To stop blur you’ll need a camera that will start up quick, auto focus quick and can take shots with a fast shutter speed to ensure that you are able to photograph cyclists without blur. There are a lot of compact cameras on the market that are great for taking shots of your holidays or your grandmother’s 90th birthday but most these just won’t cut it for taking shots of cyclists as these cameras are just too slow. You need a fast camera when photographing cyclists.
Photographing Cyclists : Great cycling actions shots are usually taken when a cyclist or group of cyclists are moving past you fast.
Unlike a landscape which is not going to change for the next few years; a moving cyclist is. To capture this you’ll need to remember a few things…
Cameras that have the ability to take shots of fast moving cyclists generally fall into the SLR category. An entry level Nikon D80 is ideal.
Good fast autofocus that has the ability to track the subject – This is usually performed partly by the camera body and partly by the lens. Nikon have A-S type lenses that give good fast auto-focus performance. Nothing worse than missing a shot because your autofocus camera hasn’t locked onto the subject and won’t allow you to take the shot when you are photographing cyclists.
Plenty of light – forget getting moody shots of cyclists going past you at 30km/h first thing in the morning. For fast shutter speeds to stop blur you’ll need a lots of light and/or a fast lens (see next point). Find a spot where the subject (your fast moving cyclist) is being bathed with a lot of light rather than them being in the shade.
A fast lens – This is a lens that has a small f-stop number. Usually, the faster the lens the more expensive. F2 or F2.8 is nice. On bright days you can get some really great shorts using slower lenses with f stops around the F5.6. Fast lenses are able to take in a lot more light than slower lenses meaning that you still take shots at fast shutter speeds in lower light conditions.
Fast shutter speed – 1/500s and faster is good. Helps freeze the cyclists in action.
Tele photo lens – get close to the action without getting run over by using a telephoto lens. These lens are longer than “normal lens”. A good focal length for Digital SLR’s is 135mm. If you get a zoom lens that covers this as part of the range then you’re set. Good zoom lens are around 80-200mm and 80-300mm in length. Keep it wide open (f2, f2.8, f4, f5.6) for a great shallow depth of field.
A mono-pod – Like a tripod but with only one leg. A great tool to help steady the camera with those long telephoto lenses. Gives you the flexibility to move around a bit more than a tripod.
Plenty of frames per second You don’t have much time when the cyclists are coming past so having a camera that has the ability to get in seven frames per second is a great bonus. Three frames per second is ok.
VR (Anti-camera shake lenses). Great for when the light is low. Also good for helping reduce blur when hand holding and panning shots. Great if you can afford to purchase these lenses but this type of functionality I haven’t found to be good for photographing cyclists so I turned it off.
Fast memory cards – Can’t take lots of photographs when photographing cyclists every second if your memory is not fast too.
Type of cameras that are good at photographing cyclists: