P900 Plane and Contrails Photos and Video

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
DSCN0905-aw.jpg

I bought a Nikon P900 to partially supplant my "big" camera, a Canon 7D with a 500mm zoom. The Canon setup was 800mm equivalent, and weighed 7 pounds. It was also nearly impossible to shoot video with handheld, and still tricky on a tripod.

The P900 is not a perfect solution, but it's still very good, especially for video. It's effective 2000mm optical zoom, and has an electronic viewfinder, and only weighs two pounds, meaning it's easy to shoot video handheld in the sun.

This one was shot using a tripod:
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ci2a0wEXb0g


And it's great for regular close-up contrail shots.

20161008-110904-3f03w.jpg

20161008-110511-g486w.jpg

20161008-110557-rbroy.jpg
20161008-110759-va0gc.jpg

And photos of the moon:
20161008-110700-2rysm.jpg
 

Trailspotter

Senior Member.
A bit yes, and contrast enhanced as it's daytime, here's the original. Just optical zoom, handheld.
View attachment 21931
I asked, because I take the pictures of (full) moon at full optical zoom to verify the calculated FOV. In theory, for P900, the horizontal FOV is about 1°, or the two moon diameters. In practice, it varies a bit depending on the selected aspect ratio, or other options (photo/video). In my SX60, the horizontal FOV is 1.5°, but I get a bit more than 3 moon diameters in full-size photos and a bit less than 3 in the HD video.
 

Leifer

Senior Member.
I'm glad you made this post. I plan on acquiring a P900, to mount to my video fluid-head tripod setup.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I'm glad you made this post. I plan on acquiring a P900, to mount to my video fluid-head tripod setup.

I've got a fluid head, that's what the video above was shots with. At full Digital Zoom it's very difficult tot track still, but 2x (4000mm is manageable). Since it's going from 3456 to 1080 lines for the video the digital zoom is actually quite useful. I'd just crop photos though.

4K would have been nice. Nikon will probably release a P904K next week, knowing my luck.
 

Leifer

Senior Member.
4K would have been nice. Nikon will probably release a P904K next week, knowing my luck.
Nikon (and others) have new camera releases and updates about every 6-12 months. My newest D7100 will be outdated soon.
....oh wait, it already has (D7200)
I guess a "new" camera is suddenly "old" in a year.....lol
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Nikon (and others) have new camera releases and updates about every 6-12 months. My newest D7100 will be outdated soon.
....oh wait, it already has (D7200)

The P900 has been out since early 2015.

They did release a B700 with 60x zoom and 4K/30p video, which suggests a B900 might be in the works.

And actually the B700 might have been a better choice, were it just about taking videos of planes. Cheaper too. Also bigger sensor and raw images.

Grumble grumble.
 
I've got a fluid head, that's what the video above was shots with. At full Digital Zoom it's very difficult tot track still, but 2x (4000mm is manageable). Since it's going from 3456 to 1080 lines for the video the digital zoom is actually quite useful. I'd just crop photos though.

4K would have been nice. Nikon will probably release a P904K next week, knowing my luck.

I have never seen one in the flesh. I gather a really good one costs about the same as a small car!
Nevertheless, I have added a DIY one to RCT to control vibrations, and also an inertial damper.

To get to the point.. can you mount yours on top of a pan-tilt head? Aligning a Tandrive(tm) or fluid head so the (tracking) axis is perpendicular to the trail, at closest approach, works a treat!

Edit: Or to try to explain better : Perpendicular to both the trail and the line joining the observer to the point of closest approach. Then you only have to track in one dimension at constant angular speed (for small durations, if you dont have Tandrive(tm), assuming the plane is travelling at constant velocity)

See https://www.metabunk.org/automated-video-tracking-of-planes.t7849/#post-193171 to get the general idea.
 
Last edited:

tinkertailor

Senior Member.
View attachment 21922

I bought a Nikon P900 to partially supplant my "big" camera, a Canon 7D with a 500mm zoom. The Canon setup was 800mm equivalent, and weighed 7 pounds. It was also nearly impossible to shoot video with handheld, and still tricky on a tripod.

The P900 is not a perfect solution, but it's still very good, especially for video. It's effective 2000mm optical zoom, and has an electronic viewfinder, and only weighs two pounds, meaning it's easy to shoot video handheld in the sun.
Maybe a tad bit OT, feel free to delete if necessary, but how does it do for just general non-megazoom shooting? I'm looking in to getting a new camera; think I've grown out of my little Pentax Q starter DSLR and am looking at other options. I really like RAW though, damn.
 

Trailblazer

Moderator
Staff member
Obviously I was joking about the Apollo site, but I thought I'd see what size features you are resolving there.

I picked one of the smallest identifiable craters:

upload_2016-10-12_15-56-34.png

And located it on the LROC Quickmap, which shows imagery from the Lunar Reconassance Orbiter, the highest-resolution general imagery of the moon available:

upload_2016-10-12_15-57-30.png

That is a crater called Landsteiner. Zooming in...

upload_2016-10-12_15-59-34.png

And using the distance measuring tool, that crater is 6km across, or a little under four miles.

upload_2016-10-12_16-3-45.png


Assuming you are viewing the crater square on, I make that about

2 x arctan(6/(2 x 384400)) = 3.2 arcseconds.

According to this page, that's not far off the best possible seeing conditions of a typical sky, of 2 to 3 arcseconds.


Of course, the image appearing on this page might be degraded from the raw camera file, too.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Maybe a tad bit OT, feel free to delete if necessary, but how does it do for just general non-megazoom shooting? I'm looking in to getting a new camera; think I've grown out of my little Pentax Q starter DSLR and am looking at other options. I really like RAW though, damn.

It takes perfectly good regular photos too. The zoom is the big feature though. I'm probably get something slightly smaller if I was not such a zoomophile. It's not as agile as a DSLR, because the zoom is not manual. Depends exactly what you are going to use it for.
 

Trailblazer

Moderator
Staff member
Here's the actual pixels of that region from that photo.

That seems rather less clear! You can see there's something there, although there's a similar shape here that doesn't actually seem to exist on the surface:

upload_2016-10-12_16-52-14.png

upload_2016-10-12_16-54-0.png


The pair of craters at the lower right of that image are clearly resolved as a pair, though, They are each about 9km in diameter and separated by 4km edge to edge.

Map link: http://bit.ly/2dwfmrt
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
That seems rather less clear! You can see there's something there, although there's a similar shape here that doesn't actually seem to exist on the surface:
Did you just discover a new crater? :)

I think it's just noise. I took two photos at the same time, one was not so clear.

moon crop a.jpg moon crop b.jpg
 
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