On the Need for Speed...

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by BradleyK, Dec 5, 2013.

  1. BradleyK

    BradleyK Subscriber

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    A long-time 35mm SLR shooter (Nikon, in case you haven't noticed my signature...lol), I have always been somewhat humoured at the manner in which camera manufacturers have made the speed of their motordrives (pre-integral as well integral) a prominent part of their advertising. Beyond working photojournalists and those in the scientific community, how many other shooters really need the speed offered by these drives? My own experience is perhaps a case in point. Other than way back in the early 80s when I shot two space shuttle launches (and learned the meaning of a "horde of insects") and on those occasions when shooting athletic competitions of various sorts, I have ever, if memory serves, to use the fire-power offered by these cameras. Whether using an F2, F3, F4,F5 or F6, I leave the drives set to "S"; a quick press-depress-press seems to work for me on most occasions. (BTW: I chose the F-series for the 100 per cent viewfinder, since I am - as I have noted elsewhere - a full-frame shooter.)

    I am curious as to how many other 35mm shooters out there share my sentiments: Have you ever really had the need or occasion to utilize the full fire-power of your camera? Is a 5/6/7/8/fps drive overkill for most photographers? Do bragging rights (at least in part) underlie the continued need for faster drives? Thoughts?
     
  2. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    No. My thumb does just fine.
    It takes me weeks to months to use an entire roll of 36 exposures, unless of course I'm photographing something like a lot full of vintage automobiles.:smile:
     
  3. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I used it once when it was useful. I would easily live without it.
     
  4. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    Except for the occasional burst for a sequence shot, when I'm doing bird photography, I rarely shoot in multi-shot mode, BUT, on my Canon New F-1, the camera reacts faster in single-shot mode with the 5fps motor drive than it does with the 2fps power winder, so I usually have the motor drive attached. I tried the power winder for a while, figuring it was smaller, lighter, and only took 4 batteries instead of twelve, but the lag was so annoying, I sold it. I also have an EOS-1N RS, with a pellicle mirror, which is even faster, but the attraction is mainly the reduced lag time, no mirror slap, and quiet film transport, more than the possibility of consuming a roll of film in 3.6 seconds.
     
  5. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I used to have a power winder for my Canon F-1 until it broke down. Hardly ever used it and took it off.
    I have a motor drive for my A-1, hardly ever used it. For me their are a waste of $.

    Jeff
     
  6. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    That is the only value I've had from those motor speeds.
     
  7. Truzi

    Truzi Subscriber

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    I finally got a power winder because I've always wanted one, though have no real need for it. All I've accomplished is accidentally holding the button too long and getting multiple shots I didn't want :smile:
     
  8. Aja B

    Aja B Member

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    From my casual conversations with others over the years I find that many are on the miserly side when shooting film. Upon viewing images they're often disappointed with exposure or timing when a quick bracketing burst could have delivered a far more satisfactory image. Is 6-8 fps overkill for most, you ask? Probably. But not for me. On many occasions a burst has delivered one appreciably better image than the preceding or following images in the sequence. Even something as simple as shooting kids, perpetually in motion, often requires luck or fast fps to avoid closed eyes in mid-blink. Film is cheap and the cost soon forgotten but the images and memories live!
     
  9. 2bits

    2bits Subscriber

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    I have no need for speed. Although, I see where it might be handy on some wildlife shots.
     
  10. Fixcinater

    Fixcinater Subscriber

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    I have a motordrive for Canon A1: Use it because the grip fits my hands better than bare camera.
    I have a motordrive for Canon 3: Don't use it because it's giant and heavy.
    I have a triggerwind for Canon VT: Use it because it looks dangerous, hence cool.


    I used to shoot on motor drive a bunch but timing something correctly (yes, even sports) makes for a better image than just hoping you get it, even at 10FPS.
     
  11. Peltigera

    Peltigera Member

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    I can manage about six frames an hour if pushed. I don't need a camera that goes faster than that.
     
  12. analoguey

    analoguey Member

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    +1

    Always found anticipating the image or shot/move (sports) to be better than just using the FPS. Although a combination of anticipating the shot and fps might work well.
    Mind you, human reaction time is well over half a second - that plus camera reaction time makes it easily a second (or more) slower - and by modern standards that would be 10 frames late already - even if everything else like focus(AF) and exposure are all already in place and don't need to be changed or calculated - even if the camera tracks and changes them, then its more time spent on it.
     
  13. Kc2edh

    Kc2edh Member

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    The only motorized camera I have is the Contax 137MD, which gets maybe 3 or 4 fps if the batteries are fresh and it's summertime. I think I used the continuous exposure once during a lumberjack competition, but that's about it! The majority of my photography consists of watching and waiting until the scene is just the way I want. I don't think there have been any other times I had a different camera and wished for a motor drive.
     
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  15. Charles Wass

    Charles Wass Subscriber

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    In the days when I only shot film the sole camera that I had with motor advance was the T90. I never used continuous mode with film and now, sometimes using digital, I still don't. I rarely shoot sport, but have successfully covered BMX and some other cycling events with single shot.
     
