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Old 22 May 2000, 17:24 (Ref:14573)   #1
Truckosaurus
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Truckosaurus should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridTruckosaurus should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridTruckosaurus should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridTruckosaurus should be qualifying in the top 3 on the grid
The Trackside forum is as good a place as any to ask this question in.

I'm looking for some basic advice about the purchase of a better camera than the one I have.

My current camera is a compact Olympus autofocus 'point and shoot' nice-and-easy job. It's good for snapshots but when I've tried taking photos at race meetings I'm either too far from the action for the 'zoom' function to get much action in the shot or else the autofocus focusses in on the fence or someone's head.

I was thinking about getting a 2nd-hand SLR but that's as far as my knowledge goes.

What size lens should I be looking to get to be able to get close to the action?

What other features should I be on the lookout for (other than autofocus)?

How interchangeable are different brands of camera and lens is there any one brand which is better served than others?

Thanks.
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Old 22 May 2000, 19:03 (Ref:14574)   #2
Carrie
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Carrie should be qualifying in the top 5 on the gridCarrie should be qualifying in the top 5 on the grid
A lot comes down to personal preference and budget, the main reasons that I have a Pentax camera is that I don't like how bulky the Canon and Minolta cameras tend to be and also as a standard lens I wanted a 28-70 rather than a 35-70 and so that limited my choice somewhat. Saying that, my previous camera, which I bought new around 1989 time was a Minolta X300s and I much preferred that to my Pentax MZ5n.
Most Canons, Minoltas, Nikons or Pentaxes should be okay, although having used a Pentax P30 once I'd say steer well clear of that one.
As for lens, I'd always go for a branded lens and I'd say a minimum of 200mm for trackside photos, my own lens go up to 320mm when I'm using my Pentax or 350mm on my Fuji.
If you're not going for a lens to match your camera then choose between either Sigma or Tamron, I'd ignore all the other makes. Older second hand, Tamron used to make the best lens, but now Tamron have dropped behind Sigma a bit in the quality stakes. The best thing about Tamron is they have a system called Adaptall II and you just buy the adapter appropriate to the type of camera which means that with the right adaptall the lens can be interchanged between different types of cameras. I've got a couple of tamron lens, one is great, the other is a bit of a problem as the focus has slipped and the result is that it now needs repairing again because it refuses to focus on infinity (not very useful!).
Also, if you can't afford a larger zoom you might want to invest in a x2 convertor to double the size of your lens.
Final piece of advice, make sure you buy a skylight 1b filter for whatever lens you end up with, it's a lot cheaper to replace a scratched or cracked filter than it is a lens
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Old 22 May 2000, 20:39 (Ref:14575)   #3
Craig
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What happened to your old camera, Cazzer ?
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Old 22 May 2000, 22:48 (Ref:14576)   #4
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Crash Test should be qualifying in the top 5 on the gridCrash Test should be qualifying in the top 5 on the grid
Nikon all the way, best quality. Since i got myself a 400mm lense this year, my life has been so much greater...it can cover just about anysituation, although it is a litle slow.

For all my my non-Nikon brand accesories, i go for Tamron, they are made by Nikon anyways (well at least distributed by them).

I've got an Adaptall II for a 135mm lense, problem is thatyou need to manually set the exposure on it, which can be a bit nasty....
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Old 23 May 2000, 08:18 (Ref:14577)   #5
Andy H
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Agree with Carries advice. I use a Canon with a 28-80mm and 75-300mm lenses (also Canon).

For third party lenses I think Sigma is generally reputed to be the best about.

The 300mm is pretty good for getting close ups (eg.Abbey/Club at Silverstone), although if you're in a stand a long way from the track (eg. Luffield Stand) a bit more power would be nice.

Excellent point as well about making sure you buy a filter to avoid either scratching the lenses or getting it covered in mud or rain!

[This message has been edited by Andy H (edited 23 May 2000).]
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Old 23 May 2000, 12:06 (Ref:14578)   #6
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elephino should be qualifying in the top 5 on the gridelephino should be qualifying in the top 5 on the grid
I have a Pentax Program A, the first of the vaguely automatic pentaxs (auto shutterspeed and aperture). I have a 28-80, 85-210, 100-300 zoom lenses and a 2x. They all have skylight filters, and I agree they are a good investment. The 28-80 is genuine Pentax and came with the camera (I got it from my dad), the 85-210 (Tamron) and 2x were bought second hand. A 2x can be very expensive so I would suggest buying it second hand but they can be hard to find. The 100-300 is a sigma and bought new a couple of years ago.

