I went to the practice and qualifying sessions of this weekend’s F1 race in Austin at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA). Representative photos can be found at http://www.pbase.com/lebthree/2013_austin_f1
The COTA web site indicated they had no restrictions on the size of detachable lenses. So on Friday’s practice day I decided to bring my old manual focus Canon FD 800mm with Ed Mika’s adapter on my 5Diii. I thought that trying to capture these high-speed cars with an 800mm on a monopod with no autofocus or image stabilization would be an exercise in futility, but I got some great shots. Keeper rate was far south of 50%, but I am no pro and don’t have to get the shot. It also helps that I live in Austin, so this is not a once in a lifetime opportunity that I don’t want to blow.
I also brought a friend’s 400mm 5.6 which I have used on the COTA track before for the motorcycle GP and it would be a great option. I didn’t use it too much as I wanted to experiment with the 800mm. The 400mm is obviously a more portable option than the 2 foot long and heavy 800mm. However, next year I probably will just bring the 800 to practice day as it was just a lot of fun trying to manually focus and get the shot. Pre-focusing on a spot worked the most reliably, but it was fun to try to also attempt to focus on the cars in random areas.
On Saturday, qualifying day, I decided to recover from my hernia from carrying around the 800 on Friday, and just brought my 5Diii and a 24-105. I was sitting on the 23rd row at the straight following turn 15 so my line of sight to the cars was just above the top of the fence. I tried my hand at 125/sec exposure pans to get motion blur and initially got a very low keeper rate. I got better when I tried to focus in on one spot on the car and keep it in my center focus spot as the car flew by. Needless to say, the photos on my Pbase account using the 24-105 are heavily cropped.
The bottom line for me was to have good quality lenses, even if they may lack such things as autofocus and image stabilization, be prepared to take a lot of photos to up your chances of keepers and, if you are going to have to do a lot of cropping, the more resolution your camera has the better.