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Panning - Vehicles
Care to share your panning techniques?.

I've got a D80 with the 18-135mm lens. I've tried practising panning shots of vehicle movements like cars or motorcycle driving past near my home. But no success so far..

How did you guys do it? Like, what is the suitable shutter speed? How do you track your subject? Do you press and hold your shutter button while tracking?.

Thanks in advance..

Zac..

Comments (16)

I'm a Canon shooter, but I assume Nikon has analogous capabilities....

1. Go into whatever they call their "AI Servo" (as opposed to one-shot) mode..

2. Set the camera to focus using only the center point..

3. If the AI tracking mode is good, you should be able to half-press the shutter for a few seconds so the camera can acquire the target, and then start shooting. The camera should track..

4. Use the highest sequence firing rate you can. 5 fps, 8 fps or whatever..

5. Use the highest ISO you can *that doesn't give you unbearable noise*. For the D80, I suspect that's around ISO 400..

6. Use a shutter speed faster than 1/500. If the vehicle is moving fast, you'll want 1/1000 or more (so you're going to set the camera to Shutter Priority mode)..

7. Once your shutter is set, dial in a reasonable aperture. Larger will let you use a faster shutter. Smaller (ie larger number) will give you more depth-of-field, and thus allow the camera a bit more forgiveness in focusing error..

8. Practice panning...just tracking objects. I practice on dogs and horses running, planes flying overhead, and so on. The objects should be moving across your field of view, rather than directly toward or away from you (I assume this is how the cars you're trying to photograph are moving)..

9. Canon lenses have 2 image stabilization ("VR" in Nikon terms) modes on their lenses. One stabilizes in all directions, and the other only stabilizes vertically. For tracking, the latter is what you use. Maybe Nikon has similar settings on their VR lenses..

That should get you started.....

Comment #1

Hi.

Thank you for the instructions. Really appreciate it..

I'll post some pics when I can get some successful shots..

Zac..

Comment #2

Below is my practice using a P&S rather than a DSLR. For P&S, as the AF servos and camera response time is not as fast as a DSLR, this is what I do usually..

1. Prefocus at the expected distance and locked the focus by switching to manual focus..

2. Choose a smaller aperture for larger DOF so that I have more tolerance in subject distance..

3. Choose a not so fast shutter speed so that you won't totally freeze the background.4. Fine-tune the exposure with ISO setting..

5. Now every setting is locked already. Then, I will half-press the shutter release button and wait for the subject to go into my view and start panning and shoot..

P/s You need to compromise between aperture, shutter speed and ISO for the right exposure although. The following shots was overexposed a bit..

I found that the most tricky and crucial part came when pressing the shutter release button. I have the tendency to stop panning at the moment I press the button. In fact, you should continue panning while pressing the button..

This technique of locking all the setting for faster response time is only workable when your subject movement is very predictable (as in the case of vehicles). If you are shooting animals that run randomly like dogs or horses, you can't really locked the focus before hand as they might run out of pre-focused distance..

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Comment #3

Your shutter speed needs to be based on your desired outcome! Do you want everthing froze (tires) or do you want them blurry to impart a sense of speed?Make sure you are panning in the same plane of travel as your subject..

Here is one shot at 1/52 @2.8.

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Photos at http://www.pbase.com/gary_602zAll who wander are not lost!..

Comment #4

Zac69 wrote:.

Care to share your panning techniques?.

I've got a D80 with the 18-135mm lens. I've tried practising panningshots of vehicle movements like cars or motorcycle driving past nearmy home. But no success so far..

Please explain what the "failures" were? Post pix?.

How did you guys do it? Like, what is the suitable shutter speed? Howdo you track your subject? Do you press and hold your shutter buttonwhile tracking?.

Thanks in advance..

In addition to the advice you already have received....

1. Decide what kind of pic you want. There are at least 2 types: fast shutter to give zero blur (but limited DOF) and slow shutter to (hopefully) blur the background..

2. IS/VR won't help much..

3. Use a monopod and shoulder brace! Don't extend it so far that the monopod hits the ground (keep it about 6" off the ground). Hold it with your left hand at the balance point (this is to insure that the camera/pod doesn't rotate as you swing it back and forth)..

4. Face toward the spot where you want to take a pic. Rotate your body (not your feet) to the side to acquire the subject early and synchronize your rotation with the car. Focus and hold while doing this. Take 3-5 pix in a burst (as fast as camera will do it). FOLLOW THROUGH!!!.

5. Practice, practice, practice... This is a low-yield process!.

6. Throw away most of the pix!.

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7. Have fun...Charlie DavisNikon 5700, Sony R1, Nikon D300HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/'Experience: Discovering that a claw hammer will bend nails.Epiphany: Discovering that a claw hammer is two tools...'..

Comment #5

Hi Guys.

Thanks for the response!.

In my attempt to take panning shots, I always ended up getting pics that blurred everything, the subject and the background. It doesn't have the effect that I wanted, which is as the pictures that were posted, a blurred background with sharp image of the subject..

I think I got my technique wrong. I didn't half press the shutter and pan and shoot and follow through, although I set the shutter speed to 1/30s..

