When making PetaPixel’s documentary about Blair Bunting’s U2 photograph shoot on the fringe of area (which it’s best to actually watch now if you happen to haven’t), one factor we determined to not deal with was the digital camera gear. However we love speaking about cameras and lenses, so Chris sat down with Blair the night earlier than his epic shoot to debate the gear he was mentioning in a U2 spy aircraft.
Blair spent months testing tons of of digital camera and lens mixtures earlier than deciding on his closing equipment. Try the video above for all the small print, however right here’s the rundown on Blair’s fastidiously chosen gear.
Which Cameras Did He Take?
For his main cameras, Blair used a pair of 61-megapixel Sony a7R V mirrorless our bodies. These cameras have the very best decision at the moment accessible in a full body mirrorless, but in addition wonderful dynamic vary. One had a battery grip connected to ensure that the battery would final the whole flight. The opposite had a digital camera strap connected that sadly discovered itself wrapped across the eject lever!
Blair additionally introduced a Nikon Z7 II 42-megapixel mirrorless digital camera with customized firmware designed particularly for the flight. There have been particular necessities that the cameras had all communications disabled, and Nikon was capable of present that. A Nikon Z9/8 was thought-about, however Blair wished a mechanical shutter to verify the digital camera was working, in addition to the very best dynamic vary.
To seize the flight, a number of GoPro HERO11 Black cameras had been within the cockpit working on exterior energy provides. These had been working customized firmware so batteries weren’t required within the digital camera housing. This firmware prevented overheating on the 2 most necessary digital camera angles.
Which Lenses Got here Alongside for the Trip?
The precedence when choosing lenses for the Sony our bodies was discovering one thing compact that will nonetheless present top-notch picture high quality. For his beautiful images of Earth, Blair utilized a Voigtlander 10mm f/5.6. This lens is extraordinarily small however sharp and well-corrected. For photographing the second U2 spy aircraft, Blair chosen the extremely sharp, however nonetheless compact Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM II.
Blair made the choice to convey a 3rd digital camera up particularly so he might shoot a couple of images on his Father’s Nikkor AI 50mm f/1.4 classic lens. This required using the Nikon FTZ II adapter to mount it to the Z7 II mirrorless physique. Whereas Blair says that he “wasn’t bringing it to make artwork”, the pictures this 50-year-old lens captured are really hanging.
For filters, Blair used a Breakthrough polarizer. Having the reflections of the Earth beneath and empty area above, mixed with the glass of the cockpit, created the fascinating flare patterns that Blair used to strengthen his compositions.
How Did It Go?
As Blair recounts within the full documentary, one of many Sony a7R Vs had the rear LCD fail at 65, 000 toes. The EVF was clearly unavailable for the reason that area helmet saved Blair’s eyes a number of inches again from the eyecup. Luckily, Blair felt the shutter fireplace to verify the digital camera was operational, recalled his earlier settings, and was capable of each expose and body the photographs blind.
We had been capable of communicate with Blair per week in the past for the most recent PetaPixel podcast to cowl some questions which have arisen for the reason that documentary was revealed. I requested Blair if he would have achieved something in a different way if he had been to do it once more. I used to be stunned by his response that he wouldn’t change a factor. He went up with the expectation that he would seize a dozen or so good photographs of the flight, and returned with over a dozen he was happy with.
The success of Blair’s shoot is a testomony to the worth of planning and testing your instruments previous to an necessary challenge. Blair’s diligence is a big a part of why he’s developed the repute he has for getting iconic photographs in tough conditions, and the U2 challenge is his finest instance but.