Monday, May 27, 2013

5D Mark III with Motorsports - The 24 Hours of Nürburgring at the "Green Hell" by David Yowe

I often get asked, is the 5D Mark III really good enough for shooting sports? As a Canon EOS 1D X owner, I know that all it lacks from my pro camera is a faster burst mode and larger battery, so I tell people – heck yeah! This thing is no 5D Mark II with an antiquated AF system, so when one of my readers was sharing his experience with me of shooting the most awesome motorsports venue on the planet – the Nürburgring – I couldn’t resist asking him to guest blog for me.

I’m an avid amateur photographer with a passion for motorsports and have photographed several car races in the US and overseas. However, there was one race I always wanted to go to since seeing photos from Paddy McGrath at, and that is the "24 Hours of Nürburgring". This sports car endurance race is held at the Nordschleife (the Green Hell) and GP circuit of the Nürburgring in Nurburg, Germany. About 200 cars and 500 drivers participate in this race, with each lap about 15.5 miles through the Eifel mountains. The race is attended by about 150,000 fans with most camping on site, which is something to be seen from scaffolding viewing platforms to make-shift buildings. The changing weather conditions, hilly terrain, high catch fencing, and "mud" make photography and getting around the Nordschleife part of the track challenging. But it's worth it, with great photography opportunities. The photos below were mainly shot from spectator viewing areas with a Canon 5D Mark III using a 300mm f2.8L IS II (with or without a 1.4x extender III) or 50mm f/1.2L using shutter priority and the camera settings below. The raw files were exported to the iPad (since this is all I take with me when traveling), with minimal editing using the Photo App, then imported into Pages for this blog posting. Hope the photos capture some of the experience that is the Nürburgring 24 Hours. If you would like to see more photos from this race and other races I've attended please check out my blog at Sorry for the short blog, but I'm in the middle of traveling back to the US. Many thanks to Ron for giving me the opportunity to post a guest blog on his website.

Camera settings
  • Metering = Spot
  • AF mode = AI servo (with back-button focusing can lock AF and use like One-stop AF)
  • AF area selection mode = AF point expansion (manual selection) 4 or 8 adjacent
  • AF Case 2 = Tracking sensitivity (-1), Acceleration/deceleration tracking (0), AF point switching (0)
  • AI Servo 1st image priority = Focus priority
  • AI Servo 2nd image priority = Focus priority
  • Selectable AF points = 61 points
  • AF point display during focus = All (constant)
  • VF display illumination = On
  • Drive mode = Single-shot (or multiple shot if needed)
  • ISO = 100 (or adjust as needed)
  • File format = RAW
  • Image recording = Record images to multiple card (CF card and SD card for back-up)

clip_image002Pre-race preparations on the front straight. Shot from the Mercedes Tribune (420mm, f/4, 1/2000, ISO 100)

clip_image004The start of the Nürburgring 24 Hrs. Shot from the Mercedes Tribune (420mm, f/4, 1/1000, ISO 125)

clip_image006A Lexus LFA about to pass a Porsche along the Tribune 5 straight. Shot from the top of Tribune 5a (300mm, f/3.2, 1/320, ISO 100)

clip_image008Audi R8 LMS going downhill in the rain at Breidscheid. Shot from the bottom of the spectator viewing area (420mm, f/4, 1/1000, ISO 100)

clip_image010Lexus LFA speeding around the corner at the bottom of Breidscheid in the rain. Shot from top of spectator viewing area. This was probably my "luckiest" shot (420mm, f/18, 1/13, ISO 100)

clip_image012Porsche 911 heading down pit lane. Was lucky to get access to the pits during night qualifying with another guest at the hotel I was staying at who had a spare pit pass. This was an experience of a lifetime to be able to go from one pit area to the next and to see the workings of teams in action (50mm, f/2, 1/50, ISO 800)

clip_image014BMW GT3 braking on the front straight before turning right into the Yokohama S in the rain. Shot from Bilstein Tribune (300mm, f/2.8, 1/200, ISO 12800)

clip_image016Audi R8 LMS about to make an outside pass on a BMW at the exit of the Wipperman S. Shot from the Brunnchen spectator area (300mm, f/2.8, 1/250, ISO 100)

Audi R8 LMS speeding through a right hand corner at Hohe Acht. Shot from safety car entrance to the track (300mm, f/9, 1/1000, ISO 100)

clip_image020Lexus LFA speeding down the straight between Tribunes 6 and 7. Shot from top of Tribunes. You can probably guess that this is one my favorite race cars. This car has great lines (300mm, f/7.1, 1/100, ISO 100)


I’d like to thank David Yowe for taking the time to share his excitement for motorsports photography at the coolest racing venue on the planet! You can see more of David’s work at

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