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Formula 1 in Shanghai is coming. Any tips?

Discussion in 'Sports and Action' started by mesmerized, Apr 10, 2016.

  1. mesmerized

    mesmerized Mu-43 Veteran

    344
    Jun 18, 2012
    Dear Users!

    I'd like to seek your advice on the subject of taking pictures of Formula 1 race. I'm currently in Shanghai and this upcoming weekend the big race is taking place! My equipment is rather modest. I'll be using E-M5mkII + 14-150mkII. Not the fastest combo ever. Any advice regarding the settings? What lens would be perfect for that kind or race?

    Thanks!
     
  2. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    Hi, many users use manual focus, and then pre-focus on a turn or other location and wait for the cars to arrive.

    You can try panning as well with MF.
    How sunny is it right now in Shanghai?

    Barry
     
  3. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Ian
    Yeah, if you have never practiced panning I would recommend setting the focus point via manual focus and waiting for the cars to come through that zone, then fire away. I would use a fast shutter speed (start with 1/800 and check for sharpness, increase the SS if needed). I would use high burst rate to make sure you capture a sharp image in the focus zone since the cars move pretty quick.

    If you want to try panning, then you need a slow shutter speed. I would start at 1/250 and work down from there. Make sure to start panning with the car before it enters the focus zone, and follow it through and out of the focus zone.
     
  4. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    Walter
    Your lens probably covers all the range you'd need. As others have suggested, it's probably better to practice with what you have to get the best results. You could pick a spot along a road where there's some fairly fast moving traffic and practice pre-focusing, panning, and sequential shooting with C-AF. :)
     
  5. mesmerized

    mesmerized Mu-43 Veteran

    344
    Jun 18, 2012
    Thanks for great pieces of advice! The weather in Shanghai is pretty awful this part of the year. It'll probably be rainy on Saturday and Sunday.
     
  6. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    Walter
    Good thing your EM5 II and 14-150 II are weather resistant!
     
  7. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Ian
    Actually, that could make for some really great shots with the rooster tails coming off of the rear diffusers. Even though shooting in the rain sucks, the images are typically more interesting.

    For shooting cars in a "head-on" scene, you want a fast shutter speed (start with 1/800 and go from there). I would activate peaking, just so that when you're manually focusing on a part of the track, you can see what is in focus easier. Set the shutter release lag to minimal (or whatever it's called), burst mode to high, and play around with the different metering types (scene, spot, center. my gut says center will be a good starting point).

    For panning shots, the same applies with the focus peaking, but you want to set your stabilization to IS-2 to correct for vertical movement only. Turn your shutter speed down to 1/250 to start and keep working your way lower. I typically turn on the central marker, just because it gives me a reference point to focus on to try to keep on the same spot of the car (ideally you want to focus on the driver's helmet). You may need to reduce your burst speed to have IBIS work.

    May sure to post back here with some of your shots, even if they're not the best, so that we can help offer some tips to improve (maybe you can make it to the WEC sportscar race in Shanghai later in the year). The most important thing is too have fun though!
     
  8. mesmerized

    mesmerized Mu-43 Veteran

    344
    Jun 18, 2012
    Thanks a lot for these.

    Here come the moment of truth... I do not know what panning is and how it works. I have to find some info about it first.
     
  9. mesmerized

    mesmerized Mu-43 Veteran

    344
    Jun 18, 2012
    Hello there,

    I went to see the training session today and... the shots I took are pretty miserable...

    I don't know if I should be using continuous AF, single AF or tracking AF... Those F1 race cars were moving so fast that I can't imagine how I could focus manually on them... :|

    Also, I had to go to ISO800 to make sure I could bring the shutter speed to 800 and above...

    EDIT: All around me there were people with ridiculously HUGE lenses... I mean, they had to to carry them on their backs... I felt somewhat intimidated with my small E-M5...
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2016
  10. AG_Alex2097

    AG_Alex2097 Mu-43 Regular

    157
    Dec 18, 2015
    Alex S.
    What people are trying to say with pre-focussing is not to manually focus on the cars, but putting your lens in manual, focusing to a part of the track where you want the car to be (use focus peaking/magnify to make sure it's accurate) and then just waiting until the cars arrive and hitting the trigger when they are in the spot you were focussed on (no more extra focussing once they arrive), putting your camera in burst fire and pre-emptively pressing the shutter button will help secure a shot
    You could also increase your aperture number to enlarge your focus area, but that will mean upping the ISO to maintain shutter speeds ;)

    As for those big lens guys, you're using µ43 for a reason, light and compact :)
     
  11. mesmerized

    mesmerized Mu-43 Veteran

    344
    Jun 18, 2012
    Here's a shot I took today... What makes me a bit perplexed is the dull colors that the orignal JPEGs deliver... The second one is the same picture, but with automatic 'enhancement' via a very simple Windows 10 image editor... P4150581.JPG P4150581 (2).JPG
     
  12. AG_Alex2097

    AG_Alex2097 Mu-43 Regular

    157
    Dec 18, 2015
    Alex S.
    That's probably the lighting though, overcast sky gives dull & flat light, resulting in dull & flat images :/
    Also, lower angles and more subject filling of the frame will help make it more interesting
     
  13. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Ian
    If you want punchier colors, boost the contrast and saturation in camera.

