Join the Unexplained Mysteries community today! It's free and setting up an account only takes a moment.
- Sign In or Create Account -
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 2
ufoscan

Photographing UFOs

186 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

The question is often asked on this forum and elsewhere: Why - with the great digital technology we have today - are we not getting clear stills or footage of UFOs ?

The argument generally is that "everybody has a cellphone in his pocket nowadays" and therefore every UFO witness should have clear photographic records of his sighting.

But is this really the case ?

As a photographer for many years, I have pondered upon this a lot and I am not so sure that it is so easy to get a good picture of a UFO - given that UFOs show up unannounced (which means that the likely photographer is unprepared) and could be gone a few moments later.

I'd like to open a discussion on this and encourage other photographers to chime in.

The first thing I will say is that most of my years in photography were spent with film cameras and, in my early years, every setting was ajusted manualy. I used a separate light meter and selected f-stop, shutter speed and focus. I was also very knowledgeable about depth of field, which relates to the range of clear focus in a picture - a range that can vary not only with focal lenght, aperture, film size, but also with image magnification.

The truth of the matter is that, in the days of film, the chances that a UFO observer would have been fully prepared to take a picture of a UFO that showed up unexpectedly were quite slim.

When all-automatic film cameras became available, the chances increased slightly. But such cameras often performed poorly, required perfect lighting conditions and one had no control over the focusing distance chosen by the camera. Fixed focus cameras have the focus set at the hyperfocal distance, which is actually very near (most of the time between five and fifteen feet). Therefore an object at infinity may look in focus on a small print, but would loose definition when magnified - very simply because the object was located too far away from the actual focus distance.

In this new digital era, not that much has changed - only the recording medium. But the rules of optics are still the same. If a fixed focus digital camera is used, the focus distance will be at close range. If an auto focus camera is used, there is no way to control what point the camera will choose to focus upon. But here it's also important to understand how autofocus works: Autofocus depends on well defined subject matter that it can lock onto. It cannot lock onto fuzzy edges or uniform fuzzy backgrounds - such as the sky.

Therefore, even in this digital age, taking a sharp picture of a UFO remains a challenge...

Edited by ufoscan
5 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Largely agree with your points, but would question how many proper digicams - and most smartphone cameras - are truly fixed focus these days? Yes, the quality of AF and the number of AF points/zones will vary; certainly across my range of compact, mirrorless and DSLR cameras the only one that reliably acquires focus quickly is the DSLR with its defined focus points, all the ones using variable focus zones are slower to achieve focus on the desired object focal to the frame - which makes capturing moving objects more of a challenge.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I must say the only photograph I took of a ufo is really poor quality. Mostly because I was caught by surprise and really didn't have the camera readily available like I do now to catch my neighbor sniffing bicycle seats at the playground.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I could understand if one went zooming overhead at high speed but when somebody sees one hovering in the same position it should be possible to get more than an indistinct blob.Its the same with video footage,somebody films a slow moving ufo and they are shaking the camera like they've got the DTs,its not that hard to hold a camera steady unless you are trying to hide something.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The question is often asked on this forum and elsewhere: Why - with the great digital technology we have today - are we not getting clear stills or footage of UFOs ?

The argument generally is that "everybody has a cellphone in his pocket nowadays" and therefore every UFO witness should have clear photographic records of his sighting.

Well, that isn't my argument.. What has happened with digital technology is *several* factors, and I think 90% of cellphone cameras still suck, but very decent affordable *cameras* are much more available and widely owned - more in a sec...

As a photographer for many years, I have pondered upon this a lot and I am not so sure that it is so easy to get a good picture of a UFO - given that UFOs show up unannounced (which means that the likely photographer is unprepared) and could be gone a few moments later.

And isn't wildlife like that? Often far away, fleeting.. yet wildlife photographers seem to get great shots, given a bit of patience and dedication and decent equipment.. OK, maybe we don't have all that many wildlife photog's out there at night, but what we do have now is a LOT of amateur astronomers, many of whom have astonishingly capable equipment plus a lot of just plain ordinary photography hobbyists (ok I used to be a 'professional', whatever that means, but I don't do it for money no more). And us hobbyists/enthusiasts are rather well endowed.. in terms of photographic equipment levels, that is...

