Race day with the Sony 500mm F4 G lens

Started May 22, 2012 | Discussions
dbiela
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Race day with the Sony 500mm F4 G lens
May 22, 2012

I have been shooting with the Sony 500mm for about a month now and recently shot a vintage car race with a fellow photographer at Road America in Elkhart Wisconsin. Some of my thoughts so far, I found the a77 to be a much faster camera to shoot car racing with the 500mm then the a900. The a900 is a great camera but the autofocus has a few issues with focus lock and multiple cars zooming by at high speed. Also the a77-500mm combo was better suited to cover the longer distances between my position and the cars with its effective 750mm FOV. Finally I had better results when using a tripod with a gimbal head then when I used the camera & lens on my monopod. As to the Sony a77 camera I found I used the iso set to 50 about 1/3rd of the time and use the high speed fps shooting with 1/3rd of my captures. What I don't like about the high speed fps is the lens has to be wide open a few times I wish I could set the aperture a few stops down. I been told that the camera shoots wide open at this speed because the mechanics of the aperture cannot keep up with opening and closing the iris at this frame speed. Seems to me that Sony should have a option to lock down your lens opening before you start to shoot so it would not be a problem.

A interesting find, my friend shot with his Canon 500mm f4 IS L lens and a Canon 1D Mk4. My Sony 500mm with the a77 focused faster by a good amount. (I say 30% he said 15 to 20%) and after we looked at both of our images I had more in focus shots then he did of the same cars from the same spot. I found the Sony’s focus speed to be impressive. The amount of images in focus is good as well but there could be several reasons that can contribute to this beside the camera speed.

A few images
Cheers Dennis

This was shot with another great lens the Sony 70-400mm G

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busch
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Re: Race day with the Sony 500mm F4 G lens
In reply to dbiela, May 22, 2012

Wonderful images and interesting comments!
Sure wish I had that MG!!!!

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Nordstjernen
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Handling
In reply to dbiela, May 22, 2012

Nice photographs! Is this lens so light that you use it for handheld photography? How handles the lens in general - weight and balance?

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ekingkong
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Re: Race day with the Sony 500mm F4 G lens
In reply to dbiela, May 22, 2012

Nice shots!
500mm F4 is the one I want to get, but the price.....

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two_stanley
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Re: Race day with the Sony 500mm F4 G lens
In reply to dbiela, May 22, 2012

Awesome shoots... the A77 proves again that the EVF can be used for panning fast motorsport photography

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ET2
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Re: Race day with the Sony 500mm F4 G lens
In reply to dbiela, May 22, 2012

dbiela wrote:

I been told that the camera shoots wide open at this speed because the mechanics of the aperture cannot keep up with opening and closing the iris at this frame speed. Seems to me that Sony should have a option to lock down your lens opening before you start to shoot so it would not be a problem.

The problem is that PDAF AF system works with the lens wide open. Your solution would mean losing AF-C ....

But, doesn't A77 already have something like that? I remember if you turn off AF-C (or manual focus), you can select the aperture ... isn't that right?

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Schwany
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30% faster, yowza!
In reply to dbiela, May 22, 2012

dbiela wrote:

I have been shooting with the Sony 500mm for about a month now and recently shot a vintage car race with a fellow photographer at Road America in Elkhart Wisconsin. Some of my thoughts so far, I found the a77 to be a much faster camera to shoot car racing with the 500mm then the a900. The a900 is a great camera but the autofocus has a few issues with focus lock and multiple cars zooming by at high speed. Also the a77-500mm combo was better suited to cover the longer distances between my position and the cars with its effective 750mm FOV. Finally I had better results when using a tripod with a gimbal head then when I used the camera & lens on my monopod. As to the Sony a77 camera I found I used the iso set to 50 about 1/3rd of the time and use the high speed fps shooting with 1/3rd of my captures. What I don't like about the high speed fps is the lens has to be wide open a few times I wish I could set the aperture a few stops down. I been told that the camera shoots wide open at this speed because the mechanics of the aperture cannot keep up with opening and closing the iris at this frame speed. Seems to me that Sony should have a option to lock down your lens opening before you start to shoot so it would not be a problem.

A interesting find, my friend shot with his Canon 500mm f4 IS L lens and a Canon 1D Mk4. My Sony 500mm with the a77 focused faster by a good amount. (I say 30% he said 15 to 20%) and after we looked at both of our images I had more in focus shots then he did of the same cars from the same spot. I found the Sony’s focus speed to be impressive. The amount of images in focus is good as well but there could be several reasons that can contribute to this beside the camera speed.

