Home Spotting Equipment Reviews The best camera gear of 2020 for aviation photography

The best camera gear of 2020 for aviation photography

by Matt Falcus

It’s time to take a look at the best camera gear for aviation photography this year.

With the recently announced Tipa World Awards which look at the best cameras, lenses, softwre and other camera gear this year, as voted for by photography professionals and publications around the world.


A good time to buy new equipment

With most of us in lock down we’re probably all dreaming of getting back out there visiting airports, taking flights and being able to enjoy our hobby again.

It has given us time, however, to take stock of where we might want to upgrade or improve the kit we have.

This time also allows us to shop around for the best deals, making sure we’re ready to hit the ground running when the lockdown finally lifts.


Which cameras to use for aviation photography

For taking the best pictures of aircraft you need to choose a good quality digital SLR and a lens with a decent amount of zoom (at least 200mm, but ideally 300-500mm to give you the best options for any situation).

You’ll also need a shorter lens if you do any closeup photography of aircraft, such as at museums and around terminals and gates.

The two main photography brands – Canon and Nikon – dominate, and I’m sure you have a preference if you’ve been taking photos for a while. But in reality, both are good at what they do, and both feature in the Tipa awards this year.

The Best Cameras for Aviation Photography in 2020

So, which cameras did Tipa recommend this year as being the best?


Best DSLR Professional Camera: Canon EOS 1D X Mark III

Best DSLR Expert Camera: Nikon D780

Best DSLR Advanced Camera: Canon EOS 90D

Best Full Frame Photo/Video Camera: Panasonic Lumix DC-S1H



Best DSLR Prime Lens: Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 Di USD

Best DSLR Professional Lens: Nikkor 120-300mm f/2.8E VR

Best Mirrorless Telephoto Zoom Lens: Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM

Best Mirrorless Standard Zoom Lens: Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG DN Art


If you’re serious about taking the best photographs of aircraft, then keeping on top of the latest equipment is important.

But these are just suggestions, and a whole range of equipment is released every year at different price ranges.

Remember to check reviews from various sources to assess whether it will be the right fit for your photography before committing to an expensive purchase.

And remember to leave your own suggestions and reviews in the comments below!



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Julian Davis May 11, 2020 - 2:32 pm

Also recommend the Canon 70-200mm f2 mk 2 series which is lighter in weight and a successful up grade. Also the 100-400mm has a valid part to play in capturing inbound flights on far runways from viewing points. If using RAW files and then post processing, the results can be stunning. Of course its only as good as the image taken but these two lenses and perhaps the Canon 5D mk 3 or 4 combined is a very versatile arrangement.
The ultimate fixed lens for Canon users although limited in its use due to need for tripod and advanced skill levels to operate is the 400mm f 2.8 L series. If you want pin sharp night shots as well as other low light images and regular close up pictures this is the top end lens. Not ideal for carrying around or taking overseas (unless you can arrange for it to be hand luggage) but it yields amazing results. With all 3 lenses you can use an extender 1.4 or 2x and increase reach capability. The ideal being a bright NOT clear sunny day using 400 f2.8 with 1.4 extender giving you a 560mm (or 2x + 800mm) reach shot in Raw at f5.6 etc and its will amaze you with the results even with a mundane type/airline.

Matt Falcus May 11, 2020 - 6:18 pm

Thanks Julian, some very welcome tips and advice there!

Dean Russell May 12, 2020 - 8:38 pm

Hi, as a new owner of a Canon 5DS R, and a 200-400 canon lense,I had booked a trip to Amsterdam Schiphol, only to have the flight cancelled. so I am still waiting to give them a work out.
Bluebells and other subjects seem o/k , but for me, I want to see how they perform on my favorite topic.

Matt Falcus May 13, 2020 - 10:33 am

Let us know how you get on with them – once we can fly again!


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