I'd like to open a discussion on this and encourage other photographers to chime in.

I'm in!

The first thing I will say is that most of my years in photography were spent with film cameras and, in my early years, every setting was ajusted manualy. I used a separate light meter and selected f-stop, shutter speed and focus. I was also very knowledgeable about depth of field, which relates to the range of clear focus in a picture - a range that can vary not only with focal lenght, aperture, film size, but also with image magnification.

Same here - used to do wedding and portrait photography with Bronica and Hasselblad MF cameras, plus a variety of 35mm slrs for candids and backup use. Working like that nearly killed my hobby.. there are only so many weddings that a person should have to attend, let alone comprehensively record..!

The truth of the matter is that, in the days of film, the chances that a UFO observer would have been fully prepared to take a picture of a UFO that showed up unexpectedly were quite slim.

Yes and No. I used to do a lot of traveling across Oz and my trusty film camera/s (Pentax, Nikon and my fave - Minolta) were always nearby and loaded - one with K64 or 25 and maybe one with ISO400 print film. Sadly no ufo's that were 'anomalous' ever showed up, even though I have literally tens of thousands of shots from those travels (well, I did, they are now being culled down and only the really goodun's being scanned..). But I digress....

When all-automatic film cameras became available, the chances increased slightly. But such cameras often performed poorly, required perfect lighting conditions and one had no control over the focusing distance chosen by the camera. Fixed focus cameras have the focus set at the hyperfocal distance, which is actually very near (most of the time between five and fifteen feet). Therefore an object at infinity may look in focus on a small print, but would loose definition when magnified - very simply because the object was located too far away from the actual focus distance.

Yes, but there's not a lot of fixed focus cameras left around these days...

In this new digital era, not that much has changed - only the recording medium.

Here is where I strongly disagree...

But the rules of optics are still the same. If a fixed focus digital camera is used, the focus distance will be at close range. If an auto focus camera is used, there is no way to control what point the camera will choose to focus upon.

Seriously, fixed focus cameras are not just rare, but they are also pretty much irrelevant, given we are usually talking about distant and small objects. Such cameras are useless and only found in the lowest end phones these days.

But here it's also important to understand how autofocus works: Autofocus depends on well defined subject matter that it can lock onto. It cannot lock onto fuzzy edges or uniform fuzzy backgrounds - such as the sky.

Sort of, but the biggest problem for an AF camera trying to record a small spot in the sky is simply the angular size of the thing. AF needs to be able to see a reasonable line of detail - but these distant bright lights are tiny points, not lines. You can easily show this by taking your AF camera out at night in a brightly lit street. Point it at the closest street light and it will probably be able to lock focus, as it has some easily discernible long edges to lock onto. As you try street lights that are further and further away (aka smaller), it will have more and more problems. Try it on a star or a landing aircraft and it will probably fail... Unless you have a very high quality camera like a DSLR (and even then it may suck.. :)) It's worth noting that the better small compact cameras may have an infinity focus setting, or may lock at infinity for certain scene modes, or they may offer a manual focus mode - read your manuals, folks!!! Or even tell me what you have and I'll find out for you.. But the simple fact is that manual focus on a small compact is usually quite difficult, so you'll need to practice.. or just buy a better camera!!!

And THAT is where I think you have missed the point about digital.. For what is probably less than half of what I would have spent in the 70's getting a pretty basic 35mm SLR, you lucky folks can go out and buy one that runs rings around what was available back then. And even if you must have a compact, there are some very capable compact cameras that offer *good* manual focus and low light capability. These cameras are NOT expensive nowadays, and you don't havta buy film or pay lots for processing unless you want big prints. Your crappy little home printer will probably give quite good results if you use photo quality paper and keep the nozzles cleaned...

