Any Starter Spotter Camera Suggestions?

Hey everyone! I’m relatively new to aircraft spotting and was curious if anyone had any suggestions on a starter camera? I have a Fuji camera now, but looking to upgrade without spending a lot of money. This camera is okay, but is horrible in low light and overall (in my opinion) not that great for spotting. Any suggestions would be much appreciated!

A Fuji what? With what kind of lens? Are you proficient with your Fuji and can take a decent airplane photo with it?

How much money and time do you wish to spend? The learning curve with a new camera, and the practice necessary to really use it well, is a cost to consider. The good airplane photographs you see are not magic. They are the products of photographers who have practiced and practiced and practiced.

There are many different camera systems and many opinions. Search the web for “how to take pictures of airplanes” or “planespotting photography tips” and find photographers who know their stuff and will have some good guidelines on what to look for.

There are many tutorial posts like this all across the web. … airplanes/

And practice.

It’s a Fuji Finepix S1000fd and I have not added a lens to it. I actually did not think I could attach a different lens on it and I’m looking into that now. I would say I’m pretty proficient and with good lighting can take pretty good shots of aircraft.

I would like to spend no more than $500 and I have plenty of time to commit to learning with it. I know it’s not magic… But, I work in airport operations so I’m out on the airfield all day and have plenty of time to learn. Thanks for the link by the way. Any further suggestions would be appreciated.

I like Digital Photography Review for many reasons. Here is their 2015 buyers guide: … es-default

Note they cover every kind of camera and every kind of photographer. And every price range.

Keep in mind photographers change camera brands and update their current cameras on a routine basis. There is a nice market in used equipment on ebay, etc. I’ve bought lenses from a place called Lens Rentals, who sell their used rental equipment at a decent discount. In each instance the quality of their “excellent” rated used equipment was almost perfect.

Awesome! Thanks. I like the idea of buying used equipment, but wanted to get more recommendations from people that have purchased used. Thanks for the info, I appreciate it!

You’d want to go for a DSLR, due to the fact you can interchange lenses (telephoto for the distant aircraft and wide angle for close up). If money is a concern, go for a Canon 700D or Nikon D3300, if it isn’t go for Canon 70D, Nikon D5500 or Nikon D7200. You have automatic modes but also manual (I recommend learning using that, it gives you the control on what you want and not what the camera wants).

I’ve used Fujifilm FinePix S3000 and S5200, ok cameras but camera really controls what you do, in the past. First DSLR was the Pentax K100D, not a bad camera but not a fan of the menu layout.

My current DSLR is the Canon 60D, which I love and always use the manual settings (or bulb if I’m in really low light). I’ve use a few pro L series lenses [full frame lenses] without any issues (60D is a cropped sensor, 1D Mark III is full frame).

David, 1st you have some really nice shots posted here, love those low angle shots! I would suggest whats already been said, spend some time reading reviews. If at all possible don’t limit yourself to $500, if you decide to go with an interchangeable lens camera, one thing to remember is you need to spend some money on glass (lens), most ‘kit’ lens are good for general daylight photos. If you want good low light performance look at lenses with f2.8 or less , I took this with a 50mm 1.4 lens on a Sony A7s just rolled down the window and took a shot handheld, and that shot is pretty much straight off the camera.

As far as buying used most of my stuff is used, I’ve bought a lot of equipment off craigslist and had no problems with it. I bought a used camera body from B&H photo and was happy with it, they have a very good return policy for new and used. I’ve never used LensRental but have heard nothing but good things about them!

If you have a BestBuy close by by, go and spend some time checking out the different brands and types of cameras, thats what I do for actual hands on experience with something new.


I never thought to see if you had photos on the site.

To answer my own question, yes, you are proficient with your Fuji and you can take decent photos with it!

Hey Guys,

Thanks for the nice comments! I do enjoy those low angle shots as well rwb. Like bidgee said, it’s a nice camera but it really controls what you do, so I have to find some creative shots and use my imagination.

I’ll continue to do my research and I really appreciate the pointers on the lens. The Nikon D3300 seems like a good camera for the price, but may try to save a little bit more for the higher end ones. And the Best Buy idea is pretty good… I’ll definitely do that!

Rwb you’ve got some great pictures by the way! Are those night shots of aircraft on short approach shot with the same setup?

The two most recent were with A7s with a Zeiss-Sonnar 135 2.8, manual focus, the other recent 4-5 were same camera and a Tamron 70-200 2.8, there was actually enough light from the highway and parking lots off the end of runway 4 for the auto focus to work pretty good.
I’m still pretty new to the in action night shots, got a lot to learn about processing/enhancing the shot.

There’s a lot of good deals right now, being a Sony guy I gotta point this one out, Sony RX100, something you can put in your pocket with a 1.8 lens and pretty dang good low light performance for $398. Last year I noted a comparison at night between it and a top of the line $6000 Nikon D4s, scroll down to the shots by ‘zee71’ not much difference when just posting shots on the net!

Good luck with your hunting and let us know what you come up with!

Awesome, great suggestions and thanks for the heads up and comparison shots. I’ll definitely report back and let y’all know!!