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Old Sep 25, 2009, 6:58 AM   #1
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Default Noob + New Camera + Middle School Basketball

I'm the new owner of a Nikon D5000. I haven't shot true SLR for ~15 years. I took the camera to my daughter's school and got these pictures while waiting for her. Lens was a Nikon 55-200, 4-5.6. ISO was pushed to as much as 3200. Since I'm no relation to any of the players, I was just more interested in seeing what I can do with the camera. The only post processing I've done is cropping and some rotation. Comments and suggestions welcome.

Picture 1 at the end of a a burst.



I actually liked the way this turned out with the shooter in focus and the other players soft.



#3



#4



Liked the facial expression here
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Old Sep 25, 2009, 7:35 AM   #2
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Hi Sam and welcome. Basketball is a tough sport to shoot. Some basic comments:
For your first time shooting basketball these aren't bad. Focus is decent and framing is tight.

The biggest issue here is these images are underexposed. You want skin tones to look natural. Of the series, only the 2nd shot is properly exposed the rest are a good stop underexposed.

Second issue is: even underexposed, your shutter speeds are too low and there's too much blur in shots where there is movement (ball handler & defender in 1, defender in 3).

This is one of those situations where the problems you face are a result of the limitations of the gear you're using.

If basketball is something you want to shoot going forward you're going to need an f2.8 lens. A 70-200 2.8 is prefarable. The least expensive that is capable of good sports shots is the sigma 70-200 2.8 (tamron makes a sharp one but it's too slow to focus).

You could correct the exposure issue with your current gear but that will slow your shutter speeds down even further causing more motion blur problems.

A less expensive lens option is normally the 85mm 1.8. But your camera lacks a focus motor and Nikon's 85mm 1.8 currently does not have a built in one (I believe only the 50mm 1.4 has one in the NIkon lineup). So, that lens won't work for you.

Again, given these are your first basketball shots and given the limitations of the gear, you've done very welll. You've got a good eye for the sport. With very little practice and a new lens you could be getting some stellar images quickly.
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Old Sep 25, 2009, 9:07 AM   #3
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Thanks John.

My kids play outdoor sports (softball & soccer), so hopefully that will help with my exposure. Assuming the games don't get rained out tomorrow, hopefully I'll have some others to post here this weekend.

I'd love to get another lens, but need to take awhile to save up for it.

Thanks again!

Sam
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Old Sep 25, 2009, 9:17 AM   #4
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Sam,

For your outdoor sports the challenge with exposure will be if there is sun. It's a lot easier if it's heavily overcast. Whether it's indoors or outdoors in sunlight the real issue is - more than likely if you trust the camera your exposure will be wrong. It goes to how cameras meter. The problem is increased when you have white. A camera naturally wants to make white look like grey exposure wise. So, when you have white jerseys in the frame the camera tries to town down those whites. In subdued lighting that isn't an issue so much. But wiith brighter lights (fulll sunlight, lights in a gym) the light reflects off that white causing your camera to underexpose. Similarly when you have a very pale sky in bright light - get a lot of sky in your image and the camera will underexpose.

Eventully its good to shoot sports with a full manual exposure. Until then I suggest you use aperture priority. Set your lens wide open aperture. Take some test shots and look at the faces on the LCD. Do they look a tad underexposed? Then dial in exposure compensation. NOte, if you're going to shoot both teams realize that the camera is going to change it's exposure when you shoot kids in the dark colors vs kids in the light colors. But what remains unchanged? The PROPER values to expose faces correctly. So, if you switch off covering home vs. visitor realize you'll likely have to adjust exposure compensation every time you do that. In overcast conditions this isn't an issue because you don't get the light reflection you do with bright sunlight. So in overcast conditions you probably can use the same EC value for both teams. Make sure your ISO is high enough to preferably get 1/1000 speeds outside up until using ISO 800. Beyond that I would let your shutter speed drop to 1/500 before upping the ISO past 800.
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Old Sep 25, 2009, 9:57 AM   #5
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Thanks John. A couple questions about your post however...
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnG View Post
Eventully its good to shoot sports with a full manual exposure. Until then I suggest you use aperture priority. Set your lens wide open aperture. Take some test shots and look at the faces on the LCD. Do they look a tad underexposed? Then dial in exposure compensation. NOte, if you're going to shoot both teams realize that the camera is going to change it's exposure when you shoot kids in the dark colors vs kids in the light colors.
If I set for wide open aperture (I think my zoom just goes to ~F4), how/why does the camera change it's exposure?

Quote:
Make sure your ISO is high enough to preferably get 1/1000 speeds outside up until using ISO 800. Beyond that I would let your shutter speed drop to 1/500 before upping the ISO past 800.
I think I get this... just making sure I understand... in an ideal world, I keep my ISO low to keep noise out of the picture. But by upping the ISO, I can use a faster shutter speed (what I did last night). So I keep up the ISO to retain a 1/1000 shutter speed. BUT, if I have to take the ISO over 800, drop the shutter speed down to 1/500 before doing so.

