I AM NIKON Blog

We asked Formula 1 photographer Mark Sutton if he would like to test-drive the new AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4E FL ED VR lens during the British leg of the Formula 1 season.

Naturally, he jumped at the chance, so we loaned him one of the first lenses to land in the UK and sent him off to one of the sport’s most prestigious tracks.

Read on below to see his thoughts and images after spending the weekend with the lens.

Photo 02-07-2015 14 34 58F1 photographer Mark Sutton at the British Grand Prix

Day 1- First Impressions

On Thursday July 2nd, the day of the worldwide launch of this lens, the NPS team brought one over to me and said that this was one of only three lenses in the UK. At first, when I picked up the lens in its case, I couldn’t believe how light it was.  I actually asked if the lens was really in the case! I attached the lens to  my Nikon D4s and mounted  a monopod to it, although I was thinking “Do I even need this?” as it was so light.

I headed straight to the pit lane to take some technical images and show off this new piece of kit which had only just launched that morning. I went over to the Mercedes team and to my delight and surprise saw that Lewis Hamilton was in the garage talking to his mechanics and looking at his F1 car.

I kept on firing and firing.  I couldn’t believe my luck – this was an exclusive, with no other agency photographers about.  I couldn’t believe how quick the lens was able to focus on the subject and as Lewis moved around the car I captured some amazing images.  It is occasions like this where having the right kit makes your job so much easier.

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Lewis Hamilton captured with a AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4E FL ED VR at F1 British Grand Prix in Silverstone.

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Lewis Hamilton captured with a AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4E FL ED VR at F1 British Grand Prix in Silverstone.

After this initial test I took the lens further into the pits and out on the track to check the improved tracking and focusing capabilities.  It really is so much quicker.  I have been using the older lens for the past two seasons and it is a definite improvement.  It responds quicker; in Sports mode VR it tracks the car or driver’s helmet easily and every frame was sharp as the cars hurtled towards me  at 200MPH.

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Day 2 – Pits and Action

On the second day of the British Grand Prix I was ready for more pit work, so I went in search of drivers in their cars to grab a few spontaneous, candid portraits.

As you can see, it’s amazing to shoot into the dark garage with the D4s and with the 500mm focal length you can get closer than ever to the drivers in their cars.  You can hardly tell that the drivers are in parked cars in dark garages in these shots.  I especially like the image I grabbed of Jenson Button through the rearview mirror in his car – it looks like I was standing right behind it.

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After the race finished, I focused on the podium.  Sometimes with a 500mm you can find yourself too close, but I thought I would shoot tight frames and try for a better angle.  The focusing is just stunning; it reacted quickly as I followed Lewis Hamilton spraying the champagne in every direction. I kept on shooting and was amazed at the results. I had a huge smile on my face after reviewing the  the images on my computer.

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Overall Thoughts on the New 500mm Lens

I can’t believe how light the new lens is compared to my current lens.  The speed of focus and tracking for F1 is just perfectly matched to the D4s body and the sharpness of the images is greatly improved.  Spot-on focusing offers the best and sharpest images.

Overall this lens is truly amazing, offering a massive update and improvement on the previous lens: increased speed on the autofocus, the overall lightness is amazing, and it has a perfect lens-to-camera weight ratio.  And having looked closely at the images, I can see that the balance of sharpness and colours through the lens is incredible.

This lens is truly stunning- sharper, lighter, quicker and takes amazing images!

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Stay tuned for more F1 updates as Mark shares his “Photo of the Race” from each leg of the competition.

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Philosophy of Nikkor

Much has been said over the optical design of NIKKOR lenses, but when the optical requirements of a new lens are determined, the mechanical design team’s difficult job is only just beginning.

For the new AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR, launched just yesterday, the wishlist was long:

  • add Vibration Reduction (VR)
  • include an electromagnetic aperture
  • add fluorine coating
  • add an Aspherical ED glass element
  • improve the auto-focus speed and accuracy
  • make the lens stronger and more durable

Challenged with making our most popular professional NIKKOR lens even better, the development team did not shy away from the task.  Instead, they let these challenges steer them towards the goal, always sticking to their “No Compromise” attitude. (Read the full story here.)

Watch this video of them discussing in detail the hurdles that they had to overcome to make sure that the newest lens, the AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR, was stronger, faster and steadier than ever before.

