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Old Apr 30, 2013, 1:04 PM   #1
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Default London Marathon .. a few snaps..

Hi Guys ..

I dragged myself to the London Marathon and really hoped that I would be ok to see even a wee bit of the race, esp those with disabilities/paralympic kids and adults.

Have to say a big thanks to JohnG for taking out time and helping me with planning for the race, esp his tips on what to do to improve on the pics I took at the Olympic men's marathon, inc technique, settings and composition esp in regards to backgrounds.

All pics taken with the E3 + 35-100F2 + EC14. Approx same location as before, shooting into direct sunlight for most of the images until the pro runners showed up.

Settings used
ISO 400, F2.8 to F4 max, 1/1600 to 1/1000s
Burst mode at 3fps
Focus points - Diamond pattern
File type - Raw + Small Jpeg
IS - Off
WB - Sunny.

Used LR5 beta to PP the RAW files - these are all low res jpegs. Seemed to be a lot of noise at ISO 400, so not sure if its the app or just the E3. All pics given a wee smidge of Luminous NR - 15 or 20. Not sure on the output yet, esp colour and IQ so will wait till we get to see a LR5 RC before having another go at the files.

1. Kids mini marathon

2. Women's IPC wheelchair Marathon

3. Paralympian

4. Sena of Brasil

5. Cheerleaders - these two nutters cheered on every single runner from the start and what a lot of noise they can make!

6. GB Paralympic Gold medal runner - Richard Whitehead. Pic is cropped as he caught me and the rest of the crowd by total surprise.

7. Runners - I tried to copy a shot I saw on Google from 2-3 years ago taken with a D3 but thats a much better image than this one.

8. Home time

The gallery is here :


I was lucky to have a great family of SA's that kept on eye out on me and made sure that I was ok and if I needed any assistance so a big thank you to them.

Some thoughts:

1. CAF can work on the E3 ? Its not brilliant or consistently reliable but with those settings I used it worked for the 1st time in 5 years. I was able to track and at least get a 50% of focused images. The first 150 or some pics were test shots trying to work out whether to go SAF or CAF and how many focus points. Whats odd is, the CAF is not able to track and lock onto runners going away from you which is the exact opposite of SAF!
2. Critically sharp focus - too few images are critically sharp, esp when compared to pic no4. say 10% or less of the images fall in this category. Its a pain as there were some pics that look good but are let down by simply not being 100% in focus and thus sharp.
Now John and I aren't sure if its solely technique, using the EC, the E3 and its dodgy AF, not enough battery power or a combo of all. I used the same Ec+SHG at the Paralympics and sharpness wasn't an issue.
3. Burst mode at 3 FPS - Another first - I used the 3fps. If John hadn;t suggested it I would have stuck to single shots. Found that the cam would slow down on the 3rd shot being written to CF, esp when tracking and attempting to fire another 3 shot burst. Now this could have been due to battery life, since burst mode basically stops when at 1/3 power
4. AF with the EC+35-100 - at 141mm, it would sometimes not be able to focus even with the limiter on. Tracking and keeping focus as someone ran past was a real hit or miss affair - simply unable to get a lock on 90% of those that panned past.
5. Noise - ISO400 the files are really noisy. Shockingly so in some cases.
6. Diamond Focus point - Single AF point + CAF was simply not working, and speaking to one of the Pro Nikon shooters, I switched to the Diamond pattern and instantly noticed that the cam seemed to be able to track and keep focus.
8. Composition - Still need to work on this one.. too many feet hands heads chopped off .. something I had to work on while in the studio, so you'd think I'd be more careful.
9. Shooting wide open or close to- rather than attempting to get as much into focus and getting a higher keeper rate which I did for the Olympics, with John's advice I went for the opposite. Shoot as wide open as possible and with the EC14, F3.5-F4 rather than wide open at F2.8 where its a wee bit soft. DOF looks much better this time round.
10. Battery - Once you hit 1/3 of the battery the E3 stopped shooting at 3FPS and focusing the beastie+EC it really starts to struggle.
11. RAW + low jpeg: I wanted to improve the CAF, so switched to RAW and low jpeg instead of RAW + Large SHQ JPG as my thoughts were the less processing that the E3 has to do on the images, the more processing power that can go towards the AF.

I'm hoping to be in better health for the next race in late May and for that I'm going to hire the 150F2 - so shooting wide open at F2 to 2.8 and as fast a shutter speed as possible. I was going to for this one but decided on the EC plus the beastie. I'm going to take the battery pack even though I hate it as I think that will definitely help.

Once again.. just want to thank JohnG for all of his advice and CC on my attempts at doing some sort of sports pics and how to try and improve.



