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  • Andrew JK Tan

Nikon D850 - At the UCMX 2018 Motocross

My last time photographing motocross action was about 4 to 5 years ago. I really enjoy the challenges from motocross photography namely :

1. Tough lighting conditions - many Backlighting situations

2. Very Fast & Sudden action

3. Uneven terrain / Blind spots

4. Requiring long focal lengths to get really tight action shots

5. Very hot or Very wet & muddy shooting conditions

I used to photograph Motocross action with my Nikon D4 which provided the AF capability and High Frame Burst Rate required. This time at the UCMX 2018 Motocross event held at Ulu Choh Dirt Park in Geylang Patah , I was raring to photograph the action with my Nikon D850.

I wanted to know the following :

How the D850's 45.7MP BSI CMOS sensor would handle the tough Back-Lighting conditions.

Would the sensor provide me with enough dynamic range to recover details from the heavy Back-Lighted conditions ?

Would the AF performance track the action ?

So read on to find out the results.

Nikon D850 Setup for the Race

- Nikon D850 in standard configuration using the EN-EL15 battery 7FPS setup

- Nikkor 80-400 mm f4.5-5.6 zoom telephoto lens

- JPEG FINE* (RAW would have been easier , I wanted to make it tougher)

- ISOs between 200 - 800

- High ISO Noise Reduction set to Normal

- AF-C , Group AF mode , Focus Lock on Sensitivity set to 2 , medium , Focus+Release priority

- Hand-Held

Shadow Detail Recovery Performance

So how did the D850 45.7MP JPEG FINE* image files perform with the tough back-lighting conditions ? In one word , IMPRESSIVE and not just for a 45.7MP file !! Even if I compared to my Nikon D810 (36MP , which was the benchmark) and Nikon D4 (16MP) , the recovery performance in the shadows were more then comparable.

Take a look at the example below :

ISO400 , f8.0 , 1/5000s

ORIGINAL JPEG 200% magnification snapshot from my iMac 27" (click on image to enlarge)

After a simple SHADOW recovery using Photoshop's Camera Raw Filter ONLY , no other tweak done for this snapshot (click on image to enlarge)

Final image (click on image to enlarge)

Final thoughts on the D850's performance

- Easily matches my D4 AF performance & Dynamic Range (DR) & blows it away for Resolution

- Blows away my D810 with the superb AF tracking performance / matches the DR performance

- Reliable even in the extra hot shooting conditions

- 7FPS burst rate was more then sufficient but I am sure 9FPS would have been even better

- Dynamic Range / Shadow Recovery for JPEG just superb !! Need I say more if I used RAW

- Imagine what I can do with 45.7MP sports images , no need to compromise anymore

- A top notch all-rounder and my DSLR of choice

Leaving everyone with my favourite highlights from the race

Click on image to enlarge

SG's only female motocross biker in the UCMX2018

Till the next blog , happy reading & enjoy your photography !!



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