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06-29-2018, 11:22 PM - 8 Likes   #1
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K-1 Motorsport Photography: Tatts Finke Desert Race 2018

Last year, I had the pleasure to be part of the media crew for the Tatt's Finke Desert Race. Due to contractual obligations, I was unable to post about my use of Pentax gear at that event, but as I am shooting for myself this year, I am able to share my experiences. So here's a little write up about my opinions and thoughts on using the K-1 as a sports camera.



Of course, the best part of using any Pentax camera, is the intuitive ergonomics of both their bodies and lenses, and in this regard, the combination of the K-1 and the DFA* 70-200mm excel. The only downside to this setup is the 3kg weight of it all, but in my opinion, this doesn't constitute as a massive problem given what I had to bring with me as a pro the previous year (last years setup included three bodies; K-1, K-3ii & K-5, as well as three lenses; Tamron SP 300mm f2.8 AF, DFA* 70-200mm f2.8 & DA* 16-50mm f2.8). Therefore, I feel that in this use case, this combination is perfect.



Aside from the ergonomics, the other unique feature of Pentax camera gear is the weather resistance. In my experience, Pentax camera gear can handle almost all weather conditions, ranging from torrential rain, +40*C Central Australian summers, and sub-zero Central Australian Winters. Unfortunately there are things that Pentax cameras cannot reliably handle, namely total immersion in water, and the spray of salt water. As a third item in this list, Pentax gear cannot beat the bull dust of Central Australia. As you can imagine, the ultra fine sand of Central Australia is incredibly abrasive, and at an event such as this, plenty of it is constantly in contact with your camera. Although my gear held up better than that of many of my peers, and is still functioning perfectly, there is now, after 3 years of exposure, grit in both the focus and zoom rings. Considering the length of time I have used the DFA* 70-200mm, I believe that this isn't detrimental to the lens, but it does detract from you confidence in the weather sealing of Pentax equipment. On the otherhand, all of the other gear continues to work without problem, so this could just be a once off, and a quick run under the tap removes most of the offending dust (PS, do not run water over your camera gear, even if I do)



When it comes to setting up the Pentax K-1 for motorsports, I have found the most success setting the 'Focus Hold' setting to 'High', setting the camera up for 'Back Button Focus', setting the AF-C settings to 'Focus Priority' and making sure the shutter is set to 'Release Priority'. This combination allows me to adequately focus continually on cars and motorbikes with a high success rate, whist also maintaining complete control over the camera by allowing me to override the camera at any time. I also shoot in Hyper-Program mode 'P', or in Manual depending on if there is changing lighting where I am shooting or if the lighting is constant. Another tip, is to set the DFA* 70-200mm f2.8 to AF/M mode, as in this mode, any adjustments to the focus ring immediately cancel AF.
And before anyone start to whinge and tell me Pentax AF is terrible, in 2017 I had to take saleable photos of all 700 motorbike competitors, and 140 car competitors, a challenge that I more than adequately met despite speeds of over 200km/h at certain points of the race.



That said, you do have to work the K-1 harder than most other modern full frame cameras. In my experience working with a newspaper, their D5 has much snappier AF than the K-1. The photographer has to be constantly aware of the advantages and disadvantages of their gear, and personally, my Pentax K-1 ticks the most boxes in my use case. For example, I wouldn't be able to crop as heavily with the D4 as I do with the K-1, and the dynamic range isn't as good at low ISO. All of this wouldn't matter if the K-1 was unable to keep up, but in my experience, with practice, the K-1 makes a suitable sports camera.



Last but not least, the pleasure I get from using my Pentax equipment is worth a lot all on its own. To get a similar feel in your hands from other manufactures, you're looking at spending double the money, and in my eyes, that is just not on (aside from Olympus, but lets not muddle the story hey). In the end, the camera and lens is only as good as the photographer, and even after a few years with the k-1, it still continually exceeds my abilities, which humbles me greatly.



Anyway, thanks for reading, and I hope you managed to at least enjoy your reading and my photos. Maybe you even learnt something. I look forward to some feedback and critique. Thanks in advance. Kindest regards, Josh Abbott.

