During my workshops, this question show up a lot of times: “How can you still use a Manual Focus rangefinder camera, if you like to shoot sports events?”
My reply is always the same: “Knowing your camera and, in particular, it’s limit”. Using a rangefinder, one of the most “heavy” limit is because you can’t use long lenses; in case of Leica M, without any added tools, your limit is 135mm (not easy to use because the small frames in the viewer). This lens might be not sufficient if you are shooting football, basketball or any other events that not allows you to be closer; for any other situation, don’t forget you can walk, move and stay closer your subjects, RESPECTING THEM, always.
If you know your camera limit, you can property set it to have good results. Let’s try to look to these:
Manual Focus: if you understand where the main action or movement will be performed, you can set up the focus point on that area and, working with aperture and DOP, have a good results.
Shutter speed: this is related to the movements we are looking for. It could be 1/250 or faster
Aperture: related to the focus point; with the aperture you can have a sort of “safety area” for the right focus point
Exposure: you have to look at all the light situations, not only to a single point; so many variables could disturb your frame. Don’t forget to look to 100% of your frame, not only to the center because you are looking to stop the moment.
This is something become a sort of local attraction in Barcelona. So many skaters use to meet and run a workout on the backside of MACBA that is almost impossible not to spend some time taking some nice shots.
Not easy work because even if the area is quite large, the number of skaters is high and often could be a risk to be very close to them. I know the area quite well and because of this I have two main positions where to stay during my shots. These spots are the result of time spent in that area looking to skaters but also light conditions, building around the area, routine covered by skaters, tricks used by them, sun position during the day (even if in the afternoon there are more skaters running).
My gear: as usual, Leica M (now using the M10-P), 35 Summicron ASPH
Camera set up: 400 ISO, 1/500, f2,8-4-5,6 related to light situation and overexposing needs.
After some minutes spent as a sort of warm up I had some sequences and nice shots: