How To Travel With Your Camera Gear

How To Travel With Your Camera Gear

How To Travel With Your Camera Gear

As a photographer, anytime you get to travel anywhere, it always means different new and exciting opportunities to photograph.

But travelling with your camera gear can also be quite stressful. Trust me, as a professional motorsport photographer travelling to over 30 motorsport events each year, I go through that same stress every time I go to the airport.

My livelihood depends on my camera gear working at every event I attend, so I understand just how important it is to take extra care when packing and handling your camera gear ahead of your travels.

Let’s take a look at what you can do to ease the stress of bringing your camera gear safely with you each time you travel.

Invest In A Good Camera Bag

The first and foremost thing to address when travelling with your camera gear is to ensure you have a good camera bag.

Whether that bag is a backpack, carry on sized roller, or something bigger that needs to be checked in will ultimately come down to you and how much camera gear you plan to travel with. But you need to make sure that it is well-padded to protect your gear from bumps and drops along the way (especially if you know you need to check it in).

A level of weather resistance is also important. We all know camera gear and water do play well together, so ensuring that the bag you purchase provides a level of protection while you are travelling around is important. Even if it’s just getting from the airport or hotel to your transport, it doesn’t take long in heavy rain for you to run into issues.

Lastly, but certainly most importantly, look for a camera bag that is secure and lockable. No matter if it’s a backpack that you think you are going to have with you at all times or a bag that needs to be checked in a secure lockable bag is just going to give you that extra piece of mind.

Keep in mind when purchasing a camera bag that things happen while travelling. Camera gear, in particular, is heavy, and if your airline is checking bag weights at the gate, you might be forced to gate-check it, especially here in Australia. Or worse yet, like when travelling across the United States, where they board in group allocations based on frequent flyer status, there may be no room in the cabin overhead bins by the time you board (even if you are in Group 1 or 2 because there are usually few higher priority groups before they even get to the numbers) and you’ll be forced to gate check your bag anyway.

It’s also worth noting that certain styles of camera bags can draw extra attention to you. Pelican cases are a great example. Yes, they provide an extra level of security and protection to your gear that’s why I use one, but it’s also extremely obvious to everyone around you that you have expensive gear with you. This brings extra, often unwanted, attention when travelling, particularly internationally, with customs and immigration amongst everything else you are already concerned with.

You might be better off with a camera bag that is a little more inconspicuous from another brand, like Tenba or ThinkTank.

Carry-On Your Camera Gear When Possible

As I’ve just touched on, this isn’t always possible. But the best way to ensure your camera gear travels as safely as possible is to keep it with you at all times.

If I had a preference, I would take my camera gear carry-on and then have a separate suitcase for clothes and other items I need in my travels which I would then check in. Unfortunately, given the rules around air travel here in Australia and the weight limitations for carry-on luggage, it’s not possible, and I need to check my camera gear in when I travel. However, in other countries I’ve visited, they are less concerned about the weight and really only worried about the dimensions of your luggage, which gives you a little more freedom to bring it with you.

Pack Your Camera Gear Properly

Obviously, I’ve already outlined that your camera bag needs to be padded to protect your gear. But you also need to ensure that you limit how much your gear moves within the bag.

Making sure your camera gear is securely positioned within your camera bag will limit the likelihood of it getting damaged if your bag is dropped or takes a tumble, be that a mishap of your own or something else outside of your control (an aggressive baggage handler or uber driver are just a couple of examples that come to mind).

I’ve set up the padded dividers in my camera bag to be as snug as possible around my gear, but the depth of the bag is fixed. While that is the perfect size for my camera bodies, it leaves a bit of room for my lenses to move around. To alleviate this, I pack in soft items around my lenses to keep them secure and limit their ability to move around while in transit.

I’ve also spoken to Canon Professional Services (CPS) a few times about travelling with camera gear as well. They also recommended wrapping your lenses and camera bodies in bubble wrap, just to be extra secure. I’ve got to admit, I haven’t implemented this strategy, but if you are super concerned, it’ll give you an extra level of reassurance.

Make Sure You Can Keep Track Of Your Bag At All Times

These days it is easier than ever to keep track of your camera gear at all times. Apple AirTags, along with other similar devices, allow you to keep tabs on the location of your equipment.

Obviously, there are some practical limitations on attaching AirTags to each item of your camera gear, but there is no reason you can’t have one securely in each of your bags so you can find out where they are if you need to.

