A morning of aviation photography under runway 27L at ORD

The weekend prior in MSP was a great inaugural outing for my shiny new Sony F707. It performed flawlessly taking photos of airliners through the terminal windows, and I was happy to confirm that it was indeed a huge step up from my trusty ‘ol Nikon CP880. But the real test would be to photograph arrivals outdoors and in the elements!

I was lucky enough to be presented with such a opportunity at ORD yesterday, with the forecast calling for mostly sunny skies for much of the weekend, and winds out of the west. Perfect! Westerly winds meant that arrivals would be on runways 27 R and L, along with runway 22. 27L is the best place to photograph ORD arrivals, as there is a parking lot for the USG building on the corner of Mannheim and Lawrence that is great in two ways: first, it is usually vacant on the weekends. Second, it is far enough away from the airport perimeter that the airport police didn’t mind people hanging out and photographing from this location.

Oh yes – this was it! This would be the ultimate test for my new camera. I was up very early this morning in order to make the 2 hour drive west to O’Hare, and the excitement was building thinking about all the great shots I was about to get. Thinking back, I am totally dumbfounded as to how I mustered the energy to get myself up at such an early hour to drive out to the airport.

American Airlines MD-83

American Eagle ERJ-135

American Eagle ERJ-135 Make a Wish Livery

Apple Vacations A320

Casino Express 737-200

Delta Airlines 757-200

Eva Air Cargo 747-400F

Eva Air Cargo 747-400F

America West A319

Japan Airlines 747-400

Lufthansa A340-300

Spirit Airlines MD-83

United Airlines 747-400

United Airlines 737-300

United Airlines A320

United Express CRJ-200

USAirways 737-300

USAirways 737-400

USAirways 737-300

USAirways 737-300

Overall, it was a great session shooting arrivals at 27L this morning. To make it all the more exciting, the very first aircraft to approach after I arrived was a Japan Airlines 747-400. ORD is a CRJ mecca these days, so I was pretty happy to get a shot at that right off the bat. The only downside is that being the first shots of the day, I had still yet to make sure that all my settings were correct. I lucked out and the shots turned out ok.

The rest of the morning was filled with regular ORD traffic of the time. Lots (and LOTS) of UA and AA CRJ’s, UA and AA narrow bodies, some USAirways 737’s, and a sprinkling of some European and charter traffic. Oh yeah – I should also mention how cold it was. Hey…it is January in Chicago, so what do you expect? I kept warm by turning on the car every half hour or so and letting the heater run for a few minutes.

But the question is: how well did that Sony F707 perform on it’s first real aviation photography test? Not bad. I’m not blown away. I am indeed happy – but I think I was expecting more. I know this camera isn’t going to keep me happy for years and years, so my savings plan for a DSLR had begun right now…

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