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Old Jun 3, 2005, 3:01 AM   #1
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To all the Panasonic masters out there...

I've been asked to take photos at a superbike race and have been given a media pass to get everywhere any official can go. The problem is that my entire photography lifetime has been dedicated to landscape and nature photography. Please could you give your advice on all techniques suggested to get the best possible shots and what I can do up until the event to get some practice.

My setup is as follows:

Panasonic FZ20 with a wide angle and tele convertor and an external flash device.

The event is for the entire day and I only have one battery and a 256 memory card.Do you recommend getting more of each?
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Old Jun 3, 2005, 5:21 AM   #2
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I don't qualify as a master, but I'll offer what I have.

I've found that the worst thing about photographing moving things is you can't get a lock on them. At least, I never seem to be able to. I usually miss the shot or end up with a blurry mess. I've been most successful when I manually focus on something about the right distance, zoom to about the right frame size beforehand, and wait for the object to arrive. Then I sometimes get it right. :-) If you are far enough away from the target then being a little off on the pre-focus distance won't matter.

For practice, perhaps just go to the nearest street and photograph the traffic. See if you can get a fast enough shutter speed to get clear shots.

As for batteries and memory cards, if it were me, I would need at least 2 batteries, and 3 to 4 memory cards of that size. I say this because I'd be using (H or L) burst mode to improve my chances of getting The Shot, and that burns through memcards pretty quickly. One day when presented with some impressive waves crashing against craggy cliffs I filled my 512 and 256 MB cards in about an hour. Then I had to leave so I could go and download them. :-(

I often use 2 batteries in a day, and so far have never quite needed the 3rd, though I always carry it. I think you would have to be quite restrained in order to keep within one battery, and very restrained indeed to keep within one 256MB card. I would plan for many dud shots among the good ones when things are moving, certainly more dud shots than when doing landscapes.
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Old Jun 3, 2005, 5:27 AM   #3
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Thanks for the advice. I definately think I'll be needing a new battery, probably a new card too. I was thinking I can just keep deleting the obvious duds, but I'm probably not going to have to much time for that.

Do you know what the minimum shutter speed is that I should be going for(Also what ISO speed)?
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Old Jun 3, 2005, 5:56 AM   #4
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The shutter speed depends on whether you want "artistically blurred" or "sharp as a tack". I hardly ever want "artistically blurred". :-) So I think you want as fast as possible. Try using the special fast-action scene mode while snapping some passing traffic and see if the results are good enough. I don't know off-hand what speed you'll need, so I think experimenting is the only way.

The ISO setting is also tricky. If you can get a fast enough shutter speed at the lowest ISO setting, then everything is fine. If you need more shutter speed you'll have to go higher, or even try auto and let the camera figure it out. I'm assuming that a somewhat grainy but sharp shot will be better than a noiseless but motion-blurred shot.

If it's a sunny day, most of this will "just work". If it's cloudy, you'll have to compromise. Your eyes may not think it's much darker, but your camera will!
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Old Jun 3, 2005, 7:06 AM   #5
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John, When reading your post I remembered Treemonkeys trip to the Grand Prix in Oz. There may be some tips in this previous post that will help you. * You may also want to use the search functionsome more as there may be other similar posts around as well :?

http://www.stevesforums.com/forums/v...ght=grand+prix

http://www.stevesforums.com/forums/v...ght=grand+prix
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Old Jun 3, 2005, 8:49 AM   #6
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If you're going to be zooming in and out a lot, I'd get at least TWO MORE battery packs as zooming will eat 'em up. If you can recharge them, you might be able to get by with just 2. You definitely want more RAM. I found a 1 gig 'movie' 40X Sandisk at Frye's for $55 that seems to work fine for me (it was a 'grand opening special .) Any less speed might cause some 'freezing' and much more is a waste (get 60Xand you'll not need to worry at all).

Good luck !
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Old Jun 4, 2005, 4:35 PM   #7
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Years ago, I used to do a lot of motor boat racing pics with my 35mm gear. First off, yeah, you do want plenty of battery and memory! Get plenty of "in the pits" shots as the teams prepare. Get plenty of crews, with faces, if you can. Teams like those shots, particularly the candid ones, though most will pose for pics also. While in the pits, be aware of what`s happening around you. You don`t want to be in anybodys way while taking pics.

Also, get to the race site early and try to figure out the best places to be, during the race. Such places are the turns, overhead (if possible), and keep in mind of where the sun will be during the race in order to avoid to many back lit situations. Also try to get a picture of the start, always exciting! Try to get a few pics of each and every racer while racing. Try to get get the side-by-side racing shots too. You will be zooming in and out a lot, so battery power is a must! If you can , move to various locations during the race. This will help to add various looks to your shots, and avoid the "same shot, different racer" look.

TheFZ20 is equipped with a panning mode. Checkthe manual for the panning operation. Panning is best done while the subject is speeding directly in front of you. Panned shots are cool. I agree with anomaly with practicing before hand. I think that manual focusing would probably work out best for the racing shots. Try to keep your "shutter" speed at about, or above, the 1/500th of a second markfor stop action, except for the panning type pics. By the way, the `20 is equipped withan action mode setting (check manual), so give it a try.

When a wreck occurs, DO NOT run to the scene to take pics! You might be hindering rescue personel. If you feel you should take pics of the wreck,...do so at a distance.

Oh yeah, when a racer crosses the finish line first, they are usually very excited, which is a great photo op.

Again, I think that practicing at a sreet corner ahead of time is a great idea.

Have fun at your "A Day at the Races" (Marx brothers movie), JH :G
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Old Jun 4, 2005, 4:45 PM   #8
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I will have to agree on the extra batteries and cards. I was shooting shots in burst mod at my sons baseball game, catching batting and running, and filled two 256 card and started on my second battery on a one hours game. If you are going to be shooting all day you will need more then one battery and card. Burst mode is good for catching action but takes up a lot of card space. I feel it is worth it to get a few really great action shots. Just my 2 cents.

Sorry I have only had my camera a few weeks so I'm still learning also. The recommendation to practice on cars is a good idea. Sport bikes will be moving very fast so you may want to find some fast traffic to practice on. There was a post in, I think the sports form where someone posted shotsfrom asport bike race.
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Old Jun 4, 2005, 4:55 PM   #9
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Two thoughts based on my experiences out all day at a local refuge shooting wildlife. Moving and Still. If you are going to get another memory card get a 512 Sandisk Ultra II. It is a faster card for burst mode. I have three batteries, one came with the camera, I bought an extra, and the third was free from Panasonic in a promotion. I purchased an AC converter for the car so that I can be charging a battery while I am shooting. I rotate thru the batteries in the charger as I need them. In a 6 hour session at the refuge shooting around 250 to 300 shots I have never gone through three batterys. However, it is nice to know that I can be charging the batteries at will. AC converters are pretty cheap insurance against running out of battery power at a critical time. Good luck and practice, practice. Oh, just FYI I almost exclusively shoot in Auto mode, and spot focus, so that the camera can do the thinking and adjusting for me. Unless you are really good at knowing what exposures and settings are right for a given shot, you will probably be better off letting the camera make those decisions for you. It just my opinion but, it's has worked well for me.

All the best,
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Old Jun 6, 2005, 2:26 AM   #10
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Hey guys, thanks for all the good advice. I'm definately going to get another card and battery. I think I'm also going to cause East London drivers a significant amount of stress as the confuse me for a traffic officer on the side of the road. Thanks again.
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