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Old Feb 12, 2008, 5:26 AM   #1
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New here, it looks like a great site. I just bought a D40 and I'm trying to find the best way to get indoor action shots. I've takenphoto's at my sons basketball games and a Pacers game, and am not happy with my results yet. Does anyone have any tips? This is my first SLR, and I have a lot if learning to do. I just have the 18-55mm lense for the moment.

Thanks, Jeff
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Old Feb 12, 2008, 7:50 AM   #2
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Your kit lens is not bright enough for indoor sports.

The lens of choice for sports shooters for indoor basketballl is usually an 85mm f/1.8 on a body with an APS-C size sensor, shooting at ISO 1600 to get shutter speeds up to around 1/500 second

In Nikon primes, you've got a few options like the 50mm f/1.4, 50mm f/1.8, 85mm f/1.8, 85mm f/1.4, and 105mm f/2

The 85mm f/1.8 and 105mm f/2 would probably be your best bets with most Nikon bodies shooting from the sidelines (only falling back on a 50mm if budget won't permit the longer lenses).

Note that f/2 is 4 times as bright as f/5.6 (the widest available aperture your existing 18-55mm lens has if you zoom in much).

So, the camera could use shutter speeds 4 times as fast for any given lighting and ISO speed with an f/2 or brighter lens, as compared to your kit lens zoomed in.

Problem: Your D40 won't Autofocus with these brighter Nikkon Prime lenses. You'd need to use manual focus with them because they do not have a built in focus motor (and neither does the D40 camera body).

So, if you want Autofocus with your D40, you'll need to use a lens with a built in focus motor (Nikkor AF-S lenses, Sigma HSM lenses) with f/2.8 available to get more keepers, which means using ISO 3200 to get your shutter speeds up to the desired speed (f/2.8 only lets it half the light, compared to a lens with f/2 available).

I'd probably look at something like a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM Lens (around $800 discounted). The Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 EX DC may also be worth a look, falling back on an f/2.8 Prime (fixed focal length versus zoom) with AF-S or HSM available, depending on budget.

I'd ask about specific lenses separately so that members that may be familiar with focus speed, image quality, etc. can comment about their suitability for sports.

If you're going to shoot indoor sports often, you may want to consider going with a different camera body. The D80, D200, D300, and up will still Autofocus with the brighter primes, and have more sophisticated Autofocus systems that are probably going to work better for tracking moving subjects.

If you're on a real tight budget, grab a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 Autofocus Lens and use Manual Focus with it from as close as you can get with your D40. It will be a bit cumbersome. But, you'd get your shutter speeds up to reduce motion blur, and the camera can give you a focus confirmation in the viewfinder when you achieve focus by turning the focus ring.

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Old Feb 12, 2008, 7:57 AM   #3
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Your not going to like what you hear, but indoor basketball in most gyms, is a difficult shooting situation. Gym lighting especially at the highschool/small college level is notoriously bad. I've never been in Conseco fieldhouse, but I would think the lighting is a little better. The kit lens you have is also not suited well for low light action shots, as it has a slow max aperature, meaning it's not going to let in enough light to get proper exposure. Using this lens is possible, but results will be inconsistent. You'll need to increase iso to at least 1600, and select Aperature priority, and pick the largest aperature available. Hopefully you'll get a shutter speed of at least 1/250th, preferably 1/500. I wouldn't recommend shooting in shutter priority, because it will be too easy to get underexposed shots. Images will be noisy, but should clean up ok with noise reduction software look ok at normal print sizes.

Normally, I'd recommend getting a bright prime lens, like the 50mm f1.8, but none of the primes will AF with the D40(x) as it does not have a focus motor. You could use it, but you'd have to manually focus, which isn't ideal for sports. You could look at one of the higher end constant aperature zooms, but they are quite expensive. Really, the D40 is not a good choice for this type of shooting, the D80 is the better choice as it allows non AF-s lenses to autofocus.
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Old Feb 12, 2008, 8:03 AM   #4
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I have taken pics at raptors games with the same kit, and they turn out alright because all nba arenas have awesome lighting for tv broadcasts and pro photogs at the games.

Not sure about gyms.
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Old Feb 12, 2008, 1:41 PM   #5
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According to sportsshooter, ambient exposure for Canseco fieldhouse is 1/500, F2.8 and ISO 800-1200.

So, a 5.6 aperture at 1600 would yield 1/160- 1/250 shutter speed. You'll get some shots where action is at a halt (height of a jump shot).

The other problem is 55mm is just way to short unless you have floor seats. From the floor, typical lenses are 70-200 and 24-70 (for right under the basket) plus something like a 300mm or 400mm for action at the other end if the photog wants to hassle with a lens that big.

For HS, the only option to getting decent results with that camera is to use an external flash. But if basketball or any sports shooting is really a big part of your shooting you should invest in one of the other cameras - I would recommend either the D80 or D300. D200 if outdoor sports but it's high ISO performance is worse than the d80 so kind of a poor fit for basketball.
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Old Feb 12, 2008, 4:15 PM   #6
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This how the "Pro" do it:
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Old Feb 12, 2008, 6:03 PM   #7
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NHL wrote:
This how the "Pro" do it:
Yep, and at Canseco it only costs a photographer $400 to have their lights installed for a game or for $300 a game the photographer can rent their strobes. Assuming you have media credentials of course

For high school of course it becomes a matter of setting up the strobes - where and how to set them up (most gyms don't have accessible rafters for light rigs), and of course the liability and approval from ADto go along with it.

None of which is particularly relevant to a fan at an NBA game or someone whose son is on the local HS team since I dont think the OP will be strobing any gyms or Canseco anytime soon :G

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