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Old Nov 6, 2006, 11:02 AM   #1
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Ive spent quite a few hours trying to find an answer to my question but perhaps Im not "searching" the right thing. I have a D1X with an f/1.4 50mm lens I just purchased to shoot indoor basketball. I use Apperature mode and even at 1.4 my shutter speed is 1/200-1/320 at its fastest. This is shooting at 400 ISO, which gives me decent shots but still tend to be blurry, ie...hands, ball etc.. An ISO of 800 will allow me to get to 1/500 which is better but all the shots have noticable grain.For obvious reasons Im trying to stay away from using a flash. Is there something Im missing? Whats the best way to remove this grain? I have Nikon Capture and Photoshop, can it be done with these programs or is an additional one needed? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Old Nov 6, 2006, 7:20 PM   #2
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From images I've looked at, I wouldn't be particularly concerned about it from ISO 800 images from a D1x.

But, if you're printing larger sizes where you can actually notice it and it's objectionable, there are a number of solutions available to reduce it's appearance.

These are some of the more popular tools to reduce noise (the grain you're referring to).

Neat Image

Noiseware

Noise Ninja

Make sure you're not underexposing the images, too. If you underexpose them and brighten them later with software, noise is going to be higher (just as if you'd used a higher ISO speed to begin with).


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Old Nov 8, 2006, 1:10 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply!!Going over some of my shots I did find that I underexposed a few of them, and just as you said, asI "lightened" them the noise increased. Also, going over my shots Ive noticed another problem develop...the narrow depth of field got me! Im trying to stay at f/1.4-f/1.8 so I can getas high a shutter speed as possible.Ive been trying to focus on the players' chests, which come out fine, but most of the time their faces are blurred. With about 10 inches(DOF) theres NO room for error! How do you pros do it??
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Old Nov 8, 2006, 2:07 PM   #4
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Well...

If it were me, I'd probably be using it stopped down to f/2 or so, shooting at ISO 1600 instead (Hi 1 on your camera), cleaning it up with noise reduction software if it were an issue at the print/viewing sizes needed. Try the software I posted links to above. Most have trial versions you can download.

Not even considering Depth of Field, most of the f/1.4 lenses around are a bit soft at wide open apertures anyway. So, you'd get sharper photos as well as more Depth of Field to play with if you stopped it down a tad, provided shutter speeds are fast enough that motion blur isn't too much of an issue.

You'll need to balance shutter speed, DOF and sharpness, finding the best combination for the conditions you're shooting in.

But, I'm not much of a sports shooter. So, your best bet would be to ask for tips from some of the forum members here that shoot a lot of sports.

If you browse through our Sports and Action Photos Forum, you'll find a lot of posts from JohnG (and he often lets you know what he was using for settings). John shoots high school sports. I think he uses a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 a lot for low light sports, as well as a Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8, and shoots at ISO 1600 or 3200 relatively often (shooting with a Canon DSLR).

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Old Nov 8, 2006, 6:22 PM   #5
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Well,

I think there are definitely some things you can do to help yourself out. All of this is acedemic without seeing your photos. First, I prefer to use primes in low light - they focus much better than a 2.8 zoom. So while I will use a 2.8 zoom in a very well lit gym I prefer my 85mm 1.8.

First, I want to emphasize a couple of Jim's points:

1. Bump up the ISO and use noise reduction

2. Stop down the lens to 2.0 if you can.

3. Expose properly in-camera

The last one is the critical point. I'm not familiar with how the D1x behaves, but on my Canon camera, the metering is geared towards protecting highlights. This means that it will often underexpose the image a bit. Whether your D1x does or not I don't know, but the key to good quality high ISO images is to get a balanced histogram at the least or a histogram pushed to the right. So, to achieve this, I often use about 2/3 EC. As an example for volleyball in the one court I shot several matches at, the Camera metered the exposure at 1/640 ISO 1600 f2.0. I left the 1600, f2.0 and set the shutter at 1/400. The resulting images were much better. I then run through noiseware professional as a plugin - NOT in batch. I don't like doing noise reduction in batch.

The second problem you'll run into is DOF - as you already noticed it's an issue. Dropping down a stop to 2.0 (and raising ISO to 1600 with 1/400 or 1/500 shutter speed) will get you a bit more DOF. Using the chest as a target is OK if you're at 2.8 or higher but at wider apertures you need to target the face.\

The third issue is going to be focus accuracy. The closer you get to infinity (and hyperfocus) the less accurate focus becomes. with a 50mm lens that means past 10' you start to run into issues. So keep that in mind - beyond that range you want to pick stationary or lateral moving targets. Targets moving towards or away are going to be problematic.

