I went to the Market Square Day 10K road race just before the monsoon washed out the Market Square Day in Portsmouth, NH. I knew when I got up that there was no chance of sun. It was a really dark cloudy morning, and not just the passing by cloudy type either, but several layers of clouds that were building into rain. I knew getting enough light for what I wanted to do was going to be a challenge. Several test shots revealed that 1/800th was just wishful thinking and anything using my Nikon 70-300 f3.5-5.6 was going to have a hard time. Even f2.8 on my Nikon 24-70 f2.8 was not good as I didn’t want the shallow depth of filed. Of course putting it into shutter priority mode basically meant the camera would match my shutter speed, stick the aperture at wide open and let ISO drift up. Sigh….
Above you will see the first place wheelchair finisher – Keith Winchell, 48 years old. He was about a full five minutes ahead of all the runners. It amazing how fast race chairs go. Great job!
Congratulations to the 1740 people that crossed the finish line! This was a big race and unlike smaller races where I could actually get every person running, this race was just too much for that. Plus this time I decided to catch the starting line, then take a few shots in the middle and finally hurry off to the finish line. You really need two or three photographers to capture a race this big. Instead I went to work and figured I would get a small sample of what the race was like. You can view what I published on my photo site.
Erica Jesseman, age 22, was first place Womans winner.
You’ll notice that in these shots I had to trim my speed down to 1/500th of a second. If I went slower to say 1/400th, I was worried about motion blur. Any faster and my ISO was going to push up above the 700 to 800 that I was already hitting. As it is, f4.5 at 92mm was wide open for my lens – I was at the limits with no good options. My D90 is good to about ISO 1100, but who really wants to go there?
Now I think these photos are good on my Nikon 70-300 lens, but I had to sort through a ton of crap to get them. I’m really itching for a Nikon 70-200 f2.8 VR-II where I’ll get a higher percentage of keepers. Of course I have to wait for Japan to recover and the factories to start producing them again. You can’t find them in stock anywhere and if you do they are gouging you on price.
The difference between my 70-300 and the 70-200 is more than just f2.8 vs f5.6. The auto-focus is lightning fast and the image quality is insanely great. It has a fixed aperture so if I decided to shoot full manual, every shot would stay at my fixed aperture. On the 70-300 its f3.5 at 70mm and scales up to f5.6 at 300mm. This makes shooting anything under f5.6 on full manual difficult to shoot because your aperture changes as you zoom.
If you look at the shot below, I took that with my Nikon 24-70 f2.8 at f2.8. This is the companion lens to the 70-200 f2.8. Although not the greatest photo, look at the buildings in the upper right, you see a very subtle background blur (bokeh), that is just buttery smooth, sharp and delicious. This is just something my cheap 70-300 just won’t do – at least not in my hands.