Read the full story on the passion and philosophy behind NIKKOR lenses here.

 

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We send Sutton Images photographer Mark Sutton out to each F1 event to be our “man on the ground” at the races.  Afterwards, he shares with us his favourite image from each race, including how he captured the shot.

This time, Mark’s image perfectly captured the energy of this particularly exciting race, which took place at the Hungaroring circuit in Budapest, Hungary on Sunday July 26th.

Podium Mayhem by Mark Sutton

“I arrived at the race very early in order to be on pole position in the corner, but once I was up there it was hectic with so many incidents happening one after another. I was swapping cameras and positions to capture it all, and once the race ended I knew the podium was going to have a special atmosphere.

Turns out I was in the right place.  It all started as Sebastian Vettel arrived into Parc Ferme saluting his team.  There was a lot of activity in the podium, but I managed to get all the drivers to look up by shouting at them.

But this image is my favourite.  I love it because I’m not only in a prime position, but also it captures the atmosphere of this historic track in Budapest, Hungary.  It was taken during the national anthem which gives you a little time to change lenses (I switched to the 10.5mm Fisheye) and capture something different, so here you can see the crowd on the track with their flags and the teams below in the pit lane, as well as the winners on the podium.”

July Hungarian F1 Mark SuttonPodium Mayhem by Mark Sutton

Camera: Nikon D4s Digital SLR Body

Lens: AF DX Fisheye-Nikkor 10.5mm f/2.8G ED

Exif data:

  • Shutter Speed: 1/1000th of a second
  • Aperture: f/11

This is an ongoing series, so check back in a month when we will bring you Mark’s favourite image from the Belgian leg of the F1, taking place on August 23rd.

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Top sports Photographers review the AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4E FL ED VR and AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR during Wimbledon and The Open 2015

With summer in full swing, so too are the seasoned sport photographers – doing the rounds at some of the UK’s most prestigious sporting tournaments.

We caught up with two such photographers, Nikon UK Ambassador and AFP news photographer Leon Neal and Official R&A photographer and Getty pro David Cannon, who each managed to get their hands on one of our brand new telephoto lenses; the  AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4E FL ED VR and AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR.  But how did these lenses perform during two of the country’s most elite sporting events? Read on to hear their verdicts…

 

Leon Neal at Wimbledon 2015 with the AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4E FL ED VR 

We caught up with Leon Neal after an exciting two weeks shooting Wimbledon 2015. Here Leon gives us the inside scoop on the new AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4E FL ED VR lens, and explains how it helped him achieve ‘ace’ shots with ease…

What are your first impressions of the new 500mm?

It’s a great improvement on the previous version, being much lighter with incredible snappy focus that locks on to fast moving subjects accurately.

© Leon Neal/AFP© Leon Neal/AFP

How does the lens differ to other long lenses in your kitbag?

Until recently, I was on the previous generation of 400mm lens which was much heavier, but the new 500mm really fits in well with the new generation of lighter, faster Nikon FL lenses.

© Leon Neal/AFP© Leon Neal/AFP

How has the lens helped you to achieve the shots you needed?

Working at Wimbledon, space is a premium so there isn’t enough room for changing monopods between lenses without getting in the way of the photographers next to you. Amazingly, the 500mm is light enough to handhold and not just for short periods.  Using lenses of such focal length on tennis courts is pretty challenging with the players moving in and out of frame very quickly and sometimes erratically. The improved focus and tracking on the 500mm when used with the Nikon D4s made life a lot easier in getting the shots I needed.

© Leon Neal/AFP© Leon Neal/AFP

Who has been your favourite player to photograph at Wimbledon this year?

While Roger Federer remains a fan favourite, I much prefer Novak Djokovic as you can see how his game is going through his expressions and his desire to return the ball. His dives and screams of anguish really make strong images.

© Leon Neal/AFP© Leon Neal/AFP

What is your favourite shot from the tournament?

The tournament provided some incredible sporting moments with the world’s best players going head-to-head, but my favourite image was taken off-court on the final day.  A police officer was on duty in front of the main screen at “Henman Hill” when he became caught up in watching the developing Men’s Single Final. Within moments, he was absorbed in the match, wincing, frowning and covering his mouth in shock as Federer and Djokovic fought it out.

