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08-28-2008, 08:44 PM   #1
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Shooting Motorcycle Races

I have a friend who wants to buy a camera to shoot her young son. She wants to shoot him as he races his motorcycle. So, clearly she will need very fast shutter speeds and very fast frames-per-second capabilities. For those shutter speeds, she will need great high ISO output too.

I love my K20d and would not part with it. It does all I need and more. I wish I could marry it. However, it surely is not the camera for my friendís situation, unless of course she wanted to shoot at 1.6 MP. So it may seem odd to post this question here, but this is the only forum to which I belong. Also, I know there are members here who shoot with other gear or have shot with other gear. This is why I am posting here.

I am looking for suggestions as to which camera she should buy. Any ideas which would help shed light on my concern here are welcome. Thanks.

08-28-2008, 09:12 PM   #2
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i disagree;

Most motorcycle races are during the day , any of the current K bodies can handle the speed. She will just have to learn how to "pan" the other shots are either moving to or away from you and then there are the static side view...any of the K bodies can handle both the shutter and aperture combination.

I agree;

a fast lense is needed but not quite necessary, i haven't shot any sports with my Pentax as yet but i can tell you from prior experience with other systems, it can be done with Pentax and a kit lense.
08-28-2008, 09:17 PM   #3
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Does your friend have any SLR/DSLR experiance? That may help you point her in a direction that will work for her skill set.

I've shot quite a few race cars and boats in my day with my trusty old Pentax ME Super. I usually used 400 ASA with my Saitex 300mm Zoom. It was fast enough to be able to read Goodyear on the tires of the cars as they spead around Daytona and Talladega at 200+ mph. The secret is to find yourself a good location to take your shots from and learn to anticipate the action. I always made sure I was far enough away to set my focus to infinety. No such thing as auto focus in the day.

P&S are tough for this kind of action due to their shutter lag. I did get quite good at it with my little Kodak P&S but still missed quite a few shots. Pole Day at Indy was really tough with the P&S. I can't wait till next years Pole Day to give my new K200D a good workout.

Good Luck,
08-28-2008, 09:44 PM   #4
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QuoteQuote:
kkoether Does your friend have any SLR/DSLR experiance? That may help you point her in a direction that will work for her skill set.
She does not have any SLR or DSLR experience, but she realizes she will probably have to get some to shoot her son zooming around on a motorcycle over rough terrain.

I would love to recommend a Pentax, but I also want to be true to the friendship. I am looking for the best choice she can make, all things considered. By this, I consider money and performance to weigh in.

Clicker, are you saying that cameras with much better frames per second performance would not benefit my friend shooting motorcycles?

08-28-2008, 09:59 PM   #5
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I'm saying any brand will do, even Pentax and now that you confirmed my thoughts as to which type of bike racing...Motor-cross, i'm sure Pentax will do, especially if she's on a budget?

All that said and you confirmed her being a total novice, it's up to you? to show her "auto" or "presets" will not be the best solution but full manual if she wants really nice images but if her intuition is really good she would get by on either/or all; Tv, Av and Pentax's Sv presets.

A fast lens is a necessity when she has indoor shoots.

It would be nice to have a more "sport" rate brand but you'll be paying a lot more per image. If she's willing to go that route and full frame body to capture more resolution will do fine.

See what others have to say but i'm 100% sure she can with even a K100D and a fast zoom and some tutoring on the settings needed plus she knows the sport so her eye is already trained for the right moments, she'll do fine. She would also need some post processing knowledge to fine tune the image for some nice prints or a good lab that's willing to help do the fine tuning.

Last edited by Clicker; 08-28-2008 at 10:06 PM.
08-29-2008, 04:30 AM   #6
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I used to shoot a fair amount of motorcycle races and found out it is more important to anticipate the action and be ready to push the shutter button at the right time, instead of motorgunning everything that comes by. With the latter, you spend days in front of the computer trying to sort out what is worth keeping or not. With a little bit of practice, any Pentax camera will be up to the task.
08-29-2008, 04:44 AM   #7
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I've shot A1GP cars which are as fast as Formula 1s on both a Pentax istDS and K10D. The crucial element is a 'clean' panning motion that follows the subject, and accurate focussing. Three frames per second is more than enough, and the K10D has the added bonus of a good buffer-clearing speed meaning you can let loose a long burst rather than having it cut out after 4-12 frames.