So what has the new age of digital brought us?:

- much cheaper capable cameras

- much better AF in the higher end cameras (eg 'superzooms' and DSLRs)

- much better low-light capability in cameras with larger sensors (eg APS-C & FF DSLRs, 4/3, m4/3, etc)

- instantly adjustable sensitivity/ISO

- very low costs per image - pretty much free if you don't print

- very clever technologies like Image Stabilisation, Live View for video, Focus 'peaking', high frame rates, etc

- and (somewhat) better optics...

To be specific (forgive the following fanboi advertorial), as my digital weapon of choice to carry with me I have a Sony α57 DSLT (translucent mirror DSLR). With a second hand 75-300 Minolta zoom (112-450 equivalent - it's the 'Big Beercan' one..) attached, it is an incredibly powerful and capable camera, with Live video mode, AF that works perfectly on Venus or an aircraft, built in Image Stabilisation that allows typical street scenes (ie low lighting) to be easily taken at full zoom handheld, even at ISO 6400 and up with truly amazing results, and has a wide arsenal of technologies to assist me with the more difficult tasks - eg the amazing focus-peaking tool that shows precisely which areas are perfectly in focus... this camera just runs rings around anything I could have ever dreamt of buying twenty years ago, even if I had an unlimited budget.. and yet the camera and lens cost me less than US$600. There are smaller cameras that would be almost as useful but with a bit less capability available for much less than that.

And believe me, if any ufo comes within a few kilometres of me and spends more than about ten seconds in range, it *will* be captured...

Am I that unusual? (Don't answer that!) Aren't there quite a few folks out there with similarly (or more) capable cameras? So where are the good images? I think the reason is sorta self-explanatory - all the good images reveal what they are - and they are no longer unidentified... It's the same reason that explains the my-far=your-near dilemma that haunts (or should haunt) every ufologist. Let's face it, EVERY distant blob in the sky is also a nearby CLOSE UP thing to someone else way over there, closer to it. Do none of those someone else's have a camera? Or could it just possibly be that those who are close to it can see it's a flamin plane/heli/bird/balloon/r-c etc..

3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not a photographer but quite a few rare animals and natural phenomena have never been photographed, or have only recently been photographed. True UFO's are a very rare phenomenon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not a photographer but quite a few rare animals and natural phenomena have never been photographed

Which ones? Let's look at specific examples and see if they are in some way analogous...

True UFO's are a very rare phenomenon.

I'd love to hear a comprehensive elaboration of that last sentence.. What is your definition of a 'true' UFO, and just how rare are they?

The first thing that needs to be stamped out of ufology is this endless handwaving....

3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It would be easy if there would be UFOs. The setup is quite simple: DSLR on a tripod, set up to long time exposures

(with a laptop and needed software if the cam doesn`t have), exposure during night times with, lets say, 900 pictures

à 30sec. But even all night stargazers didn`t recorded anythink extraordinary like a zig-zag trail or something similar.

Sorry.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If I would've caught mine, they would have been a simple glint in the sky while it or they (if it was the same one) were at a standstill. If I would have caught it moving, it would've been a blur, I'm sure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The ability of the 'imaging net' to record sudden transient phenomena is shown by the number of images of the Chelyabinsk meteor that were captured. Yes, the object was unusually spectacular, but the number of images of it illustrate how many cameras are pointed in a given direction at a given time.

Edited by PersonFromPorlock
3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Which ones? Let's look at specific examples and see if they are in some way analogous...

10,000 to 18,000 new animal species are discovered every year on average, and many other natural phenomena, a good percentage of which had never been caught on camera. Can't list em all so I'll just name a couple. The Cape Melville Leaf-Tailed Gecko, and the very relevant to the subject of UFO's, ball lighting.

I'd love to hear a comprehensive elaboration of that last sentence.. What is your definition of a 'true' UFO, and just how rare are they?

There are unidentified flying objects, and then there are unidentifiable flying objects. Unidentified could mean that conditions such as weather, distance, and darkness interfere with the observer's ability to identify it. Basically anything that could've been a passenger jet goes here. Unidentifiable means that the object itself is unknown to the observer. True UFO goes here.

