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Old Feb 6, 2009, 1:05 AM   #1
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I've been viewing the site for a few months and have picked up a lot of great advice from what others are doing. I thought it was time to upload a few of my own for some extra help. I'm using a canon 40d with a Sigma 70-200 2.8 or a 85mm 1.8 lens. Because of the terrible lighting in our home gym I've pretty much given up on the 2.8. I generally use an expodisk for white balance and a manual exposure setting. Generally, at 1600 iso, 1.8, and 1/320. I'm looking for any advice I can get, but particularly in the area of sharpness. I get some shots that are tack sharp, but what seems like too many that are soft. (Compare #1 and #2 for an example of this) I'm wondering if this is the camera focus or something I'm doing. Any thoughts on more sharp photos would be apprectiated. I have done nothing but some cropping on these pictures so you can see how they come out of the camera.



Thanks for any advice,

Walter

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Old Feb 6, 2009, 5:07 AM   #2
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Walter,

If you could edit your post (the site allows you to edit your own post) and replace the first images with re-sized ones that would be much appreciated.

Thanks,

John
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Old Feb 6, 2009, 12:49 PM   #3
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I'm looking forward to seeing what responses you get as this is the same problem I have. I tried out my new 85mm 1.8 lens on Tuesday at the boys' basketball game and got some decent shots but the focus was not sharp enough. Going to the girls' game tonite to try some more.
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Old Feb 6, 2009, 1:36 PM   #4
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I think I got it right this time.

Walter
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Old Feb 6, 2009, 1:53 PM   #5
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Great. Thanks! Much easier to look at and review.

I think you're off to a good start. You're doing a lot of things right - You've got some nice action and tight framing. WB looks pretty good. There are 3 issues throughout though - some easy to deal with and some tougher.

1. Most of the shots are underexposed. Fixing this is going to be difficult given point 2

2. a number of these shots suffer because of the slow shutter speed of 1/320. You've got some nice peak action but the tough part about that is there is more movement during drives and jumps. So your shots aren't as sharp as they could be. Given the point above, when you're dealing with lighting as poor as you've got you either have to shoot at 3200 or you're going to need flash/strobes.

3. Most of the shots are a bit crooked. This is the easy one to fix- look for horizontal and / or vertical lines in the background when cropping in PP.

White balance looks pretty good except shot 5. You're more hurt by the underexposure - fix that and WB will look fine.

What type of sharpening do you do in PP? If you haven't applied any USM or similar that will help the sharpness of these shots. But with shutter speeds at 1/320 it's going to be tough to get sharp shots of peak action.

Also - for improving sharpness - you should only be using the center focus point on your 40d and you need that point to be on an area of contrast. You have a choice to make though - using the face helps guarantee that is in focus especially up close where focusing on torso could lead to OOF face due to dof. Or you can focus on the jersey numbers. In any case you want to use an area of contrast - using the body is tough especially on a profile shot - an arm isn't contrasty and a pure white jersey certainly isn't. That's why I prefer faces. The downside is you need the precision of the center point on the 40d so focusing on the face leads to horrible framing. You certainly don't want to use all focus points and at low light levels I never found the non-cente focus points on the xxD series to be accurate enough.


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Old Feb 6, 2009, 1:55 PM   #6
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I just re-read your post where you indicated doing only crops. So here is some advice for post processing:

1. re-crop from the originalsand straiten the image.

2. Fix the exposure using levels or whatever othere method you prefer

3. Apply Unsharp Mask (USM).

4. Dodge/burn face as necessary

5. Apply appropriate noise reduction software
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Old Feb 16, 2009, 1:33 AM   #7
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Hi John,

Thanks for the input. Sorry it's been so long, but I just haven't had a chance to get back to these for a while. I have worked on two of the photos I posted earlier and then added two more which I took using different settings for comparison. I have included the original so you can compare the differences. I tried to follow the steps you suggested, but am unsure about the unsharp mask. If you have time for a few details about that one it would be helpful. For noise I used Imagenomic Noiseware at a lesser noise reduction setting. In the second group I increased the iso to 3200 which helped with the exposuse and shutter speed. Thanks for any input you can give me.

Walter

#1-4 iso 1600 1/320 1.8

#4-8 iso 3200 1/400 1.8

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Old Feb 18, 2009, 10:03 AM   #8
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Exposure adjustments are better.

As for unsharp mask - it's a tool. What software package are you using to edit your photos? Does it have this tool? Photoshop or Photoshop Elements will have it as will most packages you buy. It's only some of the free packages that will likely not have it.
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Old Feb 19, 2009, 7:57 PM   #9
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I mainly use photoshop elements 6. I have played with the unsharp mask tool, but haven't had much success with it. I don't really understand the settings. I'll have to study up on it some more.

Thanks for your help.
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