NE Explorer Fred Kurtz Shoots Indy Cars with New Leica 100-400mm

Posted May. 18th, 2016 by Daniel J. Cox

Good friend and Natural Exposures Explorer Fred Kurtz recently took his Lumix GH4 and the new Leica 100-400mm zoom out for a test shoot. Freddy has worked for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for 30 years as an Observer. I asked him to do me a favor and go try the new Leica 100-400mm on something fast. Can’t get much faster than Indy Car racing. Below is a gallery of the day’s shoot. Also here’s a quote from his email, “The M43 system is now complete and the Nikons can be put to sleep.” Nice shoot Freddy. Thanks for sharing these with us all here on the Blog.

For those who  can’t see the gallery please follow this link. Unfortunately Zenfolio only allows slideshows with Adobe Flash. Safari does not allow Adobe Flash, so if you’re using Safari you can’t view this gallery on the blog, you have to go to Zenfolio.

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There are 12 comments on this post…
  1. Matthew BaronOn May. 3rd, 2017

    Great post and love seeing more write-ups and examples of still Photography for the GH4. I’m always struggling with my GH4 and action shots. I definitely want the 100-400 and I also have the GH5 coming any day now. Super excited to test out the improvements they are claiming. Are you planning on upgrading to the GH5?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 4th, 2017

      Hi Matthew, I’m currently shooting the GH5 in Botswana and loving it. Will be reporting on it more in a few weeks.

  2. Tom OcasekOn Jun. 5th, 2016

    Fred, I was super impressed with your extensive commitment to your first shoot at Indy………Nice job………. A couple years ago, I closed my eyes and ” jumped” into Panasonic 4/3 selling my complete Nikon system ($20K) and replacing it for half the cost with a Panasonic system which can be carried in Lowe Pro Magnum shoulder bag!!!……….. I am using 2 GH4’s also, 12-35, 45 macro, Oly 40-150 f2.8+1.4x and the new 100-400….and no tripod!!! …….. 2 trips to Africa and one to Brazil have proven the value of this new system to me too. The quality images have exceeded my expectations (with a little creative use of the ISO). Everywhere I shoot, the guys with the hernias want to “play with their SD cards in my camera”……… It has proved 2 things to me : 1) our friend, Mr Cox in addition to being a world class photographer is a very very good equipment evaluator and 2) in my case, “a blind squirrel can find an acorn”. Aloha, Tom Ocasek

    • Fred KurtzOn Jun. 6th, 2016

      Thanks for the nice words Tom. It has been three years since I have carried my Nikons. I have the two GH4’s, a GX8 and the Panasonic 12-35, 35-100, 100-400, 7-14, 42.5 f1.2 and the Oly 45-150 plus 1.4. I have the Oly 300 on order. It is for sure a wonderful system and meets all my needs. Like you, I had some Pro photographers ask me while shooting at the race track what I was shooting as they had their Canons with huge 500mm fixed lenses. They could not be live the size of the 100-400. And yes, Dan has been my leader in all things good. In fact heading to Ireland as we speak to be with him. Fred.

  3. Fred KurtzOn May. 26th, 2016

    Photographing cars at over 200 mph is probably the most difficult shoot I have done. For those that want the technical information here it goes. I used shutter priority (which I rarely use). When I wanted to pan to blur the tires and background, I mostly used 1/125 shutter speed. When I wanted to not pan, I used mostly 1/1000 shutter speed. I mostly used “Focus Tracking” with some using “49 Focus Area”. White Balance was cloudy. I did shoot on the low burst rate.

    Did I get out of focus shots – absolutely. Did I only get part of a car or no car at all due to the fast speed of the car – absolutely. This is why I shot burst in stead of single shots.

    My goal was to get cars with blurred wheels and background, closeup of cars going through a corner with the drivers hand visible, other cars in the background of the primary car I was shooting and composing shots trying to show the drivers emotion and tell a story. The only cropping done was to eliminate things not required in the photo that were distracting or to frame a shot to tell a story.

    All processing was done in Lightroom (no NIK this time). All photos received the basic treatment. Increased noise reduction and sharpening slightly, Increase vibration and saturation to +10, reduce clarity in most cases (slider to the left), increased black levels (slider to the left), changed whites and shadows (sliders to the right) and reduced highlights (slider to the left). The final adjustment was to slightly increase or decrease exposure as needed. For the most part, contrast was not touched. That was all the adjustments and I was very happy with the results.

    I learned a lot during this shoot and hope you all enjoyed the results.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 27th, 2016

      Thanks for the great details Freddy.

  4. Pam CoteOn May. 26th, 2016

    Jimand I think your pictures are awesome and hard to shoot. Jim is envious about your Indy job. He now sees some LUMIX with a 100-400 in the near future for himself. Good work.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 26th, 2016

      Freddy is the king of Lumix in our Explorers circle. He was died in the wool Nikon shooter until he got his two GH4’s.

  5. jim HeywoodOn May. 26th, 2016

    Great shots, I will give you a call and talk about focus. I am having problems.

  6. Bill BurkholderOn May. 26th, 2016

    Wow! The focus is spot-on, and the images are as good as anyone should need for just about any purpose.

    Now I know what lens I need for real reach!

  7. Fred KurtzOn May. 26th, 2016

    Thanks for this Dan. It was a lot of fun shooting IndyCars and being able to do both of my favorite passions at the same time. The GH4 and the Leica 100-400 is a powerful combination. I had some of the “Pro” photographers ask me what I was shooting and they were amazed at the size. Most of them had full size DSLR’s with 500mm lenses on a monopod. Thank you for introducing me to this wonderful system.


    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 26th, 2016

      It’s my pleasure Freddy. Thank you for sharing your great work.

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