I find AirTags are a great way to make sure that my bags have made the same flight as me. They also come in handy to locate my gear when it unexpectedly comes out as oversized luggage, etc.

If you aren’t used to travelling with a backpack etc, the left-behind reminders could also be a handy asset to ensure you don’t get too far without it.

Keep Extra Batteries And Memory Cards With You

When travelling with your camera gear, always keep your extra batteries and memory cards with you.

For your memory cards, it goes without saying, especially for the trip back home, you want to make sure you have them with you, so in the worst-case scenario, you still have your photos. I really hope you are never in a position to experience it, but when travelling, there are many things outside of your direct control. It would be a shame to lose all of your photos for any one of those reasons.

As for batteries, there is a far more practical reason. Airlines are absolutely paranoid about lithium batteries. And for good reason. So make sure you keep your batteries with you in your carry-on bag and make sure you use the covers that came with the batteries to ensure that the terminals are securely protected to avoid any short-circuits.

You don’t want to give airport security any legitimate reason to confiscate your expense spare batteries. New Zealand, in particular, is super conscious of batteries and air travel and routinely confiscates batteries that aren’t packed perfectly in line with their rules and regulations.

Take Advantage Of Insurance

If you are working as a professional photographer, you should have insurance anyway. In fact, in most instances, it’s a requirement. But just make sure that your policy covers your camera gear when you travel as well.

When you travel, particularly when travelling to another country, you should have travel insurance to cover you just in case something should happen. And while most of those travel insurance policies cover the loss or damage of your luggage, it’s often limited to $1000 per item with a total coverage typically limited to $5000-$10000 depending on the policy. As you are no doubt aware, our camera gear is often much more expensive than that.

I travel a lot, as I mentioned earlier, so I make sure that my photography business insurance covers my camera gear no matter where in the world I end up. Then I also make sure I have an annual travel insurance policy to cover anything else that might happen while I’m away.

Thankfully, I rarely need to use it. But that extra reassurance to know no matter what happens that I’m covered goes a long way to alleviating the stress of travelling to and from different events.

Wrap Up

Yes, travelling with your camera gear can be stressful, especially if you rely on it for your income like I do. But there is a lot you can do before you leave to make sure to alleviate any issues that might present themselves while travelling. By following these tips, you can help ensure that your camera gear stays safe and protected.

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Rhys Vandersyde

Rhys Vandersyde

I've been working as a motorsport photographer in Australia since 2012, building up my business InSyde Media. I am very fortunate that I have been able to work at all sorts of motorsport events including Supercars, F1 and WRC all over Australia and New Zealand. Also, check out my personal website where I document my travels and a few other things.

The Best Sony Lenses for Motorsport Photography

The Best Sony Lenses for Motorsport Photography

The Best Sony Lenses for Motorsport Photography

Yes, I’m a Canon photographer. But, since I helped out the Nikon motorsport photographers, I couldn’t leave out the Sony users.

Sony was a pioneer in full-frame mirrorless cameras, breaking into the motorsport photography market while Canon and Nikon were still producing DSLRs. While they have well and truly caught out now, Sony camera gear is just as common at race tracks as the other two brands.

With that in mind, I took it upon myself to test out some Sony gear (and ask a couple of other professional motorsport photographers) to determine which of the E Mount lenses are best suited for motorsport photography.

The Best Sony E Mount Lenses for Motorsport Photography

The Best Sony Lenses for Motorsport Photography

As I mentioned in the introduction, Sony was one of the first camera manufacturers to truly go all in with full-frame mirrorless bodies. And as such, they’ve got a well established and diverse collection of lenses available for the E Mount. So, let’s take a look at which ones are best suited for motorsport photography.

Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS II

As always, my first recommendation from any camera, well… lens manufacturer, is the 70-200. For Sony, that is the FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS II. This upgraded version, released in 2021, is a solid step up on the original top-of-the-line GM version of the 70-200 with improved autofocus speed and image sharpness, and it’s also significantly lighter.

Just watch out when you are looking to make a purchase, though. Sony actually has several variations of their 70-200 lenses, including a less sharp G version and a couple of F4 models, which can confuse matters, especially if you are looking to snag a deal. Always double-check the model number before making the transaction.

Check the latest pricing on the Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS II (SEL70200GM2) here: US (Adorama), UK (Park Cameras), Australia (DigiDirect)

Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS

For a long lens, Sony has two very good zoom options in their Gold range. And while the Sony FE 100-400 GM is a slightly sharper lens, the extra reach of the Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS makes it much more versatile for motorsport photography.

