Cameras for plane spotting

I use a Canon 7D+T6i with a 70-200 and a 100-400MKii (fantastic planespotting lens) and a 60D with a wide angle as backup/rainy day body.
Although heavy I’d say no more than 18 lbs, it’s a fantastic mix of new-oldish moderately priced canon setup
Edit: I noticed you would be using it at SFO
For T2 airtrain you’d want a lens in the 100-350mm range, Westfield is good to have both a telephoto in the 70-400mm range and a wide angle in the 40-70mm range.
A 24-70 would be perfect for both garages.
I’d recommend getting a 24-70 (or similar range) and a 70-300 or 100-400 as that covers the broadest spectrum with stellar quality at a decent price.
Invest in a good lens, the camera body doesn’t matter as much, they break and become obsolete quickly, but lenses last for decades.
Maybe I’ll run into you at SFO sometime!
Feel free to message me on my planespotting Instagram if you have any questions about gear. @ran

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With my one year experience I’d say that any camera with a zoom lens (ie at least 200mm) would make a good starter.

Tamron has a 70-300mm for around 100€, I’m sure it works perfectly fine and I think of moving to that.

For the moment I use a 18-105mm on a Nikon D3400 and we can feel the cropping really fast.

It’s well enough for close by taxiway and landings

But as soon as you get further from the planes the quality drops (due to cropping)

So yeah, if you want to buy a starter (like the new D3500), don’t jump on the kit lens.


I use my phone camera lol. It is a Samsung Galaxy A8

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Mine has the range, but not much clarity, quite blurry.

I would recommend a Canon EOS 1500D, maybe even the 90D if you have the money. What I have been told though, don’t get a Nikon ;)

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I would recommend getting a cheap Nikon DSLR (3300, 3400) and getting a good lens. If you want a cheap lens by Tamron you can get your whole setup for 500€, but the quality is not that good as if you would use an expensive lens for 200-400€. If you want to go really tryhard you could also buy an expensive 600mm lens (800€+)

That is right, i would rather buy a cheap camera and get a good lens. The lens actually decides how sharp your pictures get, how much contrast you will get etc. The camera only has a sensor, and it is even thesame on most cameras.
You will need at least a 200mm lens for spotting during taxiing and takeoff/landing. If you just want to take pictures of planes at the gate you could even go with the kit lens. If you want to take pictures while the plane is in the air you will need 400mm+
If you need any help just PM me😉


Thanks! Especially with holiday season sales in the U.S. starting, maybe I’ll be able to get it for cheaper.

One question I have though (This will apply mostly to people who’ve gone plane spotting at KSFO), if I go to Bayfront Park in Millbrae, will these camera magnifications give me good to high quality pictures with clear resolution?

This is the best picture of mine from an iPhone near KSFO of an Air France A350 near taxiway right of 1R. As you can see, the resolution is not quite clear. A camera with a slightly farther range with higher resolution will help. By the way, Bayfront Park is almost adjacent to Runway 1L/1R, but with some water in between. It is about a mile from 28L/28R.

This is a picture from 28R, the resolution is quite bad:

28L/28R is quite important to me, as most international flights and bigger planes land over there.

All photos were taken by me at longest possible range using iPhone 6s.

You need probably a 300mm lens because you are shooting from so far away.

For me I spot at BWI which has a good spotting area right at the runway. I use my pixel 2 and get decent pictures.

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i just use a samsung S10+

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I use a Panasonic Lumix G99.

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Every modern DSLR has more than 24 Megapixels and you can always buy a better lens so the problem is not the camera, it is the lens


I’d Recommend a Canon 400D, you can pick a brand new one up for 100-200ish and the quality is amazing! It has a small count of megapixels but the photos are super sharp and very clear. And as someone has already said in the thread, it’s the lense that you want to focus on!
here are some of the photos I’ve taken with one:

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Thanks for letting me know. I will look through them this weekend and then share some pictures when I go plane spotting.

I’m going to KSEA with my Nikon next weekend.

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