90mm vs 50-140mm vs 100-400mm – Size doesn’t matter

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X-Photographer strip BLACK

By John Rourke

As a Motorsport Photographer and the Director of Adrenal Media, the Official Photographic Agency for the FIA World Endurance Championships and the European Le Mans Series, I spend a lot of my time shooting at many different race circuits around the world. a lot of these race tracks we have to cover are big! And I mean BIG!

This means we need big glass to cover the distance from the edge of the track to the car. Circuits vary massively in width, with many of the race tracks having large run-off areas or fencing to keep the car within certain boundaries of the track. These also keep us photographers safe and out of trouble… Mostly!

While it’s always great to be safe, the drawback is that we are kept further from the action than we would like to be. To compensate this we use big glass.

Fujifilm answered our prayers when they introduced the Fujinon XF50-140mm with the 1.4x tele-converter and then when they brought the XF100-400mm into the mix as well – This brings us in line with DSLR photographic ranges. I also use my favourite lens, the Fujinon 90mm F2. This lens has a place at the track too and should not be ruled out. All three of the lenses are not only perfect for the racetrack but are also exceptional in the pit lane.


The XF90mm

Okay, Okay, I admit the 90mm has limitations on the track itself but for those places where you can get closer, the F2 aperture provides a stunning shot. I also like the 90mm for the environmental images. For example the car with track included so the viewer will know which circuit the car was racing at. This is an important image in our ‘shot list’ as part of the race week narrative.

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Taken on the XF90mm

In the pit lane the 90mm is mind blowing. For pit lane portraits, detailed shots and subject isolation, such as a car standing on its own in the pit lane, the F2 aperture helps pull the eye through the frame to tell the story. This lens replaced my 135mm F2 when I switched over from the DSLR system of old. However, I really wish it was able to take the 1.4 converter like the old 135 could. This would be my only negative thing I can find on this lens. I frequently use this lens for effect, isolation and arty images.

Taken on the XF90mm
Taken on the XF90mm

Find out more about the XF90mm lens here.


The XF50-140mm

The XF50-140mm is my workhorse, if you could buy only one lens… oh, okay you really do need that 18mm F2 in your life too! That and a 50-140 you can shoot anything! Well, okay get the the 1.4 converter as well then you really can shoot anything – so anyway I digress and the shopping list grows.

The 50-140 or 75-210 equivalent is for everything! Stunning at f2.8 with an awesome image stabiliser to go with it. The pull on this lens is great on the track and in the pit lane night and day. You can attach a 1.4x converter and you then have a 70-196mm F4 lens that you can carry in a coat pocket giving you a total range of 75-297mm in a 35mm equivalent that’s money well spent if you ask me. This lens is really fast focusing, the camera can react quickly to oncoming and passing cars and pitlane action, this is my go to for track and pitlane.

“I would not leave the media suite without this on one of my cameras.”

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Taken on the XF50-140mm
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Taken on the XF50-140mm
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Taken on the XF50-140mm

Find out more about the XF50-140mm lens here.


The XF100-400mm

Then you have the XF100-400mm, well what can I say? This is all manners of Boom Shakalaka! This lens on the track is just mind-blowingly sharp. The money shot for me has to be a few cars fighting on the corner for a lead or ‘battle shot’ as we call it. Many photographers shoot catalog style at the track, that’s one car per frame, for me it’s boring! Thankfully our clients tend to think so too. We love battle pictures, they really show the dynamics of the race, the tension, drama and emotion…this is the lens for that!

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Taken on the XF100-400mm
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Taken on the XF100-400mm

Even if you have a 50-140mm already, don’t worry you will still want a 100-400mm in your life for sure…. This lens will pick out details in the heat – the shimmer around the cars and in the sharpest of action details. Images shot at the 400mm end have a gorgeous bokeh and lens compression that really helps to isolate any subject matter whatever the distance.

