I decided to head off to Outlon Park to practice my panning skills shooting superbikes again. I took the Sony a6500 and the 100-400mm GM lens, which was possibly overkill for this amazing circuit where you can get to within meters of bikes doing 200mph.
A fast shutter speed of 1/1000 second easily freezes everything, but without any signs of motion blur you are left with a very static image like the following two images.
175mm | 1/1000 sec | f/5.6 | ISO 500
158mm | 1/1000 sec | f/5.6 | ISO 400
If you want to capture more dynamic images that convey the sense of speed of these incredible machines, then I’d recommend shooting at around 1/320 second and under. You won’t get so many keepers with these shutter speeds, but the ones that you do nail should be a lot more pleasing.
241mm | 1/200 sec | f/18 | ISO 100
When you slow down the shutter speeds you’ll need to ensure that your panning is supper smooth. If you are using a lens that has a mode 1 and 2 option for the stabilization, you’ll want to make sure that it is set to mode 2 for panning. This basically turns off the horizontal image stabilization. If you don’t switch to mode 2 then the lens will try to correct for deliberate motion blur on the horizontal axis while panning and mess up your shots. You’ll find this option on the Sony FE 70-200 F4 G and F2.8 GM lenses, as well as the FE 100-400 GM lens. If you are using a lens without this option, it’s best to turn off image stabilization completely either on the lens or in camera if it’s available.
198mm | 1/250 sec | f/18 | ISO 250
200mm | 1/250 sec | f/5.6 | ISO 640
198mm | 1/250 sec | f/5.6 | ISO 160
400mm | 1/320 sec | f/10 | ISO 100
400mm | 1/320 sec | f/13 | ISO 100
137mm | 1/250 sec | f/5.0 | ISO 100
203mm | 1/250 sec | f/5.6 | ISO 160
This was my third time shooting superbikes and the best track I’ve been to by far. Compared to Silverstone I could get so much closer to the action, literally just a couple of meters away on some corners. This really made the 100-400mm lens overkill at times, the 70-200 would have been more than enough.
The number of keepers that I have is slowly increasing, so I know that my panning technique is improving. But its by no means perfect! I’d like to try and nail some shots at under 1/100 second, so I’ll definitely be heading back to the superbikes again very soon.
If you also love shooting superbikes or any other sport with your Sony Alpha camera, then I’ve setup the Sony Alpha Sports Shooters Group on Facebook where you can share your photos with fellow sports shooters.