#942. Photographing the Newport Classic Yacht Regatta

By Chris Stump | Review

Dec 18

I took some photos again at this year’s Classic Yacht Regatta in Newport, RI, USA. It had been a few years. Amazing how different the sky and ocean can be year to year. And it’s always a treat to be out on the water, especially with the estimable Onne van der Wal.

This was my first major shoot since moving over to the micro 4/3 [M43] sensor format. I carried my usual two-body outfit on a double-rig shoulder sling, one with a long zoom lens and the other with a wide angle. In fact, the new outfit very closely mimicked my old full-frame Canon system, but at half the weight. The long lens was a 50-200mm [100-400mm-e] mounted on a Lumix G9, and the other an 8-16mm [16-32mm-e] on a GX85 body. Both lenses are of the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit f2.8-4 variety. Moving around on a small boat during a regatta requires that you be light and nimble. This kit fit the bill.

I found both cameras very light and easy to handle. One niggle was that with the long lens things seemed to ‘jam up’ a bit writing files when shooting bursts. Not sure what that was about, and it could have the been the lens, body, or card at fault…all are brand new. I’ll have to keep an eye on that, but haven’t witnessed it since. Another observation was a much shorter battery life than I was used to with the Canons, especially with the GX85. But I had anticipated this and had an extended battery grip for the G9 and two spares for each body, so no issue.

All images were taken at base ISO which with these cameras is 200. Odd to me, but no bother. Most shots were at maximum aperture or close to it. I had a polarizer fitted to each lens, so no issue with too much light. I shoot RAW, and the color you see here is a combination of Adobe Lightroom’s conversion with some auto-tone and auto-white balance, and adjustments to taste. To be honest, this was very early on in my tenure with the Lumix cameras and I’ve tweeked the workflow a bit since then. 
And that’s the take-way. RAW images straight from the Canon cameras and processed in LR were 99% wonderful. Not so with this kit. There seem to be some interesting interpretations happening. But I mean that…they are interesting, and I find myself interacting with individual files more than before. This would be a shortcoming for a busy wedding photographer trying to make a thousand or more files look congruous. Not so for me, a semi-retired duffer. 

These shortcomings and any others are more than offset by the light and easy handling of the cameras, and the fact that I’m not shooting on any sort of deadline. All images were sharp and in focus beyond any expectation, and I love the way the Vario-Elmarits see the light. Very smooth and evocative. A wonderful drop off of focus and evenness of tonality. Just very satisfying, and even occasionally spectacularly flavorful.

Onne expressed some interest in my kit, exclaiming particularly at the f2.8 max aperture of the zooms. Don’t think he’ll replace his affiliation with Canon anytime soon, but who knows 🙂

Actually, I’m seeing a bit of press concerning the possibility of Olympus abandoning M43, or worse cameras altogether…and similar stories about Panasonic moving exclusively to full frame. Ouch. I consider the M43 to be the perfect format between the cellphone and medium format, but that’s just me.

I’ve never held an X1D, so what do I know? And my 500C/M’s are long gone. What I do know is that I love being able to take my time and just enjoy the day. What fun!


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  • Frederick Hartman says:

    Love the Newport shots particularly the color you’ve portrayed!

    • Chris Stump says:

      Thanks Frederick, and yes, the way this new kit interpreted the color of the day was the biggest surprise for me. I expected to see perhaps lower resolution or higher noise from the smaller chip and lenses not branded with an ‘L’ and red stripe. Not at all. In fact, the Leica zooms were spectacular, and of course it would be hard to find a chip that exhibits noise at noon on a summer’s day. The difference was the color rendition and gradation. I’m still getting used to it, but so far I love it. –C

  • Dallas says:

    Chris, great work, love your shots under somewhat difficult shooting conditions. My favourite is the close up of the crew.

    • Chris Stump says:

      Thanks Dallas,
      Yes, close-ups of the crew working furiously are always fun. The winds were much lighter this year than last, plus the fleet worked south into the ocean instead of up into the bay. As a result the ‘action’ shots were not quite as frenetic…but still a fun day on the water!

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Chris, these shots are wonderful!

    Living in Western Australia, through the succession of America’s Cup challenges launched by the late Alan Bond, races like these became a part of our lives, here – concluding with the grand finale, when Bond lost the Cup here, in an America’s Cup challenge off the coast from Fremantle, where I live.

    Partly as a result of that, we have not one, but two maritime museums here in Fremantle!

    And I’ve had a lifelong love of the sea, which is why I chose to live so close to it.

