It might be the smaller sibling of the D5 but the Nikon D500 still packs in some incredible high performance features including 10fps and the ability to buffer 200 raw files. To demonstrate just how fast the D500 is Nikon have put the camera into the hands of sports photographer Tom Miles.
As part of the launch campaign ‘The Moment of Impact’ Tom has taken a series of images of BAMMA World champion Tom ‘Fire Kid’ Duquesnoy.
In this interview with Nikon he discusses his background, the series and of course the Nikon D500.
Tell us more about your photography background?
I am a professional editorial and commercial sports and portrait photographer based in London UK.
I’ve focused on sports and fitness as a subject because it offers a huge variety of work, and the chance to collaborate with some truly inspiring people, including Paula Radcliffe, Rory Mcllroy and Mo Farah, whilst at the same time creating memorable imagery.
What is Nikon’s ‘Moment of Impact’ project?
To demonstrate the incredible speed of the Nikon D500, we set about capturing split-second moments of impact; photographing scenes in crisp detail that would otherwise be impossible to see with the naked eye.
We worked with two-division BAMMA world champion mixed martial artist Tom ‘Fire Kid’ Duquesnoy, an artist synonymous with power, speed and precision, and shot him striking various household food items such as watermelons, cakes and pumpkins. The images show what precisely happens when a trained fighter hits an object incredibly fast, at full force.
Why is the Nikon D500 ideal for this type of shoot?
The Nikon D500 is a very fast and robust camera. It is quick to respond when pressing the button to capture motion, shooting at 10 frames per second. It also has a buffer at 200 shots which means that I can shoot several high definition shots in quick succession.
The camera is also arguably as tough as our MMA artist. It’s both durable and reliable which was very important considering what was being fired at it all day.
Finally, the camera’s high ISO capabilities allowed me to turn the power of the speedlights (flashguns) down and fire the D500 at its maximum frame rate; thus making it easier to capture the action.
What were the main challenges of this shoot?
The most challenging aspect of the shoot had nothing to do with the photography or technical elements.
One of the major decisions was deciding the shot list – for example, agreeing what foods to hit and how to get Tom Duquesnoy to strike the items.
We had to use our imagination when it came to selecting the food items too as we were looking to have a big and colourful explosion at the point of impact.
What was your favourite shot of the day and why?
One of my favourite shots of the day was when Tom Duquesnoy struck the watermelon from below with his knee. It was one of our first shots and not only did it work first time, but the excited expression on everyone’s faces when they looked at the image on the camera’s display was deeply rewarding.
Everyone was amazed that we had managed to capture the moment of impact in one take. Watching the reaction when you get something just right is one of the best moments and one of the reasons why I love doing my job.
How did you capture that favourite shot?
A personal trick that I use all the time, and that I used with the Nikon D500 on the shoot, is what I call ‘back button focus’. It’s essentially a very old-fashioned way of shooting (stemming from long before the days of autofocus) when the focus wasn’t linked to the shutter release. Instead of using the shutter to focus and shoot, I focus with the “AF-ON” button that sits beneath my thumb on the rear of the camera, and the shutter only takes the picture. I have all my cameras set this way so that the shooting and focusing are two separate actions.
This means that I can be pre-focused on Tom Duquesnoy and as I start to press the shutter, the focus won’t shift as he moves. Whilst the autofocus on the Nikon D500 is incredibly clever and will track any movement, on this occasion, I only wanted it to track the MMA artist.
With something like a watermelon exploding, there’s a risk that when I press the shutter, the tracking will try to focus on fragments of watermelon, when in fact, I want it to stay on Tom. It’s possible to change these settings in the main menu and is a very useful tip for sports and action photography.
Any tips you have for aspiring photographers who want to capture fast moving objects?
My first step is always research your subject matter. I ask myself the basic questions – what, who, where, when and how? Without any research, you reduce the chance of getting decent shots.
Secondly, you stack the odds in your favour by thinking the process through. I always try to pre-empt when the perfect moment will appear and start shooting just before it happens.
No matter how fast your camera, or your reactions, the small amount of time between seeing the action, pressing the shutter, and the camera reacting means that if you just see something happening, you won’t get a picture of it. You need to get into the habit of shooting just before the perfect moment occurs.
Finally, you should make sure you have the right equipment. You need a camera like the Nikon D500 that can handle taking high quality images at several frames per second to ensure the image is clear.