Example of a true UFO would be the sr-71 spotted by people in the 50's and 60's. The sr was not known to the observers even if seen in proper conditions and therefore a true UFO.

Edited by mister

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

10,000 to 18,000 new animal species are discovered every year on average, and many other natural phenomena, a good percentage of which had never been caught on camera.

How the heck is that relevant? That simply reflects the incredibly wide diversity of life on our planet and the fact that it is a huge planet and that often these things are very small and are, naturally, hiding in often very challenging / protected niche environments. It's a lame analogy and you know it - indeed the very fact that we are finding all these things shows how it is done. And did it not occur to you that your analogy is about things in forests and under the sea... Can you spot the difference between that, and things up in that wide open sky, you know, the one that is overhead, and completely visible??

and the very relevant to the subject of UFO's, ball lighting.

Sigh - have you not seen any ball lightning imagery, and have you not noticed that even though not fully understood, these effects have in fact been duplicated and produced in controlled environments?

Example of a true UFO would be the sr-71 spotted by people in the 50's and 60's. The sr was not known to the observers even if seen in proper conditions and therefore a true UFO.

So your example of a true UFO is one that is now identified as an experimental aircraft? I'm afraid I don't follow your point..

You haven't yet addressed any of the information about the significant increase in affordable camera equipment, but *decrease* in 'true' ufo reports, and why it is that the huge amateur astronomy population is completely silent on the issue, despite posting myriads of wonderful images, both highly magnified and wide all-of-sky stuff at forums across the Web. Are they all paid to shut up?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Largely agree with your points, but would question how many proper digicams - and most smartphone cameras - are truly fixed focus these days?

focal to the frame - which makes capturing moving objects more of a challenge.

I don't know. But some are. There are a lot of lower-end cameras with fixed focal lenght lenses that most likely have fixed focus as well.

Yes, the quality of AF and the number of AF points/zones will vary; certainly across my range of compact, mirrorless and DSLR cameras the only one that reliably acquires focus quickly is the DSLR with its defined focus points, all the ones using variable focus zones are slower to achieve focus on the desired object focal to the frame - which makes capturing moving objects more of a challenge.

"On the desired object" is the key factor here. The problem is that the object must have well defined edges for that to happen. Or else it is best to use manual focus - providing one has a mirror reflex viewfinder.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, that isn't my argument..

Well, no. I wasn't talking about you specifically ! ;)

What has happened with digital technology is *several* factors, and I think 90% of cellphone cameras still suck

We agree !

but very decent affordable *cameras* are much more available and widely owned

Yes, but they are left home most of the time or resold on eBay because most people now feel that their cellphone cameras are just fine.

And isn't wildlife like that? Often far away, fleeting.. yet wildlife photographers seem to get great shots, given a bit of patience and dedication and decent equipment..

Not quite. Wildlife photographers are on the lookout for wildlife and fully at the ready when it shows up. Then they have the appropriate equipment with them for the job. Also, it is what they expect to find - not the same as coming across something that is completely unexpected and without any adequate camera ready to record.

OK, maybe we don't have all that many wildlife photog's out there at night, but what we do have now is a LOT of amateur astronomers, many of whom have astonishingly capable equipment plus a lot of just plain ordinary photography hobbyists (ok I used to be a 'professional', whatever that means, but I don't do it for money no more). And us hobbyists/enthusiasts are rather well endowed.. in terms of photographic equipment levels, that is...

Astronomers are looking high up - while the UFO is landed in their backyards ! :w00t:

I used to do a lot of traveling across Oz and my trusty film camera/s (Pentax, Nikon and my fave - Minolta) were always nearby and loaded - one with K64 or 25 and maybe one with ISO400 print film. Sadly no ufo's that were 'anomalous' ever showed up, even though I have literally tens of thousands of shots from those travels (well, I did, they are now being culled down and only the really goodun's being scanned..). But I digress....

Again, I meant "most people" - not crazy photographers like us ! (and even then I admit to often NOT having a camera with me !!! I certainly never had one when I saw UFOs.)

