“The best camera is the one you have.” This little common photography saying benefitted me quite a bit while shooting photos at GridLife’s Skip Day recently. I current don’t own a decent zoom; the one I have is a plastic-fantastic cheapo Canon kit lens, something like 35-80mm zoom that has the poorest optical quality the company’s probably ever produced.

Car(s): E46 BMW, Nissan 370Z drift machines
Location: Willow Springs Horse Thief Mile, Rosamond, CA
Photog: Peter Nelson (Instagram + Twitter: @16vPete)
Camera: Canon 6D Mark + EF 50mm 1.8II AF

I also have a good ol’ “nifty-fifty” 50mm 1.8 AF that I do pretty much all my shooting with. The thing is though, for capturing action, non-zooms aren’t ideal. You can’t quickly zoom in and out while firing off multiple shots, letting the motor run. My camera body, the 6D, isn’t too ideal either. It’s great for still and street photography, but its AF tracking and motor are quite lacking.

Piling on why my setup isn’t ideal, is I do center-point back-focus, meaning I press a button to focus whatever’s in the middle of the frame, rather than let the camera deem what oughta be focused on. I should’ve changed up to a more action-friendly mode/setup, but meh, I was in a less-than-ideal situation from the beginning, so I just went with it. With decent physical tracking on my part, I’m pretty proud of the shots I got!

This one’s from Horse Thief Mile at GridLife’s Skip Day, a media-centric track event put on to help promote the GridLife brand on the west coast and create a solid environment for folks making media content (like me!). I’ll be posting up a bunch of other blogs from this day, but this is a good start.

What I learned was that I didn’t have the best setup, but at least I had a solid DSLR with crisp glass. I don’t care what anyone says; phone photos wouldn’t have turned out as sharp or large. I also would’ve had to stand super close. These are pro drifters with all the experience and car control in the world, but can’t say I’d want to chance a rear quarter panel in the gut at 25+ mph. I adapted to not having a zoom, put my photo experience into practice, and did the best I could. I would’ve gotten better shots with a zoom, and/or Canon body with decent frames-per-second but still, I dig these a lot.

Here’s the photo in its original crop and 1080p:

You Don’t Need a Great Camera for Track Pics if You’re Close Enough to Taste Tire Smoke
Image: Peter Nelson