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Old Jan 11, 2009, 7:08 PM   #1
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Hello, I an new to this forum and already addicted to it. Great information, I wish I had found it earlier.
"I have a Nikon D90 that came with the Nikon 18-105 F3.5-4.5 Lens. I quickly went out and purchased the Nikon 50mm 1.4 since I was having light issues and read that this was a good lens (I figured with the 1.6 rule it would be closer in than it appears). Here is a picture I took and pretty much sums up the other 700 pictures of the day:sad:. I have two weeks to get ready for the next tournie.
I was sitting on the floor using my 50mm @ F2 1/320 and ISO @ 1600. I was in "sport mode" since I am new and not sure of manual settingss.
Question: What should I do to improve my pictures. Is the 50mm fast enough focusing? Should I go with a 85mm 1.8? Please any and all advise will be greatly appreciated.

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Old Jan 11, 2009, 7:45 PM   #2
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First, welcome to Steve's. I think we can definitely help you out here.

First - thanks for posting a photo it definitely helps to identify what issues you're having. Here are some tips to get better shots:
  • First, shoot portrait orientation. You want action filling the frame and MOST shots the action is more vertical than horizontal - especially shooting with such short lenses.[/*]
  • The posted shot the girl is too far away. A 50mm lens is good for about 15 feet max. You want the action filling at least 3/4 of the vertical frame in PORTRAIT orientation. If this were portrait orientation she wouldn't be filling even 1/2 the frame. This makes using a 50mm lens very limiting since 15 feet doesn't cover a whole lot of territory.[/*]
  • Set a custom WB. You'll need a white object. I recommend a whitecard - B&H sells one for $8. Great investment. Your camera's manual will tell you how to set the custom WB.[/*]
  • Use manual exposure. You don't want to leave auto ISO on either. The reason being you don't want the camera's metering to be fooled by uniform colors - which will dominate the frame when you're framing tightly as you should. Make sure you expose for faces and not uniforms. So take some test shots during warmups and look at the photos in the LCD. Do the faces look good or underexposed? Don't worry about uniforms or the ball - the highlights in white uniforms or the ball may be blown if you're exposing properly for faces.[/*]
  • Use a single focus point. If the D90 has assist points you can use them too but don't use all points. Focus on the face or chest of the player.[/*]
  • Make sure continuous focus is turned on - I forget what Nikon calls it.[/*]
  • Since you'll be framing much tighter than you did here you'll find it very difficult to follow the ball and still be able to frame your shot. With volleyabll and especially a prime lens you really need to track the player not the ball. which means you have to "guess" where the ball is going to go a lot of times. After the bump it's not so much of a guess but it often is when a kill is attempted.[/*]
  • Also, it looks like you've got a really dark gym. 1/320 is too slow. You'll want at least 1/400 which means you need to raise your ISO up another 1/3 stop (i'd recommend that over going to 1.8 aperture).[/*]
  • You should strongly consider the 85mm 1.8. It will give you a bit more reach - out to about 25 feet.
[/*]
In the end, given your camera has a 1.5x crop here is how you tightly you'll end up needing to frame your shots with the 85mm:







Note I said FRAMING, not cropping. You'll need to be framing very tightly to get well focused shots with either the 50 or 85mm lens.
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Old Jan 11, 2009, 8:06 PM   #3
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Thank you for such great information!!! I had been looking at your Vball pics earlier and was amazed! I do have a few follow up questions.
  • I bought the 50mm thinking that with the 1.6 factor that it would be close to an 85mm, and if I bought an 85mm it would be over a 120mm and get me too close. Is there a 85mm that you would recommend? Should I stick with Nikon or be okay with another brand? Should I go with a zoom or stick with a fixed?[/*]
  • 1/3 stop ISO?? Like I said I am new to the photography world. Does that mean I need to goto 3200?
[/*]
The gym was insane dark. Dark floors, dirty walls, dark red ceiling.
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Old Jan 11, 2009, 8:20 PM   #4
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I understand your reasoning on the lens choice. Here's what I have been found to be true - a lens has a specific working range. As I indicated about 15 feet for the 50mm lens with a human subject. Whether you have a body with full frame or 1.5 crop factor it doesn't change the fact that after about 15 feet, focus accuracy drops on a 50mm lens. Using a smaller sensor doesn't allow a lens to focus from further away. That's why, at least for shooting human subjects it's a complete myth that smaller sensor cameras give you "more reach". They really don't. The lens is a limiting factor.

