Photographers' Blog

Athletic endeavors for remote cameras

Moscow, Russia

By Fabrizio Bensch and Pawel Kopczynski


Canon 1DX, 70-200 1:2.8 + 1,4 converter, 1/2500 sec at f/8, 1250 ISO

The great success of remote and robotic cameras during the London Olympics opened up a new window of opportunities to shoot sports pictures from above.

With that in mind, our preparation for the World Athletics in Moscow started back in November 2012, as we began to analyze the venue from a technical point of view.

Fireworks explode over Luzhniki stadium during the opening ceremony of the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Moscow August 10, 2013. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski

Canon 1DX, 8-15 1:2.8, 1/4 sec at f/4, 400 ISO

Competitors clear their hurdles in the men’s decathlon 110 metres hurdles event during the IAAF World Athletics Championships at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow August 11, 2013. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Canon 1DX, 70-200 1:2.8, 1/2500 sec at f/8, 800 ISO

Usain Bolt (C) of Jamaica crosses the finish line after competing in the men’s 100 metre heat during the IAAF World Athletics Championships at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow August 10, 2013. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Robo-cams cover all the Olympic angles

By Fabrizio Bensch

We are on day 5 of competition at the London 2012 Olympic games and our robotic cameras triggered by the team of Reuters photographers are producing amazing pictures from the most unusual angles whenever athletes all over the world are competing for gold, silver and bronze medals.

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We had big expectations to create pictures from new perspectives and they have been surpassed by what we are seeing right now. From the colorful opening ceremony to the athletes’ reactions, many Olympic moments have been captured by the remote robotic cameras. At the moment I’m covering the fencing events at the ExCel venue and I trigger the remote cameras with the help of wireless Pocket Wizard wireless transmitters, simultaneously as I shoot with my hand-held camera with the 400 to 800mm lenses. When I see a new angle on the field of play, I can make corrections remotely with the joystick to control the two axis camera head.

Below is a selection of images made by our photographers (Michael Dalder, Adrees Latif, Murad Sezer, Sergio Perez, Mike Segar, Dominic Ebenbichler, Pawel Kopczynski and Fabrizio Bensch) with their eyes but through the lenses of the robotic DSLRs catching the dramatic moments at many different Olympic venues.

Robo-cams go for Olympic gold

By Fabrizio Bensch

Is it possible to get 11 photographers into a box and put them in a position where you could never place a photographer? Normally, it would be absolutely impossible. But nothing is impossible when it comes to the Olympic games.

The London Olympic summer games will produce huge emotions, records and we as the Reuters photographers team will catch it from any extraordinary angle. When athletes from around the world compete against each other for the glory of an Olympic medal, hundreds of photographers try to capture the one and only moment which makes the Olympic games so unique.

On any sports event where there isn’t a place for a photographer or there is a need to freeze a moment from different perspectives we use remote technology – cameras triggered by cable wire or with a wireless transmitter. We wanted to make impossible things possible; just like the athletes at the Olympic games.

Behind the glass: The secret of the remote camera

Often people I know are impressed by amazing pictures of basketball players fighting for a rebound or trying to score a basket, taken from behind the glass. They always ask me from where are these pictures shot because they didn’t see a photographer in the area. The answer is always the same: a remote camera!

Turkey's Ersan Ilyasova (behind) battles Slovenia's Gasper Vidmar during their FIBA Basketball World Championship game in Istanbul September 8, 2010.          REUTERS/Sergio Perez

Probably everybody in the business knows how to set up this type of camera, but for people outside the industry, it can be a mystery. The first thing to know is the equipment required: aside from a camera and a wide lens, other items needed are two magic arms, a piece of black paper to avoid reflections, a pair of radio transmitters and steel cable to secure the elements.

To get the best pictures, the most important thing is to choose the right place to set up the camera which is usually the lowest and closest area next to the rim. After choosing the camera position, you have to strongly secure both magic arms: one of them holding the camera and the other holding the first magic arm. This is a key step in order to avoid the camera falling during the game as a result of the vibrations produced when the players or the ball touch the glass. After that you can set up the camera at the correct angle while looking through the viewfinder and imagine where the players and the ball will be during the game.

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