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Thread: Which Lens to use?

  1. #1

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    Which Lens to use?

    If I may be so bold to ask those better qualified than myself 'Which Lens should I use & at what settings?'
    I have recently been invited to a take photographs at a mountain bike cross country championship event. I do not want to embarrass myself & obviously want to give the organisers some great shots to repay their confidence in me.
    Your suggestions and ideas on lens and setting would therefore be greatly appreciated. I have a Canon D60 and have the following lenses Canon EFS 17-85mm & Canon EF 70 - 200 f/4L USM and Sigma DG 120 - 400mm 1:4.5 - 5.6 APO HSM.

  2. #2

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    Re: Which Lens to use?

    It depends on how close you can get to the action; and the weather.

    I would probably take the 17-85 and the 70-200 then change them around depending on the actual circumstances.

    Shutter speed will tend to be your limiting factor, particularly if it is a dull day. So positioning yourself with regard to the light will be important.

    If you want fast action, I would consider 1/500 to be on the slow side and double that may be more realistic. However, you may be able to find some spots where riders have to move slower, and are likely to fall off.

    Shooting with Tv setting will probably prove safest but also keep an eye on the aperture and Iso. Using AI Servo may prove useful for faster action shots.

    Selecting your best vantage points will be very important so I would allow plenty of time to walk around and try different locations before the event begins.

  3. #3
    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
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    Re: Which Lens to use?

    I think you mean a Canon 60D, unless someone slapped a sticker on a Nikon D60.

    How far will you be from the action? If you're close enough to get mud splashed on you, the 17-85mm EF-S may be your only option. If you're further away, the 70-200mm (112-320mm with the 60D's 1.6x crop sensor) f4L is probably the way to go. The only potential problem is if you take only the Canon 70-200, and the action's really far, or take only the Sigma, and the action's closer than expected. Hopefully the day of the race will be bright enough for fast shutter speeds. I suspect the 17-85 and the 70-200 will keep you covered.

    I'd recommend practicing panning before the race. Pardon me if I'm covering things you already know, but panning is the act of following your subject with a relatively long shutter speed. For example, if 1/400th is fast enough to freeze a racer and the background, 1/125th might be a good place to start panning attempts (YMMV). Done properly, this will linearly blur the background to create a sensation of speed while maintaining sharpness in your subject.

    Servo autofocus mode is your friend, especially with the fast focus motors in L-series lenses. Setting this mode will make the camera refocus continuously as long as you hold the shutter halfway down. That lets you maintain focus while waiting for the right moment to go rock-and-roll.

    Action usually requires wide apertures. You'll probably be running whichever lens you pick wide-open. This allows a faster shutter and shallower depth of field to concentrate focus on the racers rather than the forest or hills behind them. However, it also narrows your margin for focus error - depending on the light, AI Focus mode may wander slightly, briefly losing focus. A tighter aperture can lessen the problems this causes, but nevertheless, expect to run wide open.

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    Re: Which Lens to use?

    Hi Lex,
    After spending a day teaching special needs kids D60/60D - hey! nonetheless you are absolutely right.
    Your comments are important to a successful day, all are taken on board. Looking at your web site if I can deliver stuff as good as that I'll be happy

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    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Which Lens to use?

    You need to know where you will be standing to know which lenses will be better/ best to use: but more importantly you need to have some say in where you can stand and if you can move or not, so that you get the BEST VANTAGE POINT to make the MOST NUMBER OF ACTION SHOTS at possibly DIFFERENT locations and/or DIFFERENT camera viewpoints.


    Therefore you need to know how the competitors will race (logistics of the track) – for example there might be one spot where you can shoot with your 70 to 200 at bikes in one location on the track / route and also make shots with your shorter lens as they make a jump close by to you: however this might mean you should consider borrowing / renting a second body.
    Also, as another example, there might be an opportunity to shoot in one location at the start of the event and then move (by car perhaps) to another, later on.


    As to the technical settings for exposure - depending upon a few factors the Tv (Shutter Speed) should be around 1/800s as the slowest speed, should you wish to stop action: I would like to be at 1/1250s. Always bump the ISO to make the shutter speed – a little noise is OK - Subject Blur/Camera Shake is not (if you want ‘stopped action’).


    Easiest to use centre point ONLY - AF point - and frame the main subject in the centre and crop a bit later for artistic merit.
    Use “AI Servo” Focus Mode.
    A monopod might be very useful.


    ***

    As an aside:

    Canon did indeed make a “D60” in their EOS digital range.
    It is an APS-C Format Digital Camera.

    The D60 is one of the three Canon APS-C Digital cameras which, at this time, has the unusual distinction of having ONLY an “EF mount” (i.e. NOT both - EF and EF-S Mounts).

    This is good Camera Trivia question, as it makes statements like: “your EF-S lens will fit on all Canon Crop Cameras” , incorrect.

    WW

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    Re: Which Lens to use?

    Hi Bill,
    Wow - thank you for your ideas I will certainly use them. I have organised a recce day out with some riders so I can try all your ideas.

  7. #7
    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
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    Re: Which Lens to use?

