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Thread: Sharp panning how to?

  1. #1
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    Sharp panning how to?

    Went out to the hillclimb yesterday again. I had fun and was happy at how the photos came out on the cameras screen. When I got home though and put them on the computer the shots weren't sharp. A section of the car would be sharp enough but then either the front or rear of the car was blurry and not appealing. I got a few that were decent out of the 300 or so I took but I want a better hit rate. I got a better hit rate last time I went out (first time in years), I thought I would get more this time but I got alot less. I was using fairly high F/stops and shooting between 1/50 and 1/60. That created the amount of blur I wanted, any faster and it was freezing the motion too much. Also using AF continuous with 9 focus points. I found 21 would sometimes jump away from the car and focus on a tree etc. Is it just the reality of shooting with the low quality kit 18-55 lens? Would a better quality lens have a better success rate?
    This is what I am talking about:


    The rear of the car isn't perfect, but not bad, the front of the car however is not acceptable.
    Thanks for any help.
    Nikon D7200 -- Nikon 18-55mm F3.5-5.6G VR II -- Nikon 55-300mm F4.5-5.6G
    (Kit Lenses)

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Hmm! I had a good long look at this image, Joel. Did some mental arithmetic and geometry, and I reckon the problem is
    MOSTLY due to the angle that you took the shot.

    You can see the arc of the camera movement as you panned in the OOF foreground (mainly grass). These stationary objects
    have pretty much equal length arcs on either side of the frame. The car, however, is DARTING OFF at a tangent to your arc.
    I think you've captured some "differential angular motion". The front of the car was "moving away from" the camera faster
    than the rear of the car.

    (What I think is the) solution:
    Take your shot a "tad" earlier than you did here. That is, when the whole car was "moving fairly parallel" to your camera movement.
    Have a look at the pic below to (try to) see what I mean. I reckon you should have taken the shot about where the car outline is.
    Alernatively: a much higher shutter speed might have helped at this point of the car's position.

    Joel-pan problem...
    joel-pan.jpg
    CC, Image editing OK.

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    Ausphotography Regular Hamster's Avatar
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    Excellent explanation @ameerat42 and one I was going to give, so thanks for saving me from trying to explain all that I had a plan for explaining matching the vector of the car's speed in the direction of pan.....

    To add to the explanation, panning is also something that gets better with practice but there are some key things in technique to get right. e.g. work out where you're going to take the shot and position yourself so you're stance if pointing here. Then wind your body back to an earlier position to start the pan and ensure that you can continue your body movement past the point you take the shot. You should have a comfortable swing from the waist between these three points. Key is also not stopping when you press the button, you have to continue the movement as you pass through this point.


    Basically it's like one of the clay target shooting methods (continuous lead IIRC) but instead of aiming ahead of the target in order to hit it, you're "firing light" so you can aim directly at the target.
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    Member FallingHorse's Avatar
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    I would also use a single AF point instead of 9. If your panning with the 9 auto focus points as they will try to focus on whatever is closest such as blades of grass that you pan past. A great way to practice is on the side of a highway, sure, you get some strange looks but there's a lot more subjects and they're usually travelling too fast to worry about what you are doing. Try a longer lens if it's too dangerous to get to close to the roadway


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    I did this for a living for many years as it's a standard shot in automotive editorial features. I suggest a longer lens if available and possible (because it reduces the arc that's highlighted by ameerat42), a monopod (although this takes some practice getting used to because it causes certain restrictions to your movement), and lots of practice because technique does matter. IS (mode 2) can be helpful but some times it can work against you too.

    Heaps more here: http://photocornucopia.com/1042.html
    Last edited by jjphoto; 21-03-2016 at 9:32pm.

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    Thanks very much for the replies everyone. It all makes sense now. I know what I have to try with the next one. I have a bigger lens, I will use that along with the other tips mentioned.
    When I moved to a different spot I had alot more luck where I was more parallel with the direction of the car. Still not perfect as the car is moving away a little. Again I will use my bigger lens next time as I have been cropping the images anyway.
    Thanks for the link John. I will give it a read tomorrow.
    Much appreciated everyone.

    One of the better shots:

    Kempsey Hillclimb Tri Series by Joel, on Flickr

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    Member Brendo09's Avatar
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    Definitely an improvement.

    I can't even get my kids in focus, so I'm not going to say much else! Good shot.

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