How to take your own Dirt & Trail Bike Extreme Action Photographs - Hints, tips, help and advice.
How To Take Extreme Action Photos. What Camera Gear & Lenses to Use. Handling Low light and High Speed Shooting. Setting Up an Action Photo Shoot Location.
Want to learn how to take that amazing action shot? Well stay tuned, coz we're going to provide some hints and tips to help you do just that!

 Dirt Bike eXtreme Action Photography Hints

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 How To Take eXtreme Action Dirt Bike Photos 
 Part 1

 Dirt Bike Australia - HOME
How To Take eXtreme Action Dirt Bike Photos - Part 1


There are many areas (or genres) of photography where you can get consistently good results with camera equipment retailing for under AUD $2,500. Action photography is not really one of them.

Action photography combines most of the really difficult and challenging elements of photography into the one field. To make a go of it, will generally require a rather serious investment in both the Camera and Lenses. Expect to part with anywhere up to $5,000 just to get started.

For those who want to give Extreme Action Photography a try without first signing a pact with the devil, Dirt Bike Australia is preparing an article on Extreme Action Photography On A Budget ... so stay tuned.

Camera Gear & Lenses for Action Photography

Pro Gear and Repeatability (or why a cheaper camera won't cut the mustard)
In the same way that you wouln't expect a cheap dirt bike to consistently win races, there is no point in expecting a cheap camera to handle the rigors of high-speed action photography. Even exceptional skill can only go so far, to compensate for a lack of equipment performance. In the competition of capturing great action photos, the consistancy that will get professional level results relies heavily on both photographic skill and excellent camera performance.

High Frames Per Second Shooting Capability is Essential
This is actually the first place where most consumer level cameras will fall over badly. They simply are not able to take consecutive shots quickly enough. Ideally you would want a minimum frame rate of 3 frames per second (FPS), preferably 5 FPS or more ... without a high frame rate, you will miss a significant portion of the action and probably spend a lot of time cussing that fact.

High Speed Camera Memory
One of the primary causes for slow camera frame rates (low FPS), is slow camera memory. At present there are memory cards available with speeds between 100x (ok) and 300x (fast!). There are also many older 60x (or slower) memory cards that were (and still are) labelled as "Hi-Speed Memory". Always look up the actual speed before purchasing memory cards. It won't necessarily be a bargain if the cheaper memory turns out to be older and slower surplus stock.

Your camera's electronics and the speed (and type) of the memory in use, will both effect and limit how quickly your camera can store consecutive images. In general, memory cards (SD, Micro-SD, xD, Compact Flash, etc.) tend to be faster than Micro-drives (miniature hard drives) and smaller capacity memory cards are usually faster than larger capacity ones.

And assuming that you have a fast camera, you will also need a lot of that fast memory. With a 10 to 12 Megpixel camera, shooting at over three frames per second, you will fill up a GigaByte of memory with frightening rapidity. Some quick maths suggests that ... 125 x 8MB images, at 3 shots per second, will see your 1 Gig memory card filled in just under a minute of continuous shooting. Now if you happen to be saving the photos as the even larger TIFF or RAW file formats, 1GB of memory might last 15 to 20 seconds, though admittedly the camera's firmware will also be slower to save these substantially larger files.

So unless you are ok with the action passing you by while you are busy changing memory cards, you will be wanting a minimum of 2, 4 or even 8 GigaBytes loaded up and ready to go at all times (with a few spare memory cards always on hand ... just in case).

Don't Forget the Batteries
Pushing a camera through continuous high speed shooting can literally run your batteries hot. High density, high output, fully charged and long lasting Lithium-Ion batteries will generally provide the best performance for this kind of Heavy-Duty work. It is worth bearing in mind that as the battery voltage falls, so will the camera's achievable shooting speed (FPS), particularly if you are using a flash attached to and drawing power from your camera.

Most professional camera rigs provide for additional batteries to be mounted in an enlarged hand-grip housing under the camera body (under $150 on ebaY) ... but of course ... you will still always bring spares!

Big Lenses Do Make a Difference
Put simply, in the camera world more light means more options and a greater chance of success. So in this case size does matter. So what are we talking about here? Actually it is the physical lens diameter, particularly for those long Telephoto lenses (300mm to 500mm) that bring you closer to the action.

For example ... the standard 75 - 300mm lens (often sold as Camera and Lens kits) for say a Canon Digital SLR camera, will have the same barrel/filter diameter as the standard 18 - 55mm lens (58mm). This means that in use, the relatively small diameter of the 300mm telephoto lens will be "slower". That is, it will require longer exposure times.

The larger diameter telephoto lenses (often upwards of $5,000 each) can achieve substantially shorter exposure times (are faster) because they allow a greater volume of light to reach the camera, in a shorter time period. For action telephoto photography in anything less than full sunlight, this characteristic is essential.
At  f2.8, the larger diameter lens brings twice as much light into the camera for the same level of magnification. These two examples show the extremes of the range.

 Canon EF 400mm f5.6 L USM 
 approx. AUD $1,430

 Canon EF 400mm f2.8 L IS USM 
 approx. AUD $7,900
Canon EF 400mm   f5.6 L USM
approx. AUD $1,430
Canon EF 400mm   f2.8 L IS USM
approx. AUD $7,900



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