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Thread: Best Lens Choice for Panning Race Horses

  1. #1
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Best Lens Choice for Panning Race Horses

    I promise that this will be my last question for a little while... I'm trying to figure out my best lens choice for photographing race horses with a super slow shutter speed while panning. In reviewing the information out there it seems that prime lens are the best. I only have two weekends left to try until next year and it is pouring rain so I'm trying to figure it out fast.

    With my Nikkor 300 mm Aperture 4, a super fast and sharp lens my compositions end up clipped. I could go to the bandstand and use a 1.4 extender but I think I would get less detail and less blur than I hope for.

    With my Nikkor 28-200 mm lens, the light seems to be too, low and the photos are soft, but ideal for being close and the composition options.

    I am thinking right now that I should try my Nikkor Macro lens a 105 mm lens, Aperture 2.8 for the most light and for being the fastest, and it would also let me get close for detail and blur and be easier to pan with then the long lens especially if I have to hold an umbrella at the same time... Is there any reason that I should not use my Macro lens? It just struck me as being a good idea.

    Thank you.

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    Re: Best Lens Choice for Panning Race Horses

    That macro lens would be a stellar choice.

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    Re: Best Lens Choice for Panning Race Horses

    Macro lens is I think a no no, super lens that it is for the right subject, I think you would get trampled to death getting so near the horses. The reason I think you are clipping with the 300mm lens is you are not being steady enough when you take the shot/image when panning and the subject is going to fast in relation to your panning speed. When focussing give yourself a good few inches either side of your subject so if you are not spot on with your focusing you will get your subject without the clipping. In best photography terms you are supposed to leave enough room for the subject to head out of the image. I think your 300mm f/4 lens is a good one as it is a good focal length and it should be up to what you are after. Don't get frustrated it will come in time, be patience and you will be rewarded.
    Dave.

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    Re: Best Lens Choice for Panning Race Horses

    Subject distance, as Dave stated, is the determining factor.

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    Re: Best Lens Choice for Panning Race Horses

    Thank you Chauncey, I will try it.

    Thank you Dusty, I will have to try the macro, as Chauncey says so and also so I can see for myself. No worries as it is at a race track and I am outside the fence ... Thank you for the very helpful tip, I've never heard that one before so I will try it.

    Off to the races... and it's pouring rain (:

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Best Lens Choice for Panning Race Horses

    Christina - this type of photography (that I am not good at) has more to do with technique than lenses. Keep on practicing and refining your technique until you figure it out. Practice, practice and more practive, rather than hardware are really what you are looking at.

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    Re: Best Lens Choice for Panning Race Horses

    Hi Chauncey,

    I was of the opinion that Dave was only worried that I might be trampled by horses... What am I not understanding?

    By the way, I tried both lens today... the trouble with the macro lens was that at a shutter speed of 60 and aperture of 2.8 (my idea to blur the background) and an iso of 100 I had to dial in exposure comp of -3 to avoid clipping the whites which does not seem to be a good thing to do, so I ended up using a smaller aperture which I could do with any old lens. But I did manage more full horse shots with this lens.. Plus we had a huge rain storm and it was very challenging to pan the horses while holding an umbrella (to keep my camera dry)... But if we have a non-rainy day before the season ends I will try this again.

    Dave, I think using the 300 mm lens was a good thing up in the bandstands because it provided me with a longer period of time to pan the horses... I think I managed a better blurred background then in my other shots, but I don't think I managed sharp enough focus on the horses head and eye... However, following your advice proved very helpful to me. I will post some photos tomorrow, even if they are poor, but here is hoping I managed a few shots...

    Manfred,

    Thank you for sharing. Good to know... I was reading Neil Murray's recommendations on lens for horse races and that is why I came up with the idea of using my macro lens... Yes, I can already see that this will take some practice and more practice, etc...


    Quote Originally Posted by chauncey View Post
    Subject distance, as Dave stated, is the determining factor.