There isn't a huge difference between Pentax, Canon, Nikon and Minolta, the biggest difference would be personal preference really. You don't have to get autofocus (though it can be useful), because it can be tricked or too slow for motorracing. Watch out if you get Pentax as they changed the mounting for the lenses from a screw mount to a bayonnet mount, there is a little metal thing which can be used to fit one mount lens to the other mount camera.

Don't let the age of a camera stop you either, as my mum has a 30 (or more) year old Pentax and it takes photos which are just as good as my camera (about 10ish years old).

New lenses you should go either genuine of the brand or Sigma. Tamron lenses don't seem to be as good as they used to, second hand Tamrons are good though.
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Old 24 May 2000, 14:10 (Ref:14579)   #7
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I use a Canon EOS Rebel G. I have the stock 80mm lens as well as a Vivitar Promaster 100-300mm zoom lens. No problems at all with either of them or the camera. Obviously the larger the lens the closer farther objects are to you, but atthe cost of camera stability. I use a monopod for stabilizing my camera becasue it is easier than carrying a tripod. Works great from grand stand seating as well. ALWAYS use a lens filter to help protect your lenses. They are much cheaper than lenses. Also use a lens shroud to help reduce side glares. One of the nice things about an SLR is the shutter speed adjustment. I like to use 1/1000 to photograph racing cars at speed with 800 speed film. I plan on trying out some 200 and 400 with faster shutter speeds for better clarity and sharpness. Taking good pics isn't hard, just takes some practice.
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Old 24 May 2000, 14:16 (Ref:14580)   #8
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Good point mentioning mono/tripods.

I have found no problem in getting away without one taking pics with a 300mm lens even in a gloomy conditions.

How is it with a bigger lens?
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Old 24 May 2000, 22:51 (Ref:14581)   #9
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I usually dont have a problem with a 400mm, so long as you are smooth and have your timing right.
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Old 25 May 2000, 08:51 (Ref:14582)   #10
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I've been acquiring some kit recently for taking pics at races. There is a lot of good second hand stuff around at very good prices.
From past experience with other sports I went for Canon AE1, because it's shutter priority. Need control over the shutter speed, let the camera sort out the f number. 70-210 zoom for most normal shots. 28mm is useful for wacky shots. Canon lenses are plentiful, but Tamron Adaptall 2 are probably as good. Manual focus is a must. Powerwinder, not necessarily a motordrive, makes it easier to concentrate on the action rather than working the camera.
Monopod is a must if you are going to do a lot of shots. A camera with a long lens gets very heavy after a while. Also eliminates movement in one plane while you move the camera in another.

Once you have your new kit don't forget:
Good technique is important, saves wasting cash on film and processing.
Apart from holding the camera and lens correctly. Shooting with "both eyes open" is tricky to start with but worth getting used to.
Practicing techniques like panning will improve your percentage of good shots.

Maybe we should have Ten-Tenths gallery of shots taken by members??
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Old 25 May 2000, 12:28 (Ref:14583)   #11
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I have no problem without a monopod at 600 (300mm with 2x). Sometimes it can be difficult in windy conditions but in general easy enough to do with a steady hand (which I don't really have).

The lens I want is actually a 14mm lens with 114 degree view, flat corner to corner. Only about AU$2,400.
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Old 25 May 2000, 17:09 (Ref:14584)   #12
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I carry two Canon AE1's. They weigh a tonne but the pics are pretty good. Never used a Mono Pod but the pics I used to get published were alright. I also used to get paid by the drivers. So the cameras have actually cost me nothing. Had to sell the 500mm Zoom to finance a race car. Now only got 75-300mm and 75-210 plus the obligatory wide angle, 135 telephoto and 50mm lens'.

Still get some good shots though.
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Old 25 May 2000, 18:01 (Ref:14585)   #13
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I never thought a monopod would make much difference due to the fact that I always try to go for a minimum of 500th shutter speed and 1000th if possible, however, I got a monopod in 1998 and was surprised how much it did improve the photos, especially when photographing the F1 cars.
I'd never have thought about stuff like shutter priority because I always use those settings on manual anyway, but that is a very good point, manual override on both the shutter and aperture is very useful.
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Old 25 May 2000, 18:21 (Ref:14586)   #14
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Carrie,

It depends on the shot really. If you want to pan at a slow (1/125th) shutter speed for F1. (1/24hours for Group 1 Touring Cars ) A mono pod or tripod is useless.

Most shots today are taken head on as the cars run through a corner. That means you need 1/500th max for F1 and 1/250th for Touring Cars. F8 is a good aperture for these because you get just enough depth of field to disguise the fact that you missed the focus. Professionals use a motor-drive which solves that particular problem.
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