18 cameras, all manual focus, at the Kentucky Derby in the 1980s – this viral photo reminds me how spoiled we are

Photographer Michael Brohm, in the late 1980s / early 1990s, setting up 18 cameras at the Kentucky Derby
(Image credit: Michael Brohm)

Can you imagine trying to photograph a horse with a manual focus lens? How about a racehorse? How about an entire horse race? How about the finish line at the Kentucky Derby? 

That's exactly the situation that sports photographers used to find themselves in. Back in the days when the best sports cameras had no autofocus whatsoever – let alone subject tracking and animal detect and algorithmic AI processors – and fired about 6fps on a good day, getting any shot in focus required true skill.  

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients like Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.