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Thread: Racing advice needed

  1. #1
    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Racing advice needed

    I'm going to make photos for a car racing team this season, and although I've done some of it for fun in previous years, the test session we did today clearly showed that I lack skill as well as equipment to do a proper job. To make things worse, the sun disappeared behind a huge, black cloud that covered half of the sky, while the other half was covered in white, so there was too little light and no contrast.

    What I also found out was that the D80 is rather useless for this. The AF simply can't handle the speeds (the fastest of the touring cars do 250 kph down the straight). The S5 did much better, but I will need at least 800 and probably 1600 ISO on days like this. That means a D300, right?

    I also found out that I don't have enough reach. Even with a 1.4x TC, the 80-200 AF-S was sometimes too short. I have the impression that the Nikkor 80-400 is too slow, and that leaves me with Sigma and Sigma. The 120-300mm f/2.8 would probably be great, also with a TC, but it's too expensive (and it's huge). However, I have the impression that the 100-300mm f/4.0 is very good as well, even with a 1.4x. Does anybody have experience with that lens for motorsports?

    Yes, I know.... Nikkor 200-400mm f/4 on a D3, but unfortunately, I can afford neither

    Any good advice would be highly appreciated. The season starts in four days. Here's one of today's attempts:

    D80 with 80-200mm AF-S and Tamron 1.4x TC @ 180mm, f/4.0 (wide open) and 1/400s


  2. #2
    Super Duper
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    Re: Racing advice needed

    Nice shot, it's not easy to get a sharp car, panned background, and wheel motion.

    When I shot F1, it was a D1 with an 80-200/2.8 AFS. That was a long time ago, so I'm not sure I could offer any useful advice with today's gear.


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    Senior Member otumay's Avatar
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    Re: Racing advice needed

    Jorgen, I photographed a single-engine airplane race two years ago. Although I totally lacked skill and experience, I was amazed at the results; they were sharp and full of contrast. I used a D2x mounted on a Manfrotto tripod with - I know you'll get angry with me - Nikkor 200-400/4.0 VR. A friend of mine tried a lesser lens and ended up with less contrast and sharpness. I think it was Sigma.
    Wish I could be of help,
    Osman

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    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
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    Re: Racing advice needed

    Wow what a fun project! Yep obviously D300 as DX crop would be preferred. When I shot the Baja Mil offroad race I had 80-200/2.8D on a D2x, but I was standing almost on the track. 200-400 would have been sweet, AFS would have been nice too. More reach than 400 would be nice. Hopefully you can find comments about the Sigma zooms and their AF capabilities.
    Monochrome: http://mochro.com

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    Re: Racing advice needed

    Jorgen
    A good place to find information for this is the Sports Corner at Fred Miranda. Many posters there shoot this stuff, and there are many knowledgeable (and reasonable) photographers that post in the Sports Corner.

    I would think you would need f/2.8 for any long lens you decide upon especially if you plan to use a teleconverter.

    Good luck!

  6. #6
    ddk
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    Re: Racing advice needed

    I haven't done this type shooting in a very long while either but I used to many years ago with a nikon F3 which was all manual and ASA 400 film, so I'm somewhat at a loss with your requirements. Why do you need AF and such high iso's under the bkk sun, even if overcast?

    If you can fine tune your technique and deal with mf, the older Japanese Zeiss Jena zooms made for Nikon are real bargains. They're very sharp with Zeiss colors, a 70-300mm lens is about $120-$150 on ebay, I even picked up a mint 500mm Zeiss Jena for less than $300. My main concern with your S5 is the frame if you're shooting raw and 400% DR, the buffer is going to fill up too early for this kind of photography, though you might get away with it shooting jpgs and auto DR. You should look into a monopod with a good head too.

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: Racing advice needed

    Thank you for your advices guys.

    Times are changing, David, and people's expectations with them, not to speak about the speed of those cars. Current touring cars are probably faster than Formula 1 was during the seventies, while I have become older and slower

    I did some shots with the 500mm Reflex at the same circuit a few months ago, and those that came out good were spectacular, but most were out of focus.

