Best Camera For Motorsport Photography in 2024

Best Camera For Motorsport Photography in 2024

Best Camera For Motorsport Photography in 2024

Motorsport photography is quite unique, and so are the requirements of the camera gear you use to capture the action

The high-speed nature of the on-track action really pushes the ability of even the best cameras available. Autofocus tracking, frame rates and buffer size all get pushed to their limits when capturing motorsport photos.

However, camera technology is ever-evolving as different manufacturers bring new developments with each new camera body they release. With that in mind, heading into the new motorsport season for 2024, here are the best cameras available for motorsport photographers.

Canon R3

As Canon’s top tier (at the time of writing this) sports mirrorless body, it stands to reason that it would be the brand’s best-suited camera for motorsport photography and my personal camera of choice heading into 2024.

That said, Canon actually developed this camera with motorsport photographers in mind, introducing features with the R3 like vehicle subject detection autofocus and panning assist.

But what made the Canon R3 stand out to me when I tested it, prompting me to purchase the camera body when it was first released, was the speed and responsiveness of the autofocus system. Even from using the latest Canon 1DX at the time, the improvement was enough for me to want to make the move across to the Canon R3 as well as all the other incremental improvements you see with each new evolution of technology.

There are a couple of drawbacks to purchasing an R3 in 2024; firstly, it is quite a costly purchase, especially if you need to buy two of them as a professional. While aspiring professionals might find it a bit too expensive when just stating out.

Also, there are always rumours that something better is on the horizon. The widely rumoured Canon R1 could potentially be released this year. With the 2024 Olympics in Paris, Canon has a history of releasing updated versions of its 1 Series (particularly the 1DX range) cameras in the lead-up to each Olympics which would suggest that something better than the R3 may not be far away.

Check out the latest pricing on the Canon R3 – US (Adorama), UK (Park Cameras), Australia (DigiDirect)

Cheaper Alternative To The Canon R3

If the Canon R3 is a bit too far out of your budget, then the Canon R7 is a solid cheaper alternative.

A step up from the entry-level cameras, the R7 is a good middle-of-the-range option in Canon’s camera line-up. Obviously not as featured-packed as its top-of-the-line counterpart, the R7 does benefit from some of its features being filtered down – notably the vehicle subject detection autofocus mode.

The crop sensor does give the added benefit of extra reach, which certainly does come in handy in capturing motorsport photos from the spectator areas at most race tracks, but there are limitations in its speed and performance as you would expect for the price difference.

Check out the latest pricing on the Canon R7 – US (Adorama), UK (Park Cameras), Australia (DigiDirect)

Want to know the best Canon lenses for motorsport photography? Check out this post.

Nikon Z9

While it’s not enough for me to switch brands, Nikon also has some very good camera options for motorsport photography. The stand out is Nikon’s flagship mirrorless camera, the Z9.

As the undisputed top-tier camera in Nikon’s mirrorless range, the Z9 features the best that the brand has to offer, including its own advanced auto-focus system that includes 3D subject tracking of multiple subjects. From my experience with the Z9, albeit limited compared to Canon, it is equally as responsive, picking up race cars and following them without issue.

The Nikon Z9 easily beats its Canon rival with a higher-megapixel sensor but loses out with a slower frame rate for full RAW images, a smaller buffer and high ISO performance. Either way, both cameras are very good tools for motorsport photographers to use.

That said, there are a couple of other considerations when it comes to the Nikon Z9. While it is the top tier of Nikon’s range, it was only released a month after the R3. So, if Nikon wants to keep pace with whatever Canon is working on with the R1, I would expect an upgraded version of the Z9 in the not-too-distant future as well.

However, the biggest thing to consider when looking at the Z9, given that you are probably already a Nikon user, is the other cheaper cameras in the Nikon mirrorless range, the Z8 in particular. All of which I’ll get into in the next section.

Check out the latest pricing on the Nikon Z9 – US (Adorama), UK (Park Cameras), Australia (DigiDirect)

Cheaper Alternatives To The Nikon Z9

As I just mentioned, the Nikon Z8 is a slightly cheaper alternative to the Z9 with nearly identical internal specs: same sensor, same processor, same frame rate. Externally there are some differences. The Z8 is smaller without a vertical grip and has a smaller battery, but you can purchase the battery grip, which resolves both of those issues.