Check the latest pricing on the Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS (SEL200600G) here: US (Adorama), UK (Park Cameras), Australia (DigiDirect)

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II

Sony has been doing the mirrorless full-frame camera thing for a little while now and, as such, has started revisiting the lenses they released when their Alpha range of cameras first launched. One of those key lenses is the Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II. Smaller, lighter, with better image quality and autofocus speed than its predecessor, all make this lens stand out over some of the others with a similar focal range from Sony. The autofocus, in particular, is ideal for motorsport photography.

Check the latest pricing on the Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens (SEL2470GM2) here: US (Adorama), UK (Park Cameras), Australia (DigiDirect)

Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II

Also recently upgraded (in fact, very recently, being released in late 2023), the Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II stands out as the best wide-angle lens in Sony’s range. Much like the 24-70, the 16-35 is now smaller and lighter, but it’s the improvements in the autofocus speeds that make it really stand out for use in motorsport photography over some of the other lenses in Sony’s range.

Check the latest pricing on the Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II (SEL1635GM2) here: US (Adorama), UK (Park Cameras), Australia (DigiDirect)

Sony Lens Designations

What do those codes in Nikon’s lens names mean? Let me decode them for you:

  • OSS – Optical SteadyShot (Sony’s version of Image Stabilisation)
  • FE – Full Frame E Mount
  • G or GM – Sony’s designation for its top-tier Gold and Gold Master lenses, with G Master, labelled as GM, being the best for image quality.
  • II – Lens Version – Upgraded lenses since their initial launch.
 

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Rhys Vandersyde

Rhys Vandersyde

I've been working as a motorsport photographer in Australia since 2012, building up my business InSyde Media. I am very fortunate that I have been able to work at all sorts of motorsport events including Supercars, F1 and WRC all over Australia and New Zealand. Also, check out my personal website where I document my travels and a few other things.

The Best Nikon Lenses for Motorsport Photography

The Best Nikon Lenses for Motorsport Photography

The Best Nikon Lenses for Motorsport Photography

It’s pretty common knowledge that I’m a Canon user. However, I am here to help all motorsport photographers, no matter your brand allegiance. And to be fair, Nikon makes some pretty good gear, too. Just don’t tell Canon I said that.

So, I’ve taken the time and tested out some Nikon gear to determine which lenses from their range Z mount glass are most suitable for motorsport photography.

In the past, I have tested out some of Nikon’s older DSLR gear as well, including their F mount glass, but I didn’t take as extensive notes with those to make any recommendations.

The Best Nikon Z Mount Lenses for Motorsport Photography

The Best Nikon Z Mount Lenses for Motorsport Photography

I know I mention this every time I write a post about lenses, but it’s true. Good lenses will last you way longer than any camera body will. So, spending a little extra on the right lenses is always a much better idea than trying to save money. That’s why I always recommend Nikon’s S-Line designation of lenses.

NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S

The first lens I’m always going to recommend that you purchase for motorsport photography is the 70-200mm, and for Nikon’s Z mount, that’s in the form of the NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S. It’s the go-to lens for most photographers for many reasons, which I’ve outlined in this post.

Check the latest pricing on the NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S here: US (Adorama), UK (Park Cameras), Australia (DigiDirect)

NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S

Nikon has done a really good job of bringing their big prime lenses to the Z mount. However, given how expensive they are and their lack of versatility, I would actually recommend investing in the NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S. While it doesn’t have the reach of the NIKKOR Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR, the image quality and weather sealing make it a much better long term lens investment, especially in the unpredictable environment of motorsport photography.

Check the latest pricing on the NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S here: US (Adorama), UK (Park Cameras), Australia (DigiDirect)

NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S

When it comes to shorter lenses, Nikon has a whole bunch of options. If you are looking for a lens that you aren’t going to outgrow, the NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S is the highest-quality lens in the range. Just keep in mind that these shorter lenses from Nikon don’t feature Vibration Reduction.

Check the latest pricing on the NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S here: US (Adorama), UK (Park Cameras), Australia (DigiDirect)

NIKKOR Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S

In the same vein as the NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, out of all of the wide-angle lenses Z mount range, only the NIKKOR Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S has been given the S-Line treatment, meaning that you won’t outgrow it. Yes, this lens is a premium investment over some of the other options, but you’ll definitely notice the difference over Nikon’s other options.

