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I currently have a Nikon D5500 with the kit 55-200mm f4-5.6 lens (what I have been currently using) and a Lumix g85 (with a lens too small for sports photography).

My girlfriend races motorbikes and I wish to start taking trackside pictures of her racing. I’m not sure which way to go about upgrading my current set up.

Should I continue using the g85 (as it’s the better camera body) and buy a quality mft sports lens, or should I buy a quality sports lens for the Nikon (with the aim of upgrading the body in the future)?

In terms of lens size is the 70-200mm sports lens going to be big enough to get close enough shots at the track as my current 55-200mm can’t get quite as close as I had hoped it would.

  • The 55-200 and 70-200 will have both have the same reach, 200mm, unless you crop (smaller sensor or in post). If you're planning to move to full frame at point, you'll need to get an even longer lens. Expect to spend a lot of money if you're serious about sports photography, no matter which brand/system you choose... – vlumi Jun 16 at 13:40
  • Tamron & Sigma do some reasonably decent 150-600 lenses, a grand or so. Panasonic do a 100-400 for a bit more. Rent a couple then take your pick. – Tetsujin Jun 16 at 13:55
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    Races as in motocross or Baja during the day or motocross / supercross at night in a stadium? – Hueco Jun 16 at 17:43
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    Stop reading the forum; take both cameras; go outside to the street and take some shots of parked cars as a reference; come inside again and compare the images. Actually using your gear is the best way to answer yourself. – Rafael Jun 16 at 18:20
  • @vlumi No they don't. A 55-200 on a 1.5x crop factor camera is different from a 70-200 on a 2x crop factor. The difference is 300 (Nikon) vs 400 mm (Lumix). – Andreas Jun 17 at 9:20
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From my experience shooting motorcycle racing, keep the one with the "better body", assuming this means:

  • fastest AF (and most able to cope with adverse conditions)
  • highest ISO (to not be too limited in speed, even if you rarely go above 1/250, to avoid freezing the wheels)
  • good burst mode
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    Reliability and resistance to dirt, dust, and possibly mud would also be important factors to consider when judging camera and lens combinations for motor-sports: The 'greatest camera in the world' won't do you much good if it stops working mid race... – TheLuckless Jun 17 at 19:57
  • My previous camera (EOS 450D) was subjected to a lot of abuse and never failed me. I reckon the lenses are more likely to suffer from the adverse environment. – xenoid Jun 17 at 20:22
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If it was me I'd stick with what you have at the moment (D5500 and the 55-200). I've got some really impressive results with the same lens. For me, the trick is getting the focus right. You can always up your ISO to get a faster shutter speed and I've never needed anything more than 1/500 to stop a motorcycle.

If you are a general spectator at a track, I would not have thought that a 200mm lens on a DX body (about 300mm 35mm equivalent) would get you close enough to capture the images that you want. You'll just be too far away. If you can get close enough to the action (shooting from the pit lane), a 55-200 could be ideal. I follow cycling and sometimes I'm using a 35mm lens because I'm right at the roadside with a rider only feet from my face. Also with the D5500, don't forget your 3D Tracking, it should help you keep one rider in focus while you pan.

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