I have had my Sony 100-400GM for a couple of months now and have not had the opportunity to use it for sailing photography. So when I got the opportunity to join my husband Phil Harditsty in Cork at the 505 worlds.
My husband is a keen 505 sailor along with his, friend and boat owner Michael Wilson. I have never been to a 505 event and was keen to learn what all of the hype was about. The first thing that I noticed was just how international the fleet was. There were teams from the USA, Ireland, GBR, AUS, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and so many more. The next thing was how friendly and helpful people are in the sailing world. Even in a class that is full to the brim with very talented sailors.
Is the Sony 100-400GM good at close sailing photography?
I haven’t done much in the way of sports photography so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to book some flights to Cork to gain some experience. Fortunately, Michael Wilson Phil’s helm had donated a rib to the class to enable them to run the races. This rib was used as the gate boat. On the second day of racing, I was able to get into the gate boat to take photos of sailors. This was the best experience EVER. Although I have to admit that I was almost too close to the action with the 100-400 focal length. It did take me a few attempts to get the right shot as we swept up the start line. It would be nice to have two camera bodies for a wide and zoomed-in focal length but I don’t have that luxury.
Once I got to grips with how to frame the sailors up I found that the Sony 100-400 GM gave the feeling that you were right there in the boat with the sailors. The lens perfectly captured the sailor’s emotions at the start line. The lens, autofocus was super quick. I use a large focal point and then lock it onto my target point. This works extremely well with this lens and semi-fast moving subjects. I came away with lots of useable shots.
Shooting at the distance of boats moving downwind
This lens again worked perfectly for this. At 400mm you’d probably want to be about 200-300 meters from the action to start getting decent shots. So if you will still need a rib of some sort to maneuver yourself to the best spots to get a good shot.
The image below was taken about 200m from the subject.
Is the lens too heavy?
The lens is about 1.4 kilos, which doesn’t sound a lot, but if you’re holding it for a long time, then I’d recommend that you beef up your arm/back muscles to ensure you don’t end up with some serious fatigue.
With my longest focal length previously being 85mm the 100-400 changed my life. The quality of the Sony 100-400 GM images was just amazing. They are super sharp and easy to edit in Lightroom. The only couple of downsides that I had was the weight of the lens. But this is to be expected with this quality of glass. The other potential issue for sailing photography is that 400mm may not be quite long enough if you are not lucky enough to be on a rib watching the action.
Here are some of my favourite Sony 100-400 GM photos from my days at the 505 worlds.