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Critical Gear for shooting UFOs


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I attended an event in downtown LA on Saturday, June 17 called DisclosureFest 2017. It was about meditation, healthy products etc. While it was called DisclosureFest, I didn't see any booths or promos for UFOs/aliens etc. During Robot Nature's performance (pretty cool new band), people began pointing at the sky and everyone with a camera started pointing up and taking pictures. I looked up and saw a tiny spec of white, with bright flashes. I said out loud that looks like a drone, and everyone said, no, that's a real UFO! I put the 70-200 F2.8L II on the 1DX II and looked at the object through the optical viewfinder at 200mm. It looked very strange, kind of like a human-like form, all white floating in the sky. There where kites and some balloons floated by- windy enough to move balloons. This object didn't move- a balloon would float up and with the wind. I took a few stills then switched to 4K video. It was super sunny and I couldn't see anything on the LCD. So I just pointed the best I could...

I learned a few things for this kind of shooting:

  1. A viewfinder is absolutely necessary!
  2. Go to manual focus and set for infinity with a high f-stop

DPAF couldn't hold focus on a small object, however I did get a few seconds of decent footage. The RAW stills showed so much more detail vs. 4K video. That's when I realized I should have looked through the optical viewfinder and shot a few rapid bursts of RAW stills at 14fps!

I found a decent VF for $110: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00D3551NU/ (on the topic of Amazon- need to start supporting other vendors. Low prices are great but killing all competition is not):


I shot this pic using a little product box I picked up at Samy's a while ago. It works pretty well.

The only issue with the VF is base plate needs to be adjusted/shimmed to get a better fit to the LCD and VF. Even as is, it works great because when you put up to your eye it pushes forward and blocks all light (no leaks).

I'm pretty sure at least one of the objects was man-made, some of the others it's hard to tell. I'm editing all the shots into a short video and will post when done.

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  • jcs changed the title to Critical Gear for shooting UFOs

Anonymous said the NASA was going to say something about alien life. Maybe they're already here! I hope they just have somebody like Charles Dance to do the talking, Morgan Freeman has a too lighthearted voice for that.

Jokes apart that's why I think Mirrorless is superior, the EVF, IBIS combination is killer; pity that by the time you'd point the camera to the UFO the batteries would die in the Sony and the focus would be lost in the sea of blue with the Panasonic. Maybe the OMD EM1 MKII is the way to go :grin:

EDIT: Waiting for the footage, I kind of secretly enjoy these things.

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14 minutes ago, jonpais said:

@Ivanhurba Actually, not true at all about the Panasonic. Have you ever shot with Panasonic? Ken Ross has shot some excellent footage of an air show, everything was tack sharp.



Yes, I have @jonpais (GH2V, GH4), in fact, the moment I can I'll get my hands on the GH5 to make it my main camera. It was a little tongue in cheek as the Sony is not that horribly bad and the Panas do a good job. My method for focusing always had been back button S-AF and then manual adjusting even on the Panas, so I know Contrast is good enough for that. All this fuss about GH5 lack of good C-AF for tracking is understandable but as @jcs said, DPAF fails sometimes. The footage is great and I love the tracking of the parachutists, pity the lack of smoothness of the IBIS. Andrew has been testing the EM1II for a while, maybe he can say how the phase and the IBIS panning works on the Oly vs. the GH5.

With all the technology we have now I just hate that nobody has been able to get an UFO with a camera and a 400mm on a tripod and good AF yet. 

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@Ivanhurba I think he's shooting with the PanLeica 100-400 here. I really think that no matter the camera, those shooting with these super tele zooms should consider bringing along a monopod to steady the shots out a bit. They're lightweight, not too expensive, and take up very little room in a backpack.

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@jonpais I'm a fan of monopods for run n' gun (ie. weddings) or small cameras with small lenses but for something like a 1DX II, a gh5 with the 100-400 or events like airshows I made myself an el-cheapo version on the manfrotto befree live with an xsource folding tripod, a neweer levelling base and a fancier head; not as light and portable (or expensive) as a live or a monopod but stable enough and still fits in a backpack, well, hanging from it.

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