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Old Nov 10, 2010, 10:13 PM   #1
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Default Tack Sharp

Hope I posted in right thread.
But how do you get tack sharp photos in sports?
When shooting do you aim for the torso (mid section)?
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Old Nov 11, 2010, 8:24 AM   #2
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It's not quite that simple. Normally when you want sharpest results from a lens you stop the lens down a bit. You don't really want to do that in sports because part of most sports shots (there are obviously cases where this isn't true ) is eliminating distracting elements in the photo - you accomplish that either by light fall-off if shooting strobe/flash or more typically with wide apertures.

Then there's the fact of whether or not the lens you're using is sharp enough - there's a fairly big difference between Canon 300mm 2.8 at 300mm and 75-300mm at 300mm. Then, of course there's the ability of the camera and lens to track the moving subject - not all cameras and lenses are created equal. And, depending on the camera in question, the best technique may be different. There's a whole slew of aspects.

I'm going to suggest we take a step back:

1. What sport do you want to start shooting?
2. What level of play (NFL game is diff than Varsity under lights is different than pop warner)
3. Where will you be photographing from?
4. What camera and lenses do you have available?
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Old Nov 11, 2010, 10:56 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnG View Post
1. What sport do you want to start shooting?
2. What level of play (NFL game is diff than Varsity under lights is different than pop warner)
3. Where will you be photographing from?
4. What camera and lenses do you have available?
John you have helped me on football photos.

1. Now basketball
2. High School no flash allowed for bball.
3. On the court or anywhere I want to shoot from.
4. Nikon D90
Nikon 80-200mm 2.8
Nikon 50mm 1.8
Nikon kit lens 35-75 mm

I know my lenses are sharp cause of shooting in daytime they turn out sharp. But in low light arenas I can't seem to get it right.

Also it might be the way I'm processing the pics in lightroom.

Here is two pics.
You have permission to fix pics for example if needed. You can get the full pic here

This one right out of camera(cropped only)


This one I used lightroom to adjust

Last edited by aced19; Nov 11, 2010 at 11:23 PM.
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Old Nov 12, 2010, 7:58 AM   #4
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JohnG is the expert on that type of shooting. So, I'd follow his advise. But, it looks like you're back focusing (focusing behind the player's face) a bit in that example from what I can see looking at the full size image. But, that could be because you're locking on the body with the player's face closer to the camera in that shot. Is it doing it for all photos, or only when the subject has a stance like that (larger portion of the player's body further away compared to the player's face)?

How do you have your Autofocus setup? I'm assuming you're using AF-C (Continuous AF) for the photos (but, I'm on a laptop without a better EXIF reader right this second, so I can't tell).

You might want to try 3D Tracking for AF area to see how it works. It's pretty good for letting the AF system stay on target when there are momentary obstructions and finding a closer point to track. But, sometimes it can slow down some Nikon models a bit, so I'd try it more than one way (for example, AF-C with AF Area set to center point, and AF-C with AF Area set to 3D Tracking)

But, it could just be because you're focusing on the body (which is further away compared to the player's face) and the AF system can't keep up with a subject moving rapidly towards you, and/or you might have a lens or body calibration issue causing a bit of backfocus.

I'd check AF accuracy to see if it's back focusing any (focusing behind your intended target), which might be contributing the problems when filling the frame at wider apertures. Here's one way to check it:

http://www.focustestchart.com/chart.html
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Old Nov 12, 2010, 8:50 AM   #5
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Do you have the original, un-cropped image? The "full size" image in your link has been cropped. That originally framed image will help determine what's going on. Also, gotta love the new DSLRs that record distance info. According to exif, camera focused at 11.9 meters (I rounded to 12) - at 100mm f2.8 you've got a DOF of over 4 feet. Focusing on chest vs. head isn't so much of an issue - but if focus was on waist, now it becomes one.

Still, let's talk reality with regards to sports shooting - in lower light your camera just isn't going to track as well as in good light. It's a fact. Additionally, you're shooting at higher ISOs which damage image detail. It's a fact. Third, you've got a player making a bit of a cutting move - so predictive focus can get thrown off. All these things combine to make it more difficult to get sharp images shooting basketball vs. action outdoors in good light (especially with a more linear moving subject).

But, seeing the original, uncropped image and which focus points were used and where they were can help. I don't have PS here at work, but I think you can make some changes to your LR adjustments to achieve a better final image as well.
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Old Nov 12, 2010, 8:19 PM   #6
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Here is the original image get it here

I had the auto focus set to dynamic and used wide zone for middle focus. Also set to AF-C. I was aiming for the middle of body and might have got the guy in white. But in daytime when shooting sports my images are most of the time tack sharp. But in gyms or low light without flash I'm off a little. It could be all me in the way I'm shooting.

Also here is a different shot and a lot came out like this.

Both of the photos are unedited and straight out of camera.

Last edited by aced19; Nov 12, 2010 at 8:41 PM.
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Old Nov 17, 2010, 12:06 AM   #7
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JohnG here is a shot unedited just resized. I went out and bought a Nikon 85mm f/1.8 lens. Well like youv'e said before. If you have the right equipment it makes a difference.

D90
85mm f/1.8 Lens
Shot at f/1.8
1/1000 shutter
6400 iso
Auto focus set to dynamic with wide zone.
AF-C.

Also if you get a chance to tell me. What would you do in Lightroom or photoshop to make the photo pop..


Last edited by aced19; Nov 17, 2010 at 12:09 AM.
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