    Many of the finals will be late in the afternoon, which is when the really dark clouds come out over the horizon. It's surprising how little light is left when that happens, and the drivers won't wait for the sun to shine again. They want to get out there on the track, and win, so that they can get their trophies.

    I'll certainly have a look at FM as well. It's so nice here that I tend to forget about all those other forums

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: Racing advice needed

    On the other hand, there are possibly more important things in life than absolute sharpness. I may have gone a bit overboard with the pp here, but apart from that, is this better?

    D80 with 80-200mm AF-S and Tamron 1.4x TC @ 170mm, f/4.0 (wide open) and 1/250s


  9. #9
    ddk
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    Re: Racing advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    I did some shots with the 500mm Reflex at the same circuit a few months ago, and those that came out good were spectacular, but most were out of focus.
    Yes, that's how I remember it too but with practice the keeper rate went up.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    Many of the finals will be late in the afternoon, which is when the really dark clouds come out over the horizon. It's surprising how little light is left when that happens, and the drivers won't wait for the sun to shine again. They want to get out there on the track, and win, so that they can get their trophies.
    Got it!

  10. #10
    ddk
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    Re: Racing advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    On the other hand, there are possibly more important things in life than absolute sharpness. I may have gone a bit overboard with the pp here, but apart from that, is this better?

    D80 with 80-200mm AF-S and Tamron 1.4x TC @ 170mm, f/4.0 (wide open) and 1/250s

    I like it more the extra blur in the background and on the wheels adds drama. The additional pop in the color of the car is good too, I would even try an HDR layer on the car (only!) specially if you have any after dark shots and then reduce the opacity to 30%-60% so it doesn't look fake.

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: Racing advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by ddk View Post
    I like it more the extra blur in the background and on the wheels adds drama. The additional pop in the color of the car is good too, I would even try an HDR layer on the car (only!) specially if you have any after dark shots and then reduce the opacity to 30%-60% so it doesn't look fake.
    HDR layer... means that I have to learn something new again....
    Oh well, that's life I guess. New challenges

  12. #12
    ddk
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    Re: Racing advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    HDR layer... means that I have to learn something new again....
    Oh well, that's life I guess. New challenges
    carpe diem! or is it karpe diem! You know what I mean.

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    Re: Racing advice needed

    some guys i work with do formula 1 and indy--400 2.8 and 600's are common on 1.3X camera (you know, that canon stuff). but it REALLY depends on how close you are to the key photo spots (great backgrounds). the 200-400 s/b okay but keep in mind it is only a 4.0, so if you want those killer sunset shots it might be tougher than a long 2.8. you should use a D3 if you can. in the pits, wides work. rental is cheaper than buying.

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: Racing advice needed

    Thank you for your feedback, Fulton. At the moment, there's no money for a D3 or a long, fast lens, but that may change in the future.

    Most of the time, I'm able to get rather close to the action, but I cannot count on that forever.

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    Re: Racing advice needed

    Maybe another option, but are there any gear rental places that you could try out some of the more exotic cameras or lenses from, it might give you insight as to what your final needs are. Just a thought, I know what you mean by saying you are lucky you can get close to the action. At the local track in Connecticut, I am able to get by with either my old 80-200 afd or 70-300mm if the light is good. At other venues, this would not be the case. If the light is good, an old 500mm reflex might work, at least it did yrs ago in the old film days, if you can select your shot spots...boy using ASA/ISO of 1600 just was not in the cards way back when....

    If you can get by with MF, you maybe able to find an old 400/3.5 AIS, while not as big as todays bohemoths, is was a fine lens in its day....and works with TCs also....

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: Racing advice needed

    I actually do have a 500mm Reflex, and I try it on motorsport occasionally, but manual focusing requires timing, and I need more practice. I also have the opportunity to borrow a 300mm f/2.8 AIS. Might be worth a try too.

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