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Old Mar 6, 2009, 10:28 AM   #1
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I have a nikon d40x with a sigma 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 HSM lens. Will I be able to take action basketball shots inside a gym.(lighting is so so) The pictures are coming out with a blur. I keep adjusting everything and I'm just getting more confused. Any input with the settings would be great. I also have Nikon SB600 speedlight flash. Should I be using this too?
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Old Mar 6, 2009, 11:01 AM   #2
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First and foremost, you would need to look at your shutter speeds. I always shoot aperture priority to try and get the highest shutter speed available with the given light... but I make adjustments all the time.

Have you tried bumping up your ISO to 800 or 1600 (I don't know how high that camera goes). The flash will definitely help, but some sporting events don't allow them because it might blind the players.

Usually I can get a pretty still shot at about 1/125 of a second... anything slower and then you start to get into blurry photo mode.
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Old Mar 6, 2009, 8:31 PM   #3
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You won't be able to get fast enough shutter speeds with that lens to get good shots. 1/400 is the minimum speed you need to get decent basketball shots and a f5.6 lens won't give you those. At ISO 1600 you'd need an f2.0 lens to get those speeds AND expose the shot properly.

So, I would recommend using the flash. I don't like camera mounted flash for basketball because of the red-eye and shadows but you do what you have to do. If you have a wall behind you I would suggest bouncing the flash off the wall behind you (probably need to add +2/3 to +1 FEC. Also, you have to be careful when using a flash - don't go hog wild on the burst shots or you'll burn out your flash unit. You have to give it some time to cool down. I would suggest shooting 1-2 shot bursts if using the flash.

Even with flash you're going to have slow focusing with that lens - it's not an HSM lens - and its 5.6 so it won't focus very fast. But the flash will allow you to get some usable shots.

In reality there's not much you can do with the d40x for basketball until nikon adds af-s to their 85mm 1.8 lens and that could be quite a while.

Good luck with the flash and let us know how it goes.
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Old Mar 7, 2009, 6:42 PM   #4
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If you can get close enough to use it , you may be able to get some shots with the new Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G AF-S lens without using a flash.

Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.4G

Make sure it's the AF-S version (the "S" in AF-S indicates that the lens has a Silent Wave Motor), or it won't autofocus on a D40x. Nikon did not include a focus motor in the D40, D40x and D60 bodies. So, they require lenses that have built in focus motors like Nikon's AF-S (Silent Wave Motor) lenses or Sigma's HSM (Hypersonic Motor) lenses. Most dealers are out of stock right now, as the newer AF-S version of Nikon's 50mm f/1.4 is in high demand and just hit dealer shelves. Some dealers that have stock are demanding a pretty high price for the lens because of shortages, too. You should be able to find one for under $500 as stock improves. B&H has a listing for it at $499.95 right now. But, they're out of stock:


Sigma also makes a 50mm f/1.4 AF lens with HSM (Hypersonic Motor) focusing that will Autofocus on your camera body. You should be able to find these for under $500, too (although many dealers are out of stock right now):


With one of those lenses, I'd probably try Manual Exposure with the Aperture at f/2, shutter speed at 1/400 second, and ISO speed at ISO 1600 for starters, setting a custom white balance using a white or grey card under the gym lights (in between more than one light to help average the color temperature in mixed lighting).

Then, check exposure accuracy after taking some photos by viewing the images and histogram via playback, and adjust your shutter speed for a brighter or darker exposure as needed. Simply use a faster shuttter speed for a darker exposure or a slower shutter speed for a brighter exposure, keeping the aperture set to around f/2. Use Continuous focusing to help the camera track movement.

Again, you'll need to be close to use it (for example, getting some shots from near the basket). You can't expect to get accurate focusing of moving subjects at anything other than close ranges with a 50mm lens if you want enough subject detail (and that's always subjective).

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