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  1. #1
    Panarus biarmicus Moderator (Sports) SmartWombat's Avatar
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    Konica Minolta A2 vs F1 cars

    The A2 just couldn't keep up.

    Despite claiming it has a fast autofocus, it's not as fast as an F1 car accelerating onto the pit straight.
    Despite the claimed wonders of tracking autofocus, it totally failed with F1 cars even in a slow corner.
    About half of the time the continuous autofocus (tracking off) actually worked, in spite of the fabled 3D tracking half the time it didn't work.

    On autofocus, the EVF freezes momentarily as the focus locks, while panning with a car this doesn't help.

    On shutter release, the EVF goes blank. How the %^&* do I continue to track the car then? During the shutter lag time there is no way to leep the car in the frame except by dead reckoning.

    On shooting a 3-frame burst in RAW mode the EVF goes blank while shooting all three frames, that really doesn't help panning with the car's motion. Viewfinder function returns after about 3 seconds.

    Not too bad a problem you'd think. But the roof of the pits/media centre is above the track.
    That means a straight L-R pan won't work. It's more of an arc dipping down as the car gets closer. OTOH in the corner, it's a L-R pan (slightly up) and then an upward arc through the apex to the exit. Doing that by dead reckoning doesn't always work

    After all that, I can kiss taking any more photos goodbye for a LAP of the circuit. It takes a fraction over a minute to save 3 RAW mode images to my 1GB IBM CF hard drive.


    On the other hand, when all the technology works it's pretty impressive for such a cheap camera. Yes, even at 640 it's cheap compared to a Canon or Nikon with 200mm lens.


    Solutions?
    1) prefocus on a section of track and photograph the car as it passes
    + it willl be in focus if it passes the right place
    - if the driver takes a wider/tighter line, you're out of luck
    - it is hit and miss getting the focus on the helmet
    - stop down to increase DoF and you have to increase ISO setting

    2) use continuous AF and a bent finger
    ! either using the zoom ring or the flash housing as a rest, bend a finger and use the knuckle as a guide. Remember the old sports finders? Yeah you might want to build one of those on to this 21st century electronic marvel.
    + stand more chance of keeping the car in the frame
    + can use burst mode
    - need to keep adjusting with zoom in/out

    3) accept failure rate and use continuous AF
    + when the car spins, carry on shooting!
    + wider/tighter line doesn't matter
    + it's not my fault if it's not in focus

    I use Digimarc for copyright watermarks, do they survive the resizing from 3200x2400 to 640x480?
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Konica Minolta A2  vs F1 cars-sized1530.jpg  
    Last edited by SmartWombat; 04-09-2004 at 06:13 PM. Reason: add image, correct typos

  2. #2
    Panarus biarmicus Moderator (Sports) SmartWombat's Avatar
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    Fixed focus on/off line

    OK here's two more examples.

    The out of focus image: taken earlier than I wanted to, he's wider into the corner, it's earlier in the turn-in.
    The in focus image: taken later when I wanted to (predicted the lag right!) and it's nearer the apex so he's further away from me.

    OK I know it's the wrong way round to some of you.
    That's because of a problem getting the focussing point right with the electronic viewfinder.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Konica Minolta A2  vs F1 cars-sized1231.jpg  
    Attached Images Attached Images    
    Last edited by SmartWombat; 04-09-2004 at 06:41 PM.

  3. #3
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Nice post!

    Have you posted a review for the A2, yet? There are only two reviews. If you haven't, please do. You're definitely giving the camera a workout!

    A2 Review Page: http://www.pcphotoreview.com/pscCame...3_5648crx.aspx

    This is exactly the kind of post I was hoping to see when I added this forum. This kind of testing and exchange of information was unheard of before the Internet. Learning to shoot motorsports was a painful and expensive (slide film!) trial and error process. It's great to have a place where people are willing to share experience and techniques. I think technique and equipment is so much more critical for sports photography than other types of picture-taking.

    As for your experience with the A2, even with my EOS 3, race vehicles on the track, accelerating toward me, were a tough catch. I haven't actually shot cars or motorcycles with my 1D. But with the EOS 3, at Laguna Seca's Turn Two, When motorcycles are really on the throttle and start to get close, the AF can't keep up. That's another reason to use longer lenses. The relative focus distance isn't as great so the lens motor and AF don't have to work as hard. There's more than one reason that guys are using those big 300, 400, and 500mm prime lenses.

