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 Author Topic: Lens for Aerial Photography | Vertical Aerials | Medium-format in the Air  (Read 2989 times)
Atina
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 « on: February 25, 2013, 07:33:23 AM » Reply

Hello!

I presume this question has been asked many times, but I was wondering if any of you could help me.

1. Let’s say that I want to photograph a property, an estate, a house. Like one of those celebrity mansion photos. How do I choose the lens knowing that I will be flying in a helicopter, which I presume means flying at a height from 500 ft to 1500 ft?

There are many lens calculators such as this one here

http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/camera-lenses.htm

or this one

http://www.giangrandi.ch/optics/lenses/focalcalc.html

but what exactly do they mean by “subject size”? Or “object size” in the second example? The second link makes it as if that is the height of the house, or the vertical dimension in real life of my photo, but that is difficult to know since in terms of length that will depend on the angle of view and distance from the object.

Some examples:

http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/3cZoLRew2kI/FILE+Tamara+Ecclestone+reportedly+considering/RtHzlLYaowL/David+Saperstein

http://blog.photoshelter.com/2008/07/hamptons-overdrive-with-cameron-davidson/

http://media.theagencyre.com/wp-content/uploads/10-Beverly-Park-01.jpg (weird coloration, though, but the point is in what fit the frame).

2. Is there a way to take perfect (90°) or near-perfect (≈90°) vertical aerials without using special equipment. Obviously, I can extend my hand with the camera right out of the window / through the door, but the wind will blow me and my camera away. Probably.

3. When using medium-format cameras, is it only necessary to convert the lenses suggested under 1. using one of the online calculators or are there any specil considerations? For the same type of job?
 « Last Edit: February 25, 2013, 07:45:10 AM by Atina » Logged
Atina
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Regarding the Cameron Davidson Hamptons aerial, he mentions the lenses:

1. 35mm f/1.4 “L”
2. 85mm f/1.2 “L”

And also 24mm f/1.4 “L” and the 135mm f/2.0 “L” lenses, though I’m not sure he used any of those in this photo shoot.

I presume the first photo was taken with the 35mm lens, but I am more interested in photos number 2 and 3.
 « Last Edit: February 25, 2013, 07:47:50 AM by Atina » Logged
Peter McLennan
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The first link and the last one are either fairly long lenses or big crops from a larger image.
The middle one looks to be about 35mm equivalent.  Just guessing on that one.

The math is just trigonometry.  You have three basic variables: the lens' angle of view, the distance (range) to the subject and the height of the resulting projection on the ground.

I'd shoot some tests on subjects of known dimensions at known distances to get a feel for what's needed.

I've only shot medium format film from the air, never MFD, but I imagine that any lens over about 150mm is going to be a bit of a handful.  Given the ease of enlargement with MFD, in the air you're better off too wide than too tight.

The only way to get a hand-held, near-vertical shot is in a very tight turn.  Not as difficult as it sounds, but a little disconcerting the first few times if you have the door off.  If you do it a few times in succession, you may barf.  Be prepared.

Good luck shooting below 1000 ft in residential areas.  2000 ft is the usual legal minimum in my experience.
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bill t.
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As a quick aside, have you looked into radio controlled multicopter camera setups?

Take a look at the third image on the top row of this guy's site, under the "Photos" heading.  Something very "up close & personal" about the wide angle perspective from probably no more than 50 feet altitude, which would require special wavers for a real helicopter and otherwise blow the heck out of the scene.  I think those shots are far more appealing than the 1000ft+ shots in your examples.  And it's no trouble at all shooting straight down with those things, minus the barf.

http://www.multicoptermaui.com

Those multicopter setups are a hard nut to crack, as you can tell from the abundant, relatively artless amateur work around the web.  Would take 100's of hours to get one going, unless you spent the money for an off-the-shelf system.  But you wouldn't have to hire real aircraft for very many hours to reach the investment cost, and you would have the advantage that you could go to work with a few hours notice and relatively little pre-planning.  Downside: I personally predict a significant crash per each 10 hours of flying time.  Maybe I'm wrong, but former Chinook crew chiefs like myself are have certain sense about such things.

