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Old Jun 9, 2013, 2:50 PM   #1
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Default IG Nocturn 2013 - City Cycle Racing !

IG Nocturn City Cycle racing was in town yesterday so it was another test to see how well the CAF could cope. I wasn't aware of the previous 6 times it had been hosted in the city but it was good not to have missed it this time.

The event started at 4:30 pm and carried on till after 9:30 but I just staye till 7 as my back was beginning to kill me and I was also low on power. the riders were a mixed bunch - the first few races were just normal people with their bikes were as later on it was pro and semi pro riders and their associated teams.

I knew from the Olympics, that this wasn't going to be an easy event to shoot esp as the riders are going nearly 60 kph at certain stages of the circuit.

Camera setup
E3 + 35-100f2 + Battery Grip
ISO 100-400
Shutter speed - 1/1600 to 1/2500
Aperture - F2.0 to 2.8 max
CAF - Diamond pattern
Output - RAW + small jpegs.

So here's some pics followed by some thoughts - again these are just low res files PP'd in LR5beta.

1.



2. Folding bike race



3. Team Dulwich Paragon Cycling Club



4. Team ASL



5. At Warp speed !



6. the pro riders...



7. A few candids.. I did very little street/candid pics this time as I didn't know the course lay out and setup shop fairly early on not to loose the vantage point and wasn't planning to stay too long.



The full gallery is here:

http://harjtt.smugmug.com/Photograph...9883215_RgfHTS

Summary

AF - this time some serious problems with the AF being able to do this type of event. Issues included:
* AF lag - can;t really describe it other than in those words. You point and attempt to track and then it just fails to lock for a sec or two.
* Focusing on nothing - As per my earlier post - the camera would fire a shot even when nothing is in focus. This happened quite a few times and usually after the AF lag.
* a lot of back focused images.

It was impossible to track and snap the race leaders due to all of the above and being so close to the bend and the shadow created by the arch didn't help.
Shutter issues - at times burst at 5fps or even 3fps would simply not work.

Battery power - I thought I had charged the 2 BML's fully but hadn;t checked and didn't take any spares. After the first 250-300 RAW shots the batter indicator dropped to 1/3 and was constantly flashing with the low battery warning. Amazingly, it still allowed me to shoot another 900 shots although the camera and lens af definitely felt sluggish and slow.

Spray and Pray - For this event it had to be spray and pray, either single shot or when the burst worked at 5fps. Not my kind of style but I don;t think you have any choice when the subjects are moving that fast.

Positioning - not the best and I moved several times from my original spot. Towards 7 the shadow being cast by the Spitafield Market building and the red bull inflatable arch was a bit too much ..so you didn;t have a lot of time to compose and shoot. I ended up trying to aim for the riders that were at times going out wide - gave more time to track them and that also meant that they were no longer in the shade.

Total Shots taken were - 1190
Total shots in focus - 214
Total shots in focus/critically sharp/good composition - 90

So we're looking at less than 10% of keepers.

On the whole I'm pretty happy with what I got and it was good that i had seen what it was like at the Olympics otherwise it would have taken a lot longer to adjust to the speed of the whole thing. The atmosphere was fab and I'm glad I got to go and see whether I could improve on my 3 in focus cyclist shots from the olympics

Right now the E3+35-100+BG just seems to weigh a tonne and to say my back wasn;t happy after the whole thing. I really don't like the way the BG just seems to make the E3 so much heavier than it should be.

Last edited by HarjTT; Jun 9, 2013 at 5:28 PM.
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Old Jun 9, 2013, 6:23 PM   #2
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Hi Harj: I just finished going thru this gallery on Smugmug and I found the shots outstanding. Great framing, composition and timing. I would never have guessed that you had a high reject rate.

I did look at the EXIF info as I went along. My thought is that I would have used slower shutter speeds and different apertures for a bike race. I've never shot a bike race, so I definitely defer to your knowledge, but those speeds were what I would be using for high speed jet aircraft. Where you trying to get a very narrow DOF?


(One thing I learned over the years is to always carry at least 3 spare batteries whenever I go out. LOL)
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Old Jun 9, 2013, 8:01 PM   #3
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Hey Steve

I was thinking about the spares but I'd left them at home and by the time I got there I thought with the BG, 1200 + pics wouldn't be a problem. It managed 1200 shots but I'm sure if they were fully charged I might not have hit as many AF issues.

