Sun 31-Mar-13 04:52 PM | edited Sun 31-Mar-13 04:58 PM by blw
Panning is a very common technique. It's practiced by pretty much anyone shooting motorsports, as just one example. If you're turning the shutter speed down so slow that you can't really see out of the lens, you've gone too far. (The reason for this is that the mirror flips up to allow the light to go to the shutter. The light either goes to the viewfinder or to the shutter, but not both.) In practice, a panning shutter speed of 1/15th is slow enough to get a very dramatic effect, and even that requires precision technique and/or some good luck. Depending on other factors such as how far you are from the subject, and how fast - and what type of motion - the subject has, even 1/160th or 1/200th can provide quite a bit of panning excitement. Some examples:
This was 1/30th, and I think you'd agree that the background is quite blurred.
This one was shot at 1/160th, and not even with a particularly long lens (100mm or so). At 400mm, this would have been quite a dramatic pan.
In other sports and with other types of motion, you can get a more complex situation. For example:
This was 1/60th, and you can see that there is quite a bit of motion blur in various directions. In fact, it looks like I didn't even get the pan right - but look at his belt, which is where the focus point was. It's reasonably sharp, but almost nothing else is. In particular, the background is blurred, and so are his feet. On the other hand, I caught the runner at an instant where his hands were about to change direction, so were virtually motionless with regard to the camera.
At any of these shutter speeds, you'll be able to see through the viewfinder well enough to track the subject. I also think that if you dial in (say) two seconds, you'll have a VERY difficult time tracking the subject accurately enough, even if you had full access to the display, as one might with some of the advanced P&S cameras. Attachment#1 (jpg file) Attachment#2 (jpg file) Attachment#3 (jpg file)
_____ Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member
My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!