Motorsports, Camera, Lens, Settings, Technique

MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,398Moderator
edited June 2015 in General Discussions
As we discuss a lot of things on NRF, I thought it might be fun to see what opinions folks have regarding motorsports photography. And, some may put up images to demonstrate a point, but let's not just make this a bunch of images.

To start, the experience suggests what I like, and this is about all it is about as to our preferences, is to see the rider, bike, rather crisply, yet have some suggestion of motion. So, 1/500 sec or even faster for some settings, or if more motion is desired, I will go as low as 1/250. My capture rate is poor below 1/250 sec.

Equipment, 70-200mm f/2.8 on a D4, 400mm f/2.8 plus teleconverters as needed, and for special effects, a shorter lens panned, with the vehicles as close as possible...even to a 10.5mm fisheye.

One to demonstrate why I like a fairly fast shutter:
Road America 06.02.13-3

Note the lens is an old 80.0-400.0 mm f/4.5-5.6
Msmoto, mod


  • autofocusautofocus Posts: 625Member
    edited June 2015
    I believe each motorsport has what the "fans" accept as a good image. In Motocross it seems there's no need to show motion. Crisp/sharp images seem to be the norm. It appears the trend from this generation of viewers could care less about anything realistic and only want to see the riders/bikes in some contorted composition. I suspect it's different for other motorsports since I often see nice panning shots of Formula events and even the slight motion caught in wheel spin of the GP moto events Msmoto captures. At least that's my observation.

    As far as settings go, when shooting MX I tend to keep my shutter speed above 1250 only because I'm swinging the camera so quickly to capture the action going on all around me. It helps to prevent camera movement blur and stoping spokes matters not to the viewers. Shooting in Aperture Priority mode (because I like to control DoF) I have to watch ISO to keep the shutter speed in my preferred range. Changing ambient light can be a problem in MX due to the track moving in and out of shadows. I will always set -1/3 to- 2/3 stop of exposure compensation because the camera seems to over expose and we all know you can recover shadow detail, not blown out highlights.

    For Motocross I shoot a D4 w/80-400mmG because it allows me to cover more area of the track without moving. I have a D800 w/24-70mm to capture larger segments of action and those to close for comfort opportunities. I carry both on the Black Rapid DR-1 Double Strap.

    We need to get Bland in this conversation...
    Post edited by autofocus on
  • autofocusautofocus Posts: 625Member
    Before I received my Dual strap. Actually this worked pretty well.

    Race Day
  • kyoshinikonkyoshinikon Posts: 411Member
    I typically carry 3 bodies and 4 lenses out every shoot (I shoot motocross every weekend). One on my Rs7 and the others in my tenba. As to preference I shoot either very wide (14-24mm) or close with a tele (70-200mm or 300mm) Seldom do I even bring a midrange. As to style I try everything, motion pans, tight shots, close up superwides... My goal is to get 5 good sots of each rider in the 2 motos I have.

    My primary is a D4s, my secondary is the D700 or D7000, and my n80 often gets a spot in my bag (I need an F5). Motion in the spokes is almost like the aircraft photographers rotary blur. it is good to have some but not at the sacrifice of sharpness.

    While I batch edit often the plates get overexposed so I have to tone them down.
    “To photograph is to hold one’s breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It’s at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy.” - Bresson
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