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^^ short answer: YES, I hand hold with VR ON:
Whenever you shoot high speed subjects with super tele-lens, you must make sure your shutter is fast enough to stop camera shake. However, you cannot have the shutter too fast or else you will stop motion. There is no wrong or right way - only your perspective on the subject captured, however, but there is the "typical" way which is to stop enough motion with just enough blur to create "fast movement blur".
The VR helps when you have shutter speeds under 1/400". You have to remember to wait a second for it to kick in (same as canon's) and then you have to stabilise yourself - just like how to shoot a rifle at long distance...breathing is critical too.
I don't know about others, but I find it quite hard to hand hold for long periods of time (the longest for me was about 3.5hours straight). You can almost bet hand holding a 400mm f/2.8 will get you tired instantly. It's not just hand holding the entire setup, it's also being able to hand hold AND track your subject - motorcycles move FAST - sometimes extremely fast and you almost have to anticipate their movements (which comes with trivial experience shooting more and more of it).
The trick is HIGH FPS. The camera is a tool and you can only expect so much from AUTO FOCUS. You basically try to track and pan with your bike and hope the AF gets you that one shot you are shooting for. If you can get ONE decent frame from that entire HI-FPS range, you're money.
I recommend a hefty tripod/head system. If mobility and quick action is your taste, then perhaps a monopod....or a big workout at the gym but even then, you will tire out and your shots will look terrible near end of day due to fatigue.
Edited on May 10, 2008 at 08:50 PM