Advice on EM1 suitability for motorsport

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by allanm, Feb 3, 2015.

  1. allanm

    allanm New to Mu-43

    4
    Jan 7, 2011
    Deal, Kent. UK
    Does anybody use their OMD EM cameras for Motorsport? I have been given a Motorsport Academy training day as a gift, it will be a day out at Brands Hatch in August and I will be able to get pretty close to the track and in the pits.
    I have an EM1 and an EM5. Lenses are 12-40 f2.8 and a panny 100-300. Will these be suitable, especially the Panny for trackside use, or do I need something with a wider aperture? I thought about getting the new 40-150 f2.8 anyway, would this me a better bet to take for fast action shots or is there something else.
    I have researched settings for the EM1 to get the best out of AFC, which I assume will be useful for tracking cars, obviously, the idea of the day is to learn how to use the camera to its best, but will I be happy with the performance of my Olympus?
    Don't want to have to buy one of those bulky DSLR's !

    Allan
     
  2. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    You can do motor sports with just about any camera. It's more to do with learning about the sports and pre-focussing on parts of the track and then firing off shots at the right time (usually just before the car hits that spot). Corners are often the best as the cars have to slow down and corners often provide more dramatic angles etc. You should be able to do fine with what you have.
     
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  3. Atom Ant

    Atom Ant Mu-43 Veteran

    241
    Oct 24, 2012
    Melbourne, OZ
    Adam
    The rumored 3.0 firmware update later this month may provide improvement too.

    But +1 to Ray's comment. Many of us used to shoot motorsports with MF.
     
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  4. Rasmus

    Rasmus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    664
    Nov 16, 2013
    Stockholm, Sweden.
    Have a look at stuff posted by GRID, he's been posting a number of motorsports pictures. And IIRC OzRay has posted some.
     
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  5. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    Canada
    I shot my first motorsports event (rally) for a magazine with a Nikon D70 and some old 200mm MF glass. Had about half a dozen shots published in the magazine...and I never have and still don't consider myself an action photographer. Later that year, I shot a drift event with a Canon Rebel XTi and the lowly Sigma 75-300 and landed the front page of the local paper.

    Your gear makes the stuff I shot with look like a shoebox with a hole poked through one end. ;) Your gear is more than adequate for the job...I say hit the track and hone your skills and you'll have plenty of keepers in no time!
     
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  6. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    Regardless of gear, you need to practice as much as possible if you want to improve your results when training day arrives.

    Good luck,

    --Ken
     
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  7. mcasan

    mcasan Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 26, 2014
    Atlanta
    You might want the E-M5 Mark II which will be announced this week. It has a faster frame rate, higher shutter speed, and wider ISO range. Evidently it will start shipping this month.
     
  8. allanm

    allanm New to Mu-43

    4
    Jan 7, 2011
    Deal, Kent. UK
    Unfortunately, I will still need the extra cash to buy one!
    Ray, I have quite a bit of practice of pre focusing, but not with vehicles. As Ken says, i will need to practice loads before the day.
    One of the things I am interested in is panning, ( if I manage to get into a good position) and it was with this in mind that I posted. Will the 100-300 be fast enough to lock focus ( probably F5.6 +) or would a faster lens help?
    Allan
     
  9. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    I do not own the 100-300, but I would be a bit concerned unless you have really good technique. They say that a great place to practice is by a freeway. Give it a go and see what happens.

    --Ken
     
  10. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    Larry
    Knowing a particular sport is more important than the gear. Better gear can make good photos great, but it is icing on the cake.
     
  11. Rasmus

    Rasmus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    664
    Nov 16, 2013
    Stockholm, Sweden.
    The 100-300 is IMO pretty erratic when it comes to locking focus birds and other things that tends to not fill the frame. With cars, motorcycles and other large things it usually locks right on. But if you already have the 100-300, just go out in the street and tack a few pictures of passing cars so you get a feeling for how it works and if you think it works for you.
     
  12. Rasmus

    Rasmus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    664
    Nov 16, 2013
    Stockholm, Sweden.
    Oh, and the 40-150/2.8 seems to be a fabulous lens. Get it if you want, and get the MC-14, but also practice with what you already have.
     
