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.

British Grand Prix PracticePhoto 03-07-2015 22 50 04

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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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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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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Winter can be harsh and unforgiving…but there is no doubt that it creates a stunning backdrop for photographers.

We asked Swedish freelance photographer Johan Stephan for his tips on shooting in the depth of winter. His recent photo shoot was all outdoors in Norrland (the north of Sweden) in -23 degree weather.

Nikon D800E, AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VRII, winter, Johan Stephan, Sweden, winter photography, shooting photos in cold weather

 Nikon D800E with a AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II // Settings: 112mm, ISO 450, 1/200 Sec, f /6.3, © Johan Stephan

 

His first tip is the most important: “Dress warmly,” he says. “But make sure to wear comfy clothes. You have to be able to move properly. You might have to get down on your knees or even lay down for a shot. You don’t want your clothes to be too bulky and stiff then. Use gloves that will let you work without taking them off.”

Nikon D800E, AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II, Johan Stephan, www.johanstephan.com, winter photography, photography tips, Sweden, taking photos in cold weather

Nikon D800E with a AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II // Settings: 116mm, ISO 280, 1/200 Sec, f /6.3, © Johan Stephan

Another good tip against the cold that he picked up from his children’s school is to wrap your feet in plastic bags before putting your shoes on. That way if your shoes become wet, your feet will stay dry.

He stresses to keep your equipment to the bare minimum and make the best with the gear that you bring. “Are you really going to change lenses in this weather? Is your tripod easy to use with gloves? Me, I decided every morning before I left which lens to go with that day. I think that I get more creative when I travel light with just my D800E and the lens attached to it.”

“Speaking of gear, always bring extra batteries and keep them in your inner pocket as close to the warmth of your body as possible, the cold will drain them otherwise (just as with your phone).”

Nikon D800E, AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II, Johan Stephan, www.johanstephan.com, winter photography, Sweden, photography tips, shooting in cold weather

Nikon D800E with a AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II // Settings: 200mm, ISO 110, 1/200 Sec, f /2.8, © Johan Stephan

Concerning shooting, he says, “Many photographers advise to overexpose since the snow makes it hard for the camera to tell the right exposure when shooting in snowy conditions, however I did the exact opposite this time… I felt underexposing gave me the start files that I wanted. But next time I might do the other way. Just do what works for you.”

Finally, don’t forget to bring something warm to drink, some food to eat and tell some friends were you are heading.

When you arrive back at home, leave your camera in the bag until it reaches room temperature again. This way, you can avoid condensation buildup in and around the body and lenses.

Thank you Johan for the tips!

You can see more of Johan’s photography at www.johanstephan.com.

Nikon D800E, AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II, Johan Stephan, www.johanstephan.com, winter photography, Sweden, photography, shooting in cold weather

Nikon D800E with a AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II // Settings: 105mm, ISO 100, 1/250 Sec, f /2.8, © Johan Stephan

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Following our last blog on 360° Panoramic Photography – the first of the three photography trends we’re predicting in 2013, we’re excited to be revealing our next trend: Monochrome photography.

To talk us through this trend in more detail we caught up with Jeremy Walker, an award winning British photographer, specialising in high quality landscape and location photography from around the world.

Through his work he is exposed to a variety of photo trends, but with recent photography fashion relying on the application of filters and effects he believes we will respond by taking a back to basics approach – producing beautiful, classic and elegant black and white photography.

Can you talk us through what Monochrome photography is?

Black and white images take us back to where photography began. Creating monochrome images is photography in its simplest, raw form. They are uncluttered from the distractions of colour, focusing purely on the photo’s tone, texture, shape, drama, mood and crucially on its visual impact.

Slains Castle, Scotland.

Image © Jeremy Walker taken with a Nikon D3X at focal length 35mm, ISO 100, aperture f/8, exposure time 30sec

Why will we see more of it in 2013?

We live in a world of colour, widescreen televisions, iPads and smartphones – we are bombarded with bright images from every angle, every day. Black and white photography is the antidote to the modern world. It is imaging at its creative best that will stand out from the crowd. When done right, it can be visionary, a novelty. It is still considered to be cool and it is definitely art.

Monochrome images suit a broad spectrum of subject matter, from people and architecture to travel and landscapes. They work well in all lighting conditions and ‘poor’ light can become moody and dramatic – a photographer’s best friend.

Above all black and white imagery has simplicity and depth – qualities that in a colour world will stand out from the crowd and have impact.

Jeremy Walker 2_small

Image © Jeremy Walker taken with a Nikon D200 at 200 ISO with NIKKOR 70-200mm at focal length 200mm, shutter speed 1/250 secs, aperture f/2.8, hand held with vibration reduction on

Can you share with us any tips for getting the most out of beautiful black and white photography?

Give your image depth – Due to the lack of colour to lead the eye, look for foreground interest, middle distance subject matter and then ideally something in the background when framing your shot. If you choose to isolate one element instead, place it a third of the way into the frame – this is known as the ‘Rule of Thirds’, a technique photographers have been using successfully for years.

Consider all angles and viewpointsSearch for the quirky and different, avoid following the crowd. The lack of colour forces the viewer to concentrate much more on the composition, so be creative. The Nikon D5200’s vari-angle LCD monitor helps you take images from virtually any position.

Observe the natural direction of the lightMonitor how it changes during the day and with varying weather conditions. Identifying strong shadows, tones, textures and shapes will be integral to the monochrome image. Artificial light sources such as street lamps and torches can be useful as you will not have to worry about creating unwanted colour casts.

Experiment with different shutter speedsSlower shutter speeds will introduce blur, motion and a new dynamic to an image. By mounting your camera on a tripod you can use slow shutter speeds of seconds or even minutes to produce ghostly, ethereal black and white images. This works at its best when one part of the subject moves during the exposure and goes blurry (such as waves) and one element is stationary and will remain sharp (cliffs and rocks) – a perfect technique for coastal scenes, rivers and waterfalls.

Try moving the camera during the exposure Usually known as panning, choose a moving subject, such as a person running, a car or a train, point the camera at your subject and move in the same direction of travel. If you use a moderately slow shutter speed (such as a 15th of a second) your subject will be sharp but the background blurred, giving a sense of motion and direction. However, you will need to experiment with different speeds before you find the ideal setting.

If you’re inspired by Jeremy’s tips, will you be giving black and white photograph a try? Let us if there’s any tips you’d like to share with fans by commenting below!

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