30% faster is a lot, and I'd think this kind of news would be getting around more by now. If not, it should be. Sony should make a point of it. Fastest 500f/4 on earth, that kind of thing. On the other hand, a Canon shooter doesn't have to shoot wide open at high frames per second in bright light due to camera limitations. Maybe Sony doesn't want to draw attention to that little glitch. It's not that cool a feature, unless it's overcast outside.

Anyway, all that nonsense aside, the lens looks like it works well. Enjoy it

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Tom2572
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Re: Race day with the Sony 500mm F4 G lens
In reply to dbiela, May 22, 2012

I know you came to talk about the 500mm, but double thumbs up on the pan shot with the 70-400.

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steelhead3
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Re: Race day with the Sony 500mm F4 G lens
In reply to Tom2572, May 22, 2012

I am curious as to your acquisition of the 500. Sony seems to be distributing them at a discount to certain individuals to publicize the lens. If you were able to get this at a discount, is it available to the consuming public?

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Edward Sargent
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Re: Race day with the Sony 500mm F4 G lens
In reply to dbiela, May 22, 2012

Great shots.

Since the road is showing no motion blur I assume you did not pan on any of the 500 F4 shots. What fps drive mode did you use?
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dbiela
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Re: Handling
In reply to Nordstjernen, May 23, 2012

Hi I found the weight and balance good with the a77 I did some images hand held at the race ( not posted) Using it with the a900 and battery grip I can hold it for about 5 min then my arm will get tired. Since the image stabilization is in the camera body and not in the lens like Canon or Nikon I do find the image in the a900 viewfinder will have more vibration so it can be a bit of a challenge when trying to hold the camera steady.

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dbiela
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Re: Race day with the Sony 500mm F4 G lens
In reply to two_stanley, May 23, 2012

I found the EVF to be fine in fact for me I find it less distracting then when the mirror is dropping the image out st high frame rates.

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dbiela
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Re: Race day with the Sony 500mm F4 G lens
In reply to ET2, May 23, 2012

I think your right and will try the lens in manual focus and see if I can then select the f stop in high speed mode Downside is at the car race I find having autofocus handy.;-)

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dbiela
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Re: Race day with the Sony 500mm F4 G lens
In reply to Tom2572, May 23, 2012

Thanks I do like that lens and it is much better the the Canon 100-400 L lens.

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dbiela
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Re: Race day with the Sony 500mm F4 G lens
In reply to Edward Sargent, May 23, 2012

I used both the high at 8fps and the High Speed Mode at 12fps. What drives me crazy is the cameras image buffer. Shooting raw files in HSM it runs out fast, I shot jpegs and that seem to work OK for my shooting style at the race. It's not unusual for a big difference in the amount of raw to jpg you can capture. I had a Canon 1d MKIII and when shooting at high speed plus a fast card I could get 110 jpegs but only 30 raw images. I started in the days of film and my first slr for shooting sports only had a winder that could shoot at 3 fps ( gasp ) so I learned not to blast my way threw a opportunity but to shoot just before the peak action or moment. But it is nice to have enough buffer so not to have to wait on the next image.

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bruceofOz
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Re: Race day with the Sony 500mm F4 G lens
In reply to dbiela, May 23, 2012

Nice shots. Sensational colours and quite sharp, too. Weather looks good and you must have had a great day. I envy you.

Down in Australia, its cold and the sun is low in the sky at the moment. I took my trusty A55 and a Minolta 75 - 300 to Phillip Island for our local V8Supercar race meeting. These are some of the results. Pity about the CA - but thats what you get with that lens.

Interestingly, I got better results with SSS off and by manualy focussing and just waiting until the car came in to focus - a bit like my old Olympus OM1!

Now if i used RAW, I could adjust the colour temperature to take away the blue hue, but I didn't. Silly me.

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dbiela
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Re: Race day with the Sony 500mm F4 G lens
In reply to bruceofOz, May 23, 2012

You could still take out the blue with Hue and Saturation in Photoshop. Cheers D

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ET2
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Re: Race day with the Sony 500mm F4 G lens
In reply to dbiela, May 23, 2012

dbiela wrote:

I think your right and will try the lens in manual focus and see if I can then select the f stop in high speed mode Downside is at the car race I find having autofocus handy.;-)

I am not sure, but if you set the AF to AF-S, the AF will be fixed at the first shot for the burst mode. That's how I remember it in the review. In that case, you don't have to use manual focus but still select the aperture.

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bruceofOz
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Re: Race day with the Sony 500mm F4 G lens
In reply to ET2, May 23, 2012

Thanks for the suggestion. Not too familiar with that process, but more than willing to give it a try. Would the same controls in say Faststone or ACDSee produce similar results?
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bruceofOz
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Re: Race day with the Sony 500mm F4 G lens
In reply to bruceofOz, May 23, 2012

Tried some CS2 tools with pleasing results. Your hints were very helpful.

After

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