky to zero EV for grounded topics. I additionally got here to the belief that I’d a lot reasonably have a spotlight space dial on the physique reasonably than a never-used autofocus mode dial. My cameras by no means depart AF-C with back-button focusing and nearly each lens has the AF/MF change. Sony a9 II the place you at?

Lastly, I can not even think about how a lot it could in all probability suck to shoot an air present with an optical viewfinder. Pointing a telephoto lens into the intense, noon sky for hours on finish will not be a really perfect state of affairs for my eyes. I am joyful I did not have to seek out out what that is like.

When the present was over, I managed to tear by two 64 GB SD playing cards and had began on a 3rd. My first FZ100 battery dropped to 20 % however I swapped it out about an hour earlier than the air present ended to not find yourself in a dicey state of affairs mid-performance; I had already run out of a reminiscence card proper as an epic move was taking place and I wasn’t going to make the identical mistake once more. Apparently autofocusing massive glass in AF-C and having Optical SteadyShot activated for just a few hours takes its toll on battery life. Huh.

After my preliminary cull of eradicating something that was an apparent dud from the thumbnail, I had 4,283 photographs on my arms. Belief me once I inform you that what you see printed right here in a mere look at what was captured that advantageous day of images at MCAS Miramar.

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