After getting the shots and filing them remotely to the editors, I returned to the office to find the officer was waiting for me. Fearing the worst, I prepared to justify my photos only to find that he’d had a call from his Mum, telling him he was “all over the internet” and he wanted to get a copy! The pictures did really well, being shared on twitter and Facebook many times.

000_DV2082803© Leon Neal/AFP

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David Cannon at The Open with the AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR

Official R&A photographer and Getty pro David Cannon took the new 600mm lens for a test ride at The Open in St Andrews. So what was his verdict? He tells all fresh from the Old Course…

What are your first impressions of the new 600mm?

Surprise, excitement, possibly the sharpest 600mm I have ever used – the initial results are stunning!

© David Cannon/ Getty© David Cannon/ Getty

How does the lens differ to other long lenses in your kitbag?

I love the 600mm for golf – it is my standard lens I use travelling the world covering golf tournaments.

How has the lens helped you to achieve the shots you needed?

At St Andrews, more than almost any venue in golf, I feel I need the extra focal length to get me near to the subject, as we are often a long way from the golfers. The other exciting feature of my initial work with the 600mm is the ability it gives me to crop images a lot harder than perhaps we would normally do.

144th Open Championship - Day Two© David Cannon/ Getty

Who has been your favourite player to photograph at The Open this year?

I am still biased to Adam Scott – I love shooting Adam but boy is his putting frustrating to watch! So he is still my no 1!  Overall, I would have to say the 600mm was the winner – it was sensational!

© David Cannon/ Getty© David Cannon/ Getty

© David Cannon/ Getty

© David Cannon/ Getty

What is your favourite shot from the tournament?

It still has to be the picture of Tom Watson finishing in the fading light on Friday night – it was so dark I gambled madly and the lens and camera backed me up, so I managed a memorable picture of a truly great champion hitting his last tee shot in The Open which he had won 5 times!

However, after play on the Sunday night at the end of the third round whilst we were editing in the media centre, suddenly the whole place ‘lit up’ as the sun came out briefly at around 7.40pm – looking out of the back door I saw a rainbow, so I just grabbed the D4s and the 16-35mm and ran as fast as I could for the 18th green. I managed to get the tail end of the rainbow over the 18th green and the R&A Clubhouse with some digital enhancing it looks pretty stunning especially in black and white – so actually for me the weather was the story in more ways than one!

© David Cannon/ Getty© David Cannon/ Getty

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At only 17 years old, Sarah Meyssonnier is the youngest photographer accredited by the Tour de France. Despite her young age, she has a good head on her shoulders and already has her eyes on her next goal: becoming a sports journalist.

Armed with Nikon equipment, Sarah is currently following the 2015 race trail.  We were able to grab this exclusive interview with her before the madness started. (Original interview in French here.)

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Where did you get your passion for photography?

My passion for photography comes from my best friend with whom I also share a passion for cycling. He introduced me to photography and pushed me to improve myself in sports photography. I quickly found that I really enjoyed taking sports photos, landscapes, and even portraits.  Eventually I joined a photography club to learn the techniques that I was lacking.

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Which photographers inspire you and why?

I was very inspired by Robert Doisneau with his scenes of everyday life, but which tell a real story. I love the work of Elliott Erwitt as it can sometimes be humorous and light, and sometimes hard and accusing. He is an inspiration to me and I greatly admire all of his images.

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I spend a lot of time looking at pictures of cycling and the work of other photographers, which I use as inspiration. Jim Fryer and Iri Greco from BrakeThrough Media (who are my training mentors on the TDF 2015) are the only ones to combine sport photography with the more artistic side of classical photography. Their works carry a true message, they are real artistic photos. There is also Scott Mitchell, who often shoots in black and white; he focuses on everyday small scenes in the race.  Because of this, he stands out from other photographers who are only there to capture the race.

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Are there any photos that have left an impression on you?

There’s a photo that I found this year while doing research for a presentation on the Vietnam War. I discovered the work of Nick Ut, whose images of this sad event are famous.  He’s best known for the photo of children burned by Napalm, but the photo that shocked me the most is of a handcuffed man in the process of being shot. It’s a photo of unspeakable violence but the trigger hasn’t even been pulled yet.

Can you tell us about your accreditation for the Tour de France?

