I’m shooting fight video while Big Daddy and I are sitting ringside at the Max Muaythai Pattaya Stadium watching 7 fights.
I’m concentrating on getting the video with my Nikon D750. Who’s winning? Where the prettiest girls are sitting? Which fighter is tiring the most? Big Daddy is fully aware of what’s going on. while I’m lost trying to get everything right with my camera.
The Nikon D750 is capable of shooting fight video of 4 k at 24 million pixels.
My lenses are the best that money can buy. But the camera is very complicated. There’s an entire 500 page book on how to focus the Nikon D750. I t’s that complex. Which is why I’ve been practicing shooting low light video for over two months now. Usually in the confines of my condo with the lights turned off. So what’s going to give me the best results tonight?
Shooting fight video is easy for the professionals with the Fight Channel
Shooting fight video is a real challenge. And there’s no way that I can compete against what’s already being done here at Max Muaythai Pattaya stadium. There’s a robotic video camera circling over the ring that has a completely unobstructed view of the ring. It can zoom right over the heads of the fighters. And it can veer far away for a perfect bird’s eye view. There’s also two or three videographers who specialize in professional videography. They use heavy specialized movie cameras that are built for one purpose only. This being shooting movie quality video to be shown on international television. The fights they are videoing tonight are being shown across the world on the Fight Channel. There’s no way I can compete against those guys. As for that terribly expensive overhead robotic camera. There’s just no way.
But what I can do is, I can take you to the heart of the action the way the Fight Channel will never do. The sound is so loud here that the floors shake. The decibel level is so high that the distortion’s almost unbearable. To reproduce all that audible mayhem on the Fight Channel would be horrific bad taste. But try and tell that to the fans here. The speakers might be distorting as the stadium’s floor creates a mini earthquake. But it’s all pretty exciting.
There’s a huge movie screen way off to my left. This screen reproduces whatever the production managers want to show their live audience. The profiles of each fighter as he’s being introduced by the M.C. are displayed here. These include the weight and height and record of each fighter. As to be expected so is selected video footage of the actual fights. Sometimes the footage is in slow motion whenever a knockdown occurs. Then there’s all the pretty girls up in the stands. Especially the Chinese and Thai women showing off for the video cameras as they dance to the music.
Most of the books on video technique will tell you that real videographers shoot in manual only. But if I try that, there’s no way that I can manually focus as fast as these fighters move. One moment the two fighters are just ten feet in front of me. Two seconds later they are thirty feet away. I cannot change the focus fast enough because my eyes are not up to this kind of challenge. Perhaps if I change my f-stop to f-10, I can get enough depth of field to keep the fighters in focus. But I know I’m too close to try that.
I cannot manually focus accurately and fast enough to change my target from the two fighters in the ring to a very sexy girl way up in the stands dancing for the Max Muaythai t.v. cameras. So I must go with automatic focusing. But which mode should I use? And at what speed or aperture setting?
Program mode is no good for shooting fight video.
And shooting with my Nikon 24-70 mm lens at 2.8 provides hardly any depth of field. I’m not doing very well at 2.8 which is what this lens excels at. But not when I’m shooting two fast moving fighters who are all over the ring.
Last week I set up my camera for continuous focusing for shooting fight video
instead of single server mode to that the Nikon could use all 51 focus points. But that didn’t work very well either. The problem was the camera would oftentimes focus in on the ropes instead of the fighters who oftentimes were twenty feet away from my focus point. The robotic camera circling overhead did not have this problem.
At first I set my focusing for a 4 point group focus mode. Theoretically this should work. I could set the little rectangle of 4 points between the ropes to zero in on the fighters instead of the English announcers sitting right in front of us. Would this work? I wouldn’t know until I processed my video the next day. So I shot a couple fights in group focus mode. Then I shot a couple more fights using automatic continuous focus mode using 24 focus points in a narrow horizontal pattern. Theoretically this might work just as well because I could zero the horizonal rectangle so that none of the 24 focus points rested on the ropes or the English ring announcers sitting in front of me.
What aperture should I be using for shooting fight video ?
I tried shooting at F-7, then F-10 aperture to get good depth of field in case the camera was not up to focusing fast enough to keep up with the two fighters. But it seemed to me that I might be getting my best overall results shooting at around an F5 aperture which should let in plenty of light while still giving me a reasonable dept of field in case my focusing was sightly off.
But I also wanted to get a lot of digital stills. This meant going from live view to viewfinder mode. Trouble was, and I found this out too late. Shooting in automatic 24 point mode I ended up focusing on nearby objects instead of the fighters. Not always but often enough. I was also shooting in aperture mode so my shutter speed was oftentimes not quite fast enough to stop the action. The obvious answer to this problem was to start shooting in speed mode at 1/500th or even 1/1000th of a second.
So here I was, going from live view aperture priority mode at f5 while doing video to shutter priority mode and also having the change my focus mode. That’s a lot of fast changing adjustments to be making for shooting fight video
Now if I was really serious about shooting fight video, I’d be buying myself another Nikon D750 body
which I could set up for video while I kept the other camera body adjusted for shooting digital stills at say 1/1000th of a second. But no one’s paying me to do this. And no matter what I do I will never be able to compete with that robotic overhead movie camera let alone two or three video guys all covering for each other. There’s just no way I can shoot video at the same time I’m shooting digital stills.
Shooting fight video of these seven fights ended up being a real mish mash of modes and techniques. But I’m still nowhere close to where I want to end up doing. One of my best friends keeps telling me that I need to go mirror less which will have a lot fewer focusing issues. Shooting full auto with my Panasonic LX7 and its leica lens is like shooting fish in a barrel. But I have some terrific lenses for my Nikon D750. There’s nothing like what I can get with these lenses if I have everything dialed in just right.