Planespotter Camera Choice

I'm no professional photographer by any means. I leave that for Damien Bredberg, Ken Duncan and Jered Gruber's of the world. They are true professionals. They make money from their photography and enough to live off.

That is the meaning of a professional.

I'm a Canon fan boy, maybe because a lot of close friends use Canon's and I was swayed that way bit that's just how it has panned out.

A choice I'm very glad I stuck with.

I like to think I fit into the middle category of photographers - consumer professional, wannabe professional, slightly over achieving novice.

I've been a planespotter since 2001. It was about that same time that the Canon D60 was released. It revolutionised digital photography and changed aviation photography for the years to come. At the time I was a teenager and my budget didn't stretch that far.

I vividly remember my first camera it was an Olympus C-750Z. A sophisticated point and shoot that at the time produced some marvelous photos.

A380 demonstrator with Learjet departing YBBN

In 2003 Canon released two bodies that would define their direction in the DLSR space for most consumers and aviation photographers - the 10D and the 300D.

Come forward 10 years and the advancement to the 70D and 700D is astonishing like every other piece of technology.

Start out small

So are these two cameras I should consider?

Absolutely, there are others but this is a good place to start.

A lot of friends ask me what kind of camera to buy. I'm very hesitant to recommend spending lots of money on new camera gear as more often than not lots of people give up on "hobbies" as it's mostly not for them.

I've sold some quality second hand gear before and this is normally the direction I point them in. Some are reluctant to go second hand for numerous reasons - effort of going to some unknown place to get a camera, no warranty (valid point although alot of times there are loop holes on warranties companies use to get out of them anyway) or fear of buying a dud product.

When I talk about small I'm referring to price and this generally correlates to camera model. The 700D is considered an entry level DSLR while the 70D is a tier above in what I'd consider an advanced entry level DSLR.

Most camera enthusiasts take good care of their stuff so for me I'm happy to buy second hand; it can be a calculated risk like anything in life.

Work your way up

Don't get me wrong both of the - 70D and 700D - take a magnificant photo but the echelon in DSLR's continues to rise and one must go on further to discover more about what upper tiers offer.

Aimed squarely at the consumer professional- the Canon 7D - filled the void brilliantly of what aviation photographers wanted for years. This non full frame camera is perfect for aviation photography. With the 1.6x inbuilt converter it offers the extra reach to get that photo.

It was the compromise between the 70D and the coveted 1D range minus the 1D price tag. Still to this day aviation photographers enjoy this camera hugely.

Full Frame

It's taken me over 10 years to step up to buying a full frame camera. I've always appreciated the reach the 7D had with its inbuilt converter.

I was fortunate enough for a friend to lend me their 5dmkiii for a photo shoot one day. The results astounded me.

The picture had this element of crispness I'd not yet seen seen from my 7D. Sure I'd seen sample images from the 5dmkiii but there's a difference when you take the photo and put it up on your monitor. You see other things in the image.

I had experienced what all the fuss was about. The images were of complete quality. The focusing was fast and razor sharp. I found it hard to cull photos - they were all good.


I've found the need to keep a non full frame camera in my collection. There's been times when I've had to use the 7D to get that shot because of the builtin converter.

Scoot arriving at Coolangatta

Scoot seen here arriving at Cooly - here is an example where I needed the 7D for it's builtin converter.

Majority of time I trust my 6D.

My advice is to have both a full frame camera and non full frame camera in your tool bag. If the budget stretches go straight to the top and get the 1dX.

Air New Zealand A320 departing Queenstown

The crispness of the full frame camera - Canon 6D