Minolta 600mm f4 real life sports photography in the rain

Another article about my beloved 600mm f4 lens. When I take this lens to any event I could easily spend the whole event talking about this lens. It really creates gear envy with most photographers, non photographers are just impressed by the size which equates to “BIG PROFESSIONAL”. For me it is just one of the many tools. It is not the one I use the most, or the one I like to take with me. There are many drawbacks, it requires a dedicated bag, it is hard to shoot with this and have a 2nd body it always gets in the way. It is really heavy to carry around. But is has an amazing reach. Last night I did shoot a football (or soccer game if you are from the US) I had the Sony A99II with the 70-400 and the A99 with the 600mm. I did shoot 91 keepers with the 600mm and 330 with the 70-400mm. For this reason I did put the A99 behind the 70-400. 600mm is great but almost to big for the game. As soon as players get over the middle line they get too close. When the local team was playing defense

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What do you do when things work against you ? Break the rules

Some times I get into situations where the conditions are challenging at best. Last week I was shooting an event for the Ice Hockey club for a “fun” game. I know the venue pretty well. When I got there I noticed things did not look normal, dialing my in my regular settings : ISO 1600 F2.8 1/1,000 and the viewfinder was pretty much dark. Not good, I did change the speed and at 1/60s things where roughly where I wanted it to be. Not ideal to take action pictures. On the Positive I had the space between the benches which meant no plexiglass between the action and me. I decided to take out my spare speed-light, after getting the OK from the organizer of the game. Flash has it’s own challenges and 1/250s is not ideal for action, time to switch to HSS which means drain on the batteries, thankfully the Godox external pack is great for this kind of abuse. Eventually at the end of the game the recycle time did dramatically increase, I really did push the flash to hits limits. the auto zoom had to work hard with me following the action. The result is rather pleasing

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Portrait Session in Barcelona

While in Spain I did check out modelmayhem.com to see if I could find a model to collaborate and test some of the techniques I had been learning and practiced only with my dummy in my lab. This can be a hit and miss, so far I have been mostly lucky. Nidia did respond very quickly and had some great ideas about locations where to shoot. The only draw back it is a very touristy area, which means potentially lots of distraction and people. We did agree to meet on a Sunday morning early well before the shops or tours open. We did bet on good light and empty streets. This did mean that I would have to get up super early and drive 2 hours just for the session. Call it crazy or determination. The 5:00 wake up call was a lithe rough. and by 5:30 I was on the road which was mostly empty. I did drive into just as the sun was rising that alone was worth all the hassle. I had booked a parking close to the location and parked the car. The traffic had been so light that I was 45 minutes early. I started

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Kite and wind surf

I have not windsurfed in a very long time. Today as I did get back from a Photo-shoot in Barcelona. Saw the wind and really wanted to surf. With no wet suite this was not an option. The alternative was to take a few pictures. I have been surfing here since the early 80’s it does help when you know a thing or two about the sport.The weather  was really something for the hardcore fans. I managed to get some very nice pictures. Check out my selection Sony A99ii with the 70-400, Iso 400, f5.6 1/3200s

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Which is the better lens 600mm f4 or 70-400mm f4-5.6

I was recently at a game where I had both my 600mm and 70-400mm lens. The 600 mm is definitely a great tool if you want to attract attention and spend more time talking to people. It seems that many people develop an instant bad case of gear envy. So many people seem to dream about a big Glass but is it really better ? Lets get the negatives for the 600mm lens out of the way first.   The lens is super heavy, requires it dedicated backpack When you have to clean the front element you realize that the the weight is not the worst thing about this lens There is no easy way to handle this lens and multiple other cameras it will always get in the way The price of these lenses is really really expensive and you will need a special gimbal, monopod, …   I may sound over negative but just trying to keep it real. The lens is however really nice because it has that extra reach and allows you to get really tight on the action. My other lens is the 70-400 G lens V1. I have a love hate relationship with this

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Minolta 600mm f4 and Sony A99II

I have been using the A99II for a few month an totally love it for action, sports and overall it is a great camera. This time I decided to use it with my Minolta 600mm f4 APO high speed lens from 1993. That is a pretty old lens. I attached the A99II and it just worked like with the old A99 not sure the AF is any faster but it supports the new AF points. It is definitely not the fastest and the age is showing but still good enough to shoot some real football (soccer). This was shot this week for the first game of the season. An evening game with not great lights. I had to push the camera between 2000-5000 ISO nost are shot at  4000 to get a reasonable shutter speed even at f4.0. Here some sample pictures not too bad for this old lady. For this lens a monopod is an absolute must have ! I use this gitzo monopod we got it on clearance sale, any cheap one will do just as well if you pick a sturdy one. And you will need a gimbal head and a dedicated bag. This big lens may

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My journey from Sony Speed-lights to Godox

At the end of 2010 I did get the Sony A-850 with lenses and the Sony HVL-F58AM as my first serious camera. I admit that I did use the flash not very often and I had absolutely no idea on what I was doing and the results did vary. Late 2011 I head read most of Joe McNally’s Books   and also Bryans Petersons Book  on flashlight where I finally did understand how that black magic thing of a flash actually works or at least a little.  To be honest my flash was not used much until late 2012 when I was hired to take pictures for the local Ice hockey team and their fans. Flash became a weekly requirement. I used the flash on camera but at least with a Flashbender to diffuse the light. I loved the old Sony Flash mount, you could actually carry the camera from the light. That benefit did go away with the Sony A99 and the mmi adapter. I can not even remember how many time the flash did take an unexpected beating but it did survive all these crashed. Eventually after many hours of use the battery door locking decided to break

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Backup work-flow and reliability

Lets talks backups a boring subject. In our house we have a rule, there is one kind of conversation we never want to have and it would go like this : “Ehhh sweetheart I lost all the pictures from XXX (insert any important moment)” In 2001 we had a data crash on a raid drive and lost all of our music. It was only many hours to get it back but a clear warning and wake up call. From that date on we decided we wanted to secure our data. We started by : Removing the RAID Having 2 copies on 2 different drives inside the same PC We added a 3rd copy onto another Server As storage grew we upgraded the disks to avoid age related issues We bought a Synology NAS with the 3rd copy We installed Crashplan to backup between the PC, Laptop,Server and NAS and the Cloud Now with 4 copies things where perfect ? Well almost. We started to take more and more pictures and it started eat up space and cost a lot to grow the storage every 6-9 month. Eventually we did remove the local copy on the server. As storage Grew we

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Sony A99II first review

Sony Finally released the update to the A99 the long awaited A99II. When the original A99 was released in 2012 I had initially decided to not buy it. However for a new assignment  I had to get the A99. The camera was so much better than my A850 and A77 that after 1 month I bought a second A99, sold the 850 on ebay and the A77 was a backup. Fast forward to 2016 the A99 bodies have 250k+ actuation and only 55k for the A77. It has been frustrating to watch Sony release all the new features in the A7 series. And nothing in DSLR Format as a sports shooter I want the bigger body to balance the big glass. I am still waiting for the grip. Kind of disappointed that I lose the 3rd battery. The body is a little smaller but not to bad after a few gigs. Is it really better ? Well after 3 weeks I have not bought a 2nd one yet, but I keep swapping to the newer body. The file size is insanely big. After buying 300mb/s card, new card reader, PCI 3.1 slot the copy to the PC is actually a

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