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Panning with the GX7 (the AF won't cut it)

Discussion in 'Panasonic Cameras' started by Jaynometry, Sep 12, 2014.

  1. Jaynometry

    Jaynometry Mu-43 Regular

    62
    Sep 13, 2011
    Toronto, Ontario
    Greetings everyone

    So last weekend, I had the chance to go to the race track for the first time this year (I know, I know. Wedding planning owns me). I've had much success before as a track photographer with my Nikon gear so I was excited to see how my GX7 fares. I'm sad to report that there must be something wrong with what I'm doing or the camera just won't cut it. I used the Panny 40-150, the camera is on AF-C, used back button focusing, and I tried my regular techniques. There's a significant lag when the focus is confirmed and the shutter is pressed. It's annoying as it's extremely difficult to time shots. I just used manual focus instead and had way more success, focus peaking is a very nice surprise as to how well it worked.

    Here are some keepers

    10520819_10152271057791576_9094973848276242300_o.
    10644510_10152271057486576_657274794707996656_o.
    1973433_10152271057916576_1314681675973849329_o.
    10603836_10152271058071576_1061164918375685937_o.
    10659048_10152271058516576_4198402817021743446_o.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  2. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    GX7 AFAIK is only CDAF, so it's got limitations on action shooting.
     
  3. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    I guess I don't see the issue. Distance is fairly far, fairly constant, and the MF button is right under your thumb. Set your focus and shoot. AF is not the right tool for the job.
     
  4. Jaynometry

    Jaynometry Mu-43 Regular

    62
    Sep 13, 2011
    Toronto, Ontario
    Yeah I learned that right quick. WIth the Nikon before, it was just so easy. Just focus with the thumb and it tracks it no problem. Then my senses kicked in when it wasn't really working with the GX7 - how far it is, how I'm shooting at F10, there's a vast space that's in focus. The ones that really didn't work and when I missed AF was when the car was oncoming and I wasn't panning.
     
  5. yakky

    yakky Mu-43 Top Veteran

    662
    Jul 1, 2013
    Agree with what everyone else has posted, AF on a contrast detect body is not up to the job. Nikon and Canon have excellent predictive phase detect AF that can't be beat by any mirrorless camera yet. The A6000 is trying but it still has a way to go from what I'm reading.
     
  6. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    Yeah, I have never been too interested in all the debates about arcane details of AF systems. Maybe it is because with years of shooting manual focus cameras I don't view using MF as some kind of crime against nature. That is particularly true now with the excellent focus peaking on my GX7s. I don't get mad at my screwdrivers because they don't drive nails very well, either. I just pick up a hammer.

    Edit: What race track is it where they let amateurs out without even requiring a helmet?
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Jaynometry

    Jaynometry Mu-43 Regular

    62
    Sep 13, 2011
    Toronto, Ontario
    I agree. It was an open lapping day = helmets are suggested but not mandatory. Shannonville Motorsport Park
     
  8. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    Its amazing to me how much of this goes on and how little carnage ensues. The problem with street cars on race courses is almost always brakes. Just not enough cooling, so they fade away. I ran a Showroom Stock Mustang once on a long track. 3 sessions/practice/qualifying/race and I ruined three sets of front pads and one pair of rotors. My crew put the pieces on the table next to our pit board and wrote "Brake Pad Hall of Shame." I just could not get the hang of babying those brakes. I once took some VIPs for a couple of laps in some kind of Pontiac grocery-getter and when I pulled in there was smoke curling out of the front wheel wells. The Pontiac guy was not happy.
     
  9. eljay

    eljay Mu-43 Regular

    113
    Jul 8, 2013
    Thank you for posting as I too am interested in proper technique for these shots with m43 bodies. Your shots are pretty good considering your frustrations! Seems like you have worked around the limitations quite well.

    So, if I may ask a newbie question: what are the proper steps to achieve a good shot? Would this work?
    1. Aperture priority, manual focus
    2. Set aperture to achieve the desired DoF at the given focal distance
    3. Manually focus on a spot on the ground where the car will be when the shot will be taken
    4. Pan with the object
    5. When the object is in the pre-focused spot, take the shot

    Is that how's it's done?


    P.S. Yes, I too am shocked to see that people are allowed to go lapping without helmets and the windows are fully down. Crazy.
     
  10. Jaynometry

    Jaynometry Mu-43 Regular

    62
    Sep 13, 2011
    Toronto, Ontario
    Re: Lapping without helmets; I don't really want to turn this discussion into that but yes, that's how the majourity of us (my circle) learned. We lapped without helmets for years! Then when we realized how stupid it was, we all bought helmets. I agree that lapping with helmets should be mandatory, but this is why you sign waivers prior to going out on the track. Even in the Nurburgring, helmets aren't mandatory during tourist sessions.

    Okay, now to photography.

    I wouldn't do aperture priority because at a given time in the day, F10 or whatever might give you too fast of a shutter speed and might freeze the wheels, which defeats the purpose of panning. I would do shutter priority, remember the focal length = shutter speed rule (100mm = around 1/100) and see where the aperture is. Go to manual mode if you want to adjust incrementally.

    3-5 seems about right but I wouldn't wait for the car to be in the pre-focused spot. Start shooting when you start panning and remember to follow through. You'll end up getting more keepers than just shooting once per panning sweep.

     
  11. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Northumberland
    This ;
    M4/3rds cameras usually focus faster and more reliably with AF-S, that's just the way it is, you have to start from scratch and bin your DSLR habits. (Maybe the E-M1 has good quick AF-C, irrelevant to your issue)
     
  12. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    eljay, to amplify what Jaynometry said, you need to understand that when shooting outside in reasonably bright daylight the lens will be stopped down to something like the f10 he mentions. f8, f11, or whatever. At those apertures, the depth of field is such that the subject car will probably always be in focus.

    To understand depth of field thoroughly depends both on understanding aperture and understanding the effect of lens focal length on depth of field. You might also try to understand hyperfocal distance; setting your lens to its hyperfocal distance may well be a useful alternative to your #3. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depth_of_field
     
    • Like Like x 1
  13. eljay

    eljay Mu-43 Regular

    113
    Jul 8, 2013
    Thank you! It will be a while before I get to practice this advice. :(