Awesome captures there, and I’m jealous you got to get such a great lens into the stadium. Security bag checks over here for 200mm max FLSome more tennis shots, this time from the opening night session of the 2017 US Open, at Arthur Ashe Stadium, NYC.
Matches in the early rounds are frequently pretty much forgone conclusions, with hopeful qualifiers being soundly thrashed by seeded players, and aren't particularly thrilling as a result, but last Monday was different. The USTA granted Maria Sharapova a wild card at the US Open to allow her to come back from her 15 month suspension and, whether due to fate or a fix, the draw resulted in her first round match being against Simone Halep, the second seed. Could the legendary former world champion stage a comeback against the current world No. 2, etc, etc? In any case, Sharapova is rarely anything but entertaining to watch, and Alexander Zverev (featured in some of @AussiePhil 's shots earlier in this thread) was playing Darian King in the second match so at the last minute we decided to go.
Arthur Ashe stadium is vast, and a pair of court side tickets bought at the last minute cost at least as much as an E-M1 mk II, so instead I found seats in the front row of the middle tier, which were just about within practical photography range and didn't make we wince too much at the price. I'm not in any way a sports photographer, but I figured that a night match might be a fun test of the Olympus ZD 300mm f/2.8. Not only would the extra stop of aperture be useful, the addition of the EC-20 teleconverter would give the option of 1200mm equivalent, albeit at f/5.7, which would help bring me closer to the action. The choice of front row seats was a deliberate one, since they would allow me to rest the heavy lens on the balcony railing in front of me, provide an unobstructed view and prevent me from inadvertently clouting people on the back of the head.
Since last year, an opening roof has been added to Arthur Ashe Stadium, which changes the feel of the place somewhat. For reference, I was shooting from a position immediately above and opposite to the electronic scoreboard in the centre of this pic, so considerably further from the court than the press pit!
E-M1 mk II + PL 15/1.7
View attachment 5680392017 US Open First Round Arthur Ashe Evening Session by Alex G, on Flickr
Mainly I used C-AF with tracking and sequential silent low release mode, manual shooting mode with aperture between f/2.8 and f/3.5, shutter speeds between 1/500th and 1/1600th, auto ISO and IBIS turned on. Although the camera managed to track the players' heads very well, there was some variation in focus accuracy whenever I raised the fps – the 300/2.8 is not as fast focusing as a modern µ43 lens. On the whole, though, I was fairly impressed, and I think that with more practice it would be possible to get a perfectly acceptable keeper rate. Stability-wise, the inertia of 3.5kg of lens is quite good at damping out such shake that the IBIS is unable to cope with. I plan to do some more controlled experiments to see if I can identify the most significant factors contributing to image softness.
Overall, however, I like the look of these images, although colours are a challenge when subjects are standing on bright blue or green surfaces under artificial light.
These are at 300mm:
E-M1 mk II + MMF-3 + 300/2.8
View attachment 568040Maria Sharapova 5 by Alex G, on Flickr
View attachment 568041Simone Halep 2 by Alex G, on Flickr
View attachment 568042Maria Sharapova 6 by Alex G, on Flickr
Now some at 600m:
E-M1 mk II + MMF-3 + 300/2.8 + EC-20:
View attachment 568043Maria Sharapova 2 by Alex G, on Flickr
View attachment 568044Maria Sharapova 3 by Alex G, on Flickr
You can see the commentary box in the first pic, on the left hand side under the sloping roof. Here it is at 600mm:
View attachment 568045The Brothers Mac. by Alex G, on Flickr
Back to 300mm for the rest:
View attachment 568046Maria Sharapova 8 by Alex G, on Flickr
View attachment 568047Maria Sharapova 9 by Alex G, on Flickr
Finally, a few from the Zverev/King match, also at 300mm:
View attachment 568048Coin Toss, Darian King vs Alexander Zverev by Alex G, on Flickr
View attachment 568049Alexander Zverev 1 by Alex G, on Flickr
View attachment 568050Alexander Zverev 2 by Alex G, on Flickr
View attachment 568051Darian King by Alex G, on Flickr
View attachment 568052Alexander Zverev 3 by Alex G, on Flickr
I plan to go again on Friday, just with grounds passes this time, and take the 300/4 instead so as to be able to make some sort of comparison between the 4/3 and µ43 300mm lenses. The 300/4 is definitely a more attractive prospect when walking around all day.
Thanks, Phil. Interestingly, the USTA doesn't seem to have any objections to long lenses, at least not at Flushing Meadows. The only thing it takes exception to is any kind of dedicated video recording/streaming gear. It specificially prohibits the use of camcorders and laptops, but is okay with DSLRs and cellphones with video capabilities. I figure that its most precious commodity is its TV rights, so it doesn't want folk putting up live feeds from a laptop in the bleachers. But they checked my bulging camera bag without raising an eyebrow. Oh — they also prohibit selfie-sticks and "any other kind of telescopic equipment", but I presume that that's more from the perspective of minimizing cases of eye injuries.Awesome captures there, and I’m jealous you got to get such a great lens into the stadium. Security bag checks over here for 200mm max FL
Personally I’m not a Maria fan but I watched the match on espn and it truly was an epic match and we commented that anyone there got there money’s worth