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Old Aug 22, 2012, 2:53 AM   #1
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Default Help Me! Mom in distress.

Hi. I have a Nikon D5000 and a daughter that competes on a national Taekwondo Team. I have no formal training , just a love of my daughter and photography. I have improved my photo's simply by taking 1000's of them and learning as I go but I need help with a lens. I purchased a Nikkor AF-S VR Zoom 70-300mm lens last year and it has helped me tremendously but I still have terrible lighting situations with red backgrounds and red and blue mats along with red and blue chest protectors. Include all of the white uniforms as well as extremely fast movement and you can only imagine the stress! I love my lens most of the time, I can get very good shots with it many times and then I'll hit a tournament that for some reason everything is blurry and just out of sync. I know the answer is probably the 70-200 lens but it is rather hefty in price. Is there a smaller, less expensive lens that I could use in situations that are closer up and a zoom lens is not needed. Right now I also use a Nikon SB 600 external flash unit as well as a monopod.
Anybody out there that can save my shoulders and my photo's. I can send some photo's, good and bad to show the inconsistency which is probably mostly due to my lack of understanding. It would not let me attach another that I had picked that was blurry.
Thank you for your time.
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Old Aug 23, 2012, 5:06 PM   #2
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As another photographing parent, I would be happy with the two you posted.

As far as improving, what were the settings for those pictures? ISO, F/Stop, Zoom, and Shutter Speed? Did the flash fire? I'm too chicken to use my flash during a sporting event because I'm worried I'll distract the participants.

The amount of zoom will give you an idea of how powerful a lens you'll need. Once you know that, you can look for "faster" lenses. The faster lenses will allow a lower F/Stop number. A lower F/Stop lets in more light, which will allow you to increase your shutter speed and/or decrease your ISO.

A faster shutter speed will help "stop" action, a lower ISO will get rid of some grain.

Indoor events are TOUGH with just kit lenses. Especially those that aren't lit well.
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Old Aug 24, 2012, 1:48 AM   #3
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I posted a long message with answers to your questions as well as another photo which wasn't very good. Was this received by you.
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Old Aug 24, 2012, 9:06 AM   #4
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Quote:
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I posted a long message with answers to your questions as well as another photo which wasn't very good. Was this received by you.
I don't see it. Sorry.
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Old Aug 24, 2012, 10:27 PM   #5
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Hi. I didn't see it either. I'm not sure what happened. Anyway, I was very happy with the pictures that you saw and if I could get consistent results like those I would have no problems. I did use a flash on those and it worries me too sometimes but without the flash I can't get any clear photo's. So far there hasn't been a problem and I get a lot of people asking me to take photo's of their athletes so I guess they aren't concerned either. Would using a plastic cover on the flash reduce the brightness without hurting the photo?
These were taken at ISO 800, 70mm, f4.5 at 1/60. I also used a monopod which helps tremendously I think.
I try using all settings but depending on the lighting it seems like the camera's auto setting usually ( but not always ) gets the best results for me. I would think that aperture be best but I guess if the lens can't do anymore than f4.5 it wouldn't matter.
Would I do better with a shorter or even fixed lens at 1.4 or 1.8? Distance can be up to 30 feet if I can get close to the mat but at some events I am up in the bleachers taking photo's from a very long distance.

Last edited by tkdmomkm; Aug 24, 2012 at 10:33 PM.
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Old Aug 25, 2012, 8:10 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tkdmomkm View Post
Hi. I didn't see it either. I'm not sure what happened. Anyway, I was very happy with the pictures that you saw and if I could get consistent results like those I would have no problems. I did use a flash on those and it worries me too sometimes but without the flash I can't get any clear photo's. So far there hasn't been a problem and I get a lot of people asking me to take photo's of their athletes so I guess they aren't concerned either. Would using a plastic cover on the flash reduce the brightness without hurting the photo?
These were taken at ISO 800, 70mm, f4.5 at 1/60. I also used a monopod which helps tremendously I think.
I try using all settings but depending on the lighting it seems like the camera's auto setting usually ( but not always ) gets the best results for me. I would think that aperture be best but I guess if the lens can't do anymore than f4.5 it wouldn't matter.
Would I do better with a shorter or even fixed lens at 1.4 or 1.8? Distance can be up to 30 feet if I can get close to the mat but at some events I am up in the bleachers taking photo's from a very long distance.
I am nowhere close to an expert. With my knowledge and .55, you can get a coke from the vending machine.