Seriously, fixed focus cameras are not just rare, but they are also pretty much irrelevant, given we are usually talking about distant and small objects. Such cameras are useless and only found in the lowest end phones these days.

There is more than you would think. There are a lot of cheapo digital cameras that are fixed focus and can be seen widely on eBay and at large stores like Wal-Mart. Keep in mind these cameras use tiny sensors and the DOF is so great they do not need to bother with an autofocus system. What I am saying is that if people have such a camera in their pocket, that's what they'll use. The focus remains at 5 to 15 feet even though the object may be quite distant.

Sort of, but the biggest problem for an AF camera trying to record a small spot in the sky is simply the angular size of the thing. AF needs to be able to see a reasonable line of detail - but these distant bright lights are tiny points, not lines. You can easily show this by taking your AF camera out at night in a brightly lit street. Point it at the closest street light and it will probably be able to lock focus, as it has some easily discernible long edges to lock onto. As you try street lights that are further and further away (aka smaller), it will have more and more problems. Try it on a star or a landing aircraft and it will probably fail... Unless you have a very high quality camera like a DSLR (and even then it may suck.. :))

Hmmm... well, yes, that's exactly my point !

It's worth noting that the better small compact cameras may have an infinity focus setting, or may lock at infinity for certain scene modes, or they may offer a manual focus mode - read your manuals, folks!!!

I haven't yet seen an infinity focus setting on a compact, but some that have manual focus can be set to infinity. But trying to manually focus via the liveview screen on a compact is next to impossible - especially on a distant blurry subject !

Or even tell me what you have and I'll find out for you..

By then the UFO will be gone !!! ;)

But the simple fact is that manual focus on a small compact is usually quite difficult, so you'll need to practice.. or just buy a better camera!!!

Again, we agree. But the average user is simply not informed as to how to go about all this. They mainly assume that those great auto-everything cameras do all the work for them. That's also why everyone is switching to phone cameras.

And THAT is where I think you have missed the point about digital..

Hmmm... I don't think so. I think I'm spot on ! B)

(to be followed...)

Edited by ufoscan
1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For what is probably less than half of what I would have spent in the 70's getting a pretty basic 35mm SLR, you lucky folks can go out and buy one that runs rings around what was available back then.

Not sure about that. The one thing I liked about my SLRs was that I could easily and rapidly focus manually either via the reflex finder or by just looking at the lens ring and immediately setting to a specific distance or to infinity and even getting an immediate DOF readout. Turning the lens ring all the way to the end brought it to infinity focus without a second thought. This is no longer true with many of today's DSLR lenses which go past infinity focus.

And even if you must have a compact, there are some very capable compact cameras that offer *good* manual focus and low light capability. These cameras are NOT expensive nowadays

You seem to be assuming that people would buy cameras mainly to be at the ready to shoot UFOs. Sure, compacts like the S or G series from Canon perform quite well but are not the lowest priced around. And if you are thinking of the XR100 with its one-inch sensor, the latest iteration of it (the Mark III) is priced at $900.00 over here. Not exactly what the average user is likely to buy.

As for "good manual focus", this is best achieved with intercangeable lenses, which are mostly found on larger compacts such as the Sony NEX-5, Samsung NX-300 or any of the micro four-thirds with their focusing interchangeable lenses. But these again are not low-cost cameras nor are they easily pocketable. In that price range can also be found entry-level DSLRs. In fact, some entry level DSLRs are even lower cost than some of the sophisticated compacts available today.

To be specific (forgive the following fanboi advertorial), as my digital weapon of choice to carry with me I have a Sony α57 DSLT (translucent mirror DSLR). With a second hand 75-300 Minolta zoom (112-450 equivalent - it's the 'Big Beercan' one..) attached, it is an incredibly powerful and capable camera, with Live video mode, AF that works perfectly on Venus or an aircraft, built in Image Stabilisation that allows typical street scenes (ie low lighting) to be easily taken at full zoom handheld, even at ISO 6400 and up with truly amazing results, and has a wide arsenal of technologies to assist me with the more difficult tasks - eg the amazing focus-peaking tool that shows precisely which areas are perfectly in focus... this camera just runs rings around anything I could have ever dreamt of buying twenty years ago, even if I had an unlimited budget.. and yet the camera and lens cost me less than US$600.