I leave you with two last samples!






Last edited by Joshua A; 06-30-2018 at 01:12 AM.
06-29-2018, 11:56 PM   #2
Tas
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QuoteOriginally posted by Joshua A Quote
Last year, I had the pleasure to be part of the media crew for the Tatt's Finke Desert Race. Due to contractual obligations, I was unable to post about my use of Pentax gear at that event, but as I am shooting for myself this year, I am able to share my experiences. So here's a little write up about my opinions and thoughts on using the K-1 as a sports camera.

Of course, the best part of using any Pentax camera, is the intuitive ergonomics of both their bodies and lenses, and in this regard, the combination of the K-1 and the DFA* 70-200mm excel. The only downside to this setup is the 3kg weight of it all, but in my opinion, this doesn't constitute as a massive problem given what I had to bring with me as a pro the previous year (last years setup included three bodies; K-1, K-3ii & K-5, as well as three lenses; Tamron SP 300mm f2.8 AF, DFA* 70-200mm f2.8 & DA* 16-50mm f2.8). Therefore, I feel that in this use case, this combination is perfect.

Aside from the ergonomics, the other unique feature of Pentax camera gear is the weather resistance. In my experience, Pentax camera gear can handle almost all weather conditions, ranging from torrential rain, +40*C Central Australian summers, and sub-zero Central Australian Winters. Unfortunately there are things that Pentax cameras cannot reliably handle, namely total immersion in water, and the spray of salt water. As a third item in this list, Pentax gear cannot beat the bull dust of Central Australia. As you can imagine, the ultra fine sand of Central Australia is incredibly abrasive, and at an event such as this, plenty of it is constantly in contact with your camera. Although my gear held up better than that of many of my peers, and is still functioning perfectly, there is now, after 3 years of exposure, grit in both the focus and zoom rings. Considering the length of time I have used the DFA* 70-200mm, I believe that this isn't detrimental to the lens, but it does detract from you confidence in the weather sealing of Pentax equipment. On the otherhand, all of the other gear continues to work without problem, so this could just be a once off, and a quick run under the tap removes most of the offending dust (PS, do not run water over your camera gear, even if I do)

When it comes to setting up the Pentax K-1 for motorsports, I have found the most success setting the 'Focus Hold' setting to 'High', setting the camera up for 'Back Button Focus', setting the AF-C settings to 'Focus Priority' and making sure the shutter is set to 'Release Priority'. This combination allows me to adequately focus continually on cars and motorbikes with a high success rate, whist also maintaining complete control over the camera by allowing me to override the camera at any time. I also shoot in Hyper-Program mode 'P', or in Manual depending on if there is changing lighting where I am shooting or if the lighting is constant. Another tip, is to set the DFA* 70-200mm f2.8 to AF/M mode, as in this mode, any adjustments to the focus ring immediately cancel AF.
And before anyone start to whinge and tell me Pentax AF is terrible, in 2017 I had to take saleable photos of all 700 motorbike competitors, and 140 car competitors, a challenge that I more than adequately met despite speeds of over 200km/h at certain points of the race.

That said, you do have to work the K-1 harder than most other modern full frame cameras. In my experience working with a newspaper, their D5 has much snappier AF than the K-1. The photographer has to be constantly aware of the advantages and disadvantages of their gear, and personally, my Pentax K-1 ticks the most boxes in my use case. For example, I wouldn't be able to crop as heavily with the D4 as I do with the K-1, and the dynamic range isn't as good at low ISO. All of this wouldn't matter if the K-1 was unable to keep up, but in my experience, with practice, the K-1 makes a suitable sports camera.

Last but not least, the pleasure I get from using my Pentax equipment is worth a lot all on its own. To get a similar feel in your hands from other manufactures, you're looking at spending double the money, and in my eyes, that is just not on (aside from Olympus, but lets not muddle the story hey). In the end, the camera and lens is only as good as the photographer, and even after a few years with the k-1, it still continually exceeds my abilities, which humbles me greatly.

