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01-17-2007, 02:18 PM   #1
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Shooting a car race

In about a month a Pro Rally race (similar to WRC) will be coming up which I would like to shoot some pictures for. I should be able to get a fairly close-up view of the cars as they pass-by. The day will likely be very gray and overcast. I currently just have the kit 18-50 lens with my K100D. I may buy a 200mm or 300mm lens if I can find a used one for a good price (<$50 or so).

Any and all suggestions would be appreciated. The link to the race is 100 Acre Wood Rally - 2007

I am seeking advice on:

1.) Suggested lens (I will also be shooting a lot of Autocross and Road Racing this summer.)

2.) Shooting technique

3.) Manual settings

Thanks.


Last edited by user440; 01-17-2007 at 02:25 PM.
01-17-2007, 03:04 PM   #2
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I don't think you'll find a 200 or 300 lens for ~$50, at least not a decent one. If you're going to be close, I think your best bet is to get a 135mm f/2.5 or f/2.8 manual lens. You can find those on ebay for around $50 and they take decent shots. I've had 3 different ones and they've all taken good shots. They're all full-frame lenses, so even if they're accused of being soft wide open or some such, they still work well since the smaller sensor in our cameras uses the "sweet spot" of the lens.

If the light is bright, you could get the Pentax DA50-200 for ~$200 online, plus there's a rebate. You can also get a Tamron 28-300 zoom for ~$250 (or less, if you can find the non-DI version - I paid $140 for mine but I think that deal is long gone).

Here's a shot I took at an NBA game from the other end of the court using the Pentax SMC-A 135mm f/2.8 lens.

I was probably 20 rows up at the other end of the court (~150 feet) when I took this shot. This should give you a feel for what kind of reach this lens will give you. Check out the full sized shot at my Flickr site (see the Houston Rockets set). For your $50 budget, I think this lens (or any of the 135mm primes) is your best bet.

Good luck!

<edit> Re-reading that your shoot should be dim and overcast really makes me recommend the 135mm since you'll never get f/2.5 or f/2.8 in a 200mm or 300mm lens for under $1000. Just get one far enough in advance to learn how to meter it, and then just focus on a spot in the track/road and let the cars come to you. Lots of sports were shot with manual focus lenses.

Last edited by rfortson; 01-17-2007 at 03:08 PM. Reason: more justification for the 135mm f/2.5 or f/2.8
01-17-2007, 04:18 PM   #3
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Once upon a time I shot Champ car racing practice a couple times. I used a ME Super with a Soligor 80-200mm lens. Weather was nice and bright, and I was using fast film (ISO 1600, IIRC). I had no problem freezing the action. Got some good shots out of it.

If you can get reasonably close, a 200mm lens should be plenty (but if you get right next to the track, 80mm might work). The big trick is having shutter speeds fast enough to catch them. You might want to go manual focus in order to avoid AF lag (focus at the appropriate spot, and leave it there). I'd probably shoot in Av mode, and lock the speed into ISO 800 or ISO 1600. Set the aperture to whatever you need to get into the 1/2000 or faster range. Be prepared to pan with the cars- get them into the viewfinder, then pan with them and keep going as you hit the shutter release. Heck, I'd probably even go with continuous shooting mode just to have more shots to choose from.

Just be sure to get there early enough to play with the settings a bit before the cars come by, and understand it may take a few tries to get everything just so.

Edit: just saw you are from STL. My shooting was done over at the oval on the IL side of the river. The first year you could get close enough to get some great shots, even without a press pass. The second year, they tightened up the rules to where good positions were harder to get. I didn't go back.
01-17-2007, 04:42 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replies. Technosavant brings up a point which I was going to ask about. I was wondering if I should pan to track the cars or keep the camera fairly fixed? What would be the difference in the effect?

I've casually shot some snapshots at Gateway, but they were from the grandstands through the fence. Obviously that did not turn out so well.

01-17-2007, 05:41 PM   #5
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a few years ago, i attended an SCCA pro rally in PA. Got a spot in a sweet hairpin inside the forest. thought i'd be able to get some nice shots. problems was, as each car passed by, the dust kept getting thicker and thicker, and since i was in the forest, light was becoming scarce.

there were no stands or anything, so we were up close. my 28-80 worked great more so than my tele.

this was close to 4 years ago, and i shot with my zx-50. it was rough, real rough. out of the 10 rolls i used, i think i got maybe 1 rolls worth of "keeperS" and that was really pushing it.

cant remember much of what my setting were, tried to keep it fast, but with the hanging dust cloud, i was lucky to go past 1/100
01-17-2007, 05:52 PM   #6
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Panning/stationary depends on the speed of the cars. The Champ cars I was shooting were going at well over 200MPH. I tried the stationary method (have a great shot of the rear half of one of them). At a rally, they likely won't be moving that fast, but you may also not have much advance warning of their appearance.

