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Good photographic equipment is an essential for aerial work. It makes no sense to spend a significant amount of money on hiring an aircraft only to discover when airborne that your camera has failed or you do not have the right lenses available. A sensible strategy is to have at least one alternative for every item of equipment - at least one spare camera body, and a selection of lenses with overlapping ranges of focal length. Prime lenses are ideal but it is necessary to have a good range of focal lengths available. Aerial photographers may need anything from wide-angle to long telephoto lenses, a range of focal lengths typically extending from 16mm or17mm up to 500mm. Zoom lenses may also be used when rapid changes of focal length are required but give a less bright viewfinder image.

Expensive equipment of this nature should be protected even more carefully than when it is used at ground level. Aircraft encounter turbulence and move around, so make sure everything is securely stored when not in use. Lenses should also be protected with UV filters and/or lens hoods to avoid damage form windows, doors and their associated frames. Always keep the equipment being used on a strap around the neck. Dropped equipment is not only a disaster for the photographer but also a serious hazard for people on the ground.

It is always wise to check equipment before setting out on an assignment, but when working professionally such checks are just part of routine preparation. Make sure batteries are charged or replaced, carry spare batteries and make sure all the required equipment is in your flight bag. Cameras should be preset to typical settings so they are ready to use when needed unexpectedly. Keep all equipment organized and secure because small aircraft are susceptible to turbulence and lenses can disappear under seats.

Photographic equipment should be cleaned, calibrated and checked on a regular basis. If used heavily, a six-monthly maintenance cycle is not unreasonable. Keep camera bodies clean and sensors free of dust. The front and rear elements of lenses should also be checked and cleaned where necessary.

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