Saturday, August 26, 2017

How the X-T2 performed at Clacton-on-Sea Airshow 2017

After Silverstone, the next event on my hit-list was an airshow. As it happens, living in Colchester, we have the Clacton Airshow on our doorstep. So, I just went along for the first day on 24th August. I did originally intend to go both days and stay for the evening flights on Thursday. However, I decided not to do so. One reason was that the programme for both days is essentially the same, at least for the daylight period. The only difference between the two days was that on Friday there was planned to be an appearance by a Hurricane. Another reason I left after the daylight programme on Thursday and missed out on the night flights was that I had foolishly not taken something to sit on. As a result, I was suffering a great deal of pain in my spine (I have osteoarthritis) and needed a good lie down.

Having said all that, I had a great time at the airshow and to say it's a free event, its great value for money. Of course, I had to drive there, so there were fuel costs and parking (£6 all day) to fork out but that's nothing really. I did also buy an official programme for £5. I also came away with a lot of shots I am very happy with.

Now, in terms of an event like an airshow, lens choice is important. For me though, there was no choice as I currently only have one lens, the FUJINON LENS XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR. I also have the FUJINON TELECONVERTER XF1.4X TC WR and together these equate to 106mm to 298mm. I do have two Carl Zeiss lenses for the Contax G camera (a 28mm and a 90mm) that I can use with an adapter ring. However, these would not suffice for capturing images of fast moving aircraft as they are manual focus and too short a focal range.

As it was, I was wishing I had bought the FUJINON XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR instead as it would have been more useful. It would have given me the equivalent of 152-609mm in the 35mm film format, without the T/C. However, when photographing more than one aircraft, the 50-140mm with T/C was perfect. I shall definitely be saving up for the 100-400mm though as it will prove useful for the kind of subjects I want to photograph more these days, such as wildlife, aircraft in flight and motorsports.
So, overall, how pleased was I with my X-T2 kits? Well, let's start with the negatives first.

  1. Even with the booster grip (i.e. 3 batteries), I found that I was down to just 3 bars on the last battery by the end of the day. Granted I took over 5,000 images and used 3 64GB cards, but in terms of time, the first shot was taken at 10:02 am and the last one at 16:59 pm. That's about 7 hours. If I was shooting professionally I would definitely have a second set of three batteries charged up and ready for use.
  2. I did have a couple of glitches with the camera (this happened at Silverstone too). After taking a series of shots, the camera froze and became completely unusable. However, I have discovered a workaround that is 100% successful. As I was using the booster grip, I loosened it until the camera unfroze and then tightened it up again. I think that the lock-up was due to the grip not being absolutely tight and certainly, after I did this for the second time, making sure it was as tight a fit as possible, I had no further problems. I don't believe this is a firmware update I am still on ver 2.00). I will now update to the latest and see if the problem reoccurs.
In terms of positive:
  1. Weight - although the combination of camera, lens, booster drive, 3 batteries and the t/c is quite hefty, I didn't find the weight too much of an issue. Granted I was sat down for periods (after the tide came in and I had abandoned the beach, I sat on the steps to the beach) and not walking around all day with the camera around my neck.
  2. Ease of use - the design of the X-T2 (other X-Series cameras) is a real boon for the photographer. By setting up my custom commands beforehand and by setting the ISO to A, the lens to A and unlocking the shutter speed dial, I was able to change shutter speed without taking my eye away from the viewfinder. This is really useful when trying to capture fast moving jets with a big zoom lens!
  3. The speed of autofocus is almost instant. Granted it failed on occasion but that is down to me and my lack of experience at panning whilst looking through the viewfinder at a jet travelling laterally across my field of view!
  4. Aperture is fixed throughout the zoom range. This means that the viewfinder is bright and this makes life a lot easier than say if I was using a lens that went from, say, F4.5-F6.0.
So, here are some shots I took on the day. Obviously, they are a small selection and I will be putting up a gallery on my Flickr page in the near future with many more images.

Giant wind turbines offshore

Sign of the times - more plastic in our oceans!

Boats stand ready to rescue anyone in trouble.

Lots of seabirds joined in the aerial displays!

Crowds transfixed by the Tigers Parachute Display Team.

More amazing stunts by the Tigers!

Yes this is genuine and not photoshopped!

Yes, they did land in the sea! Due to delays, the tide had come in so they got wet. They are soldiers so they are used to it.

Once the tide came in all those folk on the beach (me included) had to find somewhere else to watch the dispalys from.

Didn't realise it at the time but this seabird decided he wanted in on the picture too! The two planes in the background are D.H. Vampires FB.52's.

Here they are again, this time without some seabird trying to steal their glory!

A couple of locals in their inflatable.

Members of the Twister Aerobatic Team in their Silence Twister Aircraft.

The tow D.H. Vampires in formation with a Mig-15!

So, overall, I am extremely happy with how my X-T2 kit performed, despite one or two minor niggles. Hope you like the photos and if you ever have the chance to go to the Clacton Air Show do take the opportunity. Just remember to take something to sit on!

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