What is the best camera for plane spotting?

I have been increasingly interested in aircraft spotting. I was wondering, what are the best cameras in terms of quality specifically for spotting? Also, where may I find these cameras to consider a purchase?

Hi, could you please tell a bit about your budget and whether you want to shoot video, photo or both? Because else the best option would be a camera which costs thousands of dollars, and usually that’s not the type of cameras people search in these topics.

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Here is what i can say from my experience. Just to let you know more about my level, I have been spotting for just over three years and in the past, I have used my phone, a canon Elph 185, a canon SX60, 5DMII and My current camera, an 80D.

I know this post is a mess but I want to give as much info as possible in a single post so here we go:

Vocabulary

Point and shoot: a small camera able to take decent photos and can easily be carried around for beginners.

DSLR: A higher end camera that allows you to control camera functions and get much higher resolution photos. These usually cost more.

Bridge: A camera in between allowing you to take quality photos while being compact and relatively easy to use.

At this point, it all depends on what you want to do with it.

I made this chart with love to help you understand :)

Now also remember what you want. Is it for airport spotting or spotting from your house?
Is it for high quality shots or just for fun?
Is it for contrail spotting or for classic spotting?

My point is there are millions of body/lens cameras out there, from canon, nikon, sony, etc. So take the time to choose, no rush, because if you pick the right camera it will be great for you.

Here are some samples of pictures I took btw: (from lowest to highest quality)

With the elph: (roughly $150)
image

With my phone: (roughly $300)


With the Canon SX60: (roughly $600)
image
(note that this one was at 37,000 feet)
Here is another SX60 shot to make it fair:

Canon EOS 80D: (roughly $1200)

Please note that the pictures above have compression artefacts.

One more thing:

GET A CAMERA AT YOUR LEVEL

this is the most important part. If you are a beginner, no need to get an 80D quite yet. You will be lost in the controls and will not get pictures at the camera’s best, leaving you sad (and maybe broke). And likewise, if you have been spotting for years, don’t get a point and shoot. Save up for a better camera, it is worth it.

I hope this helps, and do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions!

Robertine

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Man that’s some @AndrewWu level stuff right there. Are you ok @Robertine?

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no

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He been eating to much oatmeal…guess it’s gotten to him….

Lmao anyways that’s some great information. I got a very nice camera just never gotten into plane spotting because I’m so busy might get into it soon!!!

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Don’t attach a price to a picture, that gives the false idea that quality = gear.

If the “best camera” existed, you’d see every spotter with the same camera and lens, which of course is rare.

You need a lot of experience to tell what fits you. My advice would be to start somewhere and then figure out the pros and cons of your setup.

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Without knowing budget I can’t tell you much but I will say, don’t invest in any point and shoot or bridge camera. They don’t really allow you to grow into the art and are probably a bad investment in the long run.

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I’ve taken a photography class and been taught the basics of using a camera, like aperture ISO etc. but have little other experience. Would you recommend an 80D?

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With aperture, ISO and other similar settings, i think it would be a good choice (personally). You will definitely need to keep learning (and the camera can actually help you with that) by trying and figuring out what buttons do, it’s the best way :)

I personally love this camera and even with basic knowledge such as that, you can still take amazing images! Also feel free to ask if you have any questions regarding camera functions/facts/knowledge like that. I can help with general camera but also with 80D functions and buttons :)

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Your eyes and memory ;)

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It looks like Canon has replaced the 80Ds with the 90D so I’m planning on getting one of those, would you recommend any specific lenses?

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I use a Canon T6, which I find to be very very good for the price! If you’re just getting into it planespotting I highly reccomend it!

Example shots here:
https://instagram.com/mile.high.aviation?utm_medium=copy_link

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Thank you so much for your reply. This is really awesome, this is just the thing I needed. I apologize for my late reply. I don’t have any experience when it comes to cameras and photography, so this is definitely pointing me in the right direction when it comes to cameras. In terms of recording, would the same cameras be good for video recording?

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I have been thinking of both video and photo. My budget would be at a maximum of $500. In terms of the quality of the images/videos I would produce, I am aiming for 4K quality.

These are great photos, really high quality! I just took a look at the camera, fits in really well with my budget. Quick question, is the camera capable of shooting videos of similar quality to its photos?

I believe all cameras in my beautiful flowchart can record, but if your only goal is video, then you may want to look at ✨ camcorders ✨

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Got it. Thank you very much! I have been thinking of both video and photo. So I think the T6/T7 would work out great for me (Especially since I know nothing about this stuff.) Again, thank you for your help. I really appreciate it.

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Idk, I’ve never tried

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So I wound up buying the 90D because of this thread with an EF-S 18-135mm lens and it’s been wonderful. I’ll include some pictures. I am still learning how to use it but I’ve gotten some decent shots with it already, I highly recommend. Note I also did use a photo editor for some minor touchups. I’ve ordered an EF 70-300mm telephoto and can’t wait for it to arrive. Photos taken at KLEB Lebanon Municipal Airport.

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