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Author Topic: Lens for bicycle race?  (Read 8559 times)

camvonfstop

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Lens for bicycle race?
« on: May 14, 2011, 01:40:14 PM »
I am new to the DSLR scene, having recently picked up a T3i/600d. So far I am loving it, and am working on my skills to get better.

There is a multistage bike race that will be near by in a week, and I would love to go watch and shoot it some. Having raced some in my past, this seems like a nice combo for me to work on shooting with.

Now, which lens to use? Currently, I have the 15-55 kit lens, a 55-250 4-5.6, and a Nifty Fifty.
I have ruled out the 50mm; with no IS and knowing I will only be handheld, I just can't see it being too usable.
I like the reach of the 55-250, but on a crop frame body, it is fairly narrow, even at 55mm. I imagine being frustrated with it at times, as I try to get shots of the racers passing by.
The  18-55 is very nice for the wide end, but not alot of reach. Of course, with 18mp to work with, there is still a ton of image left even when you crop it in post.

I was also thinking of the possibility of renting a lens, maybe the Canon 18-200mm IS.

Anybody have any experience with something similar, or have suggestions?

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Lens for bicycle race?
« on: May 14, 2011, 01:40:14 PM »

distant.star

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Re: Lens for bicycle race?
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2011, 02:16:00 PM »

I'm guessing AMGEN. I'm going to shoot it next Tuesday in Ione, CA.

Lens choice really probably depends on the circumstances. How close can you get? Is it an uphill section where they're laboring? A fast downhill? A sprint? And unless you're going to chase from location to location, you're only getting one shot at them. As you know it's pretty fast.

I plan to get there early, take some shots around town before the race comes through. Then I want to set up at a spot where I can shoot the sprint. Depending on how close I can get, and what kind of setup I can make, I'll use either my 15-85 or the 70-200.

Your racing experience (me too) will give you a leg up on what to expect when they suddenly appear. I suggest being creative in finding a place to set up, and don't be shy -- do what you have to do legally and safely to get your shots. Both high and low angle shots can make a big difference from the guys just standing there shooting eye level.

And don't forget to set your AF on AI Servo and shoot burst mode.

Oh, and don't overlook all the ancillary stuff -- the motorcycle guys, cops, broom truck and spectators too. Lots of opportunity for interesting images.
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zerotiu

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Re: Lens for bicycle race?
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2011, 02:32:17 PM »
fast sport = you need fast auto focus.. and I will choose 85mm f1.8 you can rent that. It's lack of reach, I know..but it has fast auto focus. That's my opinion.

just plan your position first. I like the intersection between uphill and downhill, at least when they are jump a little bit, you can get amazing 'moving' photo or use paning on them

camvonfstop

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Re: Lens for bicycle race?
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2011, 04:06:07 PM »
yes, the AMGEN. this leg will be Claremont to Mt. Baldy, a mountain stage. I was thinking of trying to find an uphill area, as it is slower and more chance to shoot. I really dont want to chase from location to location, except maybe find a location in the first few miles then scoot to the finish area. No idea if that is even possible, just the only possibility I am thinking of.

Yes, the "BTS" stuff is always a fave of mine. Racers and support crew prepping, etc is great stuff. How early would you say to get there, how crowded should I expect it to be? its been a while since I was at an event, and even then, I was not going with photography in mind.

The 15-85 is a great choice, I just might jump on that.





telephonic

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Re: Lens for bicycle race?
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2011, 07:47:12 PM »
Don't overlook the nifty fifty, mate. You don't need IS on a lens that fast AND that light. f/1.8 is 3 1/3 stops [?] faster than 18-55 and 3 stops [?] faster than 55-250 at 50mm. Of course you will rarely need f/1.8 in broad daylight, but you can always stop down.

Even if you have to leave it in your bag or your pocket (yes I did), it's not a burden. And how did all those photographers from pre-IS era took their shot?

Well, probably it's just me and my primal desire (bad pun). ;D

Btw, if you need lens to rent, I see it's much-much better to rent the better of a lens, the likes of 70-200mm 1/2.8 IS (II) or 24-70. The latter is not too wide, but I reckon you have 18-55 in hand already, correct?

And last suggestion, use fast cards (class 10 SD card, if I recall it correctly), and turn off the high ISO noise reduction to fully utilise the burst speed of your camera.

Good luck for your outing! :)
« Last Edit: May 14, 2011, 07:48:51 PM by telephonic »
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Re: Lens for bicycle race?
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2011, 06:25:32 AM »
Lens for a bike race?

Mmm - well, given what you've got, i would settle for the 50mm, probably used in the f5.6 to f8 range.
IS is not necessary when using some of the shorter length lenses.