Additionally, the Z8 doesn’t feature onboard ethernet and only has one CFexpress slot, its second card slot being an SD UHS-II (the same as the Canon R3).

Check out the latest pricing on the Nikon Z8 – US (Adorama), UK (Park Cameras), Australia (DigiDirect)

Alternatively, the Nikon Z6II is an even cheaper alternative. Designed as a step up from their entry-level cameras, it features the frame rate and buffer size that you’d want for motorsport photography but lacks subject detection and some of the autofocus responsiveness of the other two Nikon options mentioned above.

Check out the latest pricing on the Nikon Z6II – US (Adorama), UK (Park Cameras), Australia (DigiDirect)

Sony A9III

Due to arrive in January (this week at the time of posting this), Sony’s latest iteration of its high-speed sports camera, the A9III, promises a bunch of new technology that should appeal to motorsport photographers.

The global shutter on a full-frame stacked sensor is touted as having many benefits including the complete elimination of rolling shutter. Although, if I’m honest, I’ve never seen a noticeable issue with rolling shutters in motorsport photography in any mirrorless camera I’ve used or tested. Other improvements in autofocus and 120fps shooting do seem very interesting.

That said, the A9III is expected to have less dynamic range than you expect from other Sony Alpha cameras, which isn’t ideal.

My best advice for Sony photographers is to wait until the Sony A9III comes out and is thoroughly tested before making any decisions about which camera body to purchase in 2024.

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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.

How To Photograph Light Trails In Motorsport

How To Photograph Light Trails In Motorsport

How To Photograph Light Trails In Motorsport

One of the most visually striking photos you can capture in motorsport, especially when it comes to endurance racing at night, is light trails.

Light trails make for some of the most iconic motorsport photos you’ve seen. You know, the ones – underneath the Dunlop Bridge at Le Mans, through Eau Rouge and Raidillon at Spa and down through The Esses at Mount Panorama, just to name a few.

So, how do you start adding these amazing light trail photos to your motorsport photography repertoire? Let’s run through everything you need to know.

Understanding The Basics Of Light Trail Photography In Motorsport

In its simplest form, a light trail photo is just a panning photo at night, but instead of moving with the car, you let the car move through the frame.

Just another term for long exposure photography, light trails require a slower shutter speed while controlling your exposure, to allow the lights of the race cars to draw their way through the photo as they move at speed through your shot.

Obviously, the more steady your camera is, the more success you are going to have in capturing light trail photos. But we’ll get into that shortly.

Essential Equipment For Capturing Light Trails

How To Quickly Find The Best Photo Spots At A New Race Track

The only real essential equipment you need to capture light trails is a DSLR or mirrorless camera where you can control the settings manually.

However, I’m going to suggest bringing a tripod with you is going to help you a lot. I have captured light trail photos completely handheld before, but the success rate wasn’t great, and I was really limited in how slow I could drop the shutter speed. You could also take advantage of any number of solid surfaces around the race track to stabilise your camera, but that really does limit how you compose your shot. So, light trails are one of the few instances where I really do recommend bringing a tripod with you to the race track.

Camera Settings For Perfect Light Trail Shots

What Is A Carnet? And Why Do I Need One As A Motorsport Photographer

As I just briefly mentioned, manually controlling your camera settings is crucial for capturing light trails. Here are a few of my guidelines on the settings you should use:

Shutter Speed

Using a slow shutter speed is fundament to capturing light trails. However, 3 seconds can be a long time at the start of the race. Depending on the effect you are going for and the amount of ambient light, try to make sure your light trails follow the track right through the frame. This could be as little as 2-3 seconds, or for a wider, more scenic shot, you might want to set your shutter speed to 30 seconds.

I find that for motorsport, 5 seconds is a good place to start, and then I adjust as I need to.

Aperture

Typically when it comes to capturing motorsport action at night, you want your aperture as wide open as possible. However, with the longer exposure time required to capture light trails, you really want to stop down your lens to a narrower aperture.

I find that starting somewhere around f8 is best. This will allow you to get a nice broad area in focus, something that we’ll touch on in a second.

If you find that you have too much ambient light for the shutter speed you want to use, you can progressively stop your aperture all the way down as small as it can go. This has the added benefit of a much wider focus area, but it can also introduce other artifacts into your shots, like bringing into focus any dust and debris on your sensor and creating interesting star effects with any permanent light sources in your frame.

