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Question: high shutter panning, slight motion blur detected

Discussion in 'Sports Photography' started by carauction, Sep 18, 2008.

  1. Shooting(panning) with my 80-200AF-S(non VR) at 1/4000 and F3.2 full zoom at 200mm on my D3.

    My positioning is not the greatest for absolute comfort in hand-holding, but could be worse. My focus is on the money. But, when zoomed in 100% I am noticing a bit of slight un-sharpness. I am shooting thoroughbred race horses, and noticing in some shots this is happening...esp. viewing the horses head. Like a static kind of un-sharpness.

    Now, this does not happen all the time, so I am ruling out any lens problems. But could this simply be a matter of a bit unsteadiness? Esp. with no VR, even at 1/4000?

    any responses much appreciated,

  2. Quick ? When panning, do you follow the action even after the shutter has clicked? Also even at 1/4000th the horses do move very quickly. Even at 1/8000th for baseball you don't always get a motionless BOB or breaking bat shot.

    Also at 100% you might not be super tack sharp as the AA will take away a little sharpness. I always do a USM in PP when going to print or web.

    As for the VR you don't need it at that high of speeds. Its meant to steady slower hand held speeds where sports photographers most likely won't be using.
  3. When panning side to side, you're following horizontal motion...not the horse's up and down head movement. That said, 1/4000th should freeze almost any movement. Full zoom, close subject-to-focal-plane distances require more shutter speed than other shots. At 200mm and f/3.2, are you sure it's motion blur and not limited depth of field?
  4. I am panning well and following thru. Shooting off a burst of about 5 shots generally, and panning & focusing all the way thru. Like I said, my positioning is not 100%. I am about a foot over a fence with other racetrack patrons at my side. It doesn't happen all the time. So tracking is not very easy.
    No Mike. My plane of accurate focus is on the money. I have my lens AF fine tuned very nicely at AF-3. I can see the sharpness of the racetrack dirt that is in the zone.

    I will post an example later. Thank you both.

  5. Example

    BTW, focus acquired on jockey's foot by the whip.

    Any feedback appreciated

    click on image for larger view

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    100% crop
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  6. Mike,

    It may be that you are actually outside the depth of field for the shot. According to the Online Depth of Field Calculator (www.dofmaster.com) the depth of field on a D3, shooting at f/3.2 @ 200mm is 1.26 feet, with the near limit at 29.4 and the far limit at 30.7, assuming you were 30 feet from the horse. If you were any closer, the DOF decreases.

    Just a thought. I may be wrong here.
  7. Hello everyone,

    Great thread!!! One that is very applicable to what I do with greyhound racing.

    Just leaving for work now so dont have time to get into it, but I will be back to visit later!

    One thing I wanted to say is that with regard to fast shutter speeds......once you get past the max sync speed the actual effect of the shutter speed selected is not really an absolute situation.

    On a D300 (not sure what it is on the D3), the max sync speed is 1/320 which means that the fastest speed at which the shutter will stay completely open and then completely close is 1/320. Anything faster than that will cause the 'ol second curtain starting to close while the first curtain is still passing over the sensor which creates the "slot" vs. the entire sensor being exposed.

    While this will indeed cause each section exposed by the slot to be exposed for only 1/4000th of a second (for example) the entire image is still at 1/320th of a second. Yes, the motion will be frozen better because each area will be exposed for a shorter period of time, but, again, the subject can move a bit while the two curtains are moving together across the sensor and the "slot" moves across.

    From what Ive seen this will not cause blurring but can cause distortion which sometimes will show in the images and be mistaken for blurr. Each "slot" area is exposed for 1/4000th, but when you put them all together they dont always fit perfectly like a puzzle because the subject has moved a bit.

    There is a famous "car" photo where this phenomenon is demonstrated by a famous photographer where the wheels of the auto look oblong (thats why in the early days of cartoons the wheels were drawn like that by the way) but I cant remember the persons name or the name of the photo ( I have it somewhere on my computer and Im sure you know the name).

