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Old Feb 26, 2010, 11:05 PM   #1
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Default Extremely disappointing volleyball shots.

Ok, I bought a canon powershot sx20 about a month or 2 ago... My first camera. To be honest i bought it relatively blindly not know what i was getting myself into.

Over the past month, i have been trying out different types of photography.

Today was my first try at sports/actions shots. I was very very disappointed.

I read a lot about what to set all of the settings to, so i played with that for about 2 hours taking over 200 pictures trying to get even ONE picture that was even half way usable. I did not. I need help. (Probably a different camera).

I went to a division I college volleyball game, and those arms were really swinging fast, but i couldn't even get close to freezing the action, and having enough light.

The following pictures were taken by me tonight, and I would really like some help with how to solve my action shot dilemma:

1/60s
f/4.0
ISO: 160


1/250s
f/5.0
ISO:800


1/640s
f/4.0
ISO: 800


1/1250s
f/4.0
ISO: 800


I seemingly tried everything to brighten the photos while trying to freeze action. As you can see, i included shutter speeds ranging from 1/60s all the way to 1/1250s. I always had the aperture as high (lowest number... im always confused by that) as it could go, and trying the highest ISO without creating hyper noisy photos.

Let me know if you have any ideas for me.
Thank you!
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Old Feb 26, 2010, 11:09 PM   #2
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All my pictures were ugly that night, either too dark or too blurry. I can't save a single picture from that night.

To my understanding to capture a frozen action shot, generally what i want to do is to have a high shutter speed (maybe 1/500s over faster in a gym) with a high aperture (usually my cameras highest setting while zoomed normally is about f/4.0) and as low of an ISO as possible while keeping it light. (my cameras highest setting is 1600.)

In my opinion, the gym was very well lite.
BTW, i have not tried to take outdoor sports photos yet, as it is about 20 degrees outside.
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Old Feb 26, 2010, 11:11 PM   #3
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Well you win some you loose some :/
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Old Feb 27, 2010, 4:06 AM   #4
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Although the eye sees the gym as bright, in reality you are working in a poor photographic environment.

For volleyball I will usually work with a lens that gives f2 or f2.8 and a camera allowing ISO3200 or 6400 to get shutter speeds of about 1/400 or 1/500. Unfortunately with the SX20 you don't have glass that bring or ISO performance that high so it the laws of physics stopping you get the results you want.

You might get something at ISO1600, f4 and 1/160 or 1/200s but there is still going to be motion blur.

Personally stick to video in these conditions it will look much better as the blur is removed by the human eye/brain when watching it.

Outdoors you will not have such issues.

Sometimes I'm lucky and get to shoot in a gym with more light which helps as with these so I could drop the ISO but still working at f2 to help with the shutter speed.





Unfortunately I would just write off shooting volleyball without having a dSLR and a fast prime (fixed focal length) lens.
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Old Feb 27, 2010, 10:26 AM   #5
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Simiar to what Mark has said, this is one area where you as the Carpenter can blame your tools!! Internal lighting at gyms is horrible to say the least. You need a fast lens and cameras that can shoot at high ISO's that produce low noise. While not volley ball, I was able to get this one at a high school gym using a Nikon D300s ($$$) and a Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 lens ($$$). Don't despair...it's more your equipment than you

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Old Feb 27, 2010, 11:39 AM   #6
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aside from actual composition, im glad to hear i didnt do anything wrong... other than buying the wrong camera.

So, if i were shooting sports outdoors would i be able to use the sx20 with a high enough shutter speed.. say 1/640s or so?
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Old Feb 27, 2010, 12:20 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ewheeler20 View Post
So, if i were shooting sports outdoors would i be able to use the sx20 with a high enough shutter speed.. say 1/640s or so?
You probably could get some keepers depending on the sport. There are a couple of issues to contend with in sports: shutter lag which is an issue with P&S's; lack of a burst mode. From my limited experience in trying sports, the burst mode in particular has helped me get a higher number of keepers. Finally, a larger aperture such as a f/2.8 would allow for effective blurring of the backgrounds which is very appealing in sports imagery. Not sure what your P&S's max aperture is at it's long zoom setting--probably f/4 or f/5.6.

I have very limited experience with sports and have asked a lot of questions on this forum. Folks like John G probably can provide a definitive answer as to the practical use of a P&S for outdoor sports.

Last edited by Wingman; Feb 27, 2010 at 2:12 PM.
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Old Feb 27, 2010, 12:48 PM   #8
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yeah, at long zoom, max aperture is f/5.6. and the lack of burst mode is really disappointing.

I guess I'll have to pass on shooting sports until I can invest in a better camera/lens.

Thanks for the input everyone.
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Old Feb 27, 2010, 4:41 PM   #9
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Or move outside with it
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Old Feb 27, 2010, 5:27 PM   #10
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Eric, it will depend on the sports, but it certainly will be possible to do it. Using f5.6 in normal light and ISO400 should give enough shutter speed so no need to worry there. The problem can be with AF and the shutter lag so getting it pre focused can be really helpful.

Give it a bash, I'm sure you will get some keepers.
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