Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Keeping a Sharp Focus on the Object-in-Motion

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Keeping a Sharp Focus on the Object-in-Motion

Article excerpt

In a field that demands a steady hand and a quick eye, autofocus has been a revelation to photographers

The ability to follow focus used to separate the men from the boys in sports photography, according to Jerry Lodriguss, a sports photographer for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Not anymore. Autofocus has eliminated the need for that particular skill.

Lodriguss is a fairly recent convert. He dates his conversion to autofocus to Nov. 13, 1996, when he received his first Nikon F5. "It [autofocus] definitely saved my career," he says.

New York TIMes sports photographer Barton Silverman, who has been shooting sports exclusively for 10 of his 35 years as a newspaper photographer, says his use of autofocus goes back eight years to the TIMe he switched to the Canon EOS-1. Before that, he adds, "I use to follow focus on everything."

Neither photographer relies on autofocus exclusively, though. Both prefocus their remote cameras and Silverman says he uses manual focus in low light, like for "the [horse] barns at Belmont."

Lodriguss says continuous autofocus that locks on a moving subject as the camera follows the action seems to work better when his Nikon F5 is horizontal than when it is vertical and the action is moving horizontally.

Both photographers lock focus on second base in baseball. Silverman adds, "[Lock focus] is a good feature in golf, too." In winter sports, Silverman says, he hand focuses for skiing, and for ice skating, he fix focuses and waits for the skater to come into the frame. "They're moving so fast," he explains.

Lodriguss says even with the Nikon F5's short response TIMe between shutter release and exposure, the delay between the eye seeing an action in sports and its capture on film is a lot "longer than most people think it is."

Besides the camera's response TIMe, there is also the human response TIMe. Without anticipating action, he adds, "You're not going to get what you see."

The same goes for motor drives. Even with the F5's record-breaking burst of eight autofocused frames per second, he explains, "You're still going to miss pictures between frames."

If you want to catch it all, he suggests, you use a Hulcher (a high- speed, medium-format camera that operates like a motion-picture camera). …

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