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Old Jan 29, 2008, 6:55 AM   #1
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No one questions that athletic teams need lots of pre-season practice, but the last couple of weeks, I've had the opportunity to guide my soccer shooter through an introduction to the world of DSLR's. As any of you know, I use a student manager to shoot soccer while I coach, and I've been lucky enough to have a talented young lady to handle the camera the last couple of years during matches. This will be our first season since I got the Pentax, so I've used some practice time to accustom her to the different characteristics of the larger, heavier camera. Despite her first impression ("Where's MY camera?"), the shots are beginning to improve. Taken yesterday in very low light, just before dusk.



When you can get access to practice sessions before a season starts, it's a great time to try out new equipment and techniques before being faced with the pressure of shots that NEED to be good. With the Pentax, the challenge has been adapting to the focusing characteristics, shooting in portrait mode, and the weight of the camera. (I've ordered a ball head for my monopod so she can use it shooting in portrait.)



The disadvantage, of course, is that action is not always as intense in a practice session, especially when the temp is hovering around 35 degrees, as in the photo above. She couldn't resist, however, shooting at least one of a freezing old man stumbling around the field shooting off his mouth.



Season is only one week away! Can't wait.

Paul
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Old Jan 29, 2008, 7:52 AM   #2
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Hello Paul, nice to see your Footy is just a week away, my coverage has stalled at the moment due to Allthelocal matches being cancelled for the last 2 weeks due to severe weather!!. I've filled the weekends doing Christenings etc, not quite as fast as soccer!:-). Given the conditions they don't look bad!seeing asshe hasn't used a DSLR before. PS, get her in the gym for when your 2.8 zoom arrives :lol:

They are quit noisey either due to theISO or the crop ratio,have you tried a noise reducing software?. with your permissionI have passed your 1st pic through Noise Ninja!, it looks a little plasticy but IMO an improvement. Kind regards Graham.




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Old Jan 29, 2008, 11:53 AM   #3
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Trojansoc wrote:
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With the Pentax, the challenge has been adapting to the focusing characteristics, shooting in portrait mode, and the weight of the camera. (I've ordered a ball head for my monopod so she can use it shooting in portrait.)
Paul, I'm confused a bit. What lens is being used? Doesn't the lens have a tripod collar? If it's got a tripod colloar the collar should rotate allowing a quick switch between portrait and landscape. In general i would find a ball head problematic for sports shooting. You're not changing angles much like you would be for wildlife and for the times you do it's just a tilt forward or back of the camera - having both the monopod and a ball-head would be counter-productive.

This, of course, assumes you have a tripod collar.
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Old Jan 29, 2008, 11:59 AM   #4
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As to the pictures, the exif has been stripped so tough to say why but DOF looks way too great and focus is off on most of these. Without the original un-cropped images it's difficult to diagnos the problem.

I might even suggest - if she is interested in photography that SHE sign-on here. We can treat her with kid gloves :G- but that way she gets help / advice directly.

In the end it's a bit akward commenting on photos the poster didn't take. So with the exception of this critique I'll probably not comment on other posted photos unless you indicat you took them.
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Old Jan 29, 2008, 2:14 PM   #5
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John, I don't have a tripod collar on the DA*50-135, which is the longest f2.8 lens I have right now. Once I get a lens with acollar, no problem. I'm not sure I understand the point you're making on why a ball head won't help with a monopod. Right now, the monopod simply attaches flat to the bottom of the camera with no head installled. Therefore, swinging the camera up into a portrait mode simply swings the monopod off the ground.

The reason I post the photos she takes is that they are, for lack of a better term, a joint effort. She doesn't have a computer, so she shoots, then I process. Otherwise, I would LOVE to get her on here. She would improve rapidly. The point I was making with the post was not that the shots were good, but that new equipment always carries with it a learning curve, and that if you can arrange to shoot practice, it's a good time to work out technical skills and adjust to new equipmentbefore the season ever starts. I also think that these, on one of her first efforts, are as good as most of what she was shooting at the end of the season last year, giving me hope that we're moving in the right direction.

I have been wondering about the DOF problem as well. The lens has not gone all the way to a focus on the background, but it's far more in focus than it should be, especially at f2.8 and 1/400th. I would post the original image, but I accidentally deleted it from the memory card while transferring some images. The original image was taken in portrait, and covered the frame side to side.