ISO

Keep the ISO at its native low setting; for most camera manufacturers, that is ISO 100.

Increasing ISO adds digital noise to your image, and while that really isn’t noticeable on high cameras until you get into the higher ranges of its ISO capabilities, keeping your ISO as low as possible will give you the best chance at getting a great photo. Use adjustments in the shutter speed and aperture to get the exposure you are looking for first.

Focus

In motorsport photography, we tend to lean on the auto-focus capabilities of our cameras quite a lot. However, when it comes to capturing light trails, I recommend that you switch to manual focus instead.

The movement of the cars, the changing of the light, and even the complete lack of ambient light, depending on how and where you are composing your photo, can all cause your autofocus system to hunt for focus while lining up your shot, especially if your camera is still configured in its continuous autofocus mode (AI Servo on Canon cameras).

Instead, what you want to do is prefocus your camera and then switch to manual focus. What I do is look for something (a wall, tree, sign, etc.) roughly where I want my focus to be that is either lit up enough that I can lock focus on it and that I can light up enough with a torch to get focus. Then once I’ve got that spot dialed in with focus, I switch over to manual focus and don’t touch my lens again while capturing those light trail photos.

Stabiliser

If your camera is set up on a tripod, make sure you turn your stabiliser off. Sometimes, particularly in poorly lit scenes, it can bounce around because it’s got nothing to lock on to.

That said, if you are trying to capture a light trail photo handheld, definitely take advantage of your camera and lens stabilisation system. It’ll give you the best chance of getting the shot.

Tips For Capturing Dynamic Light Trails in Motorsport

Tips For Capturing Dynamic Light Trails in Motorsport

Now that you know the settings you need to dial in to capture light trails, here are a few more things you need to consider to capture dynamic light trail photos during motorsport events.

Positioning

The best light trail photos in motorsport showcase movement through a series of corners, usually including some sort of elevation change. Look to set yourself and compose your shot so that you can showcase this movement throughout your frame.

Timing

Again the best light trail photos showcase movement throughout the entire frame. So you want to make sure you anticipate the action and start the capture just before the car/cars enter the frame. Always remember, you can always adjust your shutter speed a be a bit longer to ensure that you get the shot you are looking for.

Taillights Look Better Than Headlights

This might just be my personal opinion, but taillights make for much better light trail photos than headlights. The colour and intensity just make for much better photos. Often, for endurance races at night, cars are fitted with high-intensity driving lights, which are great for the drivers to be able to see further down the road, but they are just too much for light trail photos.

Conclusion

Capturing light trails is one of my personal favourite things to do in motorsport photography. It’s a unique way to showcase speed and motion in a photo. As with all motorsport photos, when it gets dark, they can be harder to capture than you might be used to, but the resulting image is well worth the extra effort.

Want to make your nighttime motorsport photos pop… Check out my Lightroom preset specifically for your night shots. Or check out my bundle with all of my Lightroom presets to speed up your workflow.

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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.

Optimising Your Cameras For Motorsport Photography

Optimising Your Cameras For Motorsport Photography

Optimising Your Cameras For Motorsport Photography

The art of motorsport photography is an intriguing blend of speed and precision.

To be able to capture the essence of motorsport requires more than just a quick reaction to press the shutter button. The sport’s high-speed and unpredictable nature demands an in-depth understanding of your camera’s capabilities and how to optimise them to photograph anything that plays out on the race track.

Let’s take a look at the tools at your disposal to capture all the action, so you can tell the full story of any motorsport event you attend.

Advanced Camera Settings for Motorsport

Advanced Camera Settings for Motorsport

Autofocus Modes

When capturing high-speed action, your autofocus needs to be as responsive and accurate as possible. While autofocus systems continue to advance with each new evolution of camera body and lens technology, fine-tuning how your camera uses its autofocus will go a long way to maximising the amount of sharp photos you capture each time you are at the race track.

For an in-depth look into the settings and options you can adjust with your camera, check out this post. 

Continuous Shooting

Taking advantage of your camera’s continuous mode (burst mode) is a great way to ensure that you don’t miss any of the action. Not only does the higher frame rate increase your chances of capturing that perfect moment, but should anything unpredictable play out in front of you, you will give yourself the best possible chance of capturing the moment.

Just keep in mind that the more photos you are capturing in quick succession, the more likely you are to run into an issue known as buffering.

