Motorsport Photography

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by El Jobso, Jul 6, 2012.

  1. El Jobso macrumors newbie

    Apr 22, 2009
    Looking for some recommendations from the professionals here.

    I currently have a Canon T2i with the kit (18-55) and starter zoom (55-250) lenses. During the day, these lenses produce some great quality shots...but when it comes to panning at night... It's a crapshoot if something comes out well enough to keep.

    I was looking into the Canon 70-200 F4/L with IS as a possible option.

  2. acearchie macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2006
    I’m not a pro but I thought I was add something as I no one else has yet.

    I think you need to figure out more what is acting as your bottle neck in your set up. Why are the photo’s that are shot at night crap, do you have any examples?

    70-200 f4 isn’t particularly faster than the lens you have and I believe it also have IS so you wouldn’t be gaining much there either.

    I’m sure the lens would be a lot more sharp however, since you haven’t said what the problems are with the photo’s you are getting I’m not sure if this is an issue.

    I find when I take car photo’s as the light dips the photo’s get better as I am able to drag the shutter more and the ambient light starts to look nicer.

    Here are two shots that I have taken. One was a P&S and the other a DSLR.
  3. mulo macrumors 68020


    Aug 22, 2010
    Behind you
  4. acearchie macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2006
    Perfect you prove my point that in fact the kit that the OP has is probably fine to get photo’s it just comes down to a steady hand and getting the comp. and settings right!
  5. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    It's just real tough doing a panning shot like that at night. As a matter of fact a lot of the panning shots you'll see of motorsports at night are the opposite: car blurred, background static. It's hard getting any background detail sometimes at those exposures.

    Perhaps if you gave us some examples of what you're shooting for :)D )

  6. steveash macrumors 6502


    Aug 7, 2008
    As said panning shots are all about technique and little to do with the lens. If you want a longer lens for motorsport in particular, a faster aperture is more important than IS for stopping motion. Either way a monopod will make a difference to your shots giving vertical stability but allowing you to pan freely.
  7. Prodo123 macrumors 68020


    Nov 18, 2010
    I think the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM would be a better choice, simply because it allows a full stop more of light to hit the sensor. This allows for a better, brighter viewfinder, enhanced autofocus (not sure if available on T2i), and faster shutter speeds that would help with such panning shots. The IS is also legendary; this lens is one of the most revered L lenses of all time...

    The T2i isn't the best performer when it comes to nighttime autofocus. Maybe you could set the focus to a distance and use a trap focus function as to get a prefocused image. Of course this won't work if your autofocus isn't up to par...but it's worth a try.

    Or you could manually do the trap focus yourself by setting the distance and guesstimating the timing.

    At this point the only other option that would improve nighttime autofocus performance is a better autofocus system (another way of saying "new camera").
  8. avro707, Jul 7, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2012

    avro707 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 13, 2010
    The current model Sigma 120-300mm F/2.8 would be one choice if money is a concern. It is priced very attractively in my country.

    What will make these night time motorsport panning photos consistently easier:

    - F/2.8 constant maximum aperture
    - good image stabiliser
    - a sturdy tripod with something like the wimberley head

    If your camera can manage it, higher ISO settings will also help. If your autofocus is no good at night, you might need to manual focus.

    How does the P&S camera go at 10:00pm at night? Maybe I'm wrong, but those photos look like daylight, or at least early evening. And out of the photos you took, what percentage were very sharp, and how many were instant "delete" material?

    Without seeing the photos from the original poster, I'm going to guess that the problem is too many blurry photos, which is a problem of panning technique and shutter speed. More shutter speed needs a bigger aperture, and panning technique is practice, practice, practice. Pair the two together to get more consistent results.
  9. El Jobso thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 22, 2009
    i greatly appreciate the feedback everyone.

    It seems that I just need to keep refining my panning technique, increase the ISO, and possibly purchase a monopod.

    Please see the attached for some shots I took at Sebring.

    Attached Files:

  10. avro707 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 13, 2010
    More shutter speed might have done well with these. They are getting there, but not quite.

    I'm not sure what ISO setting you have used - but beware of too much ISO on lower level cameras, it might give you a noisy image that is hard to work with.
  11. Prodo123 macrumors 68020


    Nov 18, 2010
    This. I usually set my absolute maximum ISO on my T2i to 1600 for auto (although if forced to I will use up to H or 12800).
    I was gonna suggest a flash but...this is driving...that's hazardous...
  12. TheReef, Jul 8, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2012

    TheReef macrumors 68000


    Sep 30, 2007
    NSW, Australia.
    That is very very dark, you'll struggle to get a sharp shot of a static subject let alone a moving one in those conditions.
    This is an example of a situation with the very highest demand on gear.

    I can only echo what has already been said:

    You'll need at least an aperture of f/2.8,
    and preferably a body with cleaner high ISO than your current camera.

    I'd discount the Canon 70-200 F4/L, it will offer you little improvement.
    As Avro707 mentioned the Sigma 120-300mm F/2.8 could be a good option, there's also the Canon EF 200mm f/2.8 prime which is a fantastic lens and great value if you can live with a fixed focal length.
    If it's enough reach - the EF 135mm f/2.0L prime is superb as well.

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