Well, all in all, it went quite well. As expected, I'm still struggling to find the time to process and update the (1500 plus) images, but the f2.8 lens certainly made all the difference.
The lighting at Newport is poor. Only about 25% of the ceiling lights were on and they were supplemented by a very small number of perspex panels in the roof - although it was amazing how much difference they made when the sun snuck out from behind a cloud.
Larry Hickmott, British Cycling's official photographer was there and we had a chat about the poor conditions. He remarked - as I did before the shoot - that I would struggle without a flash, and he was right - up to a point.
I started at ISO 640 but shot most of the day at 800, resorting to 1250 towards the end of the day. It was a very uneven light and, of course, mostly from above, so there were a couple of problems...
The biggest problem was the focus. The D70's pretty good, if not a patch on the pro dSLRs, but it was struggling at times to find focus. By playing around a little I found I was able to get a good lock by focussing on the handlebars of the bikes and using what reflected light there was from the track surface.
The riders themselves were mostly in shadow and the bulk of the post-processing work will be boosting shadows and higlights to get around the lighting problems. A fill flash would have solved the problem, but the built-in Speedlight on the D70 - remarkable though it is - is too harsh and takes too long to recycle to be much use.
The value of the f2.8 lens really hit home when I took some shots of the medal ceremonies with the kit 18-70 lens, which is f4.5 at the long end. It was utterly hopeless without the flash, which was struggling to recycle - partly because it does anyway and partly because I'd stupidly left my second battery on the charger at home and had to resort to the 'emergency' CR3 lithium battery pack,
The results aren't bad. There's not much visible noise and the colour balance is about right, despite the odd lighting conditions.
The bottom line is that I need that SB-800 - and it's on its way. I finally gave in and ordered it this morning, funded by my first 'commercial' shoot - of which, more later...More blogs about cycling photography.