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Old Mar 10, 2008, 8:15 AM   #1
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I got a D80 last week and had the chance to try it out yesterday at an Under 18 rugby game. My team (Ashford, in the hooped shirts) won the cup final 31-0 in a very exciting game.

Having recently switched from the Alpha system to Nikon I must say I was very impressed with the focussing and handling of the 70-300 VR lens. By comparison, the lens I had with the Alpha was noisy and slow to focus. I must say I fancy a 2.8 lens as well but can't justify one at the moment (as I've just spent £1000 on the new camera and lenses). Maybe next year.

Any critiques would be greatly appreciated. Having just read Mark's post I realise I should have been sitting down but, other than that (and bearing in mind the limitations of the lens aperture) what could I improve on?

Thanks,

Neil
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Old Mar 10, 2008, 8:16 AM   #2
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Old Mar 10, 2008, 8:18 AM   #3
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Old Mar 10, 2008, 8:18 AM   #4
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Old Mar 10, 2008, 8:19 AM   #5
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It got a bit niggly at times...
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Old Mar 10, 2008, 8:22 AM   #6
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This guy is absolutely massive. It often took about 3 of their players to tackle him and the blue tackler on the floor took a while to get up from this one!
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Old Mar 10, 2008, 11:13 AM   #7
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Woo !!!! 11.jpg show a very strong facial expression!!!

great shot !
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Old Mar 10, 2008, 11:51 AM   #8
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You've got nice tight framing here, which is good. And you've captured some nice action.

But there are some things you can do to improve;
  • They're a bit overexposed - the skin tones are very washed out. You want to set your exposure based upon faces.[/*]
  • Colors are washed out - you want to get more contrast and maybe saturation. But a big part of it is the overexposure - your blacks aren't black so to speak.[/*]
  • Sharpness. This is probable the biggest issue with this group. The colors and even exposure can be helped out in PP (although you want to get exposure as close as possible in-camera). The exif is gone from the images, so I can't tell what the settings were when you took the images. The best way to see what I'm talking about is to compare your last 2 images. Look at the difference in sharpness. Very often, softness is a result of not having the subject filling enough of the frame - i.e shooting action too far away or shooting action zoomed out with the 'I'll just crop down' thought process. That doesn't work well in practice - especially not with your current lens. You need the action filling the frame to get sharp results. Other culprits are: using multiple focus points and camera focuses on wrong thing or not keeping the focus point you're using on a contrasty area of your subject.
[/*]
I think you're off to a good start. You've got good timing and the final framing looks good. But we need to figure out the culprit behind the soft results and get your action photos looking like the second-to-last photo.

Also, besides croppin, what post processing did you do to these? You'd be amazed how much a part post processing plays (unsharp mask, levels/curves to correct exposure and add contrast, etc..)
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Old Mar 10, 2008, 12:13 PM   #9
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Thanks highschloser and thanks John.

I wanted to make sure I got some acceptable shots so I put the camera in sports mode for the majority of the game (as I was new to the camera). It wouldn't let me underexpose but I suppose that's my fault for not having the balls to use a more manual mode! I hadn't noticed the over-exposure but now you mention it I see what you mean.

I'm not sure about the softness. These were shot at ISO 640 so there may be a bit of noise creeping in but at the same time it could be the focus points. I've also read that from 200-300 this lens tends to get a bit soft and I wouldn't be surprised if that was the problem here. I've looked at some others from the same shoot but with shorter focus lengths and the sharpness is improved. I've attached an example ofwhat I mean. I'm at work and using Microsoft Picture Manager so it's not the best but I've added contrast (too much, probably) and it does seem fairly sharp.

Next time I go out and shoot sports (not sure when that'll be as I'm generally playing rugby myself) I'll shoot in manual or priority mode (aperture or shutter?). To be honest I've got no excuse for not at the weekend as the weather was a fairly consistent overcast without much change in the light. Slapped wrists, I think!

I've done very little post processing to these - a bit of cropping and perhaps a smidgen of unsharp mask but I started to see noise soheld back on the sharpening. I'll try and process a couple of originals again and see if it helps out.

Thanks for your advice.

Neil
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