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Help getting sharp motorsports shots at 400MM

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Thread started 27 May 2009 (Wednesday) 13:02   
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NBinSD
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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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Post #1, May 27, 2009 13:02:10




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GSH
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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.

Post #2, May 27, 2009 13:36:19


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NBinSD
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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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Post #3, May 27, 2009 13:53:35 as a reply to GSH's post 17 minutes earlier.




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GSH
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NBinSD wrote in post #7998892external link
They're cropped heavily....

There's your problem then :)

Post #4, May 27, 2009 15:12:43


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NBinSD
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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?

Post #5, May 27, 2009 15:20:31 as a reply to GSH's post 7 minutes earlier.




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ryant35
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NBinSD wrote in post #7999359external link
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.

Post #6, May 28, 2009 00:34:09



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NBinSD
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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!

Post #7, May 28, 2009 12:59:23 as a reply to ryant35's post 12 hours earlier.




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Lowner
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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.

Post #8, May 28, 2009 14:18:09


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ryant35
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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.

Post #9, May 28, 2009 14:21:24



1DsMKII, 2 7D's & Grips & 1 dead 40D, 24-104mm f/4 L, 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II, 1.4X TC III, 100mm f/2.8 Macro, 50mm f/1.8, 580EXII
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DC ­ Fan
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NBinSD wrote in post #7999359external link
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.

IMAGE NOT FOUND IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
Byte size: ZERO | Content warning: NOT AN IMAGE


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.

Post #10, May 28, 2009 14:28:10




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Evo-L
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Go Suzuki!!!! :)

Post #11, Jun 02, 2009 01:09:09




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ssabripo
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suzuki!

Post #12, Jun 04, 2009 08:18:15




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Robert ­ C
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If you haven't it might be worth looking at this thread as well http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthre​ad.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.

Robert

Post #13, Jun 07, 2009 14:42:27 as a reply to ssabripo's post 3 days earlier.


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NBinSD
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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 ...light=supermoto+las​+vegas

-Noah

Post #14, Jun 07, 2009 16:33:44 as a reply to Robert C's post 1 hour earlier.




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Help getting sharp motorsports shots at 400MM
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