Saturday, 19 March 2011

Another 'Boys' Post .... Boys Toys

I'm heading quickly towards one of those milestone birthdays that includes a zero, in my case preceded by five ... yes, the big Five-Oh. Hard to believe given my youthful looks!! Anyway, my beloved has offered to splash out on a radio controlled aircraft, something I've wanted since I was a lad, but never got around to. So I popped down to my local club to get the lowdown on starting this new hobby, but of course I took my camera along ....

First off I have to say a big 'Thank You' to the guys at the Heart of England Aeromodellers, an "established club situated in the West Midlands between Coventry and Birmingham, it provides facilities for aeromodellers interested in flying either planes or helicopters".  This stranger wanders up, says 'hello' and asks what it's all about, and a short while later leaves with a magazine and fully detailed shopping list of things  to get and places to go to get them.  Fantastic.  Thanks to Malcolm, Ken, John  and others whose names I missed for taking time out to answer my very stupid questions.

That was yesterday, and they suggested I went back today when there would be more members flying and possibly someone with a training setup who might allow me to take the controls.  (I should point out I have flown RC aircraft before, planes and helicopters, but more 'toys' and less serious than those I saw here).  Alas there were no training planes being flown so I asked even more stupid questions then proceeded to take photos.

There were big planes and small planes, but they all moved pretty fast, which showed how rusty my panning skills are.  They say you never forget, a bit like riding a bike.  Based on today I don't think I'd better buy a bike anytime soon - it'll hurt for sure!

I was shooting with my EOS 7D and new  Canon 100-400 L-Series zoom which performed spectacularly well, which it should have done given it was a bright, blue sky sunny day.  I know focusing issues have been reported with the 7D but today it was spot on pretty well every time.  

The lens also has an in-built system to shut down the IS in whichever axis there is significant movement; I tried it in all modes and noticed no difference so I would say this suggests that system works well.  For this reason I can't see why you wouldn't leave it switched on in Mode 1 all the time (except perhaps to save the batteries) as it'll compensate automatically.  Perhaps I'm missing something (feel free to comment if I am!).

I also tried to video the planes, but this was a complete disaster.  I have bought nothing specially for video at the moment so I was trying to film while watching the LCD screen - not a good plan for fast moving objects, and especially not in bright sunlight!  I tried, and I tried, but all in vain - shaky views at best, but mostly it was clear blue sky without a plane in sight!  

So, I now have an excuse, sorry - reason - to go and spend some more money.  Do I buy one of those eyepieces that fits onto the LCD screen?  I don't think buying a larger LCD screen will help, if anything it'll make trying to track things worse.

Another idea is to fix something like a rifle sight onto the camera and use this to track the moving object - I tried this in principle by lining up the flash hotshoe with the tripod mount swivelled to the top.  It proved quite easy to track even a fast moving RC aircraft  - just a pity I was pointing the camera in the wrong direction (yes - even more blue sky!).

Anyway, we now have a plan, but if there's anyone out there who has cracked this please do get in touch.  I'll let you know how I get on!