Check the latest pricing on the NIKKOR Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S here: US (Adorama), UK (Park Cameras), Australia (DigiDirect)

Nikon Lens Designations

What do those codes in Nikon’s lens names mean? Let me decode them for you:

  • VR – Vibration Reduction (Nikon’s version of Image Stabilisation)
  • S – Nikon’s premium S-Line lenses.
  • DX – Nikon’s designation for crop sensor lenses

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Rhys Vandersyde

Rhys Vandersyde

I've been working as a motorsport photographer in Australia since 2012, building up my business InSyde Media. I am very fortunate that I have been able to work at all sorts of motorsport events including Supercars, F1 and WRC all over Australia and New Zealand. Also, check out my personal website where I document my travels and a few other things.

The Best Canon Lenses for Motorsport Photography

The Best Canon Lenses for Motorsport Photography

The Best Canon Lenses for Motorsport Photography

Your investment in Canon lenses for motorsport photography is far more important than the camera bodies you purchase.

Technology in Canon’s camera bodies is advancing at such a rate that they warrant being replaced every few years. But a good lens purchase will last you decades. In fact, if it wasn’t for Canon changing over to the RF mount with the switch to mirrorless technology, I’d still be using the lenses that I purchased well over a decade ago.

With that in mind, and the special considerations for purchasing lenses to enhance your motorsport photography, here are my recommendations for the best Canon lenses for motorsport photography on both the RF mount platform (mirrorless) and EF mount (DSLR).

The Best Canon RF Mount Lenses for Motorsport Photography

Camera Lenses

If you are new to motorsport photography and just starting to buy Canon equipment or have started to make the switch over to Canon’s mirrorless platform, then purchasing RF mount lenses makes the most sense. As I mentioned in the introduction, good-quality lenses last a long, long time. If you are going to spend the money on a good lens, then make sure it is something that you can continue to use as you build your skills and continue to upgrade your camera bodies.

Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM

As I mentioned in my which lenses do you need for motorsport photography post, the Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM is the very first lens you should look to purchase when looking to upgrade your gear to take better photos trackside. This lens is a staple for all sports photographers. The combination of its fast aperture and decent zoom range gives you the versatility to capture a range of shots of cars on track, even in low-light situations like night racing, while also allowing you to get good-quality photos of your favourite drivers around the garages and paddock without getting in the way.

For these reasons, it’s one of my go-to lenses every time I’m at the track.

Check the latest pricing on the Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM here: US (Adorama), UK (Park Cameras), Australia (DigiDirect)

Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM

Once you start to reach the limitation of the 70-200, it’s time to look for more reach. That’s where the Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM comes in handy. As Canon has continued to build up its selection of RF mount lenses, they’ve started to add some longer lenses to the range. Having tried a few of them, I keep coming back to the 100-500mm.

It’s by no means perfect; it certainly has some limitations, particularly in low-light situations like night racing. But in terms of bang for buck, versatility and being small enough to travel with easily, it’s worth the trade offs. That said, I am keeping a very close eye on Canon’s developments with big zoom RF mount lenses. As you can read here, I really liked the Canon RF 100-300mm f/2.8L IS USM, but if I’m travelling with a big lens, I’d like it to have a bit more reach.

Check the latest pricing on the Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM here: US (Adorama), UK (Park Cameras), Australia (DigiDirect)

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM

When it comes to a great all-rounder lens, it’s hard to go past the Canon RF 24-105 f/4L IS USM. Yes, Canon does have a few good RF lenses that could fulfil this role; however, for motorsport photography, when it comes to value for money, zoom range and size, this is the perfect lens.

For over double the price, it’s hard to justify the extra expense of either the RF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM or the RF 24-105mm f/2.8L IS USM Z on the odd occasions that a wider aperture would be in handy.

Check the latest pricing on the Canon RF 24-105 f/4L IS USM here: US (Adorama), UK (Park Cameras), Australia (DigiDirect)

Canon RF 14-35mm f/4 USM

It might not be immediately obvious, but wide-angle lenses come in handy for motorsport photography. There are times when being able to go wider than 24mm greatly enhances your photos which you will discover as you start to take your photography more seriously. This is why I recommend adding an RF 14-35mm f/4L IS USM to your kit bag.

Check the latest pricing on the Canon RF 24-105 f/4L IS USM here: US (Adorama), UK (Park Cameras), Australia (DigiDirect)

The Best Canon EF Mount Lenses for Motorsport Photography

Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III USM

That all said, if you’ve already heavily invested in Canon’s DLSR range of gear or you are looking to pick up some good deals on second-hand EF mount glass to enhance your motorsport photography, here are my recommendations.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM

Like I said in the RF mount section, the 70-200 is a staple for sports photographers. It’s just an extremely versatile lens, no matter which platform you are purchasing it for. The EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM was the last iteration of the lens developed for the EF mount before Canon switched to the RF mount, making it the ideal choice if you are still using DLSR bodies. That said, if you find a good second-hand deal on the version II model, that’s also a very good lens. Mine helped me create stunning photos for over a decade.