I'm glad you liked the pics. I wasn't expecting a high keeper rate as I saw how fast the lady riders were and they just left me and the E3 in the dust at the olympics. I'm assuming that with Canikon setup - say a 7D or D700 + 70-200F2.8, the keeper rate would be a lot higher due to the superior AF systems in cam and the USM motors that both Canikon use. I would have liked some of the more interesting shots that looked ok to have actually been in focus but I'm happy with the ones I got. I still don't like having to spray and pray with the shots.

I kept with those settings and shot wide open due because of the poor backdrop - it was something that John pointed out when I first went to him for advise on what was wrong with the pics from the Olympics. If I had shot at F4+ the DOf would have been too much which is what happened during the men's Olympic marathon. If the background was good and interesting then I would have gone for some shots with more DOF. With the speed that those guys were going, I think you have to go as fast as I did to get a chance of getting an in focus image. I tried a couple at 1/1000 and theyre not sharp at all.. they look it on the LCD on the E3 but back home.. theyre essentially flat. If the riders weren't going at warp speed, the AF was more reliable, my positioning was better and I had better power I might have tried something a bit more creative. As it was, I was more concerned about getting something in focus and critically sharp.

Last edited by HarjTT; Jun 9, 2013 at 8:34 PM.
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Old Jun 9, 2013, 9:09 PM   #4
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Very interesting, thanks for the information. Yep, I can see that shallow DOF would be preferred with an uninteresting cluttered background.

And I kinda suspect that based on how quick you dropped to 1/3 power, that the lack of battery juice had a negative impact on CAF performance.
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Old Jun 9, 2013, 10:25 PM   #5
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You found a good spot for action and the riders leaning into the corner. Good shots and good crops.
#3 isolated the rider nicely and importantly left room in front for him to ride into.
#4 you've separated the rider with DOF.
I like them and the kid with the camera going for a tight angle.
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Old Jun 10, 2013, 7:00 AM   #6
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Harj, these keepers are excellent.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven R View Post
And I kinda suspect that based on how quick you dropped to 1/3 power, that the lack of battery juice had a negative impact on CAF performance.
Sure seems that way to me also, considering how much the battery grip improved the AF performance in his previous posts. Even though the 35-100 is focusing by moving internal elements rather than that huge front element, I suspect it's still moving a lot more mass than smaller lenses move. Battery power has to have an effect on the AF.

Still, a race like this is one of the most difficult scenarios for an AF system. If you were going to do this all the time you'd be better off doing what Zig did - go with the brand that's the king of AF.

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Old Jun 10, 2013, 9:37 AM   #7
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......well, the youngster with the NIKON got the message didn't he

Harj, I really like the photos, the action framing/cropping is done very well and I can easily see/feel the race excitement looking at these.
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Old Jun 10, 2013, 3:09 PM   #8
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Hi Guys

Thanks for the comments on the pics in the gallery.

The drop in battery power and its side effects a bit disturbing but I'd seen some of those during the Olympics so thought I'd better grin and bare it. It was instantly noticeable that things were not right but I wasn;t sure what it was till the blinking LCD kicked in - I couldn't get the battery indicator to show until that point on the top LCD which was a bit odd.

The 35-100's got a lot of elements to shift and I'm guessing that the AF motors in it, aren't quiet what they need to be for that kind of sport. The E's AF system wouldn't be helping matters either ! The 150's smaller and lighter than the 35-100 although the focal length from my position seems to have been perfect for the beastie.

150F2 - Lens construction = 11 elements in 9 groups; Weight = 1,465g / 51.7 oz
35-100F2 - Lens construction = 21 elements in 18 groups; Weight = 1,650g / 58.2 oz.

Ken, I originally was look straight down the bend but after a wee bit and the first few riders going past I realised it wasn't the best place to be - the distance was too short at that point to have any chance of getting a decent shot. The large shadow being cast by the building also made me think that it was only going to get worse so I'd better move. There was a number of togs' about 200 yards down from my position so I'm curious as to how they were getting on. There were at least 2 official race togs on the inside curve of the bend shooting Canikon but with what looked like 24-70's.

I'm gonna stick to taking street and fashion/beauty but its nice to be able to go out and do something different esp when the events are free and in town and you know that your going to come back with something worth keeping.

Last edited by HarjTT; Jun 10, 2013 at 3:30 PM.
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Old Jun 11, 2013, 1:38 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarjTT View Post

The drop in battery power and its side effects a bit disturbing but I'd seen some of those during the Olympics so thought I'd better grin and bare it.
I'm hoping you mean grin and bear it. Otherwise you're presenting us with a mental image I'm not sure we were asking for.



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Old Jun 13, 2013, 9:08 AM   #10
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You did a great job capturing the action Harj, great shots.
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