When making PetaPixel’s documentary about Blair Bunting’s U2 photograph shoot on the fringe of house (which it’s best to actually watch now if you happen to haven’t), one factor we determined to not deal with was the digicam 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 a whole bunch of digicam and lens mixtures earlier than deciding on his remaining package. Take a look at the video above for all the main points, however right here’s the rundown on Blair’s rigorously 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 presently obtainable in a full body mirrorless, but in addition glorious dynamic vary. One had a battery grip hooked up to ensure that the battery would final your entire flight. The opposite had a digicam strap hooked up that sadly discovered itself wrapped across the eject lever!
Blair additionally introduced a Nikon Z7 II 42-megapixel mirrorless digicam with customized firmware designed particularly for the flight. There have been particular necessities that the cameras had all communications disabled, and Nikon was in a position to present that. A Nikon Z9/8 was thought of, however Blair wished a mechanical shutter to substantiate the digicam was working, in addition to the absolute best dynamic vary.
To seize the flight, a number of GoPro HERO11 Black cameras had been within the cockpit operating on exterior energy provides. These had been operating customized firmware so batteries weren’t required within the digicam housing. This firmware prevented overheating on the 2 most essential digicam angles.
Which Lenses Got here Alongside for the Trip?
The precedence when deciding on lenses for the Sony our bodies was discovering one thing compact that will nonetheless present top-notch picture high quality. For his gorgeous photographs 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 carry a 3rd digicam up particularly so he may shoot a couple of photographs 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 actually hanging.
For filters, Blair used a Breakthrough polarizer. Having the reflections of the Earth beneath and empty house 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 ft. The EVF was clearly unavailable for the reason that house helmet saved Blair’s eyes a number of inches again from the eyecup. Happily, Blair felt the shutter fireplace to substantiate the digicam was operational, recalled his earlier settings, and was in a position to each expose and body the photographs blind.
We had been in a position to 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 executed something otherwise if he had been to do it yet again. I used to be shocked 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 pictures of the flight, and returned with over a dozen he was pleased with.
The success of Blair’s shoot is a testomony to the worth of planning and testing your instruments previous to an essential mission. Blair’s diligence is a big a part of why he’s developed the status he has for getting iconic photographs in troublesome conditions, and the U2 mission is his finest instance but.