I attended the annual "Wings Over Houston" airshow last weekend, and dragged four cameras along with me -- my NEX 7, a Canon EOS XS DSLR, a Nikon F4, and a Pentax 67. For lenses in addition to the above Tamron, I brought a Canon EF 75-300 II for the EOS, a Nikkor 70-300 ED for the F4 and a 45mm wide for the Pentax 67. Whew. I used a roller-style piece of carry-on luggage to carry it all. I mounted the above Tamron to my NEX 7 and used that outfit for the entire airshow. The results were mixed. It's a heavy lens, so I brought a monopod to relieve the weight when shooting. But I often found the monopod awkward to use, and ended up removing it several times during the show, especially when the aircraft were flying overhead, or close to it. I say that results were mixed mostly because I had a lot of trouble following the aircraft with my NEX 7. I've been attending airshows for over 30 years, so this wasn't my first rodeo. But it was my first one using the NEX. Often, because of bright daylight conditions or because of reflected images onto the camera's screen, it was difficult to use, just trying to follow the aircraft with the display. But attempting to use the viewfinder was even worse. First, it's a LOT dimmer than the optical viewfinders in my other cameras, even the small squinty one in my EOS DSLR. I'm used to being able to track fast moving objects with both eyes open, following it with the eye not held to the camera, and centering the object in the frame with the eye at the viewfinder. For some reason I don't quite understand, this was a very difficult task with my NEX. Mostly difficult because it didn't work. That is, when using my other eye to "find" the subject, I found that it was nowhere to be found in the viewfinder. Which resulted in my casting about, looking for it, and which resulted in missing a LOT of shots. Very aggravating. But I persevered. Out of about 500 images I took with the NEX, I got some 80 to 100 keepers. Not so bad, I suppose, but not as good as my averages even when I used to shoot slides. So anyway, following is a small group of some of the best images I shot last Saturday. And even though it's a small group, it's a lot of images. So be patient. Flying F-16 Fighting Falcons, the USAF Thunderbirds were the main act, albeit the last one of the day. By that point, I was pretty worn out from slinging around that Tamron 300mm all day. It was mid-afternoon and the high overcast resulted in slower shutter speeds or a more wide open lens setting. At airshows I don't like to go much below f/8 when shooting aircraft on the wing, to insure some depth of field. But because this reduced the shutter speeds so much, I had to bump up the ISO from 100, which is where I like to keep it to minimize noise, first to 400, then to 800. I had to use noise-reduction routines on almost all the images. I used Paint Shop Pro X8 and Photoshop v6 -- Noise Ninja with PS6, and PSP8's own internal routines, which are actually quite good. Most of my Thunderbird images came out looking like this, or worse: At this magnification, it doesn't look so bad, but at its original resolution, it is below par. Here's a shot of the Thunderbirds from the ventral side: And the classic right side up/upside down flyby, showing off the F-16's distinctive silhouette: There was another aerobatic team on the show's event list. This was a team from France, flying Czech-built L-39 Albatross trainers, sponsored by Breitling. The only other current-technology military jet flown at the show was a Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet. The pilot put the aircraft through pretty much a standard set of paces, except for one high speed pass, where he actually broke the sound barrier. Boom-BOOM-ROAR! I've been to a lot of airshows and this is the first time I've ever been to one where a participant broke the sound barrier. And there's nothing quite like the sound of a military jet in full afterburner. Talk about loud? If you've never been to an airshow where modern jets perform, imagine the loudest noise you've ever heard, then multiply it about 10 times and stretch it out so it lasts for at least a half-minute while the jet's flying around the immediate neighborhood. This next jet was quite a treat for an airshow enthusiast. I've seen these jets (might have been the same one, I dunno) on static display at airshows since the early 1990s, but this is the first time I've ever seen one fly. From what I understand, there are only two left in the world that remain flight worthy. The Messerschmidt ME-262, the bane of the German skies in the closing days of WWII. Later in the show was another rare sight -- the ME-262 flying in formation with a P-51 Mustang and a British Supermarine Spitfire: Speaking of a P-51, this was the only one at the airshow. It was a beautiful example, with all that polished aluminum, but it's actually a bit odd seeing only one P-51 at an airshow. The Spitfire that made the show was a very nice looking warbird and one I don't recall ever seeing before. Some folks can tell which Mark it is just by looking at one, but I'm not expert enough at ID'ing the Spits. I'd post pics of it but for some reason I'm getting X's where the photos should be. Dunno why. I actually have quite a few shots of different aircraft I took at last weekend's show, but I don't want to overload things in one single post. I'll add in some of the rest in a future post.