... and remember to turn off shake reduction when panning, otherwise the camera will attempt to compensate.

Bottom line - the K10D is more than adequate. Yes, a more 'professional' camera as used by sports photographers would do even better, but proper shooting technique will result in good photos from any SLR.
08-29-2008, 06:32 AM   #8
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I shoot supersport motorcycle races with my K10D. These are bikes that travel over 180mph at the fastest end of the track. There's a skill that is required in shooting fast sports. You don't follow the action, but you anticipate the action and be ready for when it happens. You do this by:
- picking a location on the race track that the subject is heading
- compose, zoom, focus, get ready
- as the subject enters the frame, pull the trigger and use continuous shooting as necessary to get 4-5 pictures at different positions and angles as the subject enters and leaves the frame.

Attached is an image I shot last weekend. The guys in the back are going 180mph, while the guys in the turn are doing 80mph.

EXIF
250mm @ F6.3
1/2000 sec
ISO-400
Pattern Metering Mode
Shutter Priority

Attached Images
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K10D  Photo 
08-29-2008, 12:51 PM   #9
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Everyone, this a great help. I will pass this thread along to her and will continue working with her. I currently have her reading on how to pan. It will be nice to tell her she can do this with a Pentax body too.

Thanks for all of your time and efforts!
08-29-2008, 01:00 PM   #10
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If your friend buys a Pentax, then you could go along as coach and show her the ropes. Don't forget lenses, I can't imagine her investing too much initially, at least not until she knows what she is doing. I haven't seen you posting any motorcycle racing shots so it would be a good new experience for you as well.
08-29-2008, 09:40 PM   #11
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QuoteQuote:
Gary: If your friend buys a Pentax, then you could go along as coach and show her the ropes. Don't forget lenses, I can't imagine her investing too much initially, at least not until she knows what she is doing. I haven't seen you posting any motorcycle racing shots so it would be a good new experience for you as well.
Yes, this is what I would do, and would love doing so for the reasons you mention here. Any suggestions on a good lens for this job?
08-29-2008, 10:24 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by innershell Quote
You don't follow the action, but you anticipate the action and be ready for when it happens. You do this by:
- picking a location on the race track that the subject is heading
- compose, zoom, focus, get ready
- as the subject enters the frame, pull the trigger and use continuous shooting as necessary to get 4-5 pictures at different positions and angles as the subject enters and leaves the frame.
This is it!
Location: ideally outside of a turn - either the entrance or the exit
preparation: manually pre-focus on a spot on the track, frame with zoom, learn how to pan

In the old film days I use to shoot some F-1 and CART races using but ASA 100 or ASA 200 speed film, but with relatively fast f/2.8 80-200mm zooms. You do not always need high ISO or shutter speed, if one learns how to pan (which for motor sports will also provide some sensation of speed against the mostly static back/fore ground).
08-29-2008, 10:26 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jewelltrail Quote
Yes, this is what I would do, and would love doing so for the reasons you mention here. Any suggestions on a good lens for this job?
For me, I find that I don't really need a fast lens. Good zoom is more important because track sizes may vary. I use the Tamron 18-250 and I find it adequate. Although sometimes I wish I had a 400mm though.
08-30-2008, 07:51 AM   #14
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A K20D should have no problems shooting motorcycle races. I have the K10D and would not hesitate to recommend it. A decent zoom lens and a fast shutter speed is all that is needed in a camera. Also a tripod or monopod. One thing also needed is some experience because if your friend has never used an SLR before, a motorcycle race isn't the easiest place to start. As mentioned, you have the chance to be camera coach for your friend. You didn't mention what kind of racing. Most kids start out doing motocross or flat track on dirt so the weather sealed/ dust sealed K20D will a good choice.
08-30-2008, 08:24 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by reeftool Quote
A K20D should have no problems shooting motorcycle races. I have the K10D and would not hesitate to recommend it. A decent zoom lens and a fast shutter speed is all that is needed in a camera. Also a tripod or monopod. One thing also needed is some experience because if your friend has never used an SLR before, a motorcycle race isn't the easiest place to start. As mentioned, you have the chance to be camera coach for your friend. You didn't mention what kind of racing. Most kids start out doing motocross or flat track on dirt so the weather sealed/ dust sealed K20D will a good choice.
She did mention rough terrain, so I assume that means motocross. Got point mentioned the weather/dust sealing of the K10D and K20D. That's an important thing to mention when selecting a camera.
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