Finally, I don't know how the focus system on the D1x behaves, but I know on the Canon cameras at shallow DOF I have much better luck with a single focus point rather than using multiple or all focus points.

The digital noise is a fact of life - but you reduce it by exposing to the right in-camera and you remove it by proper application of noise reduction software (which takes some practice - many people starting to use noise reduction software tend to overdo it which turns your subjects into plastic looking dolls).



Hope this is somewhat helpful.
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Old Nov 8, 2006, 10:58 PM   #6
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Helpful?? You hit ALL my problem areas right on the head! I was trying to focus with multiple points, and the subjects coming at me/away from me.

Here's a pic thatI shot that day...50mm f/1.4, aperature priority,multi patternmetering, 1/250@f/1.4, exp. compensation0, ISO 400, AFmode AF-C, color ModeI(sRGB), sharpening low, WB fluorescent.....The only thing Ive done to this is cropped it and increased the exposure compensation by +1.

On a different note, Ive downloaded Noiseware, Neat Image and Noise Ninja 2. Ive been playing around with all 3 demos for the past 6 hrs and it seems to me that Neat Image and Noiseware are verysimilar in noise reduction with Noisewaremaintaining better color saturation...if that makes sense. Both of them being better than the Noise Ninja2 in noise removal. The difference these programs make was very surprising to me. Im able to keep photos that I wouldve normally tossed out. Still not enlargement quality but for 5x7s and the such, pretty darn good.



I think Ive failed to mention that ITRULY appreciate your helpgentlemen.

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Old Nov 9, 2006, 12:45 AM   #7
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John's the expert on Sports Shooting. But, I'll throw out some observations from my perspective and let him comment on what he sees.

Most of the 50mm f/1.4 lenses are a tad soft wide open.That's sometimes OK for portraits. But, not necessarily for everything else.

I'm seeing a bit of CA here (purple fringing at high contrast areas like the basketall against a lighter background) and there that would probably go away if you could stop it down a bit more and you'd improve both sharpness and contrast (real contrast versus that added by the raw converter/processing tools). Your shutter speed is the big issue if you wanted to try that though.

You can see what I'm talking about by looking at it's MTF chart:

http://old.photodo.com/prod/lens/det..._14D-443.shtml

The processing also doesn't look that great. That'sa 5 year old camera model, which is a long time as digital cameras go. So, if you're trying to use a 5 year old raw converter to process them, you could probably do better with a more modern tool. Raw conversion is a complex process, and the algorithms are constantly improving.

I'd suggest trying a few to see what works best for your images. Adobe Camera Raw is pretty good. But, to use the newer plugins, you'll need a newer version of Photoshop, too.

There are also a number of alternatives around. The sensor layout in your D1x is an oddity as those things go. So, I'd experiment with different converters to see which one handles it the best for those types of photos.

It's been my experience that Adobe Camera Raw is pretty good as raw converters go for most shots, especially in low light. But, there aremore to choose from.

The D1X is not supported by some newer converters though. For example, I don't see it listed as supported by Raw Shooter Essentials (although the newer D2x is).

Eric Hyman's Bibble supports it. So, I'd download a trial for it and see what you think. It can work as a stand along product or as a plugin to Photoshop (version 6 or higher).

http://www.bibblelabs.com/

Capture One has a pretty good rep for low noise. So, I'd take a look at it, too. BTW, Sandisk has a promo going on right now where you can get a free copy of Capture One LE with some of their Extreme III cards.Vendors of the cards (for example, http://www.bhphotovideo.com) should have details on the promo. I'd have to check into it to find out for sure. But, your model is probably limited to a 2GB maxcard size.

http://www.phaseone.com/Content/Downloads/COforWIN.aspx

There are more products, too (including some that are totally free). For example UFRAW:

http://ufraw.sourceforge.net/

What version of Nikon Capture and Photoshop are you using?

If you shot a properly exposed f/2 and ISO 1600, you'd get shutter speeds just as fast as you're getting now without pushing the images any (brightening them) in software if you're brightening them by a stop.

That may not get your shutter speeds up to where you want them. But, sometimes raw converters can be misleading. Just because you need to move the slider one stop in your current converter, doesn't mean that another one will behave the same way. There are differences between them.

So, I'd experiment a bit and see what you get by bracketing the exposures some and using different software to process them until you have a better idea of your camera's behavior and how raw converters are going to handle the images if you decide to keep shooting in raw. Most sports shooters go JPEG. But, you'll want to get your exposure nailed if you go that way instead.

I'd probably see what you're getting for sharpness stopping down in 1/3 stop or 1/2 stop increments from wide open apertures with the lens, too (although you may not be able to stop it down to f/2 and maintain acceptable shutter speeds, something in between f/1.4 and f/2 may be a bit better).