Wow ! That was a good price for that ! But it still remains that the average consumer sticks with his cell phone... :(

And believe me, if any ufo comes within a few kilometres of me and spends more than about ten seconds in range, it *will* be captured...

We shall see ! :unsure2:

Am I that unusual? (Don't answer that!)

Hmmm... I think I am more unusual than you. :yes:

Aren't there quite a few folks out there with similarly (or more) capable cameras?

Yes, probably. But they haven't seen the UFOs or they were caught off-guard... or they are not showing their pictures. :unsure2:

So where are the good images? I think the reason is sorta self-explanatory - all the good images reveal what they are - and they are no longer unidentified...

I don't think it's a given that people will post their images of UFOs on the net. I am not sure I would since the net has been flooded with fakes and a real picture would just be lost in that sea.

It's the same reason that explains the my-far=your-near dilemma that haunts (or should haunt) every ufologist. Let's face it, EVERY distant blob in the sky is also a nearby CLOSE UP thing to someone else way over there, closer to it.

Especially if they are flying ! ^_^

Do none of those someone else's have a camera?

They have a cellphone and, anyway, they are texting at the moment. :rolleyes:

Or could it just possibly be that those who are close to it can see it's a flamin plane/heli/bird/balloon/r-c etc..

Or a plain ol' alien spacecraft !!! :alien:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
How the heck is that relevant? That simply reflects the incredibly wide diversity of life on our planet and the fact that it is a huge planet and that often these things are very small and are, naturally, hiding in often very challenging / protected niche environments. It's a lame analogy and you know it - indeed the very fact that we are finding all these things shows how it is done. And did it not occur to you that your analogy is about things in forests and under the sea... Can you spot the difference between that, and things up in that wide open sky, you know, the one that is overhead, and completely visible??

I thought you would consider it relevant since you were the first one to bring up wildlife and compare some of their behavior to that of UFO's.

And isn't wildlife like that? Often far away, fleeting.. yet wildlife photographers seem to get great shots, given a bit of patience and dedication and decent equipment.
Sigh - have you not seen any ball lightning imagery, and have you not noticed that even though not fully understood, these effects have in fact been duplicated and produced in controlled environments?

Similar effects have been reproduced. Not actual ball lighting.

So your example of a true UFO is one that is now identified as an experimental aircraft? I'm afraid I don't follow your point.

Yes. In other words, it wasn't a UFO because the image was blurry, or the sky was cloudy, or because it was far. It was a UFO because even if most witnesses saw it up close in broad daylight, they would still not be able to identify it. Except for the people at skunkworks.

You haven't yet addressed any of the information about the significant increase in affordable camera equipment, but *decrease* in 'true' ufo reports, and why it is that the huge amateur astronomy population is completely silent on the issue, despite posting myriads of wonderful images, both highly magnified and wide all-of-sky stuff at forums across the Web. Are they all paid to shut up?

True ufo reports have not decreased at all. The ratio of true ufos to others probably has.

Edited by mister

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To UFOSCan - I think we are of similar viewpoints and I concede much of what you say - but I still think that there really is little excuse nowadays for the abysmal imagery we get, and that given the vast majority of 'captured' ufo's are so far away and so unrecognisably tiny and fuzzed out, that the simple answer is that these things are identifiable by those who are closer and have a better view.

To mister, I am not going to bother further with addressing you as you have a VERY bad habit of selective quoting and NEVER actually answering questions or actually debating points - and here is one of many examples:

{Chrlzs}-Can you spot the difference between that, and things up in that wide open sky, you know, the one that is overhead, and completely visible??

I thought you would consider it relevant since you were the first one to bring up wildlife and compare some of their behavior to that of UFO's.

