FIA WEC 6H SPA | MAY 2014
Most of my professional photography assignments are in autosport photography, whether it be rally or race track.
On May 2nd and 3th, the second race of the FIA WEC championship 2014 took place on my home circuit Spa Francorchamps. WEC stands for World Endurance Championship and is organised by the FIA, the organisation also responsable for the F1 and WRC (World Rally Championship). The 24 hours of Le Mans, which takes place on June 14th this year, is the most important race in the WEC championship and it is probably the biggest race in the world with over 250000 spectators every year coming from all over the world. The LMP1 category in this championship is a technological battleground between Audi, Toyota, Porsche (since this year) and Nissan (next year). These LMP1 cars are the most advanced endurance machines on the planet. Hybrid technology, energy recuperation, ... They go over 330 km/h.
So this was the ideal event to test the abilities of my Fujifilm X-T1 in the field of autosport photography.
I was convinced that the X-T1 would perform very well in pit lane photography. It is small, lightweight, fast. You can change the settings easily to produce motion effects : see the motion blurred technicians working in the pit lane or the Porsche car leaving the stand after a tire change. The tiltable LCD screen is a major plus for frog eye and helicopter view pictures in the pit lane or during the grid walk.
But what about shooting race track side : moving objects such as these cars put the autofocus tracking system of your camera to its most extreme testing. How would the X-T1 hold up in comparison to major brand DSLR's, when these cars fly by at 300+km/h speeds at 5 meters from your lens ?
Actually ... it did pretty well judging from the results. At the beginning I had a very hard time to get things into focus, but after I while I adapted my technique (I will explain this in a later post), and things got going ... really well. I had taken my DSLR gear to make these shots as some of them are published in the Dutch edition of Turbo Magazine and the newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws, fearing that the autofocus system of the X-T1 would not be up for the job. But I found myself shooting only the X-T1. The pictures are certainly as good as my DSLR shots !
Track side I mainly used the 55-200 mm, occasionally the 18-55 mm. To shoot the grid walk, I mainly used the fabulous 10-24 mm wide angle, as the grid is so crowded during the grid walk that you really need to be as close as possible to your subjects. In the pit lane I used all three zoom lenses plus the magnificent 56 mm f/1.2 lens which allows for extreme shallow depth of field. The cover photo of this page, the Aston Martin wing, is shot with this 56 mm lens.
On thursday, we had a highly exclusive interview with Mark Webber, the former F1 pilot and teammate of Sebastian Vettel. He changed from F1 to WEC this year and is driving for Porsche. I took his portrait for Het Laatste Nieuws, which published it over almost the entire page. The 56 mm did a marvellous job.
During the free practice sessions on friday, it was raining. Again, no problem for the weather resistant X-T1.
Up for the next adventure in autosport photography with the X-T1 ! Meanwhile, working on my shots from our Morocco Photo Adventure: coming soon, stay tuned !