It all began in 2013 when I was a finalist in the “Young Tour Reporters” competition (Jeunes Reporters du Tour) organized by the ASO (Amaury Sport Organisation) and L’Equipe newspaper, which gave 6 youths a chance to shoot the Tour as a journalist. I didn’t win this coveted prize, but as a consolation prize the ASO gave me access to a departure or arrival of the 2013 Tour. I decided to go to the one at Vaison la Romaine, near my home, and took advantage of this opportunity to interview two photographers that I had encountered on Instagram, Jim Fryer and Iri Greco. I hoped that this article would be my passport to the competition the following year, but to my dismay, the ASO decided to stop the Young Reporters competition. Regardless, I stayed in touch with Jim on Facebook.

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During the 2014 Tour, in Nîmes, I again met the two photographers from BrakeThrough Media and Jim said that it was hard meeting just once a year and that they would like to see me more often. This sentence clicked.  We thought, why not spend the three weeks of the Tour together next year?

In August, I began the project of organising a photo workshop with them and at the same time launched the site “Roulez Jeunesse” (Rolling Youth), which they agreed upon (to my delight).

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What will be your “mission” on the Tour?

When I am on tour, I will have two “hats”. The first is as the BrakeThrough Media photo assistant intern, where I will learn from my mentors on a technical level and in post-production. They also will show me how they run their business, and I’ll act as their translator when they are with the French teams.

The second role I will take on is that of “photojournalist” for Rolling Youth, where I take the initiative to write articles and interviews about the Tour, whether that is with riders, mechanics, support drivers, or even fans watching along the edges of the road, to give an overall impression of the Tour “scene”.

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What are the peculiarities of cycling photography?

I’m not really an expert on the subject, but cycling photography is very demanding. It requires a complete mastery of your equipment because it all goes by very fast (a sprint finish can be up to 75km/h). It’s very important to capture the cyclist’s face as that is where his emotions are revealed and that’s often the key to a really good photo.

Nikon was with you on the Tour by way of loaned equipment; what did you choose and why?

For the Tour, I chose the Nikon D7200 for its near professional AF system and its sensitivity range of up to ISO 26000 which makes it very useful in low light. For the lens, the AF-S DX Nikkor 18-300 mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED VR suited me perfectly. It’s very versatile, allowing no lost time (which isn’t an option at a sporting event like the Tour). I also wanted to try the AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G because I love taking portraits and this was an opportunity to take the plunge and test a fixed focal-length lens.

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What would be your dream shot to capture during the Tour?

The shot of my dreams would be where I capture pure, raw emotion: a winner shouting with joy when he passes the last line, a rider with tears in his eyes after a defeat, the joy of a team that has just triumphed … in a word, a picture that bombards the eye with its emotion.

Nikon wishes Sarah the best of luck in the coming legs of the Tour, and please follow her blog Roulez Jeunesse for highlights of the races.

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Race winner Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates with the fans at Formula One World Championship, Rd9, British Grand Prix, Race, Silverstone, England, Sunday 5 July 2015Lewis salutes his fans shot with a Nikon D4s by Mark Sutton, Sutton Images

Race day was full of emotions for Lewis and his fans. Thanks to his calm and pit-stop strategy, Lewis won home Grand Prix success! After his win, Lewis signed hundreds of autographs all day. During the drivers parade he spent a good 15-20 minutes signing at the fence, it was great to watch. Then, at one point, he decided to climb the fence and salute thousands of his fans who were camped on the main start-line straight. All of them surged toward him to show their support and get a bit closer to their hero. At this point, I decided to climb the stairs of the start gantry and take a great spot looking down on the crowd and I thought that if Lewis jumped the fence again after his BBC & Sky interviews, then this would be the place to capture a great atmospheric image. Here, I switched to the Nikkor 14-24mm F2.8 lens, which offers a wider angle. Just then, Lewis jumped the fence and showed off the amazing British Grand Prix Race Gold trophy to fans who had waited patiently on the track – and I just started clicking away.

This shot is my final choice because the pop of fill-in flash from another photographer actually helped bring this image to life. That night, I found myself camped outside his pit-box for the Team celebrations, which have been a regular thing this year with 8 out of 9 race victories for the team.

Camera – Nikon D4s Body

Lens – Nikkor 14-24mm F2.8G ED AF-S

Shutter Speed – 1/320th of a second

Exposure – F11

ISO – 400

Next race is in Budapest on 24 – 26th July! Stay tuned for the next F1 photo highlight as taken by Mark Sutton who will be there on the ground.

 

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