Although the Panasonic G9 and the 100-300 v1 are not brand new to my collection, shooting action and shooting with a super telephoto is not something I do, and I am a complete novice. Therefore, outside of a couple failed sessions in my backyard, this weekend was probably the first time I had the chance to use this camera/lens pairing to shoot some surfers at White Point, San Pedro, CA.
- Although I felt I was fairly close to the surfers, 300mm was barely adequate. The sample shots in the next post below have all been cropped, albeit some are pretty close to full width. All shot were taken at 300mm, iirc.
- The light was pretty bad, very strong backlighting. Much like the classic wedding photographer's challenge of shooting for bright white and blacks in the same shot, the bright white surf and black wet suits were hard to expose for. There was no contrast in the lighting on the surfers' faces, I erred on the side of keeping the exposure on the wetsuits black in post.
- All shots taken with mechanical shutter.
- I started the session shooting AF-S. After reviewing some photos for sharpness, I found that this method was unable to maintain sharpness despite what should have been a decently deep DOF and what I perceived to be only moderately fast movement. Focus and shutter release set to shutter button half-press.
- Focus reacquisition was more challenging in this mode due to the evf lag/blackout combined with the high fps.
- Switching to AF-C with back-button focusing on the G9 with the 100-300 v1 results in approxmately 3fps. It's pretty slow and I know "decisive" moments were missed due to the slow speeds.
- Overall impressions of sharpness were better with AF-C. There were more shots where faces were not only just a blob of pixels.
- At 3fps, it was much easier to track the surfers because there was so much time to look through the viewfinder inbetween shots. This is clearly a double-edged sword.
- I do not feel like I ever achieved critical sharpness in any of the shots, regardless of AF mode. It's really hard to get sharp shots, even with shutter speeds above 1/2000. I'm sure my hand-held tracking technique was also severely lacking. Lastly, with the somewhat low angle to the surfers, I believe spray and mist and possibly general turbulence played a part in sapping sharpness.
- Next time, don't be lazy and break out the tripod. I brought it for nothing...