  13. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    The best way to pan with motor sports is to try and be further away from the cars, photographing them as they go along a straight. This way, you can fix your focus and the cars will be pretty much going at a constant speed. If you're too close, it will be very difficult to keep up with them. Your 100-300mm should be good for this, as long as there is a place where you can shoot from. If possible, also try different elevations for variety and to provide a different perspective.
     
  14. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    I'm going to dissent and say that pre-focusing is not the ideal way to photograph motorsports. Give me a good DSLR with tracking AF anytime. But before we get to that...

    There are a couple actual challenges to photographing motorsport, particularly as an amateur. Number one: fences. Now it sounds like you may be able to get into spots that don't have fencing in the way. But as a spectator photographing, fences are a huge problem. If you maneuver around, you can occasionally find gaps but it's difficult. Often I'll try to get close to the fence and lose most of it in DOF. Challenge number two: conveying motion. This comes down to the infamous panning motion shots. You can't simply point your camera and fire the shutter; you need to go to a slower shutter speed and smoothly track the car with the camera during the exposure. That's actually how you get subject isolation when shooting motorsports, not so much through shallow depth of field.
    1268374_10100380088566315_1774025629_o.

    In the garage/pit on the other hand, it's all about composition. Find the weirdest/quirkiest angles, try to get light glancing in unusual ways, experiment with ultra wide or fisheye looks, etc.

    Now then, the DSLR point. Although you can prefocus and fire the shutter when the car hits your mark, this is quite challenging to combine with panning shots. You only get one attempt per car -- maybe two or three if light is good and you can hide in deep depth of field. I find it's easier to get a good vantage point and burst a sequence of shots while panning with the car. Last time I was out, I took around 3500 shots in a span of six hours, which was culled to about 250 potentially usable shots (sharpness, framing, misc technical issues). Hooray for digital. Whether the E-M1 is capable of this, I'm not sure. Cars are fairly predictable subjects and at racetrack distances the focus system doesn't have to work too terribly hard. It's very possible that the camera will do just fine.

    However, I wouldn't use a 100-300. Too long. I find it better to frame a bit wide and finalize the composition in post. (I would reframe the car shot above to be tighter and more impacting, for example.)
     
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  15. Joon525

    Joon525 Mu-43 Regular

    119
    Sep 24, 2012
    NJ
  16. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    Yep, motor sports photographers never use long lenses:

    Bobby_Bryan_Michael-1-of-1.
     
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  17. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    Total mischaracterization of what I said. Can't really tell on the left, but notice that the other two guys are both carrying a body with a 70-200 lens and a body with ... I think those are 400s? Probably full framers. A 100-300 works out comparably to a 200, but if I had to choose I'd go with the shorter zoom. IME 70-200 on a 1.5 crop actually works out wonderfully. It also depends on your vantage point of course, and you'll notice that these guys appear to be in a press box fairly high up. The last time I shot motorsports, I had an overhead view very close to the track, and the 70-200 on a 1.5x crop was sometimes too long.
     
  18. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    That's the way you play it, but it doesn't mean everyone has to do the same. Much depends on the track and a long zoom may be just the thing to give you great, especially panning, shots. I would never go to any outdoor sporting event with just a 70-200mm equiv lens. Hell, in my football days I often found my 90-250mm with 1.4x extender to be too short for half the game and the players were no more than 300m away at their furthest.

    If you have a look at the shot I posted, those guys are well away from the race track, which is situated far in the background along with the stands. And while I don't know about Nikon/Canon lenses, I think your FL estimates are somewhat amiss.
     
  19. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    I don't know why you have decided to accuse me of saying this again. You disagree. Fine. But I very clearly said what I would do, and not what anyone else should do.

    Shooting ALMS and Indy, I found a 70-200 on a 1.5x crop body at 24 MP to be extremely comfortable. 300 equivalent at the long end, plus space to crop to about 450 before I started feeling resolution pressure. YMMV.
     
  20. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    The way that you said: 'However, I wouldn't use a 100-300. Too long', reads as if you are discouraging the OP from using such a lens in that it is an inappropriate lens for motor sports. If you'd said: 'However, I personally don't like to use very long focal length lenses', or words to that effect, it would have read as an entirely personal choice for how you like to photograph motor sports.

    Can you see what I'm getting at?