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F3 Racing at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca

More formula 3 racing action for Simraceway. This time from the Jim Russell F3 Winter Racing Series at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, CA. The goal was to cover action on the track, profile all of the drivers, and get the in-between moments that coincide with racing.

My motorsports kit is getting more streamlined. I’ve been sticking with (3) lenses, a monopod, and a single camera body to help reduce weight during the long day. For this work, I have a few camera preferences, but for this assignment I wanted to try the Nikon D750 to see if the buffer and FPS were fast enough for motorsports. Take a look at the images below, then see my summary at the end of this post.

Highlights from Laguna Seca


Pros and Cons of the D750 For Shooting Motorsports?

If you are new to shooting motorsports (for example), you’ll be figuring out the correct shutter speed and lens combinations. A standard goal is: blurry wheels, movement in the background, and a sharp car in focus. There are some unpredictable factors here since each turn has it’s sweet spot.

When shooting cars you need to hold down the shutter release button, track focus throughout the pass, and then choose the best image when behind the computer. This requires a camera body with a decent amount of frames per second. The D750 is only 6.5 fps (not the 11 fps of a “pro” sports body). That’s 41% less forgiving which could be a bummer for some. Your margin for error is smaller, but 6.5 fps is definitely do-able!

The bigger issue with the D750 is the reduced spread of focus points. Compared a pro level camera body, the D750 groups the focus points toward the center. If the subject is outside this area you have to pre focus and then recompose. This is not a big deal if you are on a tripod, or if the subject isn’t moving. However this close to a deal breaker when tracking moving targets like athletes or race cars.

Is The Nikon D750 Fast Enough For Motorsports?

Normally I’m shooting ALL day, so I try to minimize over shooting to cut back on excessive computer time culling images. For sports, you only need enough fps to capture short sequences of action, and a buffer large enough to hold those bursts. With practice this can be done with a D750 when shooting sports.

The D750 almost cancels out the smaller buffer and slower fps by giving you a camera that is one of the fastest focusing bodies Nikon has ever made. This compensates for the reduced margin for error mentioned above, and it actually increases your hit rate. The focus is just that good. Its performance in this regard is on par with the Nikon D4s, but with 50% more megapixels. When it comes to speed, just don’t forget to factor in the slower processing times that would accompany larger MPs in high volume.

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Jay Watson
San Francisco Bay Area based lifestyle and people photographer Jay Watson shoots editorial, apparel, automotive, corporate, and sports subjects for commercial clients. Published in over 70 magazines.

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