On a recent flight to Europe, I bonded permanently with my Sony A7RII, the increasingly legendary new full-frame mirrorless camera. It happened over New York City, when opportunity scrolled slowly into view shortly after departing from Newark. Our trajectory that night took us over the Bronx, framing the southern half of Manhattan beautifully. The city glittered like diamonds on black velvet.
I’ve made photography from less-than-ideal airline flights something of a specialty. I have my methods: Use a coat or blanket to block reflections on the window; find the clearest part of the glass and shoot through that; use your hands and arms to steady the camera, not the persistently vibrating window you’re shooting through; opt for shutter-priority mode or manual, with fast exposures and higher ISOs. Then: shoot like mad, tweak your settings on the fly and hope for the best.
That night, I got it, with two or three frames that simply blew me away. They’re crisp, clear and gorgeous. Credit goes partly to my own tactics, but also significantly to the Sony’s sensitive, high-resolution sensor and the five-axis internal stabilization system within which it rests. That steady mechanical hand made Manhattan vivid and real. I’ve shot from open doors in helicopters and the tight cockpits of tiny airplanes, but that night, sitting on my ass in business class, set a whole new standard for me.