Wide Open Spaces

“Wide Open Spaces”
She needs wide open spaces
Room to make her big mistakes
She needs new faces
She knows the high stakes

Dixie Chicks – Wide Open Spaces (1998)

Usually, I don’t rely on small and light action-cameras to capture high quality aerial images. Instead, I use a smaller, relatively light mirrorless photo camera, the Fuji X-M1. At 330g (11.6 oz), (not including a lens) the APS-C camera can be considered light, especially since it features the same high quality X-Trans 16 mega-pixels CMOS sensor of the bigger, more expensive cameras in Fuji’s famous X-Series.

Not always, but most of the time, aerial photography means creating a wide angle shot of the scenery, and for that I currently have these options:

Fuji also has a 16mm f1.4 lens at 375g and a 14mm f2.8 lens (235g), which are heavier and expensive. Weight or purchase price, sometimes I don’t know which to consider more, when attaching a piece of equipment to a high-flying quad-copter …

Additionally, filters can be attached in front of the lens, creating a wider view. I have the

each of which can be mounted in front of the Fuji 18mm f2.0 lens.

Let’s take a look

27mm

Fuji X-M1 w/ FUJINON XF27mmF2.8 lens

18mm

Fuji X-M1 w/ FUJINON XF18mmF2.0 lens

18mm-zomei

Fuji X-M1 w/ XF18mmF2.0 + 0.45x wide angle filter

18mm-vitar

Fuji X-M1 w/ XF18mmF2.0 + 0.43x wide angle filter

Let’s take a closer look

Both wide angle filters perform expectedly, but a closer look reveals some serious flaws:

27mm

Captured with the 27mm lens

18mm

Captured with the 18mm lens

zomei

Captured with the 18mm lens + 0.45x filter

vitar

Captured with the 18mm lens + 0.43x filter

Quality matters most

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It’s really nice to have options, but most of the time, I’m opting for quality, i.e., using the 18mm lens without the .43x or .45x filter. Given the vibration of the quad-copter, a very high shutter speed is crucial, to get a sharp shot. Moreover, most of the scene needs to be in focus, i.e. an f-stop of 8 or higher is really nice to have, which often means to compromise a little on the ISO, but not too much …

untitled-73

ISO 640 – 18mm – f8.0 – 1/1200sec