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Old Jan 25, 2008, 12:25 AM   #1
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I would like to try using Manual Mode on my 40D when shooting basketball in a HS gym. My gear for the evening will be: Canon 40D, 50mm f 1.4 and 70-200mm f 2.8 to shoot with. How can I get sharp crisp photos on Manual Mode? Also I plan on having the camera in AI Servo with a shutter speed of 1/500 a second and center point Auto Focus. Any help would be graciously appreciated.
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Old Jan 25, 2008, 1:06 AM   #2
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I may be missing something here. But if you already know you're going with AI Servo focusing, and a shutter speed of 1/500, then all you really have to do is match up the aperture to achieve the shutter speed of 1/500. Well, of course you may also change the ISO setting which I suspect you will have to do anyways as 1/500 sounds pretty fast for a gym with ISO 100 let's say.

Either way, that sounds like the perfect candidate for Tv (shutter speed priority) as you can set your shutter speed and the camera will give you the needed aperture.

Let me know if I misunderstood your question!
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Old Jan 25, 2008, 9:54 AM   #3
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Michi wrote:
Either way, that sounds like the perfect candidate for Tv (shutter speed priority) as you can set your shutter speed and the camera will give you the needed aperture.

Let me know if I misunderstood your question!
Actually, TV is a poor choice - and there's a good practical reason why:

1. Any mode that relys in the camera's metering (AV, TV, etc) can produce poorly exposed shots because the metering gets fooled by bright or dark objets in the frame. Very often one team has bright jerseys (usually white) the other team has dark. This can give wide exposure swings - sometimes up to 2 stops difference.

2. In most cases, it's more important to expose for faces and not jerseys. So you don't want the metering to be swinging wildly. The only challenge here is if you have drastically different skin tones - (i.e pale and dark ebony). Then you have real problems. Let's assume that isn't the case though.

3. TV is furthermore dangerous at llow light because you may not have enough aperture to sustain the selected shutter speed - so you end up with underexposed shots. At higher ISOs it's better to give up some shutter speed than have underexposed shots. So if you cant use Manual because exposure is changing too much then AV is the better mode too go with because your exposure is better protected. In good light, AV is still better because you don't want your aperture narrowing unexpectedly (and increasing DOF). Where TV mode is useful is when you want an artificiallly LOW shutter speed and exposure is constantly changing - i.e. outdoors if you want motion blur.

Manual exposure is indeed the best way to shoot basketball. Lighting is often poor but it's CONSISTENT. The exposure isn't constantly changing.

Now, having said that, while 1/500 is a nice goal you may or may not be able to achieve it. Especially with the 70-200 lens.

I've shot in about 10 different gyms in the last 2 years. Below college level, most gyms have a proper exposure around F2.0 1/400 ISO 1600. Which means if I want to use my 70-200 2.8 I need to shoot at ISO 3200. Otherwise I use my 85mm 1.8

So, if the lighting in your gym is similar then you've got a decision to make:

Either shoot with 70-200 for flexibility and shoot at 3200 or use the 50mm 1.4 and be limited to about 10-15 feet of range (the working limit of 50mm if you want quality shots). Tough choice.

I would mount the 50 during warmups.
  1. AI Servo, center point only [/*]
  2. Set a custom WB for the gym (just make sure you take the WB shot from on the floor around the hoop where 90% of your subjects will be when you shoot them) [/*]
  3. Set to manual exposure, ISO 1600, f2.0 and 1/400 [/*]
  4. Take test shots during warmups and review - look at faces not uniforms. adjust the exposure until the faces are being exposed properly. Adjust the exposure properly. [/*]
  5. Once you have exposure locked in decide what settings would need to be to use the 70-200 and still expose properly. Then decide which lens (and with it, the limitations) you wish to use.[/*]
The 2 biggest mistakes I see with people starting indoor sports are:

1. Underexposed (allowing the camera to meter off jerseys rather than locking in manual exposure)

2. Using primes but taking shots from too far away. In your case that means beyond the 10-15 foot range with your 50mm lens. 15 feet isn't a lot. But the quality of your shots will go down hill in a hurry after that.

I would also suggest posting some photos after the game in the SPorts forum and asking for help. We have a number of people here who shoot basketball so lots of good advice and experience to draw from. But we can give you better advice when we see the photos your producing so we know where problem areas are.

Good luck and have fun.
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