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Taken on the XF100-400mm with XF1.4x Teleconverter

When I first got the lens I thought I would struggle with the f4.5 to f5.6 aperture, but now I’m used to it I can use the lens all day long. It will even take the 1.4 converter, this takes the equivalent 150-600mm focal length, with the 1.4x to 840mm that’s pretty awesome if you ask me in such a compact lens.

I have used this lens a lot since I got it and even in the pit lane the versatility of this lens makes it worth buying. Shooting through pitlane clutter to pick out details and action is so easy and stunning.

Find out more about the XF100-400mm lens here.


As you can see the differences are clear enough but all are usable in motorsport. It’s really just down to personal preference of the individual, to which one you use and the style of image you require, if you have any one of these lenses you could easily walk away with some epic shots from the day.

To see more of John’s work please visit:

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Racing at walking pace

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X-Photographer strip BLACK

As well as shooting trackside and pitlane action, FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and European Le Mans Series (ELMS) official photo agency Adrenal Media are always looking to provide some very special images from each of the events.

Creative Director and Fujifilm X-Photographer John Rourke invited German race team Proton Competition to bring both of their Porsche 911 RSR 991 race cars to La Source at the recent ELMS weekend at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium to photograph their car using a rig and a Fujifilm X-T2 to capture a shot of the two race cars from an unique vantage point.

Set Up Day
The set up

The rig is a 6 metre carbon fibre four section boom made by UK firm Car Camera Rig that is fixed to the car using high powered suction clamps.

The camera, which is a FUJIFILM X-T2 fitted with the XF10-24mm ultra-wide angle zoom lens, is then fixed in position to the end of the boom. To achieve the correct exposure the camera is fitted with a Formatt Hitech filter system, in this case a Polariser and an ND Grad and then an ND filter to extend the shutter speed to around 10 seconds. This allows Adrenal Media to take images from a position that would not be possible to take when the cars are on track racing.

Set Up Day
X-T2 on the end of the boom

Using a long shutter speed of between 8 to 10 seconds the movement in the shot is achieved at walking pace by team members pushing the cars and the result is an image that makes it look like both Porsches are moving at racing speed.

Set Up Day
Shoot in progress

“We started asking teams to provide us their cars back in May for these special images but this shot with Proton Competition is the first we’ve done with two cars from the same team,” said John Rourke.  “The reason we use the rig is to take images of the cars from a vantage point that would be impossible to do in the real world.”

The shoot continues

“Each shot takes around 20-30 minutes to complete once the rig is attached to the car,” John continued. “The rig itself is lightweight thanks to the carbon fibre construction so it doesn’t take long to put in position, the biggest issue we have is finding a place to attach the suction clamps to the bodywork of the car.  Some cars are wrapped, so the suction clamps don’t have a perfect seal, so we usually do a pre-shoot recce with the team to ensure there are mounting points where the rig can be securely attached to the bodywork of the car.”

“The X-T2 is the perfect camera for this type of shot. The 24mp X-Trans III sensor gives us high resolution images to work with and the tilt screen is a real help when the camera is attached upside down to the end of the boom.”

Set Up Day
X-T2 with tilt screen for the perfect view

“The biggest challenge with shooting with two cars was keeping both Porsches moving at the same speed and we did the shot a few times to make sure we had one that we were all happy with.”

Once an image is selected, it is then edited by John to remove the boom and other elements that shouldn’t be in the final shot.  The result is a dramatic image that highlights the excitement of racing in the European Le Mans Series.

Set Up Day
John creating the final image

Fellow X-Photographer Jeff Carter was on hand with his Fujifilm X-T2 to capture some behind the scenes images of this photoshoot.

The next planned rig shot will be with the Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP1 at Fuji Speedway when the FIA World Endurance Championship visits Japan on 14-16 October.

www.adrenalmedia.com

www.macleanphotographic.co.uk

www.europeanlemanseries.com

www.fiawec.com