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    Re: Best Lens Choice for Panning Race Horses

    Here's a link that gives suggestions.

    I rarely shoot at slow enough speeds to capture the essence of panning, unless the camera settings were on auto, but have tried the method and one thing I've notices is that some part of the subject is usually stationary for at least a brief moment. Try to anticipate where that will be, a foot planted in mid stride, hair or loose clothing at rest. Try to capture that moment and everything else tends to express movement.

    http://www.thewidelens.com/articles/...g-photographs/
    Last edited by Shadowman; 29th September 2013 at 07:18 PM. Reason: added link

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    Re: Best Lens Choice for Panning Race Horses

    Hi John,

    You forgot to include the link...

    Thank you for sharing those words of advice.... very helpful
    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowman View Post
    Here's a link that gives suggestions.

    I rarely shoot at slow enough speeds to capture the essence of panning, unless the camera settings were on auto, but have tried the method and one thing I've notices is that some part of the subject is usually stationary for at least a brief moment. Try to anticipate where that will be, a foot planted in mid stride, hair or loose clothing at rest. Try to capture that moment and everything else tends to express movement.

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    Re: Best Lens Choice for Panning Race Horses

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    Hi John,

    You forgot to include the link...

    Thank you for sharing those words of advice.... very helpful
    http://www.thewidelens.com/articles/...g-photographs/

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    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Best Lens Choice for Panning Race Horses

    Thank you John,

    That link states that I should set my shutter speed to match my focal length, and I've been using a SS of 40-60 on 300 mm lens. So it sounds like I should try a SS of 600 next time around which conflicts with the SS I've seen used on other blurred horse race photos.

    Does anyone have any thoughts on the appropriate shutter speed? ie; should I really try a shutter speed of 600 instead of 40 to 60 for my horse race shots? I've tried a SS of 160 and didn't manage a streaked background at that speed. 600 sounds much easier...

    Thank you.


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    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Best Lens Choice for Panning Race Horses

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    Thank you John,

    That link states that I should set my shutter speed to match my focal length, and I've been using a SS of 40-60 on 300 mm lens. So it sounds like I should try a SS of 600 next time around which conflicts with the SS I've seen used on other blurred horse race photos.

    Does anyone have any thoughts on the appropriate shutter speed? ie; should I really try a shutter speed of 600 instead of 40 to 60 for my horse race shots? I've tried a SS of 160 and didn't manage a streaked background at that speed. 600 sounds much easier...

    Thank you.
    I would take the suggestion from the link as a starting point. 1/300s is fast enough to freeze in motion most subjects, that also depends on your distance from the subject and their speed of movement, so using a slightly slower speed until you achieve the likeness you desire would be appropriate.

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    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Best Lens Choice for Panning Race Horses

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    Thank you John,

    That link states that I should set my shutter speed to match my focal length, and I've been using a SS of 40-60 on 300 mm lens. So it sounds like I should try a SS of 600 next time around which conflicts with the SS I've seen used on other blurred horse race photos.

    Does anyone have any thoughts on the appropriate shutter speed? ie; should I really try a shutter speed of 600 instead of 40 to 60 for my horse race shots? I've tried a SS of 160 and didn't manage a streaked background at that speed. 600 sounds much easier...

    Thank you.
    I would take the suggestion from the link as a starting point. 1/300s is fast enough to freeze in motion most subjects, that also depends on your distance from the subject and their speed of movement, so using a slightly slower speed until you achieve the likeness you desire would be appropriate.

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    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Best Lens Choice for Panning Race Horses

    Thank you John, I will try 300 as a starting point for the closer in shots. Appreciated.



    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowman View Post
    I would take the suggestion from the link as a starting point. 1/300s is fast enough to freeze in motion most subjects, that also depends on your distance from the subject and their speed of movement, so using a slightly slower speed until you achieve the likeness you desire would be appropriate.

