Tag Archives: Aerial Photography

Which Lens For A Kauai Helicopter Tour?

Na Pali Coastline, Kauai, Hawaii

I debated which lens to take on our Kauai helicopter tour long and hard. You can’t change lenses during the flight, so it’s a make or break decision! After much deliberation I went with a mid-range lens which turned out to be just right.

At 24mm this shot of the Na Pali coast was about as wide as I could get without the helicopter creeping in at the edges of the frame. We were too far away from anything for a super wide angle lens to be useful, and I think it would have been very difficult to get a sharp shot with a powerful zoom lens. Something in the 18-70mm range would have been just right.

You can take private photography tours with some companies. I have no idea if you can switch lenses on those flights, but they change the route depending on what you want to take photos of which is pretty cool. Perhaps one day if I have more money than sense I’ll take one of those!

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The Open Ceiling Na Pali Sea Cave

Open Ceiling Sea Cave, Kauai

The Na Pali coast on the island of Kauai is full of beautiful surprises like this that you can really only appreciate from the air. Known as the “open ceiling” sea cave it’s actually a hollowed out lava tube. You can take a boat tour and enter from the ocean where there is an opening big enough for the smaller boats.

I had no idea this place existed before we took our flight, so it’s more luck than judgement that I managed to capture it here. Shooting from a helicopter is the most challenging environment I’ve encountered yet for photography.

The best tip I can think of is to sacrifice depth of field and make sure you use Shutter Priority mode. Set that shutter speed really fast. I was hovering around the 1/1000th of a second mark which left me at f4.0 most of the time. You may not get the entire frame in focus, but at least you’ll get something!