For example, if you were a half stop down at f/1.7, shooting at ISO 1600 (properly exposed), you should be able to shoot at around 1/350 (compared toshooting at f/1.4, 1/250and ISO 400 and needing to push it a stop using software).

If you want to use the camera's metering, and the exposure is constently a stop underexposed, just use a +1 EV Setting with Exposure Compensation (or if light is even, go manual exposure instead and eliminate the metering headaches).

Custom Function 31 on your camera lets you select between ISO 1600 and 3200 (Hi 1 is ISO 1600, Hi 2 is ISO 3200).

Noise will be higher.You'll have to decide if the tradeoff between noise and shutter speed is worth it with the tools you use to process the images, given the potential of slighter sharper images from stopping down the lens a tad.

IOW, experiment and find a combination that works well with your camera. Each model is going to have some unique characteristics, and the software you use to process the images can make a difference (as you've already discovered trying out noise reduction software).

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Old Nov 9, 2006, 7:25 AM   #8
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First, Jim's advice is right on the money - every camera from a different 'generation' / brand is going to behave differently. As will raw conversions.

DRGSin wrote:
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Helpful?? You hit ALL my problem areas right on the head! I was trying to focus with multiple points, and the subjects coming at me/away from me.
But, I also wanted to follow-up on something below - you can absolutely get shots of a subject coming towards you - the problem is it will be very hit or miss when you have very shallow DOF and you're nearing infinity on a particular lens. As an example, using my Sigma 120-300 2.8 outdoors I'm always taking shots of subjects running towards me - no problem (as long as I'm within the normal focus operating distance of the lens). But shooting at 2.0 indoors with an 85mm lens I find that after about 15 feet or so I just get inconsistant focus accuracy when the subjectt is moving towards me.

So, I learn to work with that limitation - I either wait until my subject is within that range or I shoot at more of an angle so the subject isn't moving towards me and stays in a given focal plane longer
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Old Nov 9, 2006, 8:11 AM   #9
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WOW!! Alot of good info from both of you guys. Im gonna shoot at practice tonight and "play around" with different settings as was suggested. Outdated Raw conversion software...That wouldve NEVER crossed my mind! I'll check to see which version of Nikon Capture Im usingtonight.I think what Im finding out here is my predicament has alot to do with not being educated on an old, manual-everything camera. Instead we buy these high-priced auto-everything cameras and get disappointed when the basic physics of phototaking arent applied and the shortcomings of the cameras are exposed.
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Old Nov 9, 2006, 8:51 AM   #10
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Yes...

A digital camera sensor is made up of photosites that are only sensitive to one color each (red, green or blue) and there more photosites sensitive to green.

RAW conversion software then combines the values from multiple photosites so that all 3 colors are represented at each pixel location. They use very complex algorithms for this process, to try and make a "best guess" as to what adjacent photosites to use for this interpolation without introducing unwanted artifacts at edge transitions, and there can be a pretty big difference between them, depending on the images.

If you look at images produced by an older camera model, and compare them to images produced by a newer camera model, you can often see a pretty big difference in how the images are being rendered, because of different processing algorithms being used in the camera.

The good news is that by shooting in raw, you can "update" the way the images are being processed from the sensor using the latest advances in processing algorithms, since it's taking data directly from the sensor with no in camera processing.

I don't print a lot of my images at larger sizes. But, when I do, I often run them through more than one raw converter to see which one handles them the best as a starting point for further editing.

Sometimes I may prefer Adobe Camera Raw, or sometimes I may even prefer a tool like Dave Coffin's dcraw.c (a command line program that uses pretty good algorithms in newer versions).

The UFRaw tool I mentioned is based on David's code and even lets you apply custom tone curves (and there arevendors that specialize in producing them for Nikon models).

Speaking of Adobe Camera Raw, if you have a newer version of Photoshop (CS or CS2), you can download a plugin from Adobe to convert your images, versus using Nikon's plugin.

Version 2.4 is the latest plugin for Photoshop CS. Version 3.6 is the latest plugin for Photoshop CS2. After going to the correct download page, you'll see instructions for how to install it. It'sa matter of copying the file you download to the correct folder on your PC.

The have versions for Windows and Mac platforms. Here is the Windows download page:

http://www.adobe.com/support/downloa...atform=Windows

If you're using an older version of Photoshop, you may have to use a third party alternative for best results.Youmay want to try a newer version of Nikon Capture, too. Try some of the products I mentioned above. You may be surprised at how much better your conversions are. For example, I see a somewhat "muddy" look to your image, and I also see fewhighlights that would be blown in some areas if you pushed it any more without using curves, with some of the image looking a bit underexposed. Some of thatis probably the tone curve being applied by the raw conversion process.

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