Whatever you do, just make sure it's not this...

 « Last Edit: February 25, 2013, 04:34:56 PM by bill t. » Logged
Atina
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I've only shot medium format film from the air, never MFD, but I imagine that any lens over about 150mm is going to be a bit of a handful.  Given the ease of enlargement with MFD, in the air you're better off too wide than too tight.

What would you do with ISO on a digital medium-format? If, say, your most frequently used ISO value on a full-frame digital is about 400?

Good luck shooting below 1000 ft in residential areas.  2000 ft is the usual legal minimum in my experience.

To tell you the truth, 500 ft did seem awfully low when I heard it. I will have to re-check. It’s really low.

Bill, actually I did look into it, but very briefly. It’s a nice idea, but I have serious doubts on whether it will do for me in this case. I would be happiest if I could fly on that thing Adriel Heisey flies on and shoot from there.
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KevinA
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Hello!

I presume this question has been asked many times, but I was wondering if any of you could help me.

1. Let’s say that I want to photograph a property, an estate, a house. Like one of those celebrity mansion photos. How do I choose the lens knowing that I will be flying in a helicopter, which I presume means flying at a height from 500 ft to 1500 ft?

There are many lens calculators such as this one here

http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/camera-lenses.htm

or this one

http://www.giangrandi.ch/optics/lenses/focalcalc.html

but what exactly do they mean by “subject size”? Or “object size” in the second example? The second link makes it as if that is the height of the house, or the vertical dimension in real life of my photo, but that is difficult to know since in terms of length that will depend on the angle of view and distance from the object.

Some examples:

http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/3cZoLRew2kI/FILE+Tamara+Ecclestone+reportedly+considering/RtHzlLYaowL/David+Saperstein

http://blog.photoshelter.com/2008/07/hamptons-overdrive-with-cameron-davidson/

http://media.theagencyre.com/wp-content/uploads/10-Beverly-Park-01.jpg (weird coloration, though, but the point is in what fit the frame).

2. Is there a way to take perfect (90°) or near-perfect (≈90°) vertical aerials without using special equipment. Obviously, I can extend my hand with the camera right out of the window / through the door, but the wind will blow me and my camera away. Probably.

3. When using medium-format cameras, is it only necessary to convert the lenses suggested under 1. using one of the online calculators or are there any specil considerations? For the same type of job?

Assuming you are using a high wing Cessna.
For vertical the best way is either an aircraft with a hole in the floor, or a special camera door that is wider and has a hole in the bottom. Both exist, both are rare finds.
The other technique for one off verticals comes down to pilot ability and your ability to direct. You need to come in over your target, get the pilot to bank hard over and point the nose up. You will get less than a second to get your shot and practice will give you an idea of the direction to approach the subject and when to flip over.
Lens choice decision depends on what and how you want to frame the subject. In a helicopter I use between 17 and 200mm regularly, on occasion 12mm to 400mm. In a fixed wing 28mm is about the widest comfortable lens to use upto 200mm and on occasion  400mm.
Unless you are trying to shoot to a scale calculating before you go is pointless and er nerdy.

Kevin.
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Kevin.
KevinA
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Assuming you are using a high wing Cessna.
For vertical the best way is either an aircraft with a hole in the floor, or a special camera door that is wider and has a hole in the bottom. Both exist, both are rare finds.
The other technique for one off verticals comes down to pilot ability and your ability to direct. You need to come in over your target, get the pilot to bank hard over and point the nose up. You will get less than a second to get your shot and practice will give you an idea of the direction to approach the subject and when to flip over.
Lens choice decision depends on what and how you want to frame the subject. In a helicopter I use between 17 and 200mm regularly, on occasion 12mm to 400mm. In a fixed wing 28mm is about the widest comfortable lens to use upto 200mm and on occasion  400mm.
Unless you are trying to shoot to a scale calculating before you go is pointless and er nerdy.

Kevin.

This is all on full frame 35mm.
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Kevin.
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