Anyway, thanks for reading, and I hope you managed to at least enjoy your reading and my photos. Maybe you even learnt something. I look forward to some feedback and critique. Thanks in advance. Kindest regards, Josh Abbott.

I leave you with two last samples!
A good yarn that one mate, and might I say I'm pretty jealous of you for getting out to do the Finke. I'd only be an amateur and I'd be sports through the day and astro at night. It's been about six years since I worked out in the desert and whilst I'd never thought I'd be like this, it's one of the few things I constantly think of for a photography trip. The nights are cold, but wow, that sky at night...


I like to take my K-1 out and shoot action/sports and whilst I too acknowledge that other systems are better for this role (the new very expensive Sony 400/2.8 with the A9 comes to mind) I'd have to say that the misses are more down to my skills than the camera.

Anyhoo, I hope you're sharing some images with us, and if you have some sports imagery that you can share there's a thread here for them too: Sports photography - single images - PentaxForums.com


Tas
06-30-2018, 12:45 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tas Quote
A good yarn that one mate, and might I say I'm pretty jealous of you for getting out to do the Finke. I'd only be an amateur and I'd be sports through the day and astro at night. It's been about six years since I worked out in the desert and whilst I'd never thought I'd be like this, it's one of the few things I constantly think of for a photography trip. The nights are cold, but wow, that sky at night...


I like to take my K-1 out and shoot action/sports and whilst I too acknowledge that other systems are better for this role (the new very expensive Sony 400/2.8 with the A9 comes to mind) I'd have to say that the misses are more down to my skills than the camera.

Anyhoo, I hope you're sharing some images with us, and if you have some sports imagery that you can share there's a thread here for them too: Sports photography - single images - PentaxForums.com


Tas
Though I'm a terrtory kid through and through, I'm currently living in Melbourne and make an effort every year to make it down for Finke to catch up with mates and the sort. Though I'm a bit inactive as of recent, I'll be sure to post anything once the weather warms up :P. Thanks!

---------- Post added 06-30-18 at 05:17 PM ----------

And now where have all the photos gone???
06-30-2018, 04:15 AM   #4
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Great photos and a nice narrative. Thank you.

06-30-2018, 05:52 PM   #5
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Looks like great fun! and well done! Also thanks for the interesting tips, I have AF-C and the shutter set to focus priority, IMO it doesn't work, it will still take photos if nothing is in focus.

Last edited by MightyMike; 06-30-2018 at 05:58 PM.
07-02-2018, 07:09 PM   #6
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Great Images, thanks for sharing. I will relate a story told to me by a Finke competitor, I have no reason to believe it is not accurate.
The story goes that at some point in the race there is a significant whoop (jump) with a sharp turn immediatley after the landing. A couple of girls positioned themselves at the turn in line of sight on the landing and flashed the riders on the point of landing.....I am told the consequences were hilarious...and anyone who did NOT come off at that turn was seriously questioned. Competitors (riders) were wondering if the girls were a plant by another competitor !!
07-02-2018, 07:10 PM   #7
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This seems like such an Aussie thread. Great fun and fine photos.
07-02-2018, 11:43 PM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mallee Boy Quote
Great Images, thanks for sharing. I will relate a story told to me by a Finke competitor, I have no reason to believe it is not accurate.
The story goes that at some point in the race there is a significant whoop (jump) with a sharp turn immediatley after the landing. A couple of girls positioned themselves at the turn in line of sight on the landing and flashed the riders on the point of landing.....I am told the consequences were hilarious...and anyone who did NOT come off at that turn was seriously questioned. Competitors (riders) were wondering if the girls were a plant by another competitor !!
I've been to quite a few Finkes in my short life, and the girls seem to really get off flashing the riders/drivers. I'm not implying that I've been witness to this or condone this type of activity though...

07-03-2018, 01:27 AM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Joshua A Quote
I've been to quite a few Finkes in my short life, and the girls seem to really get off flashing the riders/drivers. I'm not implying that I've been witness to this or condone this type of activity though...
Of course….never thought any different.
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