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Best camera settings for night spotting?

Amer Konjhodzic 

Joined in March 2015
Posts: 2
Posted 17 November 2016 - 17:43 CET

if the airplane is not moving (which is the best for night shot), iso 100, sharpest overall aperture - usually between f5,6 and f8, tripod, and long exposure (usually 2-3 seconds, even more). for any night shot i use A mode, iso 100 and camera decides shutter speed. of course tripod is mandatory.

Rutger Smulders 

Full member
Joined in February 2014
Posts: 25
Posted 17 November 2016 - 20:28 CET

For nightshots I most of the time use the M mode or S mode. When I chose M mode I select iso 100, F8 and a shutterspeed of around 11sec, depends on the amount of light available around the aircraft. This is what I use for planes that don't move. I don't even try to shoot moving planes, ain't gonna work unless the have some real amazing gear!


Full member
Joined in March 2015
Posts: 83
Posted 17 November 2016 - 20:54 CET

If you're good with Lr or PS editing and know how to remove noise, you can push iso to 2500 or more (depends on your camera) and then you can take shots of planes landing or takeoff with f2.8 - 5.6..all depening on light conditions around RWY and approach path. If it's pitch black..forget it.

Juan Pablo MS 

Joined in December 2015
Posts: 9
Posted 17 November 2016 - 21:11 CET


For me the settings are well explained by Boytronic and Rutger, F8, ISO 100 and the X number of Seconds required for the light of the aircraft will provided you good night shots, however another item I always try to suggest and work fine to me is to setup the tripod more stable you can and prevent vibrations because of the wind or even while pushing the button to take the picture.

For this you can use a remote control trigger or even wifi/apps for send the instruction to the camara to take the shot.

In my experience I have not seen Vibration Reduction (Nikon) or Image Stabilization (Canon) affecting the night shots, however if you read a little bit usually the expert suggest to disable them because those system try to compensate vibration and move the sensor a littlebit causing some trepidation.

For planes that are moving, well I will try Boytronic recommendation and check more tips about remove noise in post processing however I think this is more related to the limtations of your gear.

In my case I use a mid range camara, so the sensor of my Nikon is not really good with noise, however full frame camaras usually do a better job with noise and allow you to increase the ISO, this makes you can keep your aperture constant and decrease the shutter speed.

I have seen real cool pictures of Landing and Takeoff with high ISO settings some of them Eye Catchs obviously but also I have notice that Sony Mirrorless camaras have really good way to handle the noise and allow higher ISO. I have tried a Sony A3000 for night photography and it really goes well with iso 6400 and just a little noise in the picture.

However as an still learning photographer my advice will be go out, look for a save place and start playing around with the camara, probably you will need to discard some of the captures, however that practicing allow you to learn from your camara, the limitations and capabilities you can use while taking a picture.

Cheers from Costa Rica!! Pura Vida..

Attached picture: F11, ISO 100, 10secs, Nikon D5300, Tokina 16mm, Manfroto Monopod attached to a fence-wall and Neweer Remote Trigger

Attached photos:

Thomas Ranner 

Full member
Joined in September 2014
Posts: 62
Posted 17 November 2016 - 21:26 CET


you can have a look at the Exif of this pic:

From my experience those are the most brutal settings which still are bringing some usable pictures with a crop-sensor camera. (If you have a lens which can shoot below f5.6 thats better of course). Always do pannings in M modus, otherwise your camera might suggest 1s exposure time or something like that. And the more runway/taxi/terminal lights you have in the frame, the better the picture looks.

Don't get disappointed from the first panning shots you make, you will need some practice to get more than 1 of 50 sharp, at least I needed that ^^.

Best regards

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