  16. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    I think the motor on my F3 can do 6 fps, I can't think of a time where I truly needed that. Though have been times in my past when I didn't have a motor camera where it would have been nice.

    OTH, it's good discipline to learn how to anticipate action and press the shutter at the right time without relying on a motor to bail you out.
    For me, the big value to the motor is that you can put all your attention on the subject, and not get distracted from "the moment" by pulling the camera away from your eye to wind, plus the camera is always ready for the next shot.

    I am not sure if that matters enough to justify the expense of what the fast motors used to cost.
    I have two cameras with motorized film advance, and many more without it, I hardly ever miss it when I'm using the cameras that aren't motorized.

    I was told by a Nikon rep once that the motor driven cameras actually last longer than their non-motorized cousins (for example, F3's with and without motors), because the motor applies constant, designed-to-be-correct torque to the camera's drive. Dunno if it's a true fact or not though.

    As for companies quoting numbers for advertising, I agree that it's largely specification one-upsmanship. Though for the pros shooting action sports, that have to turn in great shots to keep bread on the table, yeah, faster is better.
     
  17. Aja B

    Aja B Member

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    The question being posed relates to speed, not ergonomics or appearances: '...fits my hands better...', '...giant and heavy.', '...looks dangerous...'. Speed, man, it's all about speed!

    I gather your subject matter either affords the opportunity to repeatedly try again and again to get the timing right or the not getting the image wouldn't prove too disappointing. Your focus appears to be heavily weighted on the process rather than the result. Yeah, I enjoy the process as well but at day's end and when it matters, I'd like to have something more than satisfactory to show for my efforts. To each his/her own.

    The question of speed largely comes down to subject matter and the level of desire/need to 'get the shot'. When in doubt, stack the deck!
     
  18. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    My first three cameras had to be wound/cocked in between shots. I occasionally yearned for a motor drive, but mostly so I wouldn't lose those couple of seconds I spent winding. I shot plenty of high school sports without even thinking about a motor drive and it was only when I went on a whale watch and to an airshow that I wished for one. I've never done a burst of shots, however, even now that I have a couple of cameras with the capability. I get irked if I accidentally hold down the shutter and get two when I wanted one.
     
  19. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

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    They are invaluable for catching fast(er) moving objects headed towards you, using manually focused lenses. Focus the lens on a certain spot, let the object come towards you, and fire away just before it reaches the focus point. Depending on how fast your motor drive is, one of the images will be sharply focused. It's always amazed me how my Golden Retriever, not a super fast canine, is still fast enough that my EOS-1V can catch him running towards me using autofocus. Close but not *quite*! I don't have the max FPS drive for it, I think mine only does 5 or 6 fps, so using preset focus works the best.
     
  20. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Subscriber

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    My daughter used to pitch fast pitch softball at the competitive level. I would shoot her with my digital Nikon at five frames per second so we could actually see her pitching motion to make sure everything was correct when she was learning a new pitch. If something was off even a little it was easy to see.

    Shooting fast is great for shooting pitchers and batters in the game to get the "perfect" shot like the ball leaving the pitcher's hand or coming off the bat. It's just a bit expensive if shooting film. Of course the memories are priceless.
     
  21. mauro35

    mauro35 Member

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    +1

    I think being slow generates much better photos. But sometimes a special occasion might come unexpected and you need to respond quickly. Nature can be extremely unpredictable.
     
  22. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    There are valid reasons for the use of motor drives and the faster the better. If this bothers you don't buy one. This is the advantage of the marketplace.
     
  23. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    That is not the question. The question is who has found it useful and who has not found it useful.
     
  24. LiamG

    LiamG Member

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    Several threads like this recently- if you buy the cast-offs of the photojournalism world, and you aren't a working photojournalist, I imagine there might be features that you won't need. That's the situation, you can go buy something exotic like an EOS-1nRS and use it to take landscapes because it's been discarded.

    If it was my job to take a photo of a downhill skier at the Olympics in the 1980's with manual focus, sure I would want 13 FPS; if I was photographing sports for a wire agency in the 90's and I had to get the shot, give me 9 FPS, these weren't gimmicks. I hardly see anyone photographing sports these days without their DSLR stuck on CH advance.
     
  25. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    A good photographer can anticipate the best shoot and almost always get it. Spraying photographs all over the place will only waste film and often miss the best shots. I have done enough sports photography over many decades to have learned this long ago.

    Just because a photojournalist uses the point and spray method does not mean the photographer is a good one. Even chimpanzees occasionally get great photographs.
     
  26. Maris

    Maris Member

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    Motor drives don't always ensure victory. Thinking I'm going to get a sharp point-of-impact picture of a golfer driving a ball I set The Canon Pellix at 1/1000 second and 9 frames a second. The result taught me that the moment of impact always happens during the 991/1000 fraction of a second that is NOT recorded on film. And switching the thing off is a good idea before putting it in the camera bag. If it's accidentally triggered that 36exp roll of Ektachrome will zip through in 4 seconds and you can't fumble fast enough to shut it off.