Just don't be that guy. You know the one- he's in internet videos getting smacked by a rally car that didn't quite make the turn.
01-18-2007, 12:11 PM   #7
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Yeah, I am certainly not going to be one of those guys. I am going to try to find an inside corner to hopefully get out of the dust a bit as well.

Would a monopod be a help or a hindrance?
01-18-2007, 02:13 PM   #8
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In the past I did alot of auto racing with a Takumar 150mm f4 and had a great deal of success so a 135mm f2.8 should work fine if you are reasonably close. I wouldn't worry about a monopod with short telephotos like those. I mostly panned with the cars to show speed and motion as again it's relatively easy with a short tele. You might look for a used 70-200mm zoom which is what I use today. I found a Kalimar 80-200mm f4 in a local used camera store and it works fine. Enjoy the action!

01-18-2007, 04:34 PM   #9
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I don't know if a monopod would be a hindrance. If you can get the shutter speeds that you are going to want (no less than 1/500, preferably faster by a few steps), then holding things steady won't really matter. It might turn out to be just one more thing to haul around. I know that when I was over at Gateway, a monopod would have been worthless to me.

You might want to try looking online for a decent used manual focus telephoto lens or even taking a trip to Creve Coeur Camera (the one on Olive, just east of 270) or Schiller's to see if they have any used ones at a good price.
02-01-2007, 07:05 AM   #10
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Attachment 861

hi
to my opinion,pentax is not the best dslr for sports,due to a focus management a little bit slow.
so as me you have to decide what you want to shoot before because with (for example) a 200 manuel focus,is't not easy to shoot severals time with the same target in movment.

Last edited by tipentax38; 02-08-2007 at 04:23 AM.
03-07-2007, 11:39 AM   #11
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Well, I went to the race and took many, many pictures. The weather could not have been worse. It was very dark, cold, and rainy the entire day. It was nasty and very dim the entire time. Did I mention that it was dark? That said, I had an absolute blast attending the race and shooting. Focus was not a problem on the camera at all and I tried an old 80-210 as well as my kit lens and stayed with the kit only because the longer glass was just too close to action.

The rain and the light were continual struggles and I just could not take any of the nighttime shots at all, but overall it was a fantastic learning experience. I am pretty sure an outboard flash would help the nighttime shots, the rest is just shooting more.

Enjoy: The 2007 100 Acre Woods Rally was cold, dark, and rained perpetually
03-07-2007, 03:17 PM   #12
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I shot a few drag races with my old little point and shoot Fuji. Max ISO on the Fuji was 100, so all I could hope for was a sunny or slightly cloudy day to get some good results.

Because the path of the cars was predictable, I initially tried using the trap method. After I got used to the shutter lag, I started using the panning method more and got better results. I think 200 mm should be more than enough distance. If you land a good spot on an inside turn, 135mm should be more than enough.

If you are really tight on cash, I recently bought a 135/2.8 Sears manual focus lens for $10 USD to mount on my K100D. Do a search on Ebay and you may be lucky. I haven't tried it out for fast action yet, but if I had this camera and lens combo, I would have had a ton more fun shooting


EDIT: I didn't realize you already shot the event - lol. Nice shots in there! I'll look more when I get home, but I see a few really nice ones in there.

Last edited by Alvin; 03-07-2007 at 03:22 PM.
03-07-2007, 04:12 PM   #13
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Looks like you got some decent shots. Good job.
03-07-2007, 09:52 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by user440 Quote
Well, I went to the race and took many, many pictures. The weather could not have been worse. It was very dark, cold, and rainy the entire day. It was nasty and very dim the entire time. Did I mention that it was dark? That said, I had an absolute blast attending the race and shooting. Focus was not a problem on the camera at all and I tried an old 80-210 as well as my kit lens and stayed with the kit only because the longer glass was just too close to action.

The rain and the light were continual struggles and I just could not take any of the nighttime shots at all, but overall it was a fantastic learning experience. I am pretty sure an outboard flash would help the nighttime shots, the rest is just shooting more.

Enjoy: The 2007 100 Acre Woods Rally was cold, dark, and rained perpetually
Looked like a great event and your photos turned out pretty well, especially for the conditions. Wish I could check out rally events like that around here.
02-27-2008, 10:59 PM   #15
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Here are some pics from this years race:

I have my 2.8 lens scattered across the kitchen table. I got to shoot these on my $20 - 20+ year old glass.

DCG Photography
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