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Old Jun 8, 2009, 4:23 PM   #1
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Default Lens to Shoot pics at F1 racing?

Hello There.
I have the Tamron - AF 18-250mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II LD Aspherical (IF)
Will it preform good or i should look for longer zoom?


Thanks in advance
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Old Jun 9, 2009, 6:55 AM   #2
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I have the Tamron - AF 18-250mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II LD Aspherical (IF)
Will it preform good or i should look for longer zoom?
To a very great extent, it depends on how close you can get to the track, and on what part of the track you'll be.

The Tamron 18.250 doesn't focus as fast as some other lenses, so I might avoid situations where the cars will be coming straight at me. If at all possible, I'd position myself where I'd have an unobstructed view of the cars as they went by, so I could pan on them and get a lot of shots that way.

I'd shoot in A (Aperture) Mode and keep the aperture as large as possible (which isn't very much for the 18-250) for the shallow depth of field and allow for faster shutter speeds at lower ISO settings. I'd shoot in continuous drive mode and capture Extra Fine JPEG images so the frame rate will be as fast as possible. That way you'll have a lot more shots to choose from. Shooting RAW means the frame rate will go down significantly and you'll have fewer shots to choose from.

I'd also use AF-C (Continuous Autofocus) and the spot AF Area to keep things fast and simple.

I'd also make sure I had a fast CF card that could keep up with the fast frame rate.
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Old Jun 9, 2009, 5:12 PM   #3
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TCav, Thanks for the informative respond.
Do you suggest any fast focusing lens or fast lens "price is an issue but not a BIG ISSUE". My Camera is Sony A200
I've been waiting a lot to attend on of the F1 events since long time and I want to capture everything I can.
when you wrote "keep the aperture as large as possible" you mean the smallest Aperture number EX. 3.5 or 2.8...etc?

i'll be setting not far away from the track "I think it's on the 10th raw or so" and my area of the track is shown on the attachment.
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Old Jun 10, 2009, 10:26 AM   #4
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I'd shoot in A (Aperture) Mode and keep the aperture as large as possible (which isn't very much for the 18-250) for the shallow depth of field and allow for faster shutter speeds at lower ISO settings. I'd shoot in continuous drive mode and capture Extra Fine JPEG images so the frame rate will be as fast as possible. That way you'll have a lot more shots to choose from. Shooting RAW means the frame rate will go down significantly and you'll have fewer shots to choose from.

I'd also use AF-C (Continuous Autofocus) and the spot AF Area to keep things fast and simple.
Well, here we go again. Why should you care about DoF? That's automatically obtained by zooming in 250mm x 1.5 (sensor cropping factor). Any time you zoom in that much, your DoF will be shallow, period. So, what's most important when shooting a car moving at 230+ mph? Shutter speed. How do you guarantee you will be shooting at a fast enough speed to "freeze" the motion? By shooting in S mode. Let the camera deal with the aperture. In situations like this, aperture is really not that important (unless you have a crapy lens that can only produce sharp images when it's stopped down). You want the shutter set to at least 1/1000 (higher if it all possible). Anything less than that, you will get motion blur unless you use the panning technique (get the car into the viewfinder and then move the camera along with the car as you shoot). Look at it this way, if you are shooting people playing sports, you need at least 1/500. Setting the camera to A mode does not guarantee high a shutter speeds.

The other thing to consider (since your lens has a slightly slow AF), is to use manual focus. Pick a place where you have the best angle/view of the passing cars. Select an object that is located next to the track where the cars will be passing by and manually focus on it. Use spot metering, take a reading (half press the shutter) and lock the exposure. Then all you need is to position yourself and fire up as the cars get into the viewfinder. Of course the more you zoom in, the quicker the car will go through the viewfinder and the more difficult it is to get that good shot. Another reason why shutter speed is so important. Actually, depending on how far you are from the spot you choose, you can simply manually focus on infinite. Now, keep in mind that, because you will be zooming in so much and you need a very high shutter speed, light may become an issue. Make sure that the shutter value you set the camera to in combination with whatever aperture the camera selects and the ISO you've chosen, is OK in terms of light or your images will come out dark. If you need to stop down the lens, then you best bet is to shoot in manual mode, where you can select a very high speed, force the aperture to a particulat f value and then increase the ISO as needed until you get the amount of light the camera is happy with.