    I had a similar “sea change”, Chris, when I did my last (and probably final) kit upgrade – ditching practically all the other cameras, to re-equip with Nikon’s D850 and D500. And the D500 is now one of my favourite toys! Everything has its purpose, but the D500 has several. First – it’s smaller, lighter, and any FF lens plugged in gains a 50% boost in reach. Second – it has fast AF, which makes it great for wild life shots or pet photography – and I’m sure it would parallel your Olympus 4/3.

    So I have a fair understanding of the magic you must feel, leaving heavier gear at home and shooting with the Olympus.

    For the moment, Olympus and Nikon seem to be safe enough. A bit precarious perhaps – but for my part, I’m never going to outlive the remaining unused shutter clicks on both Nikons, even if Nikon does leave this world to wait for us all at the Rainbow Bridge, with all the other dogs we’ve had in our lives.

    And as to colours – what is the point in being the same as everyone else? – your shots have a special magic, and should cause gasps of envy wherever you show them!

    As to “how long in post” – as a result of something Pascal said a while back, I’ve been trying out various post processing programs for quite a while. Some are now basic to my production line – others fill in an odd blank here or there – and the old faithfuls, Photoshop and Lightroom, have been relegated to fairly minor roles.

    Which means each shot is a labour of love. And because of the differences between what our sensors CAN capture, and what digital processing and printing can do with the result, I sometimes have to abandon any attempt at being “life life” in favour of going the “artistic licence” route to get a result which is, at the very least, acceptable. “Perfect” is quite often too damn hard, or completely and utterly impossible! – we have to fly with 3 colours in cam and 3 at the printer (plus or minus various shades of grey), and to produce ALL the colours and ALL the tones from something line 7 trillion colours in real life, and infinite shifts in tonality, is simply never going to happen in our lifetimes. Surrogates that grab the eye are the best we can possibly hope for.

    • Chris Stump says:

      Thanks Pete!
      Yes, I really have enjoyed the smaller, lighter kit. And I agree that the new bodies will out-live me most likely…and if not, the lenses [which most of us think of as what you’re really buying when you choose a system] will work on whatever m43 bodies are still available.
      Love your thoughts on the colors, as well as ‘how long in post’. Assume you’re working in, or have tried, CaptureOne? Seems like a big job to convert over from LR, but may be well worth it. So far, so good with LR…and these images really do print well.
      Western Australia sounds lovely. Hope to visit someday!

  • PaulB says:


    This is a stellar set of images and I also like the color rendition you have achieved. I really liked how your images stand out and the light range you captured. My opinion is this is due to the combination of IBIS, an open aperture, and using a polarizing filter.

    I have very nearly the same kit you were using, the difference being I have the Pana-Leica 100-400 lens for my G9. I have been toying with the idea of always using a polarizer on all my lenses, and I think you have convinced me to do it.

    My G9 has become my workhorse camera, as well as my travel camera. After several months of using it, I gave up my Sony A7II. It could easily push my Leica M9 to second status for street work, and has for most other subjects. The Leica has its own vibe. . But the G9 does so many things quite well

    • Chris Stump says:

      Hi Paul!

      Thanks for the kind words on the images. A major factor in choosing the Lumix platform was their partnership with Leica glass, and I attribute much of the success here to the lenses.

      I’ve been salivating over reviews of your 100-400mm…I used to shoot a lot of surfers, and that lens would have absolutely killed. [David Thorpe has a great review of it on YouTube, btw]

      Also on my short list is the 12mm f1.4, and of course the new 10-25mm f1.7…holy smokes. Don’t ‘need’ any of the three, but that’s not the point, is it?

      My experience with filters could fill another article, but suffice to say that I use [exclusively B+W] polarizers on every lens I have, at all times.

      I don’t know how rare an opinion mine is, but I suspect it is a little. I stood behind a camera store counter for 15 yrs earnestly recommending $10 ‘skylight’ filters for every lens. Oh how much damage I did. They’re horrible for your images…I’ve done the tests.

      I hope St Peter will overlook this when I’m at the pearly gates. 🙂


      • PaulB says:


        I am a lens (and camera) junkie! So, lets not bring “need” into the conversation. Now “cool” and “unique” are subjects to expand upon,

        I have a mix of the Panasonic and Olympus lens that I really like. I had the Oly 12 f2.8 and the P-L 25 f1.4. I traded the them for the P-L 12-60 f2.8-4, but it proved to be too slow, so I exchanged that for the Oly 12-40 f2.8 Pro lens, and haven’t looked back. Then, my favorite store had a screaming deal on a used Oly 25 f1.2, so I jumped on that.