Note: EXIF data is showing some of the images as being shot at F1.4 thats wrong although I'd love to have a 35-100 + EC14 that gives you F1.4

Last edited by HarjTT; Apr 30, 2013 at 1:32 PM.
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 1:35 PM   #2
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Most of those shots are real nice Harj. I was under the impression that when in burst mode the E-3 doesn't auto focus every frame, just the first one. Thought I read that somewhere but not sure. I guess it wouldn't make much sense to use burst mode if that were true.
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 3:01 PM   #3
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Hey John

I've got no idea but I think I'll have to look it up as it migh help to improve things further.
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 3:07 PM   #4
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Really beautiful pictures Harj, magazine quality for sure. The 35-100 seems to be a real performer!

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Old Apr 30, 2013, 6:18 PM   #5
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Really interesting information and excellent shots, Harj. You manage to capture a lot of human interest in the composition and subjects of your shots. Well done.

Thanks for the technical observations. The use of the diamond focusing with C-AF was an interesting tip.

Also, your comments on the battery reminded me that somewhere, in one of the web forums, I remember that someone once posted that the C-AF seemed to work better when they added the grip with the additional battery for the E-3. Do you use the E-3 battery grip with your camera?
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Old Apr 30, 2013, 7:26 PM   #6
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Hi Steve/Pascal

Thanks for taking a look at the pics and the gallery. When I look at the pics I took at the Olympic Mens marathon I was getting annoyed at what I took - not good enough, too much DOF, and they were all the same - crap so I wanted to make sure that if I was able to go, to at least improve.

I thought I'd pass on the setup for the C-AF as I've always thought the AF to be useless and unreliable, esp with anything coming head on and at any speed. I tried a few combo's with the kids from the mini marathon as testers, although at the time it was frustrating the crap out of me. That setup seems to work .. its not ideal but the 50% keeper rate was a big improvement and as a lot you guys are out shooting BIF's etc I thought you might find it handy and test it out.

Single AF point (inc centre) and CAF simply doesn't work, no matter how fast the shutter speed was and me feathering the shutter before firing away. Using the diamond pattern works although I only used the 4 centre points and should have played around with shifting them for the portrait shots. I'm thinking that may have help with improving the focus on the runners faces.

I have the grip and have had it for a number of years but have never used it. In fact I'd been thinking of selling it on a few times as I hate the ergonomics on it - its terrible. Its like they gave it to a different design team that was never shown the E3/5 body and personally makes the camera feel and look way too clunky and difficult to hold. The performance dip with a single battery was even more noticeable when having to zoom in from 141mm to 90 or 50mm and pan. The cam simply slowed right down and wasn't able to focus - my thoughts were the SHG+EC is a lot of glass to be moving fast, not being SWD wasn't helping, the E3's AF isn helping (does it even have dedicated AF chip or enough computing power?) and having a single battery at 50% or less wasn't helping. Now that I've seen the camera slowing down and struggle like that in both burst and single shot mode I'm going to hold onto it and see whether having the grip helps - I did read the same ages back that for the 14-35F2 it was supposed to have helped improve its AF performance.

Originally I had thought of shooting RAW only but changed my mind and went for RAW + small Low res jpegs, just so I could checkly check the pics without having to use LR or CS and have some kind of reference to OLY's OOC Jpegs .

Last edited by HarjTT; Apr 30, 2013 at 7:44 PM.
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Old May 1, 2013, 6:06 AM   #7
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This was a great post, Harj. Both the photos and the technical info behind them. Thank you!


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Old May 1, 2013, 6:54 AM   #8
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There may be something to the "grip" concept. There was a recent comment from one of the Canon people - Chuck Westfall indicating that one of the contributing factors to 1-series cameras focusing faster than say 5diii is the larger battery. You have more juice to power the lens motor. Just like a flash recharges faster with external battery pack than just the internal batteries. Plus, it just makes shooting in portrait orientation that much easier.
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Old May 1, 2013, 8:24 AM   #9
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Ted said, "This was a great post, Harj. Both the photos and the technical info behind them. Thank you!"

This goes for me too. It is not often we go to lengths to explain our activities, rather we show the images and rest for the comments of others. I applaud you for seeking John's advice to tackle the challenge and for your technical followup.

As for the images, I think you did quite well with composition and the DOF in most is also suited to the photographs.

All in all well done, again Thanks!
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Old May 1, 2013, 9:22 AM   #10
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Those are great pictures Harj,

You managed very well to compensate the lighting conditions shooting into direct sunlight, pictures are sharp and great DOF.

The 2nd is a great shot but the 7th is the best of the bunch.

Thank you for posting.

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