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What lens for car racing? (Indy/LeMans)

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by Promit, Jun 30, 2011.

  1. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    The Baltimore GP is rolling around before too much longer (Sept), which means it's just about time to start lusting after equipment. Right now in native lenses, I use the kit zoom and the 14 mm pancake on my PL1. Both are obviously inappropriate. I also have a mix of adapted primes and a 100-200 zoom, but I am thinking that manual is not the way to go here, at least for racecars in action.

    What would you suggest? I'm not necessarily opposed to Lensrentals or purchase. I would prefer to pick up the lens used, so something that's relatively available and affordable on the secondary market would be great. I like cheap and I'm not trying to take pro photos here.
  2. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Where will you be sitting? (ie - how much reach do you want)
  3. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    You know, I'm not really even sure. I'm not planning to pay for a grand-stands pass so it'll be wherever I can find a spot to set up. To be honest, at the moment I'm leaning towards using my compact Sony megazoom (28-560) instead...
  4. Bokeh Diem

    Bokeh Diem Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 14, 2010

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  5. pharaviel

    pharaviel Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 20, 2011
    Reggio Emilia, Italy
    Daniele Frizzi
    I don't think you will need AF for this stuff... After the fist lap you should see the black tracks of the wheels... Cars follows the same trajectory every lap so you should be able to prefocus and shoot a burst to each car that comes into your evf/lcd.
  6. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    Hmm, maybe. Not sure what kind of apertures I'll be running, it will probably be broad daylight but I'll also need to run very fast shutter speeds of course. (How fast? I have no idea!) If I can get to f/4 then MF on a legacy lens might be quite manageable.
  7. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    I think Zuiko Four-Thirds glass is your best bet. I like SWD lenses as they do AutoFocus well on the PEN cameras but also have a mechanical focus gear which works much better for manual focus on a PEN camera. At least, it seems to work a lot better for me. ;) 

    Also, the Zuiko High-Grade line includes reasonably bright and very sharp zoom lenses at an affordable price. Zuiko Super High-Grade lenses are in a class of their own (also offering the widest aperture in a zoom lens, with their f/2.0 zooms), but they are priced as you would expect to pay for top-pro glass from any manufacturer. The High-Grade lenses offer a value deal over the competitors.
  8. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    My reservation with four thirds is I have to buy the MMF adapter, which is a substantial hunk of budget in its own right. I'm not willing to commit that much money plus whatever the actual Zuikos cost.
  9. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    Having been on both sides of the fence, racing and shooting photos for a racing book:

    1) Unless you get a press pass you'll probably be a long way from the cars. You probably can't get a telephoto that will be too long, particularly if you want to shoot as the cars exit the corner before they pass you or if you can get a spot overlooking the pits and shoot the action there. Just shooting the sides of cars as they pass you is kind of boring.

    2) An adapted lens/manual focus would be fine. Probably you'll just set the lens to infinity. But ... following cars in the dark/though a manually stopped-down lens might be very difficult.

    3) Assuming a nice bright day, I would go with the len's optimum aperture or, if I didn't know it, F8.

    4) Shutter speed does not have to be extreme. 1/250th is probably enough assuming you pan with the cars if they are crossing in front of you. I would probably use the old rule of thumb: the reciprocal of the (35mm equivalent) focal length.

    5) Consider getting some extra stability and unload some weight by putting the camera on a monopod with a small ball head and an Arca-Swiss QR setup.

    6) If there is the opportunity to get into the pits or garage area prior to or after the race, you might get your best pictures. Some venues sell supplemental tickets for this.

    7) Better to carry some ear plugs and not need them than to not carry them and wish you had.

    Personally, I would look to the Panny 100-300 and maybe try an adapted 500mm Nikkor mirror lens for fun. There is also a 250mm Minolta mirror that would look cute on a M43 body but I think those are rare and expensive. I prefer zooms though, especially when I can't move around.
  10. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    I have a 500mm f/8 refractor handy, though I'm still learning to use that focal length effectively. I do plan to hit the car paddock with my Rokkor 50mm for some close up action. Maybe I'll just stick to the compact zoom for the track shot, since I figure there will probably be a fence between the cars and anywhere I can get to without buying a decent ticket anyway.

    I imagine the 100-300 is probably a fairly reasonable choice though. Dunno if I want to buy a monopod now, but I guess I'm not going to get decent photos without it. I wonder if I'll get decent photos with it.
  11. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    I am a huge believer in carrying a monopod.
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    We travel a lot and I have used one in many low-light situations like the evening light show at the Pyramids, a outdoor night play in India
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    , in the dark Amazon basin rain forest, plus it doubles as a walking stick on rough terrain, whether the camera is on top or not. In fact, some of the walking sticks that REI sells (for example REI Four Winds Travel Staff - Free Shipping at REI.com) have 1/4-20 studs on top, though they might be a bit short for comfortable shooting. Lots of "real" monopods on eBay, too. Look for one that collapses to the shortest possible length.

    I don't think you'll regret buying one.
  12. John M Flores

    John M Flores Super Moderator

    Jan 7, 2011
    If you don't want to buy a monopod, just bring your tripod and extend just one of the legs.

    I brought a 350mm equivalent to a motorcycle race at Laguna Seca years ago and wish that I had something longer still. Your talking about a street circuit so you are likely to be a bit closer to the action. Still, the 100-300 sounds like a sound choice

    my iPhone sent this
  13. chuckgoolsbee

    chuckgoolsbee Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 6, 2010
    Bend, Oregon
    Ned & Oldracer's advice are spot-on. I shoot pretty much *just* cars, ideally in motion. I use the 45-200, but hope to upgrade to longer glass soon. I use the monopod a LOT. Additionally, at least on my G1 there is a stabilization mode that is strictly side-to-side… it works VERY well when panning with a monopod.

    Finally, carry a fast prime and a wide angle in your bag for when you are able to spend time in paddock or pits - these environments are ideal for dramatic shots.

    I participated in a vintage car rally this past weekend, here are some of those latter-type shots for inspiration:

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    (Kyle, my navigator performing calculations for upcoming stages while we cooled off in the shade.)

    No long shots, as I was driving!
  14. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter Subscribing Member

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    I went to a motorcycle race a few weeks ago. I used my Pentax K7 with a vintage 200 f4 MF lens and the E-P2 with the Lumix 45-200. I was able to get good focus with both of them. Prefocus and with set exposure gave great results. As said before, you know in advance where they are going to be no matter how fast they are going. I'm serious about manual exposure. You really want to minimize the shutter lag and manual exposure is easy.
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