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM

Before the 100-500mm in the RF mount, the Canon EF 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM was my go-to long zoom lens for all of the same reasons I mentioned above. If you are looking to buy one second-hand, stick to the upgraded version 2 model. The original 100-400mm wasn’t quite as sharp and had a unique push/pull zoom which was awkward to use.

Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III USM

In terms of a big lens for the EF mount, it’s hard to go past the Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III USM. As with all big prime lenses, it was an incredibly good-quality lens. In fact, I know a lot of photographers have continued to use this lens with an EF to RF mount converter, after switching across to mirrorless bodies.

All of Canon’s big prime lenses for the EF mount were very expensive to purchase brand new. However, on the second-hand market, you can often find some very good deals on these big lenses. If you are looking for a very good EF mount lens, try to look out for a good quality second-hand EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III USM. Even the older version II model of the lens still holds up to this day.

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM

As per my recommendation for the RF mount, the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM is a very good, versatile lens, but just make sure you stick to the version II model. If you are looking for second-hand gear, you might notice that the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM is also very similarly priced. While it does have the benefit of a wider aperture, it doesn’t feature image stabilisation.

Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L III USM

In terms of wide-angle lenses in the EF mount, Canon has quite a few options to choose from, but in terms of best value, the Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L III USM.

Canon Lens Designations

What do those codes in Canon’s lens names mean? Let me decode them for you:

  • ISImage Stabilisation
  • USM – Ultra Sonic Motor (Quieter Autofocus)
  • II or III – Lens Version – For lenses that have upgraded over the years.

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Rhys Vandersyde

Rhys Vandersyde

I've been working as a motorsport photographer in Australia since 2012, building up my business InSyde Media. I am very fortunate that I have been able to work at all sorts of motorsport events including Supercars, F1 and WRC all over Australia and New Zealand. Also, check out my personal website where I document my travels and a few other things.

Canon Lens Stabilizer Mode Settings Explained

Canon Lens Stabilizer Mode Settings Explained

Canon Lens Stabilizer Mode Settings Explained

Image stabilisation is an amazing asset in modern photography, but have you ever wondered what those stabilizer mode settings on your Canon lenses really mean?

Obviously, the stabilizer on/off switch is pretty straightforward, but what about the one underneath it? The one simply labelled stabilizer mode with a 1, 2 and 3 switch? Let me break them down for you.

Introduction To Canon Lens Stabilizer Modes

As a pioneer in image stabilisation technology, Canon has long been at the forefront of reducing the impact of camera shake on the quality of a photographer’s photos.

Since introducing lens-based optical stabilisation back in 1995 with the EF 75–300mm f/4–5.6 IS USM, most EF and now RF mount lenses have featured the technology. You can easily tell if a Canon lens features stabilisation by the IS designation in the name.

In the early days of lens-based stabilisation, there was just the simple option of turning the system on or off with a small switch on the barrel of the lens. However, as technology has continued to advance, more stabilizer mode options (the second switch) were added to Canon lenses to allow you to control how the system works and what impact it has on your photos.

How Does Canon Lens Stabilisation Work?

In very simple terms, Canon’s lens-based image stabilisation technology involves the use of gyroscopic sensors to detect camera movement. Based on these detections, a group of lens elements moves correspondingly to compensate for this movement.

Even though Canon has introduced its own version of in-body image stabilisation (IBIS) with the mirrorless EOS R series of cameras, the company still uses lens-based stabilisation in its RF mount lenses, with the two systems working together to provide even more stops of stabilisation.

What is a stop of stabilisation? In image stabilisation, each stop refers to how many times you can cut your shutter speed in half and continue to get sharp photos while photographing handheld. If your camera stabilisation system is rated to 5 stops, in theory, you can cut the shutter speed in half five times and still get a sharp photo without a tripod as compared to having the stabilisation system disabled.

For more details about Canon’s image stabilisation technology, check out this article.

Understanding Canon Lens Stabilizer Mode Settings

Standard Mode (Mode 1)

This is the default setting on Canon lenses for IS. Mode 1 compensates for camera and lens shake in all directions, making it ideal for most standard photography scenarios.