What would be good would be flash - used to maybe freeze the subject with a panning shot - light them up a bit over the back ground - ooh the shot choices are endless.

Catching them on the uphill climb will be fairly easy and the 1/200th sec shutter speed will not only overcome any camera shake, but will allow you to shoot in burst mode and comfortably get at least one of that burst to show what you wanted.

Yes, bike ride season is upon us - need to get out and do some bike shots, even though i have a 5D2! Haven't got any in my collection...

Hillsilly

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Re: Lens for bicycle race?
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2011, 09:15:06 PM »
As long as you can get up close, the 15-55 should be ideal - especially if the event is during the daytime.  I'd still take the 55-250 as well, and mix it up a bit.  One mistake I made when starting to photograph these types of events was trying to use as fast a shutter speed as possible to create a blur-free, action stopping, photo.  But now, I'm a bit more relaxed about things and aim for a bit more variety.  On top of the action stopping photos (there are some good techniques mentioned below), try some slower speeds (use a lower ISO or f16, or, maybe pick up a neutral density filter) and pan the camera with the action.  These photos will have a different sense of movement and action.  You'll get some leg-spinning, blurred backgrounds and a sense of speed (although this is probably better on a flat section when the cyclists are going a bit faster and aren't moving up and down as much as they do on a hill climb). 

Also, as DistantStar mentioned below, the other thing to remember is that its not just about the competitors.  Usually the crowd is colourful and interesting.  Take some photos of them too.  Better still, take photos of the crowd surrounding the cyclists, or the overly enthusiatic ones running alongside them up a hill.  Unless you've got an attachment to a particular rider, it will probably be these photos that encapsulate the event as a whole that you'll look back favourably upon.  (A wider angle lens, like your 15-55, is ideal for this.)  In other words, take photos of everything. 

If you're looking for another lens, I generally use a 70-200 f4 IS when photographing rally car racing (which isn't that dissimilar to phtographing cycling races).  It is an excellent lens and is mentioned above. But your 55-250 is probably more versatile and the picture quality is probably as good.  The only difference is that it focuses more slowly and it isn't dust and weather sealed.   
« Last Edit: May 15, 2011, 10:19:03 PM by Hillsilly »
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Re: Lens for bicycle race?
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2011, 09:15:06 PM »

Hillsilly

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Re: Lens for bicycle race?
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2011, 09:26:07 PM »
Also, don't discount taking the 50mm.  Using it at f1.8 will allow you to do a couple of things.  Firstly, you can use a faster shutter speed to freeze the action (IS only helps with camera shake).  Secondly, it will blur the background more, therefore focusing more attention of the rider.  This is something your other lenses will struggle with. 

Lastly, if you're new to DSLRs, practice with the "AI Servo" auto focus setting.  This is probably the setting that you'll use on the day. 
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acoll123

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Re: Lens for bicycle race?
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2011, 09:30:19 PM »
Ironically, I just shot a Triathlon this morning. I used a 70-200 2.8 II and think it was perfect with my 7D. It focuses fast using AI Servo - the IS isn't really a factor for action like that. The aperture (2.8) is what allows for a fast shutter (I used 1/500  - 1/750 and got ISO ranging from 200-400 on the 7D, it was overcast . . .).
If you have to use one of the lenses you have I would definitely not discount the 50 - you will need to position yourself appropriately - try an outside corner where you can get them in the turn starting with a head on and then maybe a profile shot as they ride by. Set the aperture to 2.8 to give yourself a decent depth of field and experiment with shutters between 125-500. The lower speeds will allow for some wheel blur if you pan and shoot as they pass which could give you a cool shot - takes practice though. If you want everything static use at least 1/500. If the ride is big enough, try all of your lenses - you will find the right one for you.

ronderick

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Re: Lens for bicycle race?
« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2011, 11:57:26 PM »
Bike races are fun to shoot, but you'll need some groundwork ahead of time.

If you can, try to get an idea of the route way beforehand (even better, travel along it and check for places that might yield promising photos). Calculate time for moving from point to point (assuming you have time and means to move during the race), or if you only have to stay at one spot, pick the best. Since you already have some knowledge about bike races, u should be able to make good calls.

Lens-wise, I'd say if you can afford it, go for the 70-200 f/2.8 IS (I or II). The fast zoom works quite well for me, but you have to be careful about the minumum focusing distance. As for focus, if you're having problems with the camera's AF points, set it to center point and work from there. There are old veterans who argue that the combination of MF to anticipated spots beforehand gives you the best shots, but it has yet to work for me  :-X.
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distant.star

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Re: Lens for bicycle race?
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2011, 01:57:35 AM »

I've looked at the stage map and have some thoughts. Oddly, there is one section where they will pass twice -- in different directions. That area may be worth a look.

