I popped along to the Brands Hatch event yesterday. While there I did not see anyone else from the club but caught up with a few people I know. The event coincided with a practice day for the British GT and F3 championships this weekend, so there was something to photograph as well. Unlike a regular race day, few people were around and although that included the cars as well, it made getting good positions easy.
Some of the manufacturers had arranged photo walks and in the morning I went out to the track with Olympus in the company of Mike Inkley, a professional sports photographer. Olympus lent me a camera for the occasion, an E-M1 Mk II with a 300 f/4 lens. Unfortunately, using it turned out to be a frustrating experience. Taking the 2x crop factor into account, the lens has a full frame equivalent focal length of 600 mm. At Brands Hatch it is possible to get quite close to the action and I knew it was really much too long for the circuit, but the lens is one I have wanted to try for a while. Maybe I could get some portrait shots of the drivers as they whizzed by? Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the camera and lens combo did not want to focus quickly. Mike Inkley did try to sort it out, but to no avail and I ended up discarding most of the shots which I took. It is a shame, as the lens performs well and my experience was not typical. For whatever reason, the combo I was using just did not want to work properly for me yesterday.
Back at the show, I stopped briefly by the Sony stand to try out an A7 Mk II. There was an offer, but it was still more expensive than a grey import price I have seen. Grey imports are only possible because the manufacturers sell at different prices across the world. The Sony rep admitted it is a problem, with the company having a twofold solution. The first is to try and prevent the gear getting into the grey importers' hands. The other is to refuse to service equipment supplied abroad which does not have a global warranty. As I pointed out, that becomes redundant after the 12 month warranty period finishes and nobody would want to send equipment to a manufacturer after that. Their normal practice is to charge a hefty fee simply to examine the gear, so it is usually preferable to send it to an independent repairer instead. It is the manufacturers' marketing policies which create the issue, but the UK based suppliers who mainly suffer.
In the afternoon, I went back to the track with my trusty Canon 7D and EF 70-200 f/4L. The lens was much better suited to the conditions, with a full frame equivalent of 100 mm at the short hand and even that was a bit too long at one position by the track. Despite being 8 years old, the 7D acquited itself well and I had reasonable success with it. I was mainly panning with a slowish shutter speed, so I was never going to achieve a 100% hit rate. A car which which I was surprised to see was this 1950s Hillman Minx batting around the race course. Judging by the speed at which it was going and the sound it made, I would venture that it was not fitted with its original engine.