Metering Modes

While the “pros” will tell you that you should always use manual exposure, there is a time and a place to use the camera’s inbuilt automated modes, particularly shutter priority mode.

That said, if you are using shutter priority, then you need to make sure your metering is set up to ensure you get the ideal exposure each time. I’ve found that my exposures with spot metering and center-weighted average metering modes are too subject to variation, particularly with white and black race cars. So, I tend to stick with the average metering mode.

The real pro tip is to understand the scene that you are capturing and use the exposure compensation to either under-expose or over-expose what the camera thinks is the ideal exposure to ensure you are capturing the shots that you want. If you are shooting toward dark tarmac, you might want to under-expose the image a little. While if you are shooting backlit, you might want to over-expose the image a little.

Using Back-Button Focus

Using Back-Button Focus

Do you want to know the best way to control how and when your camera uses autofocus? It’s by separating the autofocus from the shutter button. That’s where back-button focus comes in. Check out this post to learn about using back-button focus in motorsport photography.

Just be warned, using back-button focus does take a little getting used to. I would suggest testing it out at an event or even just a few sessions where you don’t necessarily have to deliver images to customers while you get comfortable with how to use the different buttons.

Choosing The Right Lenses

Even more so than any of the settings you configure in your camera, the lenses you choose to use will have a huge impact on how you photograph motorsport events and the quality of the photos you capture.

That said, it’s not about having dozens of different lenses. It’s more about having a select few lenses that cover a range of focal lengths to be able to adapt to different shooting scenarios. To find out what lenses I recommend you need for motorsport photography, check out this post.

Understanding Lens Stabilizer Modes

Understanding Lens Stabilizer Modes

Equally as important as it is to use the right autofocus modes to ensure sharp photos, using the right lens stabilizer modes can have a huge impact on the quality of your photos.

Yes, that little switch on the side of your lens with two or three modes has a purpose and can help give you the best chance of getting sharp photos each time you are trackside. While this post is written specifically about Canon’s lens stabilizer modes, the fundamentals apply to all camera and lens manufacturers. In fact, the way that the three different setting options work is universal; the only difference is some of the manufacturer-specific terminology.

The Advantage of Carrying Multiple Cameras

No doubt you’ve seen professional motorsport photographers carry two (sometimes more) cameras with them each time they are trackside. From not missing a shot, to keeping your sensor clean, there are actually a few reasons why you should incorporate a second camera into your kit, especially if you want to take your motorsport photography more seriously.

When you are just starting out, that doesn’t mean buying two of the latest and greatest cameras. But as you progressively upgrade your gear, hang on to your older camera and continue to use it as part of your workflow.

Wrap Up

The speed and unpredictability of motorsport make capturing photos of it a unique challenge for even the most recent high-end cameras. However, with a few considerations and changes to the configurations, you’ll give yourself the best chance of capturing sharp photos each time you are at the race track.

Check out these deal from our supporters:

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.

How To Get Started In Motorsport Photography: A Guide From An Expert

How To Get Started In Motorsport Photography: A Guide From An Expert

How To Get Started In Motorsport Photography: A Guide From An Expert

So you want to get started in Motorsport Photography? How exciting.

I’ve worked as a motorsport photographer since 2012, and over that time, numerous people have asked how I get to do what I do. In fact, it’s probably the question I get asked most frequently.

While it’s easy to focus on the thrill of being trackside exhilarating moments in racing, camera in hand, that you see as a fan, there is also a lot of hard work and artistry behind the scenes as well. It’s not just a job; it’s a passion. And it has to be if you want to pursue motorsport photography seriously.

In this guide, I’ll share insights from my own experiences, shedding light on both the exhilarating highs and the gritty realities of pursuing motorsport photography as a career. If you’ve got the drive and the determination, you’re in the right place to start your journey.

The Reality Of Being A Motorsport Photographer

The Reality Of Being A Motorsport Photographer

I’m just going to hit you with the harsh, honest truth to start with. While motorsport photography is exhilarating, it also demands hard work and dedication.

Race weekends are more than what you see on TV or at the track. You might be aware that most motorsport events are three days of track activity, but there is also setup day where teams bump in, and there are a bunch of media activities. All of these days include early starts (well before the fans arrive) and late finishes, all while being subjected to heat or rain all day. All while meeting the tight deadlines of instant social media updates and news stories for websites. 

