camera setting for night racing

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by todd_torfin, Apr 28, 2008.

  1. Anyone found a good starting point for night racing? Settings for the listing
    below. I have a 1D Mark III with a 70-200 2.8L IS lens.

    Shutter Speed
  2. Why not start at something like 1/30th wide open at 400 and chimp from there, adjusting
    shutter/ISO to freeze the motion however much you wish (and can)? Assuming it's relatively
    consistent artificial lighting, it shouldn't take more than a few frames to figure out a decent
    exposure that you can use for the rest.
  3. Just curious, is there a flash that is powerful enough to freeze the action?
  4. Ditto on Tim's suggestion. Chimping and the histogram are your friends.

    Also, remember not to underexpose (esp. at higher ISO); that's a sure recipe for noise.
  5. 400 ISO Tim? what about f/stop
  6. You'll need to embrace the results of high ISO settings. Turn off, or leave off, the special settings to reduce noise--they will considerably slow down your ability to take pictures quickly.

    The advice above is right--you need to experiment since every track will be different in lighting, your location, and so forth.

    As for the flash question, yes there are 'industrial'-grade flashes to expose things far away (sometimes used from recon aircraft, for example) but these are either unavailable, specially made, or just plain too expensive. That being said, you might want to experiment with fill-in flash for the people between you and the action that is lighted.
  7. Nothing like an industrial strength flash in your face when you are making a turn at 100mph... :)

    Just use available light - you camera is MORE than capable of getting GREAT images are ISO 3200 and even 6400. If you got it, use it...

    Pick a spot you want to be in, take a reading and set the camera to M - use a combination of F.stop and shutter that YOU prefer (i.e how much depth of field you want, how frozen you want the action to be, etc...) - shoot at will. Change location when bored and repeat the same steps. DO NOT use flashes in ANY sport competition or other situations where they may be interfering with people involved in the action. Some places flat out forbid use of flashes. Ask and if in doubt do NOT use them at all.

    It's nice to keep the shutter just a bit slow to give a sense of the action. You can also learn to pan (which takes a bit of practice) to really give a sense of speed. The DOF should be shallow enough to isolate the subject from distracting surrounding.
  8. In addition, depending on the track, etc... you may need a 2x TC to get close enough to fill the frame with the subject.
  9. "Nothing like an industrial strength flash in your face when you are making a turn at 100mph... :)"

    Yeah, even those traffic control posts that take your picture when they think you're speeding give quite a jolt through the windshield.
  10. Todd, sounds like you need to learn the basics of exposure. Knowing this will allow you to determine your own starting point. Each situation is different so knowing the relationship between aperture, shutter speed (keeping in mind you want it as fast as possible), iso, safe hand held focal lengths, will easily alow you to determine a starting point, check histogram and optimize settings from there. I found Bryan Peterson's book on understanding exposure very good, check it out on Amazon.

    My advice is max ISO, min aperture, shutter speed to match and don't underexpose. Also, there are some very good post processing noise reduction programs out there for high ISI shots.
  11. Shoot with a certain shutter speed in mind (a fast one), and adjust everything else around it. Underexpose if you have to...just don't give up that shutter speed.

    I can't believe you have bought $6,000 worth of kit and have to ask this question.

  12. There are some devices to make flashes brighter, well magnify, I`ve got a tele attachment on a Metz 60 but I do respect folks engageing in certain sports and would not use it directly at them, can also use a `better beamer` on a 580ex, i believe suitable 300mm+. remember watching a night rally in a forest, one rally car with 6 spotlights approach a corner only to be ambushed by a few photogs and flashes, good shots hitting the trees too, don`t know how he missed the corner.

    Some tracks have overhead lights that can be used with good timing, so ISO 1600 up should be fine, pan about 1 fstop down, monopods can help keep steady, Lights usually consistant so `M` works a lot better, well it does for me. Show some samples when you have them

    have fun
  13. Todd, Save yourself some time, Set your iso to 3200, fstop to f2.8 and max sync/shutter speed of 1/320. (This are my standard settings) Play with your shutter speed, iso and fstop to get the results you like. Depending on the track, you may not need flash. What track will you be shooting? Do you have press credentials to get into the infield or can you buy a pit pass if the pits are in the infield? Lee Smith (18 racing nights already this year) You may email me at
  14. This is reallly quite easy. Just use your spot meter to sample a section of the track. It's probably a shade of grey that belongs in zone 3 or so. Take a reading and back down by 2 stops. That should be a good starting point. Then set your shutter and aperture in M mode (so zooming won't change meter readings) based on that with whatever ISO you choose for quality reasons. My quess is you'd want to start with ISO 400 or 800. While freeze action shots are great for spin out's and such, I find the normal images of cars going around the track to be a bit boring if all the action is frozen. Try panning with a slower shutter speed like 1/80 to 1/125 to convey the fast motion. With a monopod or pannign head tripod you should be able to follow the cars, keep them sharp and blur the heck out of the background (stands) at those speeds. Here's a few examples although shot in the daytime. I wouldn't use flash without specific written permission, or a sign posted saying it's ok. I can't imagine that it wouldn't distract a driver.
  15. Sorry messed up the file save above. Let me try again.
  16. Trebor, that's a great shot. Any advise for a beginner useing a Canon 40D with a 70-200 f/2.8 lens and useing only the track lights? How do I pan like this to get a decent shot with what I am useing? It does make a great difference as I see in your picture. You can feel the action. Awesome!
  17. Recommend lots of panning. It can be your best friend.
  18. Hi Cindy, Set your ISO as high as you can and still get presentable pics (try at least 1600 on a 40d) set your fstop wide open and try shooting at 1/200 sec. Unless you track is well lit with TV quality lighting (Musco), you may still need a flash. If you are shooting at a paved track, you might be able go to a lower shutter speed. Dirt tracks are bumpy so you might get motion blurring because of up-down car movements. Use only the center or lower left (if you are shooting from the infield) focus point and concentrate on panning smoothly keeping the focus point on the front wheel on the front car (if there are 2 or more cars in the frame.) Keep the width of field to be about 2+ car lengths so you can catch multiple car shots unless you are zooming in/out for a particular shot. At a dirt track, you may only get 50% keep rate at 1/200 shutter speed. Always look up the track to watch out for cars in trouble or 2-3 cars that might be side by side by the time they reach your optimum field of view. If you see something happening, esp without a flash, hold the shutter down and let the camera fire away, you might catch a car in the air.

    Just a note to the inexperienced. If you do get pictures of an accident where the driver does not walk away, do not publish the photos. This is in extremely bad form. Lee Smith
  19. ps. All short track drivers who race at night expect to see flashes. Using a flash, even next to the inside rail, is not a problem. Lee Smith
  20. Panning is nice if you have a decent tripod and it helps to blur background if that is important to you. And with the 40D there is a nice feature to shoot black and white for a change of pace. I have a 40D and use that more than I expected when I picked it up. For exposure, start with 1/30 or so and experiment. See what you like.

    That said, I used to race, and I enjoyed seeing the flashes out of the corner of my eye. Had a bit of an ego in those days and enjoyed the thought that photos were being taking of me and the hotrod I was trying not to crash. So, I agree, most race drivers expect flashes and keep their vision directed away from it as much as possible.
  21. Good point about the flash at night--I was thinking at right angles to the action, but a flash in your eyes at a turn could make your whole night!

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