Panning Mode (Mode 2)

The name might have given it away, but Mode 2 is primarily for capturing subjects in motion as we do in motorsports photography. This stabilizer mode detects the direction of the pan, disabling that axis of stabilisation while continuing to mitigate any unwanted movement in other directions to help facilitate smooth panning shots. (For more information about panning, check out this post)

Dynamic Mode (Mode 3)

The most recent addition to the stabilizer mode settings (2010), Mode 3 only activates when the shutter button is fully pressed. What this means, is that instead of IS bouncing around while you move your camera, the system is effectively disabled while you line up your photo—only locking in when you go to take the photo. Mode 3 is specifically designed for unpredictable and rapid camera movements, which can be handy when photographing motorsports.

Selecting The Right Canon Lens Stabilizer Mode Settings For Motorsport Photography

Camera Lenses

Standard Mode (Mode 1)

For the vast majority of photographers in the vast majority of photography scenarios, even motorsport photographers, there is no significant reason to use anything but Mode 1.

Using your Canon lens in its standard stabilisation mode allows your camera to use all the tools at its disposal to ensure you capture crisp, sharp photos no matter what plays out in front of you.

If you are just starting out in motorsport photography, then I would really strongly recommend leaving your Canon lenses in Mode 1. This will give you one less thing to concern yourself with while taking photos trackside.

Panning Mode (Mode 2)

Obviously, as motorsport photographers taking panning photos, Mode 2 or Panning Mode makes a lot of sense to use in theory. That said, in practice, with a good smooth panning technique and a slow enough shutter speed, you really aren’t going to notice a significant difference when switching between Mode 1 and Mode 2 for panning photos. Although, the same thing could be said about turning off the stabilizer entirely, especially if you have a really smooth panning motion.

Mode 2 does make a subtle difference when capturing your panning photos. You don’t have the stabilisation system working against you in those initial fractions of a second lining up your panning shot. But at the end of the day, photo quality-wise, you aren’t going to notice a difference between photos captured in the two different modes.

Dynamic Mode (Mode 3)

In Canon’s DSLR range of cameras, Mode 3 effectively means that stabilisation is effectively disabled until you press the shutter button, then it works out what you are doing and compensates accordingly. So if your camera is relatively stable, it will work as if it is Mode 1, while if you are moving your camera, it will work as if you’ve selected Mode 2.

The theory is that you can move your camera around swiftly without fighting the stabilisation system to quickly line up your shot, and then it’ll only activate stabilisation when you really need it.

However, I have found that in the new R Series, mirrorless cameras in the internal IBIS system tends to take over, and your framing wobbles around within the EVF until it works out what I’m doing. It’s a very odd sensory experience and takes some getting used to, often giving the same sensation as sea sickness.

Pro Tip: While moving around trackside, those little switches on your camera lenses, both the stabilizer and autofocus settings and modes, can get easily bumped and changed. In fact, I often manage to turn my autofocus off when moving through crowds, making my way to my next shooting location. It might be a good idea to get into the habit of checking your lens switches just before lining up your first shot, just to avoid any unexpected results.

Don’t Have Stabilizer Mode Setting Switch On Your Canon Lens?

The first thing to check is to see if your lens includes image stabilisation. Some older and cheaper versions of lenses did not include this feature. You can tell if a lens is suppose to have stabilsation as the lens name will feature IS in its designation.

That said, if it is an older EF mount lens, then there is a possibility that you won’t have a stabilizer mode option on your lens. Or you might only have options for Mode 1 and Mode 2.

On the more recent RF mount lenses for the mirrorless camera models, there is a possibility that the lens has automatic panning detection built-in instead of a mode switch, especially for lenses designed to pair with the Canon EOS R10 and EOS R7, which have a panning mode activated in the camera body.

What Canon Lens Stabilizer Mode Settings Do I Use?

For the most part, I’ll just leave my Canon lenses in Mode 1. Even when panning, Mode 1 doesn’t cause enough resistance that it overly impacts my hit rate. It is also one less thing to think about when trying to get as much variety of shots as possible, especially during short track sessions.

If I do find that I am struggling with my panning photos, I will change to Mode 2 to see if that helps. But that doesn’t happen very often.

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Rhys Vandersyde

Rhys Vandersyde

I've been working as a motorsport photographer in Australia since 2012, building up my business InSyde Media. I am very fortunate that I have been able to work at all sorts of motorsport events including Supercars, F1 and WRC all over Australia and New Zealand. Also, check out my personal website where I document my travels and a few other things.

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