It’s also going to be extremely hard for you to get an opportunity to work with the teams and brands you want to work with. Most of them will have well-established relationships with veteran motorsport photographers who have been in the sport for years.

While on the other side of things, you’ll be among a bunch of new photographers all trying to get a foot in the door. Every year, I see so many fresh faces turn up who have secured their media accreditation for the first time, super enthusiastic and desperate to make it in a very competitive industry.

The reality is that most of these aspiring motorsport photographers will disappear after only a couple of events, while only one or two will see out the entire season and really start their journey.

All that said, if you are willing to put in the work, there are opportunities out there.

Building Your Skills

Motorsport Photography - Building Your Skills

Now, if I haven’t scared you off entirely, it’s time to work on your skills. And there is only one way to build your photography skills: go to motorsport events as a spectator and take photos… Lots of them.

Why lots of photos? It’s the only way you are going to be able to build up a diverse set of skills and develop your own distinct style. As I just mentioned, there are always many aspiring motorsport photographers looking for an opportunity, but what’s going to help you stand out from the crowd is being able to consistently deliver high-quality photos in your own unique and consistent style of photos.

While a lot of photographers are going to assume that just means occasionally nailing a panning photo and applying creative edits, there is much more to it than that:

Practice

Just like honing any other skill, practice makes perfect in photography. So keep regularly attending events and snapping away.

Don’t worry if you don’t have access to big events or different circuits at this stage. Keep going back to the same circuit; most of the permanent race tracks I’ve been to offer some great photo opportunities from the spectator areas, and you’ll continue to fine-tune your skills while finding new and interesting angles the more you keep shooting.

It doesn’t have to be the big headline events either, in fact, state and local events are an even better place to practice as you do have to contend with the big crowds and other ticketing restrictions that come with the bigger events.

Consistently practising is also essential so you are sharp and ready when you do get your chance to shoot bigger events.

Most of the essential skills for motorsport photography come down to rhythm and timing, and it doesn’t take long to get rusty with them. In fact, even we professionals need a practice session or two to get our rhythm back after the offseason.

Showcase Your Best Work

Showcase Your Best Work

The difference between getting a good motorsport photo and being a motorsport photographer is being able to consistently deliver good-quality photos.

Showcasing your best work is a great way to prove to any prospective customers that you can deliver on that.

Ideally, you would have your own website with a portfolio of your best images that you regularly update. However, social media platforms like Instagram are also a great place to regularly share your work, and create awareness of your photography.

Remember, consistently showcasing high-quality images is the gateway to creating opportunities for yourself, so make sure your account looks professional and has a decent amount of photos to show both the quality and the range that you’re able to produce. 

Many professional photographers (myself included) have successfully kickstarted their careers through social media. 

Patience and Perseverance

Like any creative endeavour, success in motorsport photography doesn’t come overnight. Patience, persistence and continuous improvement are going to be fundemental if you want to become a motorsport photographer professionally.

Motorsport photography is a highly popular and competitive field, with very few opportunities for the number of people wanting to take them – particularly here in Australia. If you’re serious about getting into it, it is going to take a lot of hard work and a bit of luck to stand out from the crowd.

Keep working away at it, keep showcasing your best work, and opportunities will start to present themselves as you progress. As I mentioned earlier in this post, I’ve seen many photographers show up for a handful of events. But it’s the few that show up consistently who get noticed and eventually succeed.

Passion

Motorsport Photography Passion

More important than anything else I’ll teach you on this blog is this: do it because you love it.

There are very few people who earn a full-time income out of motorsport photography. It is the passion for both the sport and creating amazing images that are going to be the difference in putting in the effort to give yourself the best opportunity to succeed.

Sure, making money is great, but if you don’t love it, it will reflect in your work. People will see it in your photos, and they will see it in you.

Wrap Up

Your journey in motorsport photography starts with a passion for the craft and a commitment to continuous learning. Remember, great photographs can be taken even from spectator areas. It’s your skill and dedication that will define your success.

Do you want to get started in motorsport photography? If so, what inspired you to do so? Drop a comment below to let me know!

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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.

What Makes A Good Motorsport Photo

What Makes A Good Motorsport Photo

What Makes A Good Motorsport Photo

Anybody can take a photo of a car on a race track. Modern cameras and smartphones make this quite easy. But what makes the art of motorsport photography really stand out is the ability to take a good motorsport photo.