How is that in any way addressing my point, which I have bolded for you...? There is an enormous difference between a tiny variant of a gecko hidden away in some little environmental niche, to something a LOT bigger than a gecko flying above us in the sky... Let's face it, it isn't that you didn't read that, nor is it because you 'forgot' to answer it - it's that you have no answer and would rather avoid any discussion of anything which flies in the face of your 'ideas'.

So do continue on handwaving and believing and refusing to listen - I ain't wasting my time further.

Edited by ChrLzs

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Had to search the net for examples of fixed focus lo-end compacts. Obviously people out there must buy these otherwise they wouldn't be made, but given the marketing-driven consumer belief that smartphone cameras are good (as they have hi MP count), I still seriously wonder who would be buying and using such rubbish lo-end compacts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have an old Minolta 35mm film camera that my prents bought new for 200 bucks in the mid '70's that takes brilliant photos! Last time I used it I was taking photos of lightning stikes ten years ago.

I had to use the trusty Minolta because the digi cam I had was absolutely a failure and would never have been able to photograph lightning.

Digital is too slow. You can hold still and take a nice selfie but thats about all phone cameras people have are good for.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have an old Minolta 35mm film camera that my prents bought new for 200 bucks in the mid '70's that takes brilliant photos! Last time I

used it I was taking photos of lightning stikes ten years ago.I had to use the trusty Minolta because the digi cam I had was absolutely a

failure and would never have been able to photograph lightning.

Digital is too slow. You can hold still and take a nice selfie but thats about all phone cameras people have are good for.

The question is to what digi potao you compare the Minolta. I own a Canon EOS500D (and still my old Minolta X700) and there is

nothing "slow" with that cam, especially not by using just high speed memory cards.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The question is to what digi potao you compare the Minolta. I own a Canon EOS500D (and still my old Minolta X700) and there is

nothing "slow" with that cam, especially not by using just high speed memory cards.

The premise is that everyone has a phone cam. Ok. I agree. My point is that these are basically worthless if you are tring to take pictures of UAP.

On the otherhand the best camera on Earth is also worthless if its not in your hands at the right moment.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The premise is that everyone has a phone cam. Ok. I agree. My point is that these are basically worthless if you are tring to take pictures of UAP.

On the otherhand the best camera on Earth is also worthless if its not in your hands at the right moment.

All true.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The premise is that everyone has a phone cam. Ok. I agree. My point is that these are basically worthless if you are tring to take pictures of UAP.

On the otherhand the best camera on Earth is also worthless if its not in your hands at the right moment.

Agreed, but the point is that digital *has* made incredibly powerful cameras much more affordable - the camera I have and waffled about above cost me less than $600 (admittedly the lens was secondhand), but it has a focal range of 112 to 450mm (that's similar to 10x binoculars), is exceptionally sharp, has great low-light performance, has *very* fast AF, the AF *does* work on anything as bright as an aircraft or Venus at night and it only takes about 1.5 seconds to wake up from being turned on... So there surely MUST be more folks like me who have done their homework and have such cameras to hand, than there were in the past.

And yes, if the sighting was very fleeting, then I and my peers may well fail.. But if it was that fleeting then I can't help but observe that it would be a rather useless sighting anyway. A definitive genuine 'visitation' will not be a distant and short glint in the sky..

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Had to search the net for examples of fixed focus lo-end compacts. Obviously people out there must buy these otherwise they wouldn't be made, but given the marketing-driven consumer belief that smartphone cameras are good (as they have hi MP count), I still seriously wonder who would be buying and using such rubbish lo-end compacts.

Let me address your points:

> "Hi MP count"

The high number of pixels is not synonymous with higher image quality as it is not the number of pixels that counts but the size of the pixels. Most compacts and the overwhelming majority of cell phones have tiny sensors and the more pixels are added to these tiny sensors, the less efficient they become. The only thing that more pixels does to small sensors is make the images look bigger, but they consequently loose quality. Furthermore, the smaller the pixels are, the less light-sensitive they are.

> Had to search the net for examples of fixed focus lo-end compacts. I still seriously wonder who would be buying and using such rubbish lo-end compacts.

