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  • Andrew JK Tan

Nikkor 200-500mm f5.6 - Incredible versatility & Performance at the 2018 Sepang MotoGP

The Sepang MotoGP is a motorsports event that I have been making the trip to photograph yearly. I do not have any special access for this event so no track side access. All the images I am about to share are all photographed from the public grandstands & with the Nikkor 200-500mm f5.6E ED VR.

For this session , I flew in on the first Air Asia flight into KL , hopped onto a shuttle from KLIA2 airport to the tracks then flew back to SG on the last flight back to Singapore.

ISO31 1/30s f18.0 focal length : 350mm

The main reasons why the Sepang MotoGP is so photogenic action wise is because on Practice Day which is always a Friday , the public is allowed access to all grandstands. This freedom to visit all grandstands allow the opportunity to get some really cool racing images.

The only catch though is that the photographer needs to have access to focal length range between 300mm to 1000mm.

It does sound daunting & expensive when talking about having such long focal lengths but in the real world it really is not. I am going to share a setup that could be used and share how affordable it can be.

If you are a Nikon user , then this is the setup I would recommend (prices were referenced from B&H PhotoVideo)

1. Nikon D500 ~ USD$1800

2. Nikkor 200 - 500mm f5.6E ED VR ~ USD1400

3. Nikkor TC-14 EIII (1.4x Teleconverter) - USD500

I am sure if one shops around , prices mentioned above can be lower but for about USD3,700 , the photographer has access to a high quality setup that can shoot at 10 frames per second and a focal length range of between 300mm to 1050mm.

ISO500 1/1250s f11.0 focal length : 1050mm

MotoGP Photography Tips

1. if hand-holding , shutter speeds should be no slower then 1/2000s

2. using a monopod gives you much more flexibility in terms of balancing the exposure triangle

3. for panning , try shutter speeds between 1/30s to 1/100s depending how confident you are

4. shoot in burst of 2 to 3 frames with camera set to fastest burst rate capability

5. in good light , Aperture Priority is a good shooting mode to use

6. AF-C needs to be used & priority release set to Focus + Release (For Nikon users)

7. Focus Tracking settings : Blocked shot AF response set to 1 , Subject motion set to mid point

8. Remove your UV / Skylight filter that you will have the best image quality

Even though I have been photographing MotoGP action for consecutive years now , the aim is still to produce action images from new viewpoints & perspectives. For this session , I found two new ones this time round.

ISO1600 1/3200s f8.0 focal length : 700mm (for the entire series below)

ISO31 1/40s f16.0 focal length : 840mm

ISO31 1/30s f16.0 focal length : 840mm

ISO31 1/50s f13.0 focal length : 840mm

Findings on the Nikkor 200-500mm f5.6E ED VR

- No issues with the AF tracking at all (all focal lengths)

- Image details & sharpness are superb (given the price of this lens , it's amazing)

- Lens extends as you zoom to 500mm but it is still manageable

Other Image Highlights

ISO31 1/40s f13.0 focal length : 840mm

ISO31 1/1250s f11.0 focal length : 1050mm

ISO500 1/1000s f11.0 focal length : 1050mm

ISO1250 1/800s f10.0 focal length : 1050mm

ISO500 1/1250s f11.0 focal length : 1050mm

ISO31 1/50s f16.0 focal length : 700mm

ISO500 1/1250s f11.0 focal length : 1050mm

ISO500 1/1600s f11.0 focal length : 975mm

ISO500 1/1250s f11.0 focal length : 1050mm

Hope you like the series shared.

I will definitely be going to photograph Sepang MotoGP 2019 and you are all free to join me.

Till then , happy shooting.


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