With a gym that dark no way could you use a zoom lens. Zoom lenses for nikon are 2.8 or worse. That would mean you'd be shooting at 1/160, 1600 and f2.8. So you have to stick to a prime. I don't know of a third party 85mm 1.8 lens so You'll have to pony up the cash for the nikon.

As for the 1/3 stop of ISO I'm not familiar with the D90. It should allow you to increment at 1/3 stops so 1/2000 is the next stop then 1/2500 and then 1/3200.
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Old Jan 12, 2009, 7:04 AM   #5
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Excellent info again.

Okay, so now I will tuck away my 50mm for portraits. Yes my camera does go in the 1/3 stop, figured it out last night. Now all I have to do is get a 85mm fixed.......but.....which one. I want to make sure I buy the right one and not waste any more money. Also if someone good let me know what the abbreviations stand for on the lenses... ie. IF, AF-S etc.

I see two on Best Buys website both say they are "compatible" with DSLRs.

Nikon - Nikkor 85mm AF f/1.4D IF Lens ($1300)


[*]Compatible with most Nikon digital SLR cameras [/*][*]9 lens elements in 8 groups with 9 aperture blades; rounded aperture blade design for enhanced image clarity [/*][*]f/1.4 maximum aperture for crisp, detailed fast action shots; f/16 minimum aperture [/*][*]Internal focusing for rapid autofocus operation [/*][*]3' minimum focusing distance [/*][*]85mm focal length [/*][*]77mm filter diameter [/*][*]This fast, compact lens is an excellent choice for indoor or outdoor portraits, as well as indoor sports and stage productions. Nikon web page link: http://nikonusa.com/Find-Your-Nikon/...2F1.4D-IF.html

Nikon - Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D AF Lens ($450)

[/*][*]Compatible with most Nikon digital SLR cameras [/*][*]6 lens elements in 6 groups and 9 aperture blades; rounded aperture blade design for enhanced image clarity [/*][*]f/1.8 maximum aperture [/*][*]f/16 minimum aperture [/*][*]Rear focusing for fast autofocus operation [/*][*]3' minimum focusing distance [/*][*]85mm focal length [/*][*]62mm filter diameter [/*][*]This ultra-fast, incredibly sharp f/1.4 lens is perfect for low-light portraits and general photography where a shallow depth of field is desired. Nikon web page link: http://nikonusa.com/Find-Your-Nikon/...%252F1.8D.html
[/*]
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Old Jan 12, 2009, 7:13 AM   #6
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I am assuming that all the settings are similar for indoor basketball. We have a couple of games this week so I will do my best with the 50mm and see if I improve a bit.
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Old Jan 12, 2009, 9:17 AM   #7
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You have the prices reversed. The 1.4 lens is the more expensive lens. All you need is the 1.8 version - sells for $380 at B&H.
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Old Jan 12, 2009, 9:21 AM   #8
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theultimateguru wrote:
Quote:
I am assuming that all the settings are similar for indoor basketball. We have a couple of games this week so I will do my best with the 50mm and see if I improve a bit.
The CONCEPT is the same for basketball. What you will likely find though isthe exposure is slightly different. Most of your basketball shots will take place by the basket. Since that is at the end of the gym you'll find the lighting isn't as bright as volleyball - there are simply less lights down by the wall and if you have a catwalk that blocks some of the lighting. So the approach is the same but you may find the exposure at the hoop is 1/3 - 2/3 less than the exposure at midcourt (where most of the volleyball action takes place).
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Old Jan 12, 2009, 2:25 PM   #9
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Thanks again for the information. My daughter has a bball game tonight so I will use all of the info you have given me, hopefully improvments to my photos will happen.



**corrected prices on the above**
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Old Jan 13, 2009, 10:02 AM   #10
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Great info! I shot basketball with the 50 1.4 for the longest time! It was difficult to get used to but it can be done. Plant yourself at the basket end, just be sure to move around so youre not in the refs'way, and follow the action before you hit the button. The 50s(Nikon at least) are not the fastest focusing lenses but with some practice youll get the hang of it. as far the 85s, theyre very good lenses.
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