I have the Tamron 70-200mm f2.8 on order, and I'm looking for that to be a significant help. I'm looking to see what will happen when we get under the lights. I suspect we will get dramatically clear shots for a very short distance with the 50-135.
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Old Jan 29, 2008, 3:30 PM   #6
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Trojansoc wrote:
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I'm not sure I understand the point you're making on why a ball head won't help with a monopod. Right now, the monopod simply attaches flat to the bottom of the camera with no head installled. Therefore, swinging the camera up into a portrait mode simply swings the monopod off the ground.
The point was only relevant if the lens had a collar. If the lens has a collar, the collar attaches to the monopod. But the collarcan be loose to allow the lens (and the camera attached to that lens) to rotate freely while the collar stays locked in position. So you can turn the camera along that single axis.

If you are going to leave the ballhead 'loose' it isn't as stable of a shooting platform. And with sports shooting you don't need to change your angles much at all - mostly you're just panning when using longer lenses. Typically when shooting with focal lengths so short you wouldn't use a monopod.

Take for example basketball - you're following a drive to the basket and a layup or dunk. You would want to tilt the lens up to follow the player. Now think - if you're attached to a monopod you now have to lower YOUR position because you basically have a fulcrum - one end goes up the other comes down.

For field sports though - what do you need to tilt up or down more than a couple degrees for? You have a very limited need to change the angle of the lens. So if the collar allows you to rotate, the head really doesn't give you any additional benfit because the slight angles you need to change are simplly accomplished by a slight tilt of the monopod. When you have severe angle changes at close distances (like the basketball lens) a monopod is a hindrance entirely.

Also, if the ball head is loose, as you pan you really have two potential objects moving - the monopod rotating around itself and now the ballhead rotating as well - unless you have a ballhead with a panning lock.

You, however, are in a unique predicament. You have (presumably) a very slight girl and the 135mm 2.8 lens is too heavy for her to hand hold.

You'll understand a little more once you have the ballhead - the result is you've got more moving parts than you need. Tough to explain




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Old Jan 29, 2008, 3:32 PM   #7
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Trojansoc wrote:
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I have been wondering about the DOF problem as well.
I think part of the problem is heavy cropping. Unless she's actually on the field the position of the players makes me think some of these shots were easily taken from 30 yards or more away. That's also contributing to the focus problems. I would say a 135mm lens is good for abot 15-20 yards of coverage and that's about it.
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Old Jan 29, 2008, 4:09 PM   #8
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JohnG wrote:
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For field sports though - what do you need to tilt up or down more than a couple degrees for? You have a very limited need to change the angle of the lens. So if the collar allows you to rotate, the head really doesn't give you any additional benfit because the slight angles you need to change are simplly accomplished by a slight tilt of the monopod. When you have severe angle changes at close distances (like the basketball lens) a monopod is a hindrance entirely.

Also, if the ball head is loose, as you pan you really have two potential objects moving - the monopod rotating around itself and now the ballhead rotating as well - unless you have a ballhead with a panning lock.

You, however, are in a unique predicament. You have (presumably) a very slight girl and the 135mm 2.8 lens is too heavy for her to hand hold.
I think we're agreeing more than is immediately apparent. With a lens collar, I agree entirely with you on rotating along with the single axis with the ball head only serving to complicate. As I anticipate the set-up, the ball head will ONLY be used with the 50-135 that does not have a collar. It will be used to lock into a portrait orientation and will not be moved over the course of a single shot. Panning and tilting will be done through moving the monopod instead of moving the ball head. The same thing could be accomplished by a right angle bracket moving the camera into a vertical orientation.

Were it me shooting, I would probably shoot the whole thing handheld, which, of course, is what I do with basketball.

On shot #1 I went back and looked carefully at the shot in my photo editor, and I think I have part of the answer. If you'll look at the girl studying on the sideline about 40 yards away, she's far too sharp. I think that's what she actually locked right over the ball, thus back focusing. The distance should not have been too great to the players, as they were about at the edge of the 18 yard box and she was shooting from the goal line. I agree with 15-20 yards as the maximal shot distance with the 50-135. It's going to be a learning experience, but I think we are definitely better off than we were a year ago at this time.

Looking at these pictures on my monitor at school today, then looking at them at home, I noticed a considerable difference in sharpness. On shot #2, the face was hardly recognizable on the monitor at school, but reasonably sharp at home. I'm wondering if I might have my monitor set at an exceptional level of sharpness, making me think that things are much sharper than they are when I edit. If so, it would explain comments on some shots that my shots were "soft" when I thought they were very sharp. It's something I'm going to look into.
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