Shooting the tennis like it’s 1986 (and colour film hadn’t been invented either)…


Last month I was lucky enough to get (for christmas!) a ticket to the Kooyong Classic again, which I can walk to from home – and unlike other years where I’ve taken some sort of medium format photo kit, and made strange shots of the crowd and bits of furniture – this year I brought along a useful kit of sorts, at least insofar as capturing some of the actual activity on court!

The platform of choice this time was the wonderful Olympus OM4t – the last in a line of innovative 35mm SLR’s that are super small and light compared to their modern-day equivalents, with large bright viewfinders and excellent metering. I took along a couple of lenses, but the one I was keen to test (and used most) was an Olympus Zuiko 300mm f/4.5 prime lens.

This kit is quite lightweight, even with all that metal (the OM4t has a titanium shell, and is a charming ‘champagne‘ colour). Focusing is all manual with a split diopter in the viewfinder – and so with sports, you really need to pre-empt the shot you’re going to make. To make things easier – I used Ilford HP5+ film, with an ISO of 400 – so in bright sun, I could shoot almost everything at the fastest possible shutter speed (1/2000th second) to eliminate my own movement, and to capture things like fast racket swings. With 300mm, even halfway up the stands, I was still getting a decent head-to-toe shot of either player – and with a 2x adapter (i.e. 600mm equivalent), I was hard-pressed to get anything wider than head-to-belly button. Conclusion: 300mm is a great focal length for Kooyong, and probably many other sports where you’re not miles away, and the light is good!

Because I mostly shoot Large & Medium format, I often find it hard to actually get through the 36 exposures on a 35mm roll in any useful time (and end up with several camera bodies with quarter of a used roll of film in them, grrr), but this time I was so engaged with the novelty of it all, I went through 3 rolls really rapidly.

That will save the economy.

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2 thoughts on “Shooting the tennis like it’s 1986 (and colour film hadn’t been invented either)…

  1. Hmm is anyone else having problems with the pictures on this blog loading?
    I’m trying to figure out if its a problem on
    my end or if it’s the blog. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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