If you want to be a motorsport photographer, you really need to understand the difference between capturing an image of a car or bike on track and creating a photo that showcases what makes motorsport stand out – speed, emotion, and action.

It sounds simple in theory, but there is a bit more to it than you may think. It isn’t just about attending racing events and clicking away. It’s about having a knack for telling a story in your images, capturing both action and emotion and choosing techniques, angles, and compositions to capture the essence of motorsport.

Showcasing Motion In A Still Photo

Showcasing Motion In A Still Photo

The key thing to keep in mind is that motorsport is a sport of high-speed movement. That’s the major thrill of it.

So how do we bring that thrill into our photos? Well, first things first, we use a technique known as panning to bring motion into our photos.

I’ve delved into the details of what panning is and how to do it in this post, but in short, it is where you move your camera in time with the subject of your photo (in this case, typically a car or bike) to blur the background of the shot with motion blur while keeping the subject sharp.

Another technique is to hide the moving components of the cars. Shoot cars head-on where you can’t see the movement (or lack thereof) of the wheels – this allows the viewer’s mind to think there is movement in the shot, especially if there are if there are a group of cars together battling for position.

Finally, think about how and where you capture your photos and give the race car or motorcycle. Are there sections of the track where cars bounce over kerbs? Where do bikes have their greatest lean angle? Do they drift and slide through corners? Kick up dirt? Do the brakes glow? Or does it spit flames from the exhaust? All these elements can contribute to showcasing motion in your images.

Composition

Beyond the basics of motion, how you use composition in motorsport photography is equally important.

Honestly, anyone can take a photo where a car looks like it’s parked on a piece of tarmac or dirt in the middle of the frame, that’s easy. What separates good motorsport photos from very average ones is putting the scene, the car, and the action into context.

When you are just starting out, one of the easiest composition techniques to remember is to stick to the Rule of Thirds and avoid placing the moving vehicle smack in the middle of your frame. This technique alone creates more dynamic and visually appealing photos.

Once you mastered the Rule Of Thirds, you can look to add other techniques to your repertoire, like including Negative Space, Leading Lines and Dutch Tilt, into your photos. 

Just remember that all rules may be broken, and by all means, experiment and improvise as much as you want to discover your own unique way of photographing speed. But utilising these fundamental motorsport photography composition techniques will allow you to build a solid foundation when you’re just starting out.

Personalities And Emotion

Personalities And Emotion

There is more to motorsport than just the cars/bikes on the track. What about the behind-the-scenes elements? The personalities and emotions of the drivers and crews?

After all, motorsport is a sport, and there is a huge human element that is often overlooked by amateur photographers. Be it the concentration on a driver’s face or the celebration of the pit crew, all of these photos add depth to your motorsport photography.

Even if you don’t have access to the garages and the pitlane, make sure you spend some time in the paddock, to capture photos of the people in motorsport, which you can easily do at most motorsport events. 

Just be mindful that there is a lot going on in the pits and paddock, so make sure you don’t get so caught up looking down the barrel of your lens that you end up in the way of something important going on. But capturing these emotions brings the viewer closer to the heart of the sport, telling the complete story of the race weekend with your images.

Post-Production

For the most part, a good image can survive a bad edit, but a good edit will never salvage a truly bad photo.

In professional motorsport photography, editing is an important aspect of making your photos stand out in your own unique style. However, in most cases, less is more.

In fact, when it comes to working for magazines and news outlets, which are often where motorsport photos end up, they are looking for an editorial-style edit. That is, something very simple that does not subtract from the authenticity of the photo.

On the other hand, teams, drivers, and sponsors are a little more open to creative expression in their edits.

However, keep in mind that for motorsport photographers, especially in the day and age of social media, being able to get photos to customers quickly is another key aspect. Big complex edits are not conducive to the quick delivery of files, particularly during an event, so you need to make sure you showcase what you can deliver in the confines of a race weekend.

I find that keeping my edits to a minimum and utilising my Lightroom presets allows me to process and deliver my photos very quickly. A key skill you’ll need to master yourself as you take your motorsport photography more seriously. 

Wrap Up

Once you start looking at stepping up your trackside photos from average snapshots to good-quality motorsport photos, there is a lot you need to learn and consider. However, with patience, practice, and a bit of experimentation, you can very easily start to step your photos up to another level. 

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.

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.

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