    Quote Originally Posted by Andybazyoung
    Looking at your web site if I can deliver stuff as good as that I'll be happy
    You flatter me, sir. I assure you, the only difference between us is time. You do have the advantage of owning L-series glass.

    Quote Originally Posted by William W
    Canon did indeed make a “D60” in their EOS digital range.
    It is an APS-C Format Digital Camera.
    Well, dang. I stand corrected. Cheers, Bill.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andybazyoung View Post
    Hi Bill,
    Wow - thank you for your ideas I will certainly use them. I have organised a recce day out with some riders so I can try all your ideas.
    Good move. That kind of effort always comes through in the results.

  8. #8
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Which Lens to use?

    Yes, going out for a reconnoitre is a very good idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by RustBeltRaw View Post
    Well, dang. I stand corrected. Cheers, . . .
    You can sit down, now.
    It wasn't to 'correct' you - but I think you know that.
    I happen to have a lot of trivia stored away in my head, which I have collected over time.
    The trivia just leaks out sometimes; usually at night-time after pulling the plug on the Firkin; if we get to pulling the plug on the Kilderkin, then the dialogue becomes very interesting but sadly oft times a little less meaningful.

    The other two Canon “peculiarities” which sit with the D60, are:
    the D30 (related series) and
    the 10D (new series).

    I did, for a fleeting moment, when reading the question, consider the possibility that Andy did indeed have a Canon D60. But when I read that he also had an EF-S Lens to use with it, I concluded, like you did, that “D60”, was just a typo.

    Cheers to you too.

    WW

  9. #9
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    Re: Which Lens to use?

    Quote Originally Posted by William W View Post

    You can sit down, now.
    It wasn't to 'correct' you - but I think you know that.
    I happen to have a lot of trivia stored away in my head, which I have collected over time.
    The trivia just leaks out sometimes; usually at night-time after pulling the plug on the Firkin; if we get to pulling the plug on the Kilderkin, then the dialogue becomes very interesting but sadly oft times a little less meaningful.

    WW
    Ha!!!

  10. #10
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    Re: Which Lens to use?

    Basically the 60d has the same 9 point cross type AF point system as the 50d/40d, it should be very capable from the AI servo point of view, so it may come down to lens AF speed and accuracy.

    I cannot remark on the Sigma because I have never used that lens. However I am very familiar with the Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lenses, having owned the non-IS model and now shooting with the IS version.

    The Canon lens has extremely fasy auto focus combined with excellent image quality. It is also has a TAD faster aperture than the Sigma lens at their minimum focal lengths.

    Choosing which lens to use (given that the Sigma would be close to equalling the Canon in AF speed and acuracy which I cannot remark on) would be a factor of from where you will be shooting. When I have visited mountain bike races, the viewing/shooting distances were quite short which might make the 70-200mm focal length a better option because of the 50mm shorter focal length at minimum zoom.

    Ideally a pair of cameras would be great with one camera wearing the 17-85mm and the other camera wearing one of the longer zooms. However (given hat you are close enough to the action) a combination of the 17-85mm and 70-200mm lenses using one camera would be a good choice. The 70-85mm overlap between these two lenses would very likely reduce the need for lens switching.

    I would not shoot using the Sports mode. Rather I would shoot in RAW, with an ISO of around 400 or so. This should give you a decent shutter speed if you use the lenses wide open to allow selective DOF. However, don't be afraid to boost the ISO to get fast shutter speeds when required. Shoot in auto servo and burst mode. I would have the camera set up with aperture priority at f/4 for your 70-200mm and have your second custom mode set up for f/5.6 with your 17-85mm. I don't think that I would use the IS capability of the 17-85mm lens...

    Shooting positions are a critical decision and not knowing the course, I cannot provide any guidelines except to say shoot from where you will get the most action - not on straight aways. Curves in the course and areas in which the competitors need to jump are always a good choice. Try to avoid busy backgrounds as much as possible. Often shooting down or up (depending on the course) will allow you to avoid conflicting and busy backgrounds. Many sports photographers shoot from their knees.

    A Google search with the parameters "cross country bike photography tips" will lead you to numerous relevant sites. I haven't visited any of the sites but, you need to remember that just because information is on the Internet, it is not always the best info...

    I strongly suggest that you shoot using the eye level viewfinder rather than live view.

    BTW: I also like to isolate individual athletes if possible when shooting sports. Even when there is a group of athletes, usually one of them is the primary performer. Just shooting a group without a center of interest often results in a boring shot...
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 31st January 2013 at 04:23 PM.

  11. #11
    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
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    Re: Which Lens to use?

    Also, a lesson from derby: try to position yourself where the players/racers are likely to look at the camera. I've thrown out otherwise-excellent action shots because you couldn't see anyone's face. Kinda sucks when you get everything but that right.

  12. #12
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Which Lens to use?

    You might be able to Google map this course and that might help you pick out a spot or two.

    Will you have some sort of "press" credential, since you have "recently been invited to a take photographs" of the event?

  13. #13

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    Re: Which Lens to use?

    Heck, not even thought of that. Iv'e ridden there before & know that there is 3 crux positions that should give me some great opportunities. All 3 spots are too far apart to get to each one so I am thinking of 1 which will allow me to get to another about 800m away through deep wooded undergrowth.

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