By remotely controlling a master camera, sports photographer Bob Martin was able to capture the action at Wimbledon from a new angle — and shoot multiple cameras at the same time
Recently, tennis player Andy Murray became the first English Wimbledon winner in 77 years — but a collaboration between Nikon and remote control experts MRMC (Mark Roberts Motion Control) allowed the action to be captured in a way that's never been seen before.
MRMC is a company that specializes in motion control, and their gear is used in major Hollywood films like X-Men: First Class, Sucker Punch, and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. But they also have an interest in sports photography (which likewise requires high speed tracking), and for this year's Wimbledon developed a new technology with Nikon. Previously, both companies had teamed up during the coverage of the 2012 Olympics.
For Wimbledon 2013, renowned sports photographer Bob Martin had an array of Nikon D4 cameras to shoot the action. Three of these were set up around the arena, and were feeding one shot per minute to an official iPad app — but the others were put to more interesting use. Above the action, a roof robotic camera was controlled using a SFH-30 control system, which allowed Martin to follow the action with a 0.1 second latency.
Even more impressively, the control system was tied to two others in a MRMC Polycam configuration. As Martin remotely controlled one camera to track the action, the other two cameras were trained on the same spot — allowing him to capture the same scene from three different angles.
Remote rigs like this seem to be the future of sports photography. At Photokina, we played with the same rig that Canon used for the 2012 Olympics, and Getty and Reuters both went robotic for the event. Remote control rigs allow photographers to snap photos from positions and angles they could never physically get to, and could lead the way for ever more dynamic and interesting sports photography.