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Trying the GH3 for shooting motorsports

Discussion in 'Panasonic Cameras' started by gcogger, Feb 3, 2013.

  1. gcogger

    gcogger Mu-43 Veteran

    May 25, 2010
    I've had a Canon system and a micro 4/3 system for a while now. I used to use the Canon kit for high ISO (although now the GH3 is a little better than my 40D), and for 'action' shoots - mostly motorsports and some airshows etc. My Canon kit for the latter is a 40D and a variety of Canon 'L' lenses and, more recently, the Tamron 70-300mm VC USD.

    Now that I have the GH3, I popped down to the Goodwood circuit yesterday where there was a track day taking place. I wasn't expecting much - the last time I tried this with, I think, the GH1, I found it to be hopeless.

    To clarify how I shoot, I wouldn't find the camera acceptable for this if I needed to pre-focus or take single shots at a time. Part of the interest of this type of shooting for me is capturing the unexpected - maybe the car loses the back end, or runs wide, or even just seeing an interesting expression on the driver's face. To do that requires continuous focusing and burst mode.

    I've uploaded a gallery of the results HERE. Nothing too exciting - I was just trying to test how the kit responded. These are the ones that were left after deleting similar, badly framed or blurred images. The first 18 are with the GH3 and a Panasonic 100-300mm. The next 8 are with a Panasonic 45-150mm. The final 4 are with the G5 camera and the 100-300mm.

    To summarize the experience, I was surprised to find that it was quite workable :smile: It was more difficult to use than the Canon kit, but my percentage of usable images was at least as good as normal, and the image quality was also just as good. I found I had the best results with continuous focus (AFC), although AFF worked OK too, and medium speed burst mode (4fps, I think).

    Compared to using the Canon, I had to starting tracking focus earlier, and be more accurate when holding the focus on the car - if I didn't, the camera would not take the shots. It is therefore more difficult to quickly switch to shoot another car - say if 2 are close together, or a car I'm not following does something 'interesting'. I'd probably miss the occasional shot because of this.

    The other issue is the viewfinder blackout between shots, that made it tricky (but not impossible) to track the cars as they moved when shooting a burst of images. With a bit of practice, however, I was framing pretty much every shot adequately, and my percentage of images of 'half a car' was almost as low as with the Canon system.

    Apart from the blackout issues in a burst, I'm happy to report that I forgot I was using an electronic viewfinder. This surprised me too, as I expected it to feel awkward compared to an optical one.

    I also shot a few with the G5 camera, using the same settings as the GH3. It felt very similar in use, but the images I took didn't seem to be quite as sharp as with the GH3. I didn't use the G5 enough to know if this is just coincidence, however.

    One thing to bear in mind is that this was done on a sunny day - perhaps the Panasonic system would struggle more if the weather was dull?

    Overall, I'd say the GH3 is perfectly usable for this type of shooting. The Canon system is easier and more responsive, which makes it more enjoyable and better able to take 'reaction' shots, but the results are very similar. I'm now left with a dilemma - do I finally get rid of the Canon system and go fully micro 4/3?

    Finally, some examples:

    DMC-GH3    LUMIX G VARIO 100-300/F4.0-5.6    300mm    f/5.6    1/2500s    ISO 400

    DMC-GH3    LUMIX G VARIO 45-150/F4.0-5.6    57mm    f/13.0    1/125s    ISO 200

    DMC-GH3    LUMIX G VARIO 45-150/F4.0-5.6    150mm    f/5.6    1/640s    ISO 200
    • Like Like x 6
  2. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    When I left my DSLR and started action with Micro Four Thirds, I found out that I had to change my technique. What works best for me is putting in a high amount of anticipation with minimal finger on the button time.

    Not much but hope it helps!
  3. harry_s

    harry_s Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 19, 2011
    Wiltshire, UK
    Nice work, did you use AFC autofocus settings on the G5 and GH3? I've found Continuous AF (AFC) slows down the G3 and G5 significantly, so I've been using AFS for all my motorsport photography. I also felt AF Tracking was very poor, so switched to Single Point AF which improved my hit rate significantly.
  4. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Agreed - Especially the "Look Ma - no hands!" shot...:biggrin::biggrin:
  5. gcogger

    gcogger Mu-43 Veteran

    May 25, 2010
    I think I did use AFC on the G5, and I certainly did on the GH3. In this mode you have to track the target for a second before you start to shoot, and it's easy to drift off target so it has to start acquiring focus again. The trouble with AFS is that I like to shoot bursts rather than single images.
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