dslr recommendation for motocross action photos

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by alex_w|4, Sep 25, 2011.

  1. i am an amateur photographer who enjoys taking pictures while out at the motocross track. the majority of the photos are action shots ranging from 10mph to 50 mph and want a clean crisp still shot. one of my concerns is shutter lag. i dont want to push the shutter button when the front of the image is in my view finder and have it record the back of the image as it passed. i would like to take multiple pictures in rapid succession without using the multi-shot setting that will take 3,5 or 9 photos with one touch. some of the photo opportunities are gone as fast as they appear. if some one could please give me their recommendation of a Nikon dslr camera based on the information i have submitted.
    Thank you
  2. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Alex, if you are getting a DSLR, you'll also need lenses. Unfortunately, serious sports photography require equipment that tends to be more expensive than average. What is your overall budget for camera + lens?
  3. I used to be an MX racer. Still have my 175cc Husky in fact. What you need is a used Nikon D300 and either a Nikon 17-55mm f2.8 or a Nikon 24-70mm f2.8. The latter lens would be a better focal range. If you are only shooting in daylight, a Nikon 24-120 f4VR might do it, and the lens range would be about perfect. Get a fast CF card too. You might consider using off camera flash, such as the new Einstein monolights. One or two of those plus CyberSync triggers, and a Vagabond lithium battery pack would allow you to shoot some really pro looking stuff.
    Kent in SD
  4. To be Honest I am looking to buy a used camera. today while looking on Craigs list I found a Nikon D80 with different lenses each increasing in strength all included for a very reasonable price.. I would expect to spend around $400 to get started with a decent body and lens. what is your opinion on the D 80 or the D3000? As they are very similar.
  5. I have a D80 as my backup camera and don't think that will do it UNLESS you prefocus your shot. A used D200 has a more robust AF. I don't see you buying a body AND lens for $400 that will consistently do what you want. A D80 plus maybe a Nikon 18-70mm AFS lens would work somewhat, again by prefocussing on a spot. You won't be getting fast frames per second though. The D200 at a minimum is needed for that. You can probably snag one on e Bay for $350 if you are patient, and an 18-70mm lens goes for $150, again if you are patient. I think this is about the minimum that will do what you want.
    Kent in SD
  6. a d80 can shoot at 3fps, which is not very fast for sports.
  7. " i would like to take multiple pictures in rapid succession without using the multi-shot setting that will take 3,5 or 9 photos with one touch"
    I wonder why you would not be interested in this function. As Eric alludes, it can be a very useful tool for what you are trying to do. Just wondering...
  8. Thank you all for your help and knowledge. I will take all into consideration as i continue my search.
    @ Daniel Joder. my reason for not wanting to use the multi-shot setting, is that from what I have experienced the images recorded tend to come out blurry. My inexperience may be to blame for that.
    Again, thank you all for your input. I am pleased with the advice given.
  9. I'm assuming you've been using a point & shoot type camera in the past. Something like the Nikon D200 has a continuous predictive autofocus that can actually track and predict where a fast subject will be when the shutter clicks. It works quite well. The D80 can do this also, but can only pop 3 frames per second, which is slow for something moving 50 mph. I'm almost too tired to do the math, but will try & figure how far something is moving in 1/3 of a second (i.e. 3 frames per second.) If it's moving 50 mph that equals 4,440 miles per minute, divided by 60 seconds per minute is 73 ft. per sec., which means that in 1/3 second it will travel about 25 ft. IF I did the math right, LOL. It is very late for me tonight. The D200 will do 5 frames per second, meaning the scooter will fly 14 ft. between shots. The D300 can shoot 6 frames per second, and can hit an even faster 8 frames per second with an optional battery grip. That means the scooter flies about 9 feet between frames instead of the 25 ft. it would with the D80. Again, if I did the math right.
    Kent in SD
  10. For whatever lens you decide on, plan on getting a good UV filter and lenshood. Motorcycle dust-grit-dirt-sand will not be user-friendly at the track. You will need a large enough memory card to keep from changing the card until you can un-dust everything before opening up your camera, or removing your lens for cleaning.
    The D80, shooting in JPG and Medium size, will be a little faster compared to shooting NEF [RAW] files.
    If you can locate a Nikon D60 body, that has a in-camera sensor cleaning system -- something the Nikon D50 - D80 - D40 - D40x lack.
    Since you are just starting, a Nikon DX lens choice would be either the VR 18-105mm Nikkor, or a older non-VR 18-135mm Nikkor lens. You probably don't want to shoot under a motorcross bike, but a little telephoto lens will put you close enough to begin with....
  11. I had a D70s with 3 fps and it was not fast for me shooting a baseball game, let alone motorcycles. I traded it in recently for D300s and now I can capture just about anything at speed. Don't be mistaken, you do need to have a "hold it down and fly" frame rate, absolutely. I'm amazed how fast the D300s is, even without the add on battery, there is no lag what-so-ever.
  12. Perhaps a longer zoom lens would be better ? e.g. 70-200, 80-200, 50-200, 18-200, 70-300, etc.
  13. With practice, 'shutter lag' is a non-issue - your timing/hand-eye coordination will improve as you get used to any camera and take a lot of pictures with it.
    Are you open to choices other than a DSLR? If you are shooting during daylight hours and not making prints larger than an 8 x 10, a Casio ZR100 high speed camera (under $250) shoots at 40fps and will easily get the job done for you.
  14. Hi Alex, I'm not at all familiar with the Nikon DSLR lineup but I can offer an opinion on features that I would consider important in a camera for your stated use. A consideration first-how often you plan on doing work such as this has to be taken into account as the more specialized equipment gets pricey FAST.
    Shutter rate: 6-10FPS, I currently shoot at 8. It's not that you want to use a machine gun technique, but rather get your sequence shots more tightly spaced so as not to miss the anticipated moment.
    You can get by just fine with a slower rate if you are more deliberate and don't mind missing the peak moment more frequently. Often times images close to peak are similar enough to satisfy many. I face this situation with night racing as flash cycles are the limiting factor. In time, you will get better at reading and anticipating the moment.
    Focusing system: get the best you can reasonably afford. I shoot most often with a Canon 7D, which has the next to best AF system in the Canon lineup for speed and consistency. Nikons are reputed to be more consistent across their lineup. Again, you can get by with a so so AF system IF you use techniques from the manual days of film, such as zone pre-focusing or developing a manual tracking technique. You will have fewer images to select from but it still works. I use these techniques often because even the best systems have low light aquisition/tracking limitations.
    Shutter speed: A camera with 1/1000-1/4000 capability is a must for certain lenses/situations. Panning techniques can be used with slower speeds but these types of images require the subject to be traveling parallel to the focal plane to turn out their best. Longer lenses require higher shutter speeds to maintain image clarity, especially with moving subjects. Even a 70-200 can show subtle effects of movement at 1/1600 (race cars).
    A dust sealed body- motocross is a dirty environment with airborne dust absolutely everywhere. Not to mention mud and grit if shooting in close. A camera without sealing will not last long if used frequently in the
    se conditions. Same goes for you lenses. As mentioned earlier by another poster, a protective UV or clear filter and hood are HIGHLY recommended. Exposing your lens' front element under thses conditions is asking for trouble down the road.
    This is not all inclusinve by any means, but for less than rigorous professional use, these feature sets should net you memorable images in very little practice time.
  15. a clean crisp still shot. one of my concerns is shutter lag​
    You seem to be a target client for a Nikon 1 v1 ???
  16. D700 @800ISO, 24-120/4AFS, f8 - 1/1000sec. Not a "specialty" lens, but sharp enough, I think.
  17. BTW, in my experience, the most difficult thing is to keep perfect focus; I can easily get missed focus shots at f8 in my D700. I`d prefer good AF rather than a faster camera. Sadly, the best AF Nikons are those with the Multi Cam 3500 AF module, the most expensive ones. Anyway, I think with any modern Nikon and a good technique very good results can be achieved. If you need exceptional images and highest burst rates, you need a top camera and pro lenses... ($$$).

