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Old 27th of May 2009 (Wed)   #1
NBinSD
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Default Help getting sharp motorsports shots at 400MM

Hi Everyone,
I'm hoping to get some ideas from some of the experienced motorsports shooters on here. I'm using a 450D w/a 100-400IS and am getting a very poor ratio of sharp shots at 400mm at the track. Looking for pointers or ideas about how to increase my sharpness at 400mm...especially for far away shots. I'm pretty sure my 100-400 is good b/c I get sharp shots when I shoot something still or something close at 400... and occasionally when I shoot something moving that's far away. I'll post a couple of examples and would appreciate any feedback.

These images were selected purely to show softness at 400mm so pls ignore composition, angle etc. They're 100% crops of the center section of the image, no other pp. Is my issue a depth of field problem? Lens calibration issue? Panning technique? Or do I just need to be closer to get sharp shots? Help!

Exif data should be intact but shots were taken at 370mm f8 1/400th and 400mm f8 1/320th, both with center point focus. Can't remember if IS was mode 1 or 2 on these particular shots but I believe 2.

Thanks for any help!

-Noah
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File Type: jpg IMG_1888.jpg (139.0 KB, 333 views)
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Old 27th of May 2009 (Wed)   #2
GSH
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Default Re: Help getting sharp motorsports shots at 400MM

How much have you cropped these?...I'd like to see the originals with just a re-size to 1024...If you're cropping heavily then it will affect quality.

Also, it looks like a reasonably hot day so you'll start to fall foul of heat haze.

Your other shots from the Red Bull Air Race look fine so i doubt it's a lens issue.
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Old 27th of May 2009 (Wed)   #3
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Default Re: Help getting sharp motorsports shots at 400MM

They're cropped heavily... 1000 pixels taken out of the center of the 12mp shot. Here are the originals just sized down to 1024 as requested. I guess I was hoping to get it more crisp when the image is viewed at 100%.
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Old 27th of May 2009 (Wed)   #4
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Default Re: Help getting sharp motorsports shots at 400MM

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Originally Posted by NBinSD View Post
They're cropped heavily....
There's your problem then
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Old 27th of May 2009 (Wed)   #5
NBinSD
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Default Re: Help getting sharp motorsports shots at 400MM

OK so it's simply that these shots are from too far away then? Anything I can do to make shots at this range come out sharper?
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Old 28th of May 2009 (Thu)   #6
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Default Re: Help getting sharp motorsports shots at 400MM

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OK so it's simply that these shots are from too far away then? Anything I can do to make shots at this range come out sharper?

Other than shooting with a longer lens?... Not really. Get closer, learn what turns will work with the lenses you have. BTW is this Button Willow? It also looks a little like Willow Springs, but I don't recognize the bleachers.
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Old 28th of May 2009 (Thu)   #7
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Default Re: Help getting sharp motorsports shots at 400MM

Thanks GSH and Ryant... I appreciate the comments. I was trying to get the most shots from one spot as possible. Man of the the others, where I was closer to the bike came out very sharp.

These were shot at Street of Willow 5/22/09. Bleachers in the background is turn 2 shot from the closest you can get to it in pit lane. I think that's horse thief mile's bleachers in the bg. The other shot is turn 11, that fun little left after the chicane!
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Old 28th of May 2009 (Thu)   #8
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Default Re: Help getting sharp motorsports shots at 400MM

You have hit the big problem with motorsport. 400mm is not long enough and at least in my case, my pockets are not long enough for the kit I really should buy.

I add a Kenko 1.4x PRO 300 to my 100-400L which does improve it a little, but you still need to get a lot closer.

The British SuperBikes are at my local track this coming weekend, and at my favorite spot, I'm probably about 40 feet from the riders. I try very hard to compose in camera and crop very little. I've only got 8.1 mp with my 30D to start with and quality drains away very rapidly as I crop.

Forgot to mention: Everything I shoot at the track is done with a monopod. never handheld.
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Old 28th of May 2009 (Thu)   #9
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Default Re: Help getting sharp motorsports shots at 400MM

I used to shoot for the track photographer at WIllow Springs shoots some of the turns with a 500mm f/4 & 2XTC. We got different angles than everybody else. Coming out of turn 1 and into turn 2 on the big track, shot from the access road to the south is great for showing a pack, but you need 1000mm and a steady hand.
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Old 28th of May 2009 (Thu)   #10
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Default Re: Help getting sharp motorsports shots at 400MM

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Originally Posted by NBinSD View Post
OK so it's simply that these shots are from too far away then? Anything I can do to make shots at this range come out sharper?
The embedded EXIF data in the image files shows that the lens is set at 370mm in the first picture and 400mm in the second. If the subject is that small in images where the lens is that close to full extension, you're too far away and no lens practically available for a DSLR will help.



For reference, this is a motorcycle image at 300mm from a XTi, which has a similar sensor size. The motorcycle is around 150 feet away, and it's framed tighter than in the full-sized images above.

You can get closer to the motorcycles, get a 2x teleconverter, or a longer lens - a 600mm f/4 IS is US $7,800 and a 800mm f/5.6 IS is US $11,000. And those long-lens approaches won't eliminate the heat haze.

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Old 2nd of June 2009 (Tue)   #11
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Default Re: Help getting sharp motorsports shots at 400MM

Go Suzuki!!!!
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Old 4th of June 2009 (Thu)   #12
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Default Re: Help getting sharp motorsports shots at 400MM

suzuki!
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Old 7th of June 2009 (Sun)   #13
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Default Re: Help getting sharp motorsports shots at 400MM

If you haven't it might be worth looking at this thread as well http://photography-on-the.net/forum/...d.php?t=703204

I too use a 100 - 400, after suggestions received on here I now use it with the image stablisation turned off and more often than not with monopod. I am much more pleased with the results I get.

Though to be honest, with your sample pictures and the distance you are away from the subject I suspect it will not be as crisp and you want.

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Old 7th of June 2009 (Sun)   #14
NBinSD
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Default Re: Help getting sharp motorsports shots at 400MM

Thanks for the comments Robert. I spent a good deal of time reading the threads on here about the 100-400 and did see the one you posted. I was in Las Vegas shooting Supermoto last weekend and got much better results. I didn't have a monopod but IS off makes a big difference, as does knowing the distance limits of the lens.

These are last weeks supermoto shots:
http://photography-on-the.net/forum/...moto+las+vegas

-Noah
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