There is a sprint in Glendora, and then they head back up the hill. It may be possible to shoot the sprint, then hop on the road and either get the Mt. Baldy ascent or the finish.

I like the 15-85 for a lot of things, but I'm not sure this is it's best application. I can get great IQ with it, but that takes work. The vignetting is it's worst aspect, and I've had no success beyond f11. If I were going to rent something, I'd go straight to the reliable 70-200.

And remember, you're not under pressure from anyone paying for pictures, and there will be other events. Take your best shot, enjoy it and learn more for the next time. Maybe eventually someone will be paying you for the shots you get!

Oh, and I noticed it's Saturday so you'll be dealing with lots of other spectators.



yes, the AMGEN. this leg will be Claremont to Mt. Baldy, a mountain stage. I was thinking of trying to find an uphill area, as it is slower and more chance to shoot. I really dont want to chase from location to location, except maybe find a location in the first few miles then scoot to the finish area. No idea if that is even possible, just the only possibility I am thinking of.

Yes, the "BTS" stuff is always a fave of mine. Racers and support crew prepping, etc is great stuff. How early would you say to get there, how crowded should I expect it to be? its been a while since I was at an event, and even then, I was not going with photography in mind.

The 15-85 is a great choice, I just might jump on that.
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Caps18

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Re: Lens for bicycle race?
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2011, 06:28:39 PM »
I didn't have my Canon DSLR when I went to the Tour de France, but they do go fast, even uphill.

Backgrounds are important, it might be crowds cheering, or a bay in Monaco for an overview shot.  Then I would use a 35mm or 85mm for upclose shots.  It depends on what side of the street they are going to be riding on, and what shot you want to get.

I got some great team time trial photos by panning the camera with the riders and having a tad slower shutter.  I've done the same thing with Indy cars racing.

The big problem is if you are trying to take pictures of 1 specific person you don't get many chances.

I'm not sure if a flash is necessary, it might make the shadows not look natural.  Or worse it could blind the rider and cause a crash.
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Re: Lens for bicycle race?
« Reply #12 on: May 17, 2011, 09:40:48 AM »
70-200mm f/2.8 L.  I've used the non-IS, the IS and will be using the IS ver2 at the US Nationals again this year.  I've shot all of the Tour de Georgia's and Tour of Missouri's before the races went belly up, many criteriums, and the US Nationals for the last 4 years.

Examples:

http://www.imagicphotography.com/Photography/Preview-Gallery/12384118_QPzzd#885270845_83j2m-A-LB

http://www.imagicphotography.com/Photography/Preview-Gallery/12384118_QPzzd#1047838262_TB5zo-A-LB

http://www.imagicphotography.com/Photography/Preview-Gallery/12384118_QPzzd#885270250_9Yd4C-A-LB

Just a few examples. 

Tips: I shoot manual, shutter speed at 1/1250 sec to 1/1600 sec, I like f/4 to f/5 depending on the DOF I want and if I'm shooting straight into the rider(s) or parallel to them.  I fully scout the race course for locations, I have race radio on the scanner (allows me know know exactly where the race is and what the situation is on the course), I consider the light conditions, direction of the sun relative to the riders and race direction, if the riders will be approaching up or downhill, left or right side of the road. 

Riders will take the inside of a curve to keep the distance short, unless its a high speed tight curve.  Take that into account when positioning yourself on the road.

-Bob



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Re: Lens for bicycle race?
« Reply #12 on: May 17, 2011, 09:40:48 AM »

Edwin Herdman

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Re: Lens for bicycle race?
« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2011, 09:03:20 PM »
Nice.  It didn't really occur to me that you can get that close and crop out the wheels and still get a decent shot...though it seems that most of the bike photos I've seen were from a wider focal length, especially the race-finish or pack scenes where you want some sense of relative positions.  I guessed the 70-200 would be a bit long to frame such a shot, unless you were relatively far out in the crowd.

If I had my free choice I might try a full-frame or 1.3x crop (at most) type camera with the 70-200, though the crop body is starting to look better due to the tight framing you get and more certainty about getting a shot with the additional reach letting you start shooting sooner and for longer while keeping the frame occupied.

Hillsilly

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Re: Lens for bicycle race?
« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2011, 02:42:43 AM »
Just curious which lenses you ended using (and how you felt they worked).  The stages were shown live here in Australia.  Looked like a good race.
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Re: Lens for bicycle race?
« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2011, 02:42:43 AM »