I’m not really a sports photographer but I’ve been an avid watcher of the Wimbledon championships since the days of Mac and Borg. I’ve always wanted to go to Wimbledon but the tickets always seemed so expensive and mostly swallowed up by corporate buyers and tennis clubs. So when a good friend got 2 tickets from someone ‘in the know’ and offered to take me along I became rather excited!
The prospect of just going there was more than enough, but when I read the Wimbledon rules regarding the photographic equipment they allowed into the grounds, I was amazed! They allow any DSLR and lenses up to 300mm which you can fit into a small think tank style bag. With Olympus OMD EM1’s M43 sensor, my 40-150mm PRO 2.8 lens with the MC-14 1.4x tele converter actually gives me an effective focal length of 420mm at f4, but the label on the tin only reads 210mm..:) I ordered up an MC-14 immediately!
The day arrived and we headed to Court number 1 on the hottest day of the year. I took along an EP5 as a backup to my EM1 and a couple of primes just in case. I was surprised, walking through the grounds, just how close you actually get to the action on many of the outer courts. You could literally do head and shoulders shots of players with a 45mm! Court number 1 is a show court but a bit smaller than Centre Court. It still seemed very grand and was, on my visit, hosting 3 matches including the 2nd round match of Britain’s number one woman player, Heather Watson. I was sat 12 rows from the front at the long end, which was a great seat and very happily just in the shade.
The EM1 and 40-150mm + MC-14 combination worked very well. I experimented with various continuous focussing, high speed settings but resorted to my favourite ‘single everything’ modes. The sports modes all worked very effectively, but with my slower approach, I think composition can remain at the forefront of your shooting and I rather enjoy manually selecting the ‘decisive moment’. The reach of the lens was phenomenal allowing good detail of the players, even the one on the far end of the court. I also snapped a few shots of the crowds and visitors both inside and outside of the court and the lens’s bokeh and sharpness proved to be outstanding.
Since sharing some of these images on social media (mainly Facebook and Twitter) I was delighted to find that Heather Watson, who only 2 days later nearly took out Serena Williams, used one of my pictures as her twitter banner. That will undoubtedly change in the near future but it was nice to see at the time and given that she has attracted 50,000 new followers since her big match with Miss Williams, thats probably the most views any of my pictures with ever receive!
Here are some of my pictures from my first visit to Wimbledon, all taken with the 40-150mm 2.8 PRO lens and the MC-14 tele converter. I definitely want to return next year, perhaps with the new Olympus 300mm f4!!