        Then there is the collection of M, R, F, FD, and EF lenses (from my Sony days) that can be adapted to the G9. Which means there is a lot of fun to be had.


        • Chris Stump says:


          This is what is so funny in my mind about lens selection.

          You mention the Leica DG 12-60mm f2.8-4. That is…wait for it…my daily go-to lens. But.

          It did not accompany me on this two-body venture. Huh.

          This is the conundrum I feel every day in selecting lenses. I want the widest wide, and the longest-long…depending on the situation.

          Hmmmm…Maybe the 10-25mm and 100-400 would cover it all? Thoughts?


          • PaulB says:


            I am the wrong guy to ask. I travel “Heavy”. I want to take everything when I’m going somewhere new; and I can drive. My walking around kit includes the P-L 8-18, Oly 12-40P, Oly 45f1.8, and Oly 75F1.8. My big bag will hold all of the plus the 100-400, and an adapter for 1-2 M-lenses.

            My issue with the 12-60 was the variable aperture. I live near Seattle, so when the light is low and grey the IBIS in the Oly Pen-F (I had at the time) had trouble keeping up. So a lot of images suffered from camera shake.

            Now that I am used to the reduced focusing distance M43 lenses impose, particularly the wides, I do like the P-L 8-18. I also like the overlap with the 12-40. Since the 24mm field of view is one of my favorites, I can leave either lens behind and not wish I had it.

            The 12-40 is my go to or “only” lens choice. The next choice is the Oly 75 for long-ish, or the 25 for normal. I have only had the 100-400 for a short time and haven’t used it much. I did have it at Thanksgiving and used it to make a couple of images that were submitted for the rectangle/panorama challenge. I don’t use the 45 very often since it is so close to the 40 long end of the zoom.

            Concerning getting the 10-25, ask yourself if getting 7mm more on the long side make up for giving up 2mm on the wide side. If you think you are missing images because 18 is not enough and you rarely use the widest end, it might be worth the switch. If not, you might be better served with something else. During this session at Newport, what did you miss? If there is anything consider that.

            Picking a workable kit vs. chasing the latest/greatest is both a challenge and a fantasy. So consider what you do and if there are any holes in your lens range. Then consider if the hole needs to be filled. And consider filling it with a prime lens.

            For example, if you switched to the 10-25 and 100-400, you would have a gap from 25-100. You could consider adding the Oly 45f1.8 and 75f1.8, which together take up less volume and weight than most zooms. Another option would be the Oly 12-100 F2.8Pro lens, which is a lens Kirk Tuck spoke highly of.

            Good luck!

  • PaulB says:

    Oops! I mean the Oly 12-100 f4 IS Pro lens. With the G9 you would get both lens and body based stabilization.

  • Nancee Rostad says:

    It’s always difficult to capture the wind in an image – you have succeeded wonderfully, Chris! Lovely images of boats in action! Thanks for sharing!

  • Michael Fleischer says:

    I keep looking at the sails;

    The subtle colours, the fine texture and the sense of them catching the wind
    as they were meant to do!
    Passionate people playing with wind beautifully captured.

    Well done Chris,

    • Chris Stump says:

      Thanks to both you Michael, and Nancee above, for your appreciation of the sails and wind in the photos.

      My wife [the MFA] exclaimed ‘Vettriano!’ when she saw this set. His work is captivating, and I immediately recognized that I’d been channeling his look in post.

      There are many more ocean and boat photos on my site here: https://chrisstump.com/sea.html 🙂

  • Paul Watson says:

    Its not that easy to take a profound unique shot of racing yachts. Unless you are lucky enough to b close by when two yachts run out of water , and foolhardy stubborn skippers make for some brilliant photography. If your filming , just get ready for some “bleeping bleep” outs. I love sailing , but I have also run out of luck having done Two Olympic classed Racing events , and sailing around the word a few times , if i was a cat i would have negative 7 lives.. so now i stand on land and take photos…

  • Paul Watson says:

    If I may Share some advice I got from some yacht photographers. The one lady would spray her whole camera , lens , outside , sides , top , bottom , with WD40 Silicone spray . Then head out and take photos. She was using a Canon 7 D at the time and that is weatherproof , but with the corrosive salt and sun , with the silicone spray it adds some more water proofing . The silicone spray repels water off lens and camera. So then the photographer would not need to stress about splashes .. Either that or just rent a Camera , wipe down afterwards , smile and return .

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