Airplane spotting with A99ii, 500mm Reflex and 70-200 f2.8

When I was small, the Hong Kong international airport (The Kai Tak international airport) was located in middle of the Kowloon city. Unlike many other airports, the Kai Tak is surrounded by mountains and residential buildings; if you are living in those old Chinese buildings, you can have experienced a close encounter of approaching plane thousand times a day.

So in 1998, the new airport has been moved to Chek Lap Kok, although we can no longer experience that close encounter like before, there is still a nice spot for watching airplane landing i.e. SkyDeck.

There are two runways in HK Int’ airport (07L 25R, and 07R 25L).  The direction of approaching mostly depends on wind direction and weather. The best landing picture can be taken when runway 25R is in use because the approaching plane will be in the close distance with SkyDeck.

Unfortunately, 07L instead of 25R has been used for landing when I visit SkyDeck. So I can only focus on plane taking off from 07R.DSC06487-2

Considering the angle and distance, that is not a preferred spot.  I don’t have an A-mount telephoto lens with me, so I can only use a Minolta 500mm Reflex lens to capture this far away subject. DSC06454-2
Reflex lens is small and light weight however the optical quality is generally inferior than conventional lens. Also, most reflex lens can manual focus only, except the Minolta 500mm reflex. This lens is designed in the old days, dedicated for Minolta body so it can seamlessly couple with my A99ii.  It is the only reflex lens in the market that can focus automatically. When paired with the A99ii, only centre-AF can be used with aperture fixed at f/8. Overall speaking her AF speed is good (compared to manual focusing) however it is too difficult for her to catch up a fast moving subject like airplane. With the in-body stabilization of A99ii, I can handhold this 500mm lens steadily. DSC06203-2

I have also brought the Sony G 70-200mm f2.8 however it seems even a 70-200mm can’t give enough reach in this situation.

The sky is so clear, what a pity I don’t have a 500mm+ lens.

Well, the high megapixel of A99ii enables you to crop extensively. DSC07200-2

A landed airplane heading to terminal.DSC07516-2This is my first airplane spotting with A99ii, I use to bring D500 for action shooting. Out of my expectation, the keeper ratio of A99ii is very good (almost 90%) although D500 is even better. When I see the file, the image quality of A99ii is superb, color rendering and 3D pop are also impressive.


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