    As Alex said, when people were telling you to manually focus, you need to focus on a part of the track that is in the racing line, so that as the cars come through that spot, you can fire away. Having an E-M5, your odds of getting good C-AF performance are pretty slim. Your best bet to get some good keepers would be the method mentioned above.
     
  14. mesmerized

    mesmerized Mu-43 Veteran

    344
    Jun 18, 2012
    I wish I could do that... Unfortunately, I can't really get any closer to fill the frame with the subject... I was wondering if I could possibly just crop some parts in post processing to make the subject seem like it's filling the frame more? But that's sort of like cheating, I suppose...
     
  15. Joe Smith

    Joe Smith Mu-43 Regular

    127
    Mar 6, 2016
    I have no experience with car racing a all, so I'm just extrapolating from my other experiences. There are a couple of things to consider.

    – First, this type of photography takes a lot of experience. Experienced racing shooters know which parameters work and which don't. If you've never done it, you'll probably have to build this experience with a lot of frustratingly bad pictures (and if you're lucky a few keepers).

    – Those "ridiculously big" lenses are so big because they are f/2.8. Your lens is 2 stops slower at the long end. On top of that, your E-M5 is two stops "slower", noise-wise, than their cameras, too. You simply can't compete against them in anything other than a bright sunny day. Here you run into one of the few true limits of the µ43 system. This doesn't mean that you can't take good racing pictures, I've seen a lot, but you have to know those limits and to work around them. Which leads us back to point 1: experience.

    – When a car races directly towards you with that speed, then chances are, that the autofocus system of your equipment is simply too slow (both the camera and the lens). There's a reason why professional sports photographers pay big bucks for a Canon 1DX. You'll have to try, it might work, but I wouldn't be surprised if the vast majority if not all of your shots were out of focus. So your best bet is to prefocus manually like in the "good old film days": Set exposure and focus to fully manual, plan the shot, pick a point on the track and set the focus on it, and then wait, and when a car enters that point then you press the shutter. (Instead of manually focusing you can also prefocus by half-pressing the shutter release in S-AF mode, provided you use a defined focus point.) Set the shutter to sequential shooting high and start shooting a tad before the car enters the predefined point.

    – "Panning" means following a laterally moving car with the camera, so that the car will be sharp in front of a "moving" background. As the distance to the car doesn't change much, manual focus is no problem (as long as the depth of field is large enough), and maybe even autofocus will be fast enough. You'll have to experiment which shutter speed will give the best results (short enough that you can keep the car sharp, long enough that the background is moving). IBIS can bite you if it tries to counteract the lateral movement. Set to auto it should recognize the panning, but if this doesn't work as desired, then you can disable lateral IBIS (somewhere in the menu).
     
  16. AG_Alex2097

    AG_Alex2097 Mu-43 Regular

    157
    Dec 18, 2015
    Alex S.
    I don't know the track layout surroundings of Shanghai, but is there no option to get a different spot that is closer? Here at Spa-Francorchamps you have a whole pedestrian path around (and in between) the track to explore some better locations, if it's not an option however, you'll have to make do with what you have, cropping will work, but you'll have to take in account that you need to frame for the crop, you can use the magnify tool to bring up the green box (essentially a frame within your frame) to aid with it :) (press the magnify button again & twist the shutter dial to make the frame larger/smaller (hit it once more to get the full screen back (press OK to get rid of the box))

    Don't be too afraid to push ISO higher either, 1600 still works fine in daylight, it's better to add a little noise than to fail the shot due to the shutter speed not being high enough or your depth of field being too narrow and missing focus/...

    Also, what Joe Smith said, it takes experience, it's good that you already went to the training sessions, eventhough you say you failed most your shots, i'm sure you've already learned a multitude of things from that 1 day ;)

    It may not be the same speed class and sound a little dumb, but if you know of a busy/ relatively speedy road you can go practice some more, just keep your distance the same way you would at the F1
     
  17. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    Walter
    I hope you're shooting RAW or RAW+JPG so if you need to do some editing afterward, you're working with the RAW files. Dull, flat lighting is what you have to expect with overcast skies. If it's raining, it'll be worse. Can't help that. You can try punching it up in post if you have the RAW files. Use the lens hood to keep rain off your lens. Carry a microfiber towel in your rainjacket pocket to wipe down the camera.

    The hairpin turn you shot from is a good location. The cars will be in view longer, and will be going slower after braking for the turn. You can also catch them entering and exiting the turn. You can crop more tightly later. As others have suggested, pre-focus with manual on the spot you want, use Sequential-L or H to fire off a series of shots as the car enters and goes through your frame. Move the camera (pan) to follow the car. Use a small enough (i.e., high) aperture to give you your desired depth of field. Up your ISO to give you an acceptable shutter speed. (I'm just compiling what others have said, all good advice)

    If you get 20% keepers, you're doing pretty good. Hey, don't forget to put the camera down sometimes and enjoy the race! :)