Let me reiterate the facts about fixed focus cameras. The main reason why cameras need to focus is for your main subject to appear sharp on your picture. However, a range of distance in front and behind your plane of focus will also appear sharp depending on your focal lenght setting and your aperture setting. The wider your lens is and the smaller your aperture is and the smaller your sensor is, the wider your depth of field will be. This means that if a camera is fitted with a fixed focus wide angle lens and that the camera's sensor is small (such as those used in most compacts and cellphones), a focus distance can be permanently set so that most subject matter a short distance from the camera and all the way to infinity will appear sharp.

This is NOT the mark of a cheap camera per se. Many years ago, I collaborated on the design of a high end medium format film camera that was a fixed focus design. Yet the camera sold for $8000.00

But the fact is that today's compact digital cameras have (for the most part) such tiny sensors that, if they are outfitted with wide angle lenses and have small apertures, there is actually little practical need for them to have focusing mechanisms.

Now, let me further address the point that such an approach may be mainly the domain of the very cheap camera. That is actually not so. For one, I doubt that ANY cellphone camera has focusing lenses since none of them have optical zoom lenses. They may very well ALL be of fixed focus design or have two auto settings for close and far.

But another area of photography that has gained tremendous popularity in recent years is the action camera market - dominated by the GoPro. The GoPro itself, costing several hundreds of dollars and being used by many pros, IS a fixed focus design !

And just about every other action camera I have examined is also of fixed focus design. Therefore yes, camerras with fixed focus lenses are very much a reality in the digital era.

Now the reason why this is a problem is that although at normal magnification, images produced with such lenses will look sharp from near distances to infinity, if these images are further magnified, subject matter that is located faraway from the plane of focus will loose its sharpness, the farther it is from that plane. And since UFOs are usually distant objects, they are the least likely to appear sharp when one attempts to blow up the image for closer examination of the unidentified object.

My point in all this is that if we estimate what camera the average person is likely to have with him when sighting a UFO, there is a good chance that this camera will be a cell phone or an action camera and that the image of the UFO thus recorded will look blurry when magnified.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Agreed, but the point is that digital *has* made incredibly powerful cameras much more affordable - the camera I have and waffled about above cost me less than $600 (admittedly the lens was secondhand), but it has a focal range of 112 to 450mm (that's similar to 10x binoculars), is exceptionally sharp, has great low-light performance, has *very* fast AF, the AF *does* work on anything as bright as an aircraft or Venus at night and it only takes about 1.5 seconds to wake up from being turned on... So there surely MUST be more folks like me who have done their homework and have such cameras to hand, than there were in the past.

There may be indeed. But I have to admit I am not so confident as you that even I - with the tons of cameras I have - could not be caught off-guard and mess up one way or another. I did have an occasion when I saw what appeared to be a UFO around 2005 just outside of my house when I was working on my lawn and found myself torn between rushing inside to try and get a hold of my camera downstairs or just stay and stare to try and figure out what I was looking at.

And yes, if the sighting was very fleeting, then I and my peers may well fail.. But if it was that fleeting then I can't help but observe that it would be a rather useless sighting anyway. A definitive genuine 'visitation' will not be a distant and short glint in the sky..

Not necessarily. Perhaps the main difference between you and I is that I have had that firsthand experience and I can say for sure that one is so taken aback by such a manifestation that one's sense of priorities changes instantly. Our eyes become so completely focused on the unexplainable manifestation that little else matters at that point. Looking at it and trying to catch every detail seems more important at that moment of the experience than trying to get a picture. That camera really would have to be around my neck just at that point - but it wasn't ! :(

I continue to dream "What if it were to happen again, how could I make sure to get a good picture ?" And I am trying to come up with a camera solution that would not require me to start fumbling with the camera when it occurs. Some cameras have dials that can be set to preset custom settings and I am looking into that as a possible solution.

My goal in starting this thread was two-fold. One was to explain why most people with digital cameras today still end up with fuzzy pictures when the main subject is distant... and the other was to come up with simple suggestions as to how one could go about taking a good picture of a UFO without having to own an expensive camera...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 2

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.