The new Sigma 100-400mm Contemporary lens is a lightweight yet formidable companion for auto racing photography for pros and amateurs alike. I had the opportunity over the last month or so to photograph a variety of auto racing events, from the Vintage Grand Prix at Watkins Glen International to several of the famed New England short tracks in Connecticut. I wanted to shoot exclusively with the Sigma 100-400mm as both a pro photographer with credentialed access, as well as as a spectator shooting from public areas of the tracks, to show the versatility of this compact and affordable yet powerful lens.
I began my journey with the 100-400mm with a tour of two of New England’s storied short tracks at Stafford Motor Speedway and Waterford Speedbowl in Connecticut. I started the weekend at Stafford to shoot the Wheel Modified Tour from the infield with a press pass. My objective was to test the hand hold ability, while using relatively slow shutter speeds to blur the background while keeping the cars sharp. The long focal length of the lens allowed me to get some great shots along the front straight away and then zoom out as the cars approached me in turn one, all while staying safely behind the concrete barrier. The outstanding Optical Stabilization system of the 100-400mm lens allowed for some impressively low shutter speeds to capture the action.
The next evening I headed down to Waterford Speedbowl as a spectator to test the 100-400mm from a public perspective. The lens’ compact size made it easy to shoot through the fence at the end of the front straight away without being an obstruction to the other spectators in the area. A monopod, although helpful, was not necessary to get head on shots of the cars. The straight on perspective showcased the lenses auto focus ability to track high speed subjects, and the compression of the long focal length made shooting through the catch fence easy, rendering it virtually imperceptible at the lenses widest apertures.
Rounding out my auto racing adventure, I headed to the rolling hills of the Finger Lakes Region of New York for the U.S. Vintage Grandprix at Watkins Glen International. With such a large track, I was wondering if the 100-400mm would have enough reach. Not only was it enough, the results were outstanding in terms of compression, sharpness, focus tracking and compositional variation with it’s versatile focal range. The variety of different types of cars at this event was mind blowing. To see more images from Watkins Glen visit my Instagram page @cheslerphotography or my Chesler Photography Facebook page.
1954 Lancia D24/5 400mm 1/400sec f6.3 ISO 400
One of my favorite freelance assignments is when I get to photograph cars for RM Sotheby’s Auctions. Most recently I had the pleasure of photographing a 1926 Ford Model T. Using the Sigma 100-400mm lens, I was able to get the compressed perspective that RM Sotheby’s desires along with the close up detail shots required to document the unique characteristics of the vehicle. With a minimum focusing distance of 63 inches, I was able to fill the frame with those important details.