    And if it makes you feel any better, this past weekend I pretty much gave up on the predictive AF of my EOS 10D. It's just too unpredictable. The 1D almost never fails me. But the 10D has let me down wayyyy too many times. So now I just prefocus and pan and the success rate for Saturday and Sunday were pretty good. Part of getting good pictures is knowing what you can reasonably expect of your camera and shooting within its limitations. As long as youn don't expect your A2 to perform magic, I think it will serve you well. Your Schumacher photo is proof of that. I love that rooster tail! F1 in the rain is sick!
    Photo-John

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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Photo-John
    Your Schumacher photo is proof of that. I love that rooster tail! F1 in the rain is sick!
    Where's Shuey? It looks like david coulthard in his mclaren, going around Paul Ricard testing if I was to guess

    Yeah, I can use a 1d too

    Mike

  5. #5
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Different Post

    Quote Originally Posted by darkman
    Where's Shuey?
    Check the Sports Forum index. SmartWombat has another post with a sweet photo of Schumacher in the rain. Nice big roost of water coming off the back. It's tasty!
    Photo-John

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  6. #6
    Panarus biarmicus Moderator (Sports) SmartWombat's Avatar
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    Schumi comment

    Oh thank you!
    That makes it worth standing in the rain on top of the pit garages all morning
    I took 1277 photos and I reckon 280 or so are good.
    The rest are where I failed to fight the camera into submission
    I'll post a few more photos showing how it went wrong - and asking the hard question - WHY ?
    Last edited by SmartWombat; 04-20-2004 at 03:37 PM.
    PAul

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  7. #7
    Panarus biarmicus Moderator (Sports) SmartWombat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Photo-John
    That's another reason to use longer lenses. The relative focus distance isn't as great so the lens motor and AF don't have to work as hard. There's more than one reason that guys are using those big 300, 400, and 500mm prime lenses
    True, but without a trackside/pit pass (which only accredited media get) there was no chance of that for this test session.

    I was rather envious of the professionals with their access to the track & pits, knowing I could get very good photos if I could get into the right place. Oh and they could use the media centre with was warm & dry to download their photos

    Also pissed off at the corporate guests who mostly didn't give a damn about F1 and had such priviledged garage/pit access while the cars were running.
    But it's those people who pay to keep the sport going !!


    I'm thinking of getting a Raynox 2.2x converter when they come out in May. That would give me 440mm at maximum zoom, but on this camera is it worth it?
    I probably need talking out of doing that ... instead I could save money for a DSLR and decent prime lenses.
    PAul

    Scroll down to the Sports Forum and post your sports pictures !

  8. #8
    Panarus biarmicus Moderator (Sports) SmartWombat's Avatar
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    Where's Michael?

    Quote Originally Posted by darkman
    Where's Shuey? It looks like david coulthard in his mclaren, going around Paul Ricard testing if I was to guess
    Mike
    It's actually Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona. Yes it was DC in testing. You can see some of the rear aerodynamics is missing aft of the exhaust chimneys. Not that they have engine/overheating problems (in the rain?) oh no, there are no problems

    The Shumi photo is here titled "Regenmeister" and no one had commented on it yet.
    Maybe I ought to start posting more photos I'm NOT happy with to give you all something to critique
    Last edited by SmartWombat; 04-20-2004 at 03:40 PM.
    PAul

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  9. #9
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Save Up!

    I agree. Better to save up. I used to shoot from over the fences at Laguna Seca. I made my decision to buy Canon EOS equipment after renting an EOS 1 and 300mm f/2.8 to shoot World Superbike in 1995 or 96. You might try renting just to see what you think, too. I immediately traded all of my manual focus Canon gear for a used A2E and 28-80mm lens. Shortly after that I bought a used 300mm f/4L, which I am still using.

    I haven't shot any motorsports for a while because I haven't been able to get a media pass at Laguna Seca. I am no longer willing to battle the general public to get photos. But I would like to start shooting motorcycles again. I love the smell of race gas in the morning!
    Photo-John

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