The first time I’ve ever been to a NASCAR race in my life was VERY exciting!  What made it more fun, was actually working race weekend!  My task was to obtain B-Roll footage to finish a project with them and then a couple short weeks ago it was added to create a recap video of each day’s activities showcasing the FAN Experience.

Having to go around capturing the entire Fan Experience, I got the opportunity to see quite a bit and met some cool people along the way!  First, your spokeswoman Miss zMAX Christina Davidson and zMAX’s own Toni & George Elliott were EXCELLENT to work with!  I can’t thank them enough (BTW, I’m going to get some of their product to use in our cars as I hear great things about it!) We all have very demanding schedules and they were very accommodating to work me in!  Let’s see, I met John Williams with the Harlem Globetrotters (I LOVED watching them as a kid and I want to take the kids to see them next time they’re in Johnson City), had some small talk with Tim from Discovery Channel’s Hit TV Show “Moonshiners” and I ended up right in the pits on Sunday’s Food City 500 as Miss zMAX went around wishing drivers good luck prior to the race!  Victory Lane was chaos with the many photographers and network folks getting their shots, but I carved out my little spot and got some good shots there as well.

I can honestly say that while I worked my tail off, I really did enjoy it very much.  I’d like to experience a race in the stands as a fan someday, but working it forced me to see it all and there is SO MUCH going on at the track and SO MUCH for kids, adults and families alike to be able to do ALL weekend!  If you’ve never been to a race, I highly recommend you to go.  It truly is an exhilarating experience!  Everyone I personally met was very nice, courteous and very excited to be there–fans as well as everyone working!  Check out these videos and BE SURE TO GET YOUR TICKETS FOR THE IRWIN TOOLS NIGHT RACE IN AUGUST! (Tech talk is below the clips if you’re interested.)






Did those videos get you excited??? Then go get your tickets!  

Tech Talk

I filmed all of this on my new (I got this camera a week before this shoot) Sony NEX-EA50 with the kit 18-200 lens and the evening/low light shots with the Rokinon 35mm Cine Lens ALL handheld/on the shoulder/cradled under my arm.  Never once did I use a tripod!  This camera performed very well once I learned its limitations (all cameras have limitations!)  What I loved most about this camera is its marriage of regular video camera and HD DSLR.  It was like having both my trusty Canon XH-A1 & Canon 60d in one package.  I bought a cheap wind muff for $30 and used my Audio Technica AT897 shotgun microphone for ambient/fan spoken audio.  It DID get windy at some points (it’s March after all) however I not once heard ANY wind noise in the audio!

All the shots were filmed in 1080p60.  60 progressive frames per second.  This kept the CMOS rolling shutter skew being much less than it would be at 30 frames per second.  I conformed all the clips to a 30p timeline and disabled resampling in Vegas 12 which allowed a better “frame blending” for motion.  Basically it ended up looking like I filmed at 30p but without such drastic skew from rolling shutter.  I also had the capability of doing some smooth slow motion of the cars on the track, but why would you want to show a FAST car going SLOW????  Not unless you caught a wreck–which I didn’t.  But it was nice to see that capability exist.

The 35mm T1.5 Rokinon Cine Lens did remarkably well.  I NEVER went over 1000 ISO.  (I wish Rokinon/Samyang will make a lens like a 18-100 T1.5 lens… that would be great but wishful thinking!)  The thing I loved the most about this lens is its tack sharp and it has a mechanical iris ring on it.  No electromechanical hocus-pocus stuff!

The kit 18-200 “power zoom” lens is ok for what it is.  I think Sony could have done some more R&D on it before releasing it though.  It has its quirks but its ok for a general use lens once you get around its quirks.

This camera lacks a Neutral Density Filter.  I bought a Cokin Pure Harmonie Variable ND Filter and while it did a decent job, I noticed was I couldn’t focus when the lens was zoomed all the way in!  It was just all fuzzy.  I plan on doing some more testing with this but will probably send it back and find something else.  EDIT: I did some further tests… the Cokin is going back! See the testing here:  I hear that Genustech makes a nice one, but I couldn’t find a 77mm version available anywhere last week.  I wanted a larger one to fit future lenses without having to get multiple ND Filters.

While my favorite thing about this camera is its form factor (marriage of a semi shoulder mount camera and DSLR), it never “wore me out.”  Sure, its heavier than the XH-A1 and shoulder mount rig I had, but it was ergonomically pleasing to use for long periods of time.  I did add a little weight to the rear and I want a little more back there–maybe when I get the Ninja2 it will be just right.

I filmed at a base of 1/125 shutter for a “gritty” look for sports action type as suggested by Ian Morris.  All cars on the track was at 1/250 shutter except Sunday which was 1/350.  I didn’t have my ND filter on Sunday at all because it was sort of overcast and I really didn’t need it.  A few times I wish I had it on me, but hey, it worked.  The evening/low light shots were all at 1/60th shutter.

Do I still like this camera?  Yes, I love working with it!  Once I can locate and control the buttons without looking like I could on my XH-A1, I’ll totally rock this camera.  I can tell you this… I’ll ONLY use my 60d for a backup/secondary camera and only for when I need to be more discreet on a shoot (that’s rare though.)

Is this camera for everyone?  Absolutely not.  It’s certainly not a “get out of the box and shoot camera” and I know there are some people out there that get very frustrated with it for various reasons.  There are people doing great work with it and not-so-great work with it.  It’s all up to how you understand and can work with a camera, understand how IT works and how you can work with IT.  Some things are backwards on it, but in my world, the pros outweigh the cons… and in the end, I’m happy with it.

If you’re on Vimeo, you can check out my vimeo versions as well.  I think vimeo converts better than youtube, but I wanted to post BMS’ youtube versions on this post.

Vimeo Clips: Friday | Saturday | Sunday