Having Fun With Panning

Are you havin’ any fun?

What y’gettin’ out o’ livin’?

What good is what you’ve got

If you’re not havin’ any fun? — Jack Yellen, Sammy Fain

Today’s Post by Mildred Alpern

Fun is the partial name of the game when you set out using a mirrorless camera when panning cyclists. Be prepared for challenge and consternation, fun and frustration. Panning takes practice, lots of it.


Some hints:

  • First, stake out a spot parallel to the path of your subject with a detailed enough background to serve as a blurry, streaky foil.
  • Second, with your camera set in Shutter Priority (S) select a slow shutter speed, 1/30 – 1/60 sec, as example, and turn off image stabilization.
  • Third, press the shutter button halfway to autofocus, while tracking on your approaching subject. When the cyclist is directly in front of you, press the shutter button then follow them with a smooth and fluid movement similar to a golfer’s or baseball batter’s swing.


Hopeful result: A relatively sharp subject and a blurred background signifying speed and motion. As an added bonus, there may be the sartorial splendor of the cyclists’ leisure and workaday outfits.

For the hatted cyclist (top), I used the Olympus E-M5 and Olympus M. Zuiko 12-50mm (24-100mm equivalent) lens at 37mm, with an exposure of 1/50 sec at f/16 and an ISO of 320. For the helmeted rider, the Olympus E-M5, the Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4 ASPH (50mm equivalent) lens with an exposure of 1/40 sec at f/22 and an ISO of 400.