One thing I'm not used to (I'm sure it will happen), is using the same dial to set shutter, aperture, and ISO (depending on what menu I'm in). What I'm understanding from you is use the menu to set aperture & ISO, let the camera set the shutter speed (but taking note of it).

Next stupid question (because I don't remember how)... assuming I'm shooting fully manual, how do I know if a shot is properly exposed?
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Old Sep 25, 2009, 11:19 AM   #6
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Quote:
If I set for wide open aperture (I think my zoom just goes to ~F4), how/why does the camera change it's exposure?
First, I believe at full zoom your lens is f5.6 or f6.3, not f4. To keep things simple for yourself I suggest zooming out all the way and then setting the aperture value - that way it doesn't change as you zoom. Also, in standard aperture priority mode, the camera would adjust the shutter speed as necessary to keep the exposure correct.

However, your Nikon has the ability to adjust ISO automatically as well in Aperture Priority mode. I don't have that feature on my camera and am not familiar with how auto-ISO works in aperture priority mode with your specific camera. I'd suggest asking that specific question in the Nikon forum to get a good answer as the answer may differ vs. how another manufacturer implements auto ISO.

Quote:
I think I get this... just making sure I understand... in an ideal world, I keep my ISO low to keep noise out of the picture. But by upping the ISO, I can use a faster shutter speed (what I did last night). So I keep up the ISO to retain a 1/1000 shutter speed. BUT, if I have to take the ISO over 800, drop the shutter speed down to 1/500 before doing so.
Yes, you've got it correct. Once you get above ISO 800 noise becomes more objectionable. IMO that's a good level to start accepting a little more motion blur vs. increasing noise. Below 1/500 motion blur becomes way too much of a problem so it's better to start allowing more noise vs. going below 1/500.

Quote:
One thing I'm not used to (I'm sure it will happen), is using the same dial to set shutter, aperture, and ISO (depending on what menu I'm in). What I'm understanding from you is use the menu to set aperture & ISO, let the camera set the shutter speed (but taking note of it).
Again, I can't help you with that one as I don't use your camera. If you need clarification there, I suggest getting it from the Nikon forum

Quote:
Next stupid question (because I don't remember how)... assuming I'm shooting fully manual, how do I know if a shot is properly exposed?
Not a stupid question at all. In fact, some of this is the same no matter what mode you shoot in.

First step is setting baseline exposure values. You have to start SOMEWHERE with settings for ISO, aperture and shutter speed. Over time you'll learn some default settings that are probably close. For now, an easy way is to start in Aperture Priority and take a test shot. Look at the exposure values the camera selected and change the mode to Manual and enter those ISO, aperture and shutter speed values.

That gives you a starting point - you now have values the camera THINKS are correct. The next step is pretty much the same whether you're in manual or aperture priority.
  1. Take a test shot of your human subject on the field of play.
  2. Review the LCD - allow the image to fill the screen if your LCD has different playback modes - you want the largest image possible.
  3. Look at the FACE of the subject. Zoom in if you have to a bit.
  4. If the face looks overexposed then increase shutter speed 1/3 stop and repeat. If your face looks underexposed then decrease shutter speed 1/3 stop (or raise ISO depending on where you are in the 1/1000 vs. ISO 800 constraint I mentioned. Repeat this step until the face looks right.
  5. In the past, I would use histogram to determine this. But, that's trickier because you have to allow for how a histogram would be affected by brights in the photo. a lot of white in the photo is going to shift the histogram wildly to the right. Not a lot of whites and the histogram probably isn't shifted so much. My point is - to expose properly for FACES the histogram could look completely different depending on the lighting and what else is in the frame. With the resolution and size of LCDs on today's DSLRs this isn't necessary anymore. You can look at the part of the image that really matters - the face with enough resolution to determine if it's exposed properly.
  6. Now, you're going to need to change exposure values any time the light level changes - so pay attention to that. You'll potentially need to change values any time you switch shooting positions outside because sunlight is coming from a different direction. Sunlight behind your subject is going to require a difeerent exposure setting than sunlight in front of your subject. So, any time you move positions or light levels change immediately start reviewing your shots on the LCD and checking faces again. By doing this somewhat frequently you'll reduce the number of shots ruined by poor exposure. Both experienced and novice sports photogs will be seen looking at the LCD. The inexperienced ones are admiring their shot and checking to see if they "got the shot". Experienced photogs occasionally do that too but more often they're checking exposures to see if they need to make an adjustment.
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Old Sep 25, 2009, 11:57 AM   #7
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Thanks John.

I appreciate the assistance. We'll see what happens this weekend!
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