    My "ideal" setup would be a D300/D700 with grip or a D3 series camera with a 70-200 and (why not) 200-400. Shorter than 70mm is also useful for close distance shots (boxes).
  18. Randall--
    I shoot trains at night with flash, moving 40-70 mph. Get yourself a pair of Einstein monolights and a Vagabond lithium pack. Turn the power down to abou 1/4 and you can shoot POP-POP-POP-POP-POP! Einsteins have the power of a monolight and the fast recycle of a Nikon SB-900. Stick some CyberSyncs on them and you have ~150 yard range too. Finally, I've never used a UV filter to shoot MX and have had zero problems. I do always use a lens hood though.
    Kent in SD
  19. Kent, The Einsteins are a great solution for subjects that are in a contrained space and work well for situations such as the flagstand, timing tower etc. However one can never predict with any certainty where on the track the action is going to take place- which would mean missing a majority of shots entirely.
    WRT Motocross, you've been fortunate. The track management at Englishtown tends to keep the track moist during competition to increase traction and reduce dust-this usually results in mud being thrown about as the bikes go by. Even though I turn the camera away, there have been countless times I've cleaned small amounts of muck and debris off the camera/lens and occasionally the front filter. Would rather clean the +$100 filter than the multicoated surface of the front lens element.
  20. I do clean muck and etc. off my lenses fairly often, but am careful to not put any pressure on the gunk while cleaning. Modern lens coatings are actually harder than glass. I've not had a problem. I agree that with flash you must set up lights where you anticipate action is likely to be. However, the Einsteins have 640ws, which coupled with the 8.5 inch HO reflectors gives you quite a bit of range.
    Kent in SD

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