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    Re: Best Lens Choice for Panning Race Horses

    Bear in mind that there's no one shutter speed which will produce uniformly good panning shots. Cars aren't horses, bikes, runners, or birds. All require different settings. In addition, the required speed changes depending on your angle to the subject. If they're running toward or away from you at an angle, you'll need a slower shutter than if they were running directly perpendicular to your lens.

    Horse races are probably a real bugger. You'll probably have trouble getting a horse's head nice and sharp, since they bob their heads quite a lot while running, but I'd bet you can keep jockey faces nice and crisp. Cars and bikes, which stay at a nice, consistent height, are much more predictable.

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    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Best Lens Choice for Panning Race Horses

    Hi Lex,

    Thank you for sharing. Very helpful.

    Yes, for some reason for me I would prefer to have the horses head in focus, ie; it is about the beauty of the horse for me, not the jockey but maybe I will try a few shots focusing on the jockey.

    Quote Originally Posted by RustBeltRaw View Post
    Bear in mind that there's no one shutter speed which will produce uniformly good panning shots. Cars aren't horses, bikes, runners, or birds. All require different settings. In addition, the required speed changes depending on your angle to the subject. If they're running toward or away from you at an angle, you'll need a slower shutter than if they were running directly perpendicular to your lens.

    Horse races are probably a real bugger. You'll probably have trouble getting a horse's head nice and sharp, since they bob their heads quite a lot while running, but I'd bet you can keep jockey faces nice and crisp. Cars and bikes, which stay at a nice, consistent height, are much more predictable.

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    Re: Best Lens Choice for Panning Race Horses

    Christina,

    I'm no expert on the subject and will be learning on the go. But, here is one I'd taken at an indoor rodeo where lighting was a challenge (and the first time ever I was shooting at an indoor rodeo) so it didn't take much to "design" the effect:
    Best Lens Choice for Panning Race Horses
    (Sony A55, Sony 16-50/2.8, at 50mm, f/2.8, 1/160s, ISO 1600)

    I had AF-C on, and was tracking the head until it got to its max speed at about the middle of the arena. So, I was about 3x (or 2x, if we consider crop factor) the focal length in this case. However, it also appears to have froze the background a bit more than you may like. The challenge may also be in trying not to blur the legs out completely while getting a good streak in the background. I would say that 1/160s may be a good point to start, and go up to 1/300s, evaluating the results. The horses are likely to be going faster than my capture so the latter might work well.

  18. #18
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    Re: Best Lens Choice for Panning Race Horses

    Robert, thank you so much for sharing. That is a fabulous photo that I would be delighted to capture. Yes, I am striving for a bit more blur in the background but it is amazing at how much of the horse you managed to capture sharply in focus!

    Next time around, I will try starting at 160 and work my way up. I'm surprised at how high an iso perhaps because the event took place inside?

    Quote Originally Posted by RobertsMx View Post
    Christina,

    I'm no expert on the subject and will be learning on the go. But, here is one I'd taken at an indoor rodeo where lighting was a challenge (and the first time ever I was shooting at an indoor rodeo) so it didn't take much to "design" the effect:
    Best Lens Choice for Panning Race Horses
    (Sony A55, Sony 16-50/2.8, at 50mm, f/2.8, 1/160s, ISO 1600)

    I had AF-C on, and was tracking the head until it got to its max speed at about the middle of the arena. So, I was about 3x (or 2x, if we consider crop factor) the focal length in this case. However, it also appears to have froze the background a bit more than you may like. The challenge may also be in trying not to blur the legs out completely while getting a good streak in the background. I would say that 1/160s may be a good point to start, and go up to 1/300s, evaluating the results. The horses are likely to be going faster than my capture so the latter might work well.

  19. #19

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    Re: Best Lens Choice for Panning Race Horses

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    I'm surprised at how high an iso perhaps because the event took place inside?
    Thanks Christina. Yes, it was indoors, at night, and dimly lit (2-3 stops darker than an average indoor sports arena).

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