Does Plane Spotting Have to Be on a Professional Camera?

Just out of curiosity what iPhone? And damn that AA 737 lookin like a badass


It’s an XR, but edited very badly

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Ohh no it’s still pretty good!


My point has never been that real cameras are infirior to phones, just that if you casually go out to the airport once in a while, when a special plane flies in, and you want to text a picture to your mates to say hey look what I saw today, that top picture works absolutely fine…


Considering that my phone (Galaxy S8) takes better photos than my camera (in most cases) I’d say yes, you phone should be able to count as a spotting camera. Sure it might not have the fancy settings and features of a $600 professional camera, but it has a lense and the ability to save a digital rendering of an object in the world which classifies it as a camera.

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I think photographing airplanes in general is Plane Spotting. Heck look at these photos somebody got on their iPhone 8!

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Exactly. It might not be a designated camera but for what it is a phone will take good photos.

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Plane spotting or any photography for that matter doesn’t have to be on a professional camera. A phone is a great way to start out. Sure the focal length may be a bit small, but it is a great way to start. If you really like spotting that much, then step up your game to a DLSR or something. Don’t spend the money on something and drop the interest.

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Planespotting consists of heading out somewhere and watching planes. No mention of photography anywhere.

I would argue that for the best spotting experience you’re better without a camera. Don’t take photos, just watch. Any time I go to an airshow to take photos I’m so focused on the photography side of things that I don’t really pay much attention to anything else.


I am planning to buy a Sony A6000 bundled with a 50-210mm lens. I did have a recommendation from a photographer friend to purchase.

In my opinion, spotting is spotting. Whether you’re using a 4K SUHD wide telephoto $3000 lens or an iPotato for a camera, it’s spotting. No one said you have to have some crazy expensive camera. If that’s for you, then I say go for it.

Personally, I can’t afford a real camera. Can I still spot and have loads of fun? Heck yeah! I used my iPhone SE and still got pretty good, or at least decent, quality photo and video out of it. Now, I have an iPhone XR, and I am seriously looking forward to spotting with it sometime.

About that iPhone, if you don’t believe me, you can ask this thread.

Have a great day/night!


I absolutely agree. When I started spotting, I used an IPod Touch! The photos were not great, but it was fun and I got photos!

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I used an iPad, so definitely not!

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I’ve used an iPad before. It was actually decent.

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I actually used an iPod Touch (5th Gen) one of the first times I went spotting, and it turned out awesome! There were some issues with lighting, but I think that was just a POV sort of thing (I was facing into the sun, so I think that’s why).

Here’s my $0.02 on this matter.

The question asks: “Does plane spotting have to be on a professional camera?”

Direct Answer: No.

In fact, you don’t even need a camera to plane spot. But, I think the question really means "Does aviation photography have to be on a professional camera?

Direct Answer again: No.

It really depends on what your personal goal in the photography is. If you are trying to get shots up on JetPhotos or etc., then yes, you have to use a real camera, not a phone. But, if you just want pictures of something for your own purposes, or your own pleasure, it would make more sense to use a phone, unless you want the highest quality pictures, I guess.

But, one thing to note is that camera have and still have better quality then just about any phone.

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For what it’s worth, you can still get good shots on a device’s camera, you just gotta use it the right way. Zooming in to the max will cause grainy and blurry footage, so knowing the right angle and where to stand can help a lot.

Here’s an iPhone 6+ clip of a PAL 77W landing in LAX. Because of the aircraft’s close proximity to the ground, you can get good footage similar to professional cameras. However, at the end, zooming in causes low-quality footage whereas a professional camera would likely have a clear zoom.

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I agree with you. To me phone spotting and using a camera has huge differences. It’s mad cap if you say there’s no difference from a phone and an actual camera.
To me “phone spotters” isn’t really aviation photography. Just my opinion


I don’t know what you are talking about, of course it has to be done with a DSLR (or a mirrorless if that’s your thing).

Listen, every spotter here will tell you the same, your smartphone jpeg is worth throwing in trash, you can’t do anything with it on post editing. Same with high zoom compacts from a little Canon to the Nikon D1000 (3000mm of pure [redacted]).

Buy a good DSLR, Nikon the brand I use, got the prices really low lately for the D3500. If it’s too expensive, no problem, try getting a second hand D5000 or D3000. It’s the advantage of photography, you can jump back 10 years ago and have almost the same quality.

Just make sure your lens goes above 100mm and you’ll be fine.

It’s so much more fun with a DSLR, plus you can diversify your photography and discover an other passion…

Come on, there’s no way you get that with a smartphone


No, it doesn’t. A camera can be £5. It can be £900. It does the same.

I use my iPhone normally when I’m flying commercially, as it’s less hassle and the camera is built in to other things and it has my boarding pass etc.

I also use my phone when flying as a student pilot. Once again because it’s less hassle with a fat 3m lens and camera and it’s all bag and cover. Too much!

To say you need a Canon DSLR 4838-1 Mark II with optic fibre lens and green buttons, to photograph, that’s beyond me

to the camera experts, the one I described is just fake. Not real

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