I don't know if your flash is built in to the camera or an external. On an external, I know there are folks who strap a white card to the top of the flash, then tilt the flash up. The flash then "bounces" off the white card and gives a "softer" light than a straight on flash. The plastic cover would do the same thing. However, both of those will cut down on the power of the flash. How much? I have no idea. I've never experimented with it.

I'll also be honest, whenever I use my flash, I keep the camera in 'Auto'. There's a certain shutter speed you're supposed to use (I think it's 1/60) to 'sync' with the flash.

All that being said, I also have a D5000. I have been VERY happy shooting indoor with an ISO of 2400 or 3200. Yes, you'll add grain. But that allows you go to a faster shutter speed (stopping action). Again, remember though, I'm not sure which shutter speed you need for flash use.

The other thing you can try is renting a lens. I've rented a Nikon 70-200mm 2.8 (that allows me a constant F/2.8 instead of changing through the zoom) when I shot some basketball last year.

Here's one of the shots I got with that lens and pushing the ISO (not my DD):


If the above shots are as close as you can see being, and they're at 70mm, you can look at a 70-200 (but they are expensive). There is a Nikon AF-S 24-70mm 2.8, but the limit on that lens is what you're shooting with now.

I'm glad my other two kids play outdoor sports. lol
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Old Aug 26, 2012, 5:05 AM   #7
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To be honest,tkdmomkm... your shutter speeds are WAY too low,no doubt in part to the lens you're using (which is too dark/slow aperture) and the settings you're choosing.
Ideally,you're going to need at least 1/200th sec for a decent "hit rate" of fairly sharp shots- which just so happens to be the D5000's maximum flash sync' speed.
If you're fortunate to get close enough to warrant the use of a flash,then maybe you could get away with something like the Tamron or Sigma's 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, though a 70-200 f/2.8 would be much better, getting you close enough and still allowing enough light in.
Even with this lens, however, expect to use a higher iso setting to keep those shutter speeds up...
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Old Aug 30, 2012, 8:39 AM   #8
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THannk you Sam and Simon. I would love the 70-200 but it is really expensive! I used my son's Nikon lens, 50mm f/2.4 in the tkd class yesterday without a flash and got very mixed results. I had some really clear shots with balanced color and others that are very yellow. I tried everything from auto to manual. I did discover that anything shot more then 15 feet away was definitely a soft focus. I am looking at the 35 or 50mm f/1.8 for close up tournaments where I can be ringside. I will have to use a zoom for anything that requires distance. Any thoughts on that idea? I had just realized that you can rent the equipment, didn't know that before. I was thinking about renting the 70-200 for my daughters AAU team trials next weekend.
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Old Aug 30, 2012, 8:56 AM   #9
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THannk you Sam and Simon. I would love the 70-200 but it is really expensive! I used my son's Nikon lens, 50mm f/1.8 in the tkd class yesterday without a flash and got very mixed results. I had some really clear shots with balanced color and others that are very yellow. I tried everything from auto to manual. I did discover that anything shot more then 15 feet away was definitely a soft focus. I am looking at the 35 or 50mm f/1.8 for close up tournaments where I can be ringside. I will have to use a zoom for anything that requires distance. Any thoughts on that idea? I had just realized that you can rent the equipment, didn't know that before. I was thinking about renting the 70-200 for my daughters AAU team trials next weekend. Photo's below were both shot with the 50mm f/1.8g, ISO 1400, f/2 1/500. No flash. I believe that I shot this in sports mode and the first photo's were white but subsequent photo's had a yellow cast. I assume that the lack of flash made a difference and that the 2nd photo looking more yellow had to do with the different amount of light between the two shots? I'm learning here so this is all a guess on my part.
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Old Aug 30, 2012, 9:14 AM   #10
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Sam. Outdoor sports would be so much easier. I can get wonderful, crystal clear shots of the team when they practice outside for nationals training.
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