Cape Town Photos Spring 2011 – the Argus bike race

I had so much fun with my Sony Nex-5 plus old Nikkor lenses that I started to look for old Nikkors on eBay. To check which were the best ones for image quality and bokeh etc, I looked for sources of advice and reviews on the web. The self-styled ‘most widely read photo site on the web’ (if not actually true, its certainly in the top 5), and mecca for Nikon fans, seemed the best source, and while I was looking I couldn’t help noticing that he rated the (then) new Nikon D7000 extremely highly. So long story short,  I bought one, partly to use with my late departed friend’s Nikkor lenses, and partly to use as a ‘real’ camera, to supplement the snazzy toy that the Nex-5 was reputed to be. I took them both to Cape Town to compare ease of use, and image quality.

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These photos were taken with the D7000 and are of the incredible Cape Argus bike race.  This is the largest timed event in the world (so the S. Africans claim), and at 30-35,000 riders it must be close to that.  The race goes past the end of our road, and I’ve always been tempted to have a go.  In fact I did have an entry for it last year.  My daughter’s decison to get married put paid to that, and in truth, for someone of my vintage this is a race probably better observed than participated in.  It’s a 109 km loop, round the tip of Cape Point and back to Cape Town.  The cut-off time is 7 hours, and that implies an average speed of 15.5 kph.  This may seem do-able, but the Table Mountain range gets in the way, along with the often pulverizingly strong cape point winds.  And 7 hours in a racing saddle implies a very sore ar*e at the end.

When the riders get to our neck of the woods they have 30km to go, and two long hard climbs – the first of which is up Chapman’s Peak Drive – a fantastically scenic road that runs above our house.  This first snap was with the D7000 and the 18-200mm DX lens (as with all specific photo posts, click on the image to get more viewing options).  It was taken from Chapman’s peak itself, maybe 150m above the riders.  I took the Nikon up there partly to test whether it was a practical option for taking on mountain treks.  In principle, a clever shoulder strap, and the very compact zoom lens may have made it a usable option.  In practice, it was a mess.  The zoom lens always extended to full length when in the downward position, and the camera body and lens was then easily knocked.  But for landscape or sports photography, where you don’t have to scramble around it’s great.

The next 3 were taken from the end of our road, just as the road begins to climb, and the riders have to work at it.  I was experimenting here with keeping the rider in focus but with the background blurred and in motion to emphasise speed, and also the expression of effort on their faces (click individually on each to see them fit-to-screen).  [nggallery id=3]The fast and accurate focus of the Nikon, plus it’s excellent lenses really gives it the edge for this kind of shot.  Still a bl**dy pain to lug around though.



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