    Anyways, I hope this was germain to the subject here and thanks for letting me get on board with this. I'll be back later. GREAT subject and great thread!!

    my best,

  8. I did not utilize the chart that you posted, but thank you. I just called up the racing office. I was approximately 60 feet from the horse. The race photographers shoot at F2.8 at a distance of 50-60 feet with their 70-200VR. There is not a great angle here, so the plane of focus seems fairly straight. You can see it on the focused dirt in front of the horse. I also have been diligently checking my focus accuracy, settling in with an AF(-3) fine tune adj.

    Also, I do have very nicely focused horse heads in other images at F2.8 & 200mm and shot at distances of say 30 feet give or take. The horses were simply cantering slowly though.

    I also spoke to Nikon today. The gent I spoke to said the up an down motion of the head could be an area that will not be perfectly stopped all the time at high speeds...one man's opinion.

    I did some shooting today in a better controlled hand-holding environment. No patrons around me, better footing, height, etc. Gonna see how they came out.

  9. Thanks for your input Rick.

  10. One from today

    This is one I shot today. But with more solid and higher ground, greater area for more elbow room. All allowing for easier and more relaxed handholding.

    click on image for larger view

    This was at 1/4000, F 3.5 @ 200mm using 80-200 AF-S.

    Just wondering if it boils down to smoother, less erratic panning, higher shutter the better, good ole luck...and perhaps a $5,000 lens over a $1,000 lens:eek: 

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  11. Mike, I wonder what would happen if you set your camera on a tripod, fixed on that same spot, and with the camera absolutely stable tripped the shutter when the horse and rider pass through the frame? Panning doesn't seem to me to have any effect on sharpness of a trotting horse at 60 feet at 1/4000th second shutter speed.

    At 1/4000th, I get chain-links frozen on a motorcycle drive chain on a bike going by at well over 100 MPH. Not sure that "panning" has much to do with the image at that shutter speed. Perhaps it does, but I would suspect it's more related to depth of field, focus point, and the camera's ability to track focus.

    Your images are incredibly sharp.
  12. I would try setting the camera at 5.6 or 8 and see what happens. You should be able to shoot at 1/1000th to achieve this shot. I have the same lens and was getting similar results while shooting Nascar. Once I stopped down the images became sharp and still had the motion blur.
  13. I don't know. I guess you would have to have seen what my shooting position was in the first image(gray horse). The fence that I was shooting over makes the white fence at Goshen harness track look like a kiddie track. I had a guy two yards to the left of me dangling a beer over the fence imposing on my vision until the horses suddenly appeared and I had to quickly start tracking.

    Plus the fence is tall, and I am not as tall as you.

    My point being that I was NOT really comfortable with the first shot. The second shot(dark horse), was easy as pie. No people around, lower fence area of the track, real good square shooting stance...no problems at all.

    Just my take, and I think the second shot is definitely crisper.

  14. Thanks snap. I don't think it is a matter of more field.

    I am getting sharp images with this lens at F2.8.

    click on image for larger view

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  15. When your angle changes you'll need more DOF. When I shot the car flat against the wall I would need less and could shoot wide open. I also pan holding my lens on top rather than the bottom.
  16. Excellent point about the angle.

    The track photographers who shoot at the finish line, tell me they shoot at F2.8(using70-200VR). I am going to double check on this next time. If this is the case, it is obvious that they are only concerned about getting one horse in good focus...the winner. And yes, their shooting angle is very near flat like you pointed out.

    When you have three horses coming around the turn, I feel that F3.5 is nice and perhaps F4. I really don't like stopping down any further.

  17. This is an article that really does a good job explaining shutter operation and distortion with respect to sync speed. It also has the famous photograph that i was talking about.

    Hope you enjoy reading it. I think its a great artilcle :smile:


    take care,

  18. I think you'd be safe a 5.6. I too, love to shoot at wider apertures but sometimes stopping down produces better results. Also, you may want to try an ND filter while panning at a wider aperture to get more background blur.

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