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Old Nov 7, 2007, 6:56 AM   #1
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Last night was our first home basketball game of the season. While I got a few shots that were decent, lighting gave me fits, especially a lighted panel on the scorer's table that kept throwing off my light metering (I realized that after I got home and was editing. The result was dark faces that had to be lightened in PP, bringing in noise. ) A couple of the keepers.





Both shots at ISO 1600, Pentax FA 50-mm AF lens @ f1.4, first shot at 1/400--second one at 1/500. Custom white balancing. I didn't run into the problems I thought I might with the lens being too short. Problems I hit (other than the scorer's table, were due more to a lack of experience framing (too often I would get good body action and faces, but not the ball), and AF problems, both with the AF not focusing quickly enough or locking on the wrong player.

Suggestions and criticisms welcome.
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Old Nov 7, 2007, 10:44 AM   #2
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Trojansoc,

Your metering struggles are exactly why I advise using a manual exposure for indoor sports. You MAY have to adjust the exposure as you switch shooting locations but typically not more than 1/3 or 2/3 stops.

The first shot here is really nice. Good capture. There's still a bit too much noise for my tastes and the white balance is a bit off. How did you set the custom WB? I.E. what subject did you use for determining white?

The second shot looks like the focus is too far off and the players just look 'off' somehow. Did you do more PP work on this photo?

As for the AF issues - it's tough to give a whole lot of advice since I'm not familiar with the idiosyncrocies of the Pentax cameras - especially in low light.

In general though - you want to use only a single focus point. Not sure if the center point in pentax is more accurate than the others (inNikon & Canonfor last generation the center focus point was more accurate -being cross-type and more sensitive. So it was crucial to use the center point as the others weren't as reliable in low light. Also, you really need some contrast to get focus. Because of shallow DOF I try to focus on faces, but some kids have very smooth faces and you don't get good focus that way. In those cases I'll try to use the trim of their jersey.

Finally - I've found that at least in Canon system, my 50mm lens is really only accurate for about 10-15 feet (preferably closer to 10). So that's something to consider as well. Just because we use crop cameras that give us the FOV of 75-78mm doesn't mean the focus of the lens behaves like a 78mm lens (if there was such a thing). What I'm saying is - in my experience you can't focus any further away with a given lens just because the camera has a smaller image sensor. Hope that made sense :G

In any event - I really like the first shot
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Old Nov 7, 2007, 2:09 PM   #3
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John, I really like the idea of manual exposure indoors, although I had not thought of that being an advantage. I hadn't realized the kinds of problems that light was giving me till I went back and checked at home. You mention the exposure problems on shot #2. The light was right behind the player jumping (#32) andhad given me bright areas to the sides, but dark on the face. Boosting levels in PP crated some of the noise problems.

You say 10-15 feet is the quality max with a 50mm. Although I might improve things a little by playing with my aperature to give me a little more DOF, I found that 10-15 feet was just about theONLY distance I was going to get top quality....period. Closer than than proved a speed problem with focusing. Some of the problem may have been a beginner taking too long to cement his angles. I'm going to experiment with a few things the next time I shoot there.

As to other questions, I used a sheet of white paper for custom white balancing. Both of these shots came from the second game of a doubleheader. My football assistant wanted to try basketball also and she shot the first game with a tungsten pre-set white balance. In the camera's monitor, my colors looked far better, but hers wound up looking better when I got them home. I'm going to play some more and see if I can get something that will give me a setting between the two I had last night...(I've thought about a grey card?????)

All shots were taken with center focus point only.

You mention focusing on faces. I had more trouble getting focus on the African-American kids, perhaps because of the poor lighting. Both of the shots I posted were African Americans, but the shots I had of the white kids were sharply in focus.

Any ideads?

Thanks for taking the time and your comments about shot #1.


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Old Nov 7, 2007, 2:29 PM   #4
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on the white balance. I used to use a grey card and it did OK but not QUITE right. But I finally found a cheap WB card at BH photo ($8) I used that in two different gyms for volleyball and WB was PERFECT.

Here's my shot with white card:



Here's a shot from last year using a grey card in the same gym:



I should also mention the top photo was with the mkIII and the bottom with my 20D so there's bound to be some differences (I know for instance that the red channel is more pronounced on the mkIII) - still I think all the colors came out better using the white card.

Your shots below have a cold/blue/purple color cast on my work monitor but maybe some of that is an unintended consequence of the post processing? Or just a bad monitor on my end here at work.

As for the African American players - again you are probably running into a contrast situation. Try the lettering. I've found that white really screws up my AF - so I'm not sure if the white/dark contrast at the neck shoulders would cause you similar problems or work fine - after all different camera so different focus systems. Of course the problem with using the lettering is - for shot 1 it'smaybe 6inches behind the face so the results may not be as good (depending on how the DOF calculates out). That's the frustsrating aspect of having to choose another body part to focus on. It's much easier when the jerseys aren't white - at least in my experience.

Good luck. As with any sport - Basketball takes practice. We're still a couple weeks away from games here so I'm in a lull between seasons before Basketball and wrestling start up (followed by gymnastics). Anyway, keep at it. And I think the $8 wb card is a definite worthwhile investment (there were some ludicrously expensive ones but somewhere down the list was a cheap one and it worked fine).
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Old Nov 7, 2007, 3:20 PM   #5
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I like the first one... but I think the second one is a bit too much OOF for my tastes.

Trojansoc wrote:
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...and AF problems,with the AF not focusing quickly enough...
This is the reason I switched to Canon. The camera driven AF just does not compare with the lens driven AF systems...
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