F1 drivers weren’t the only ones testing the field at the F1 testing Part II Barcelona this year. The recently launched Nikon D5 was also out and in the hands of Formula 1 photographer, Mark Sutton for a test run. We followed up with him to find out how he thought the Nikon D5 performed and its improvements – here’s what he had to say.
1) Let’s talk autofocus. How did you like the Nikon D5’s brand new AF system while shooting at the F1 testing Part II Barcelona? How about AF-acquisition and AF-accuracy?
The new AF is amazing! There were two great battles over the two tests. I captured the action & tension when the Ferrari and Mercedes were overtaking one another. The new AF offered very accurate auto focus tracking from the minute I had set my focus point on the subject. It continued to track the F1 cars around slow and high speed corners.
2) What better place to test speed than on an F1 track. Could the Nikon D5’s improved frame-rate hold up to the latest 2016 F1 race cars? Was the tracking still accurate at 12FPS?
Certainly, the improved frame rate gave me more confidence that I wouldn’t miss any moments and at 12FPS, every moment, both drivers and cars, are captured sharply.
These two frames show the Toro Rosso drivers jumping from their F1 cars without touching it during an emergency evacuation practice. I was very happy with the results.
4) It’s hard for people to imagine that image quality keeps on improving with every generation. Does the Nikon D5’s 20 MP sensor really make a difference?
The improved sensor means images are a higher quality and this offers me flexibility if I shoot a little bit more loosely than before and still it offers amazing quality from a slight crop.
Here I captured Lewis Hamilton locking up his brakes at the end of a long day session and at the end of a straight where the break balance needs to be perfectly set-up.
5) This Nikon D5’s ISO-extension goes up to 3 million. How important are ISO improvements for F1 shooters nowadays?
Being able to shoot a higher ISO is great news for Formula One photographers as we have to shoot into dark garages that require a high ISO and it’s great to have the flexibility to push that function higher.
Here, I captured drivers in the garage where it tends to be very dark. I shot Ryo Haryanto from Indonesia was standing at the far back of the garage as prepares his helmet for F1 testing. I shot it on the NIKKOR 500mm using the Auto ISO function with the camera set on A mode at F5.6. It offered a fast shutter speed and good depth of focus.
5) You’ve worked with many Nikon cameras over the years. What do you think of the Nikon D5’s improved handling and operability? Do you like the new touchscreen?
The touchscreen is an amazing new function! One tap 100% blow-up is exactly what professionals want to view and then swiping from frame to frame is a really cool and handy feature not seen before on DSLR cameras. It actually makes my job easier and quicker when selecting and picking images directly from the camera.
In particular, the touch screen function works great when the subject is small in the frame and a quick tap on the screen offers the images at 100% move the image to the subject and then tag for easy download later or transmit directly through the new WT-6 transmitter.