I agree with all the other suggestions TCav has made.
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Old Jun 10, 2009, 10:43 AM   #5
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I think you'll get your best shots of cars exiting the 'S' and entering the hairpin. They won't be going nearly as fast as the cars coming out of the hairpin turn onto the long straightaway. The cars will be traveling across your view so the focusing speed won't be much of an issue.

I don't think you should shoot the cars as they pass directly in front of you, as you may very well be looking down on them. I don't think that view will be as interesting as the more distant but more level view of the cars on the short straightaway.

Of course, you won't know for sure until you're actually there.

The problem is that your Tamron 18-250 isn't very good at it's long end, which is where you'll be using it for this. It's not very sharp and the chromatic aberration is fairly high. See http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showp...ct/1009/cat/23. The ideal lens would be the Sony 70-300 SSM 'G', but if $850 is more than you wanted to spend, you could go with a Tamron 70-300 Di LD. It's one of the best reasonably priced telephoto zooms. It will give you a longer reach, it has less CA, and it's a lot sharper especially stopped down at least 1 f-stop. All the more reason to use A Mode: to control the aperture at the longer focal lengths you'll be using. Also, since you'll be panning to capture the cars as they travel across your view, you can use a slower shutter speed to blur the background as you pan.

Last edited by TCav; Jun 10, 2009 at 11:07 AM.
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Old Jun 10, 2009, 11:17 AM   #6
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Well, here we go again. Why should you care about DoF? That's automatically obtained by zooming in 250mm x 1.5 (sensor cropping factor). Any time you zoom in that much, your DoF will be shallow, period. So, what's most important when shooting a car moving at 230+ mph? Shutter speed. How do you guarantee you will be shooting at a fast enough speed to "freeze" the motion? By shooting in S mode. Let the camera deal with the aperture. In situations like this, aperture is really not that important (unless you have a crapy lens that can only produce sharp images when it's stopped down). You want the shutter set to at least 1/1000 (higher if it all possible).
I'd like to clarify some misconceptions:

1. 250mm with 1.5 crop sensor = shallow DOF, period. This is misleading because it doesn not take into account distance to subject. As someone who shoots sports at 300mm 2.8, I can tell you that 250mm 5.6 does NOT necessarily equate to shallow dof - especially not at the distances you're likely to run into here.

2. Sutter priority is the mode for stop-action sports photography. Most sports photographers would not agree with this. Most of us use shutter-priority when we want to keep shutter speed LOW. Shutter priority is not used for stop action sports for two major reasons: One, you lose control of DOF - as already pointed out, 250mm f5.6 isn't very shallow at distances you're likely to encounter - no need to shoot at f8 or f11 if you don't want that much dof. And two, you can end up with underexposed images because you chose a shutter speed too low. In reality, for stop action sports, you want a MINIMUM shutter speed, but mor is always better. Aperture priority with aperture wide open guarantees you the best possible shutter speed at current ISO. In general, Manual is the best choice because the camera's metering can be fooled easily. But if lighting conditions are changing too much, aperture priority is still the most used mode for stop action sports by sports photographers.

3. The notion that racing is about stop-action. Motorsports photography is as much about panning as it is about stop-action. Panning uses slow shutter speeds along with movement of the camera at the same rate across the field of vision as the subject. It takes a lot of practice. But the benefits are huge - first it shows the sense of motion, second the pan blurs the distracting background. This is the type of photography where shutter priority is used by sports shooters.

I would suggest contacting forum members TG and Mark1616 as they are the most experienced members on the site at shooting racing. When shooting sports, it's always best to get first-hand advice from those who actually shoot what you want to shoot. I shoot a lot of sports, but none of them are motorsports. So the above advice is generalized sports shooting advice - it's best to get specific advice from people who shoot the sports you want to shoot. TG and Mark both have posted some excellent racing shots. One of the pieces of advice you'll want is how best to shoot given your position - the stands are rarely the best place to get racing shots but hopefully they'll have some advice for the best way to maximize your results from the position you have to shoot from.

One piece of advice I WILL give you. Formula 1 is FAST. You'll need LOTS of practice panning before the event if you intend to use this technique.

Best of luck.

John

Last edited by JohnG; Jun 10, 2009 at 11:19 AM.
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Old Jun 10, 2009, 11:18 AM   #7
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Well, here we go again. Why should you care about DoF? That's automatically obtained by zooming in 250mm x 1.5 (sensor cropping factor). Any time you zoom in that much, your DoF will be shallow, period. So, what's most important when shooting a car moving at 230+ mph? Shutter speed. How do you guarantee you will be shooting at a fast enough speed to "freeze" the motion? By shooting in S mode. ...
Actually, the lens the OP has isn't very sharp where I think he or she would be using it, and neither would one of the two alternatives I mentioned, so keeping either of these lenses stopped down would be a good idea. Therefore, A Mode would be the better choice. And where the OP will be, he or she isn't likely to see many cars going 230+ mph. It's much more likely that they will be traveling less that 125 mph (depending on the scale of the diagram the OP provided.)

And I don't happen to think that freezing the action at a Formula One race is the best way to capture the experience. Sometimes, motion blur is a good thing, especially when it's on the background, not the subject. And a shallow DoF blurs the background even if the shutter speed is fast.
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Old Jun 10, 2009, 11:21 AM   #8
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One piece of advice I WILL give you. Formula 1 is FAST. You'll need LOTS of practice panning before the event if you intend to use this technique.
Agreed. If you can spend some time alongside a freeway, practicing your panning technique, you'll be better prepared for your F1 shooting.
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Old Jun 10, 2009, 12:56 PM   #9
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Thanks for the advices guys and i'll try to contact the mentioned members as soon as i can.
I'll have a great amount of time to practice, because the event will be in Nov, 2009 "very long time".

Anyway, I was reading and found the 70-200 2.8 "Sony, Sigma or Tamron are very good choice for the job (which I'm willing to invest on if they are the right choice)" but not sure yet.
Since I love this sport and getting into Photography I could sell couple of stuff and buy one of them "lenses mentioned above" if they are the right ones.

But does the Sony woth the $1000 extra?!!!
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Old Jun 10, 2009, 1:48 PM   #10
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Thanks for the advices guys and i'll try to contact the mentioned members as soon as i can.
I'll have a great amount of time to practice, because the event will be in Nov, 2009 "very long time".

Anyway, I was reading and found the 70-200 2.8 "Sony, Sigma or Tamron are very good choice for the job (which I'm willing to invest on if they are the right choice)" but not sure yet.
Since I love this sport and getting into Photography I could sell couple of stuff and buy one of them "lenses mentioned above" if they are the right ones.

But does the Sony woth the $1000 extra?!!!
A 70-200mm f/2.8 lens would be very nice, but it's shorter than the lens you've got now, and I think that's not long enough.

If you're talking about spending that kind of money, I think the Sony 70-300 'G' would be a much better choice.

Is the Sony 70-200/2.8 worth $1,000 more than the Sigma 70-200/2.8? That depends on what you want to use it for. The Sony is one of the best lenses of its kind, but th law of diminishing returns plays a roll here. A $400 lens will be much better that a $200 lens, but a $1,400 lens will only be a little better than a $1,200 lens.

Last edited by TCav; Jun 10, 2009 at 1:51 PM.
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