In my opinion, when I need to start tracking the subject and when to shoot the subject is critical in getting the desired effect. Once I can get the technique right, then I will adjust the shutter speed to get that desired effect..

Once again, I appreciate the help..

Zac..

Comment #6

Zac69 wrote:.

I think I got my technique wrong. I didn't half press the shutter andpan and shoot and follow through, although I set the shutter speed to1/30s..

Hi, I guess I know your problem... Your shuttle speed might be too low... You still need to keep in mind the 1/focal length (35mm equivalent) rule of thumb when handholding the camera or you will introduce shaking blur other than motion blur..

Image stabilizer does help here in canceling the shaking effect perpendicular to the panning direction. For example, if your IS gives you 2 stop advantage and you are using 200mm (35mm equivalent) focal length, the slowest shutter speed you can use in panning is 1/(200/2/2) = 1/50s..

Edit: You can use a good tripod with good ball head for smooth panning if you decided to go slower than the handheld rule of thumb...

Comment #7

Yep, bump your shutter speed up a little try 1/100 and adjust from there..

Gary.

Photos at http://www.pbase.com/gary_602zAll who wander are not lost!..

Comment #8

Great Guys!.

Thanks for the pointers. I'll try a few shots and will post some pics..

Zac..

Comment #9

Zac69 wrote:.

Hi Guys.

Thanks for the response!.

In my attempt to take panning shots, I always ended up getting picsthat blurred everything, the subject and the background. It doesn'thave the effect that I wanted, which is as the pictures that wereposted, a blurred background with sharp image of the subject..

I think I got my technique wrong. I didn't half press the shutter andpan and shoot and follow through, although I set the shutter speed to1/30s..

I forgot to mention the exposure time issue. I did leave the EXIF data intact when I posted my 4 examples. As the others mentioned, something around 0.01 sec is best. Do you know how to look at the EXIF data?.

In my opinion, when I need to start tracking the subject and when toshoot the subject is critical in getting the desired effect. Once Ican get the technique right, then I will adjust the shutter speed toget that desired effect..

Don't wait...set the exposure time first. Try 0.008 sec to start (that's what we formerly called 1/125 sec)..

Charlie DavisNikon 5700, Sony R1, Nikon D300HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/'Experience: Discovering that a claw hammer will bend nails.Epiphany: Discovering that a claw hammer is two tools...'..

Comment #10

Hi Charlie.

As for the Exif data, I'm using the D80, so I would go to the playback mode and push the up/down arrows to look at the data..

I'll take note on setting the exposure time first..

Thanks and regards..

Zac..

Comment #11

This is a panning shot I took from my 14th floor apartment. Picture kind of noisy..

Shot using Shutter mode @ 1/30s ISO1600. Distance about 100m from my window. Subject is the lorry. Not a sharp pic. Will try again in daylight..

Http://www.flickr.com/photos/23260285@N02/2467282425/.

Regards.

Zac.

Ps: not sure how to paste pics in the message box...

Comment #12

Hi, to embed the picture inside the post, you just need to type the image URL here. You can get the URL in flickr by seeing your photo in "All Sizes". Get the one end with ".jpg". (You can quote one of our message to see how we type).

I have seen your photos... I think the subject was too small... My suggestion is to use a longer focal length like 200mm with shutter speed around 1/60~1/100 (if your lens hv IS). The background motion effect will be more prominent with longer focal length..

Also, I can see that your subject distance is pretty much predictable as the road is somehow perpendicular to your window. I would suggest you to lock the focus at the road first as there are a lot of objects like trees, road dividers and bus stop that will distract your autofocus system. By doing this, at least you have make sure that you will get the right focus...

Comment #13

I don't have the Nikon so I can't speak specifically to that camera. I have an.

E510 which has image stabilization for panning. That is it stabilizes the vertical while allowing a horizontal pan..

What I learned to do is first set the zoom so you have reasonable room around the object BEFORE you actually start taking your shots. So if you are at the track you pick a couple of points and just sit on them so you get the zoom level correct for that point and then I don't change it..

I set the camera for continuous focus and continuous shooting. I pre-focus (shutter half way down) on a car coming around and follow it till it is close to where I want to shoot hold down the shutter and let the camera do the rest. I move the camera and try to keep the car centered. I've tried shots as low as 1/60 but have found that about 1/120 works best..

I dont like fast shutter speeds as it totaly defeats the purpose of panning. If you are going to use a fast shutter speed there is not much point in paning. If you are going to pan and try to capture the motion of the object, just face the fact that you are not going to get 100% keepers. If you get 50% be very happy. 20% really GOOD shots would be ok..

Here are a couple of mine. They are a little dark but that is because I was in a hurry doing my post processing and has nothing to do with the camera..

Jim.

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Olympus E-510 and a bunch of stuff to hang on it...

Comment #14

Thanks for the pointers, Skylark..

I just want to get the panning method right first. I'll get some pics this weekend. This time it will be closer to my subjects..

Regards.

Zac..

Comment #15

Thanks for the pointers Jim. Good shots and technique..

Will try out panning again this weekend..

Regards.

Zac..

Comment #16

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