Plane Spotting lense

Hello IFC

I am planning to buy a camera in the near future so I have been doing some research on it. I have chosen the camera I want to get (a sony A6100). Now, I am confused on what lense to get with it. I’ve seen many and don’t really understand what to get. I have been looking at sony 55-210mm oss lense which comes in box with an extra ~400 bucks. Which I feel maybe too short and 300mm ones were too much, I was looking at a 70-300mm Tamron, it’s good but I feel like starting at 70mm is way too zoomed in though. so solution, I get a 16-50mm too, but obviously that is too much money on 2 lenses and probably not worth it as people say u will never need like that low zoomed in. I then found Tamron 18-300mm, but as expected that’s out of budget at $900.

So anyways, what lenses should I get for plane Spotting, also can I have some help understanding hoe far can you zoom with lense, like how far away I have to be from for example 737, like what’s the furthest I can be or something. Thank You

Happy to see you upgrading your equipment! I’m very pro Tamron when it comes to lenses myself. Regarding the 18-300mm that you mentioned, I’ve heard some reviews for it and heard that it’s a bit on the bad side for quality (focus issues) and has a lot of chromatic aberration issues too. Not too sure about the 70-300mm that you mentioned. I myself have a Tamron 100-400mm lens and it works great, I use it for about 90% of my shots, focal length honestly depends on where you’re spotting at.

I also have a Tamron 18-270mm lens that works pretty decently too, it’s got a tiny bit of chromatic aberration but it can usually be fixed with post-processing.


Sure I’ll check that out, thanks!!!

1 Like

Is it this one I am guessing

1 Like

Yep, that’d be the one :)

1 Like

If you can avoid it at all, don’t get something with a huge focal range (ie 18-300 or 18-400). It’s really hard to engineer a lens like this so essentially you’re paying for convenience not quality. I won’t offer advice here because I am not in tune enough with the Sony lenses to give you an accurate reading and I don’t want to mislead you.

1 Like

I’m not a Sony user but I’ll try to give out some advice. I personally use a 70-200mm lens, like @Kamryn said, it’ll depend on how far out you’ll be when your spotting. Obviously, the further away, the higher focal length you’ll need. A good rule of thumb would be to not go any lower than a 200mm lens, unless you’ll be spotting extremely close up.

1 Like

Well basically i wnat a lense that would be able to do a plane (lets use 737 for now) thats between 100 meters away and 1km away basically. as to what i have seen 200mm seems a bit less tbh, so basically anything that can do a 737 clear a km away and can get it abut 100m away will do the job

Average plane spotting areas are about 300-400m away from the closses u can get from the plane whether on runway or up in air (depends on spot), and the furthest u can get when like taking a video of a plane would be maybe about a km

ya, this is an A mount, the camera i am planning to get is e mount so that wont fit

1 Like

To have the ability to take a picture at 100m and still be able to take a good shot at 1km away would be investing a lens with large focal length differences. Like @AndrewWu said, these lenses aren’t necessarily constructed for quality, they are constructed for convenience.

If you really want something that can be used along those lines, invest in something like a 18-300 or 70-400, as those give you the most options. Note that this comes with the sacrifice of quality.

1 Like

I am not really going to be getting something as big as 400mm rn, that’s too much, would 315mm be able to get about a km

Personally I own a Tamron 100-400, using a Canon DSLR. It is absolutely awesome for spotting. I would recommend buying a at least 300mm lens, to use for planes further away and close-ups. If the plane is more then 100m away you will be able to capture them as a whole. Also great quality pictures. It doesn’t have to be too expensive either, I got mine second-hand for €450 which is an investment but totally worth it!

1 Like

ah k, also note that sony lenses r a bit expensive, so u catch a plane with 100-400mm as a whole plane that atleast 100m away r

1 Like

Might I ask which airports you intend on spotting at?

My 100-400mm lens struggles just a bit for a 777-200 around 250m away.But it’s still possible to get certain angles like the one below,

Here’s an example:

Smaller aircraft like A320’s and 737’s should be in full frame if they’re a minimum of 100m like @Olivier999 stated.


For Sony cameras, there are quite a wide range of decent, if not excellent, zoom lenses. It’s also worth noting that the A6100 is an APS-C sensor, and has a crop factor of 1.5x, meaning the true focal length on your camera will be 1.5x greater than advertised. So for example, a 100-400mm lens would become a 150-600mm. It’ll also mean your camera will have a lower field of view than that of a full frame camera.

There are also a wide range of aftermarket lenses, from Tamron, Sigma, Rokinon and many others. Provided you intend to do your photography in daylight, you won’t need to worry too much about having a wider aperture. You’ll also have some crop in to work with on the A6100, having a 24mp sensor.

The lenses are expensive, but that is something you’ll find in the Sony ecosystem. Saving the money to get the better lens is fully worth it. I started off with a 55-250 with my Canon, now I’m using the substantially better 70-200mm.
You should be able to use any FE or E lens, just bear in mind that 1.5x crop factor.


I heard of that, I am planning a 55-210mm which would turn into a 82.5-315mm

1 Like

CYEG, Edmonton Int’l Airport

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 90 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.