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Old Feb 13, 2013, 3:43 PM   #21
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I didn't suggest anything absurd, and I resent your comparison.

What I did suggest was that she might have been able to get more than a few perfectly acceptable shots if she was willing to scale back her expectations somewhat. Certainly, shooting at a competition was off the table, but she could have done quite well at practices. And there are perfectly acceptible alternatives to $1,500 lenses if she understands their limitations and is willing to work within them. But that didn't come up because all she heard about was what she can't do.
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Old Feb 13, 2013, 5:46 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by TCav View Post
But that didn't come up because all she heard about was what she can't do.
I can't speak to what she heard. But what I wrote was some real-world info based on actual hands-on experience shooting gymnastics. That real world experience telling me the distance restrictions of something like an 85mm lens. You'll notice I didn't comment much about competitive cheer because I don't have enough experience with it. I'm sorry you resent me giving real world experience and suggesting the advice to "just buy something fast and try to make it work" probably isn't a good approach.

Again, $450 is a lot of money to spend on a "hope it can work". If we were talking about a $100 maybe.
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Old Feb 15, 2013, 11:54 PM   #23
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A possible option might be to rent a lens and see if it works for the situation before commiting large sums of money.
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Old May 5, 2013, 7:14 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Flora View Post
I am not savy at this matter but am thinking, maybe my best option is to go to a Maual setting ? I need help and advice on how what settings to select under the manual button and I can probably try focusing the subject with the lens after that. I just hate the light, the color of the pictures and everthing. I can send a sample of what they look like for advice if that is possible on this website. HELP !!! - Desperate Mom

Others have mentioned that for this situation you probably need a faster lens.

But even if you get that faster lens (or stick with your current lens) everything you mention above works together to get better pictures.

As for manual settings . . . this means setting the ISO, Aperture and Shutter speeds manually. IMHO, regardless of what you decide to shoot, learning these settings on your camera will give you a better idea of how the camera works, understanding the limitations, and perhaps find ways to work around the limitations. If the camera is not giving you the shot you want in auto mode, knowing this stuff lets you take over control from the camera partially or fully to allow you to get the shot you want, or at least the closest thing possible with the gear you have.

ISO in this setting, start at ISO 3200 and then slowly start edging it up until you are unhappy with the digital noise in the picture. I personally try to leave it close to ISO 3200, but if you just want to get the shot and digital noise is acceptable, you can approach ISO 6400. [Or somewhere in between, like ISO 3200 + 1/3 of a stop.]

Aperture . . . with the lenses that everyone is mentioning would be around f2.8 or f1.8. But your lens does not go that fast. [ie let in that much light.] One trick would be to not zoom your lens out all the way. Put your camera in Aperture or Manual mode and zoom it until it switches to f5.6, then zoom it out [wider] just a bit so that you can set the aperture to f4. At least that is just one stop away from f2.8.

Shutter speed would be about 1/125th of a second [At ISO 3200 / f4] or so. Which will let motion blur in, especially with the hands and feet.

To test this, take a shot with these settings. If it is too dark, you have to give up something somewhere. You can't make the lens faster (well you can, but that means zooming out even more, or buying a faster lens, but then that's what's nice about a dSLR is that you have that option), so you either have to slow down the shutter to let in more light, or turn up the ISO. In this situation, it is a balancing act. You have to decide if you are going to let in more digital noise or more motion blur. If it is too bright, you can speed up the shutter speed a bit to try to reduce motion blur.

Oh, yeah. The thing about shooting "manual" is that it works better with a constant aperture zoom lens. Because the aperture does not change while zooming. If doing manual with a zoom, its probably better not to zoom in or out while doing this.

The other options with a standard zoom (where aperture changes) is to use "Aperture Priority" mode, which might work, but it gets tricked here and there and some pictures will end up being underexposed. But for that . . . zoom your lens to the widest focal length, and then set aperture to f3.5 (or f4) depending on what you lens can do. ISO at 3200 + 1/3 stop. And then just hope for the best.

Then again, another trick is to slightly underexpose the picture by 1/3 - 2/3 of a stop to try to reduce motion blur. It will make the picture too dark. But then the hopes are that you can save it by editing it on the computer later. Sometimes this works, but since you are in a difficult lighting situation, it is not always possible.

For autofocus, if the full auto mode is not keeping up, try setting your autofocus to use only the center autofocus point. And then just keep whatever / whoever you want to be in focus in the center of the picture. And then crop the picture to what you want afterwards. This helps to reduce the chance that the camera will pick the wrong subject to focus on. [But here again, if you have an f2.8 or faster lens, your camera will actually focus better, because your camera will have more light to focus by.] But its worth a shot.

For the colour balance of the picture, this one is a bit tricky sometimes. If you don't take lots of pictures, you might be able to shoot RAW and then use a program to choose the most correct colour balance after the fact. If you can shoot RAW, this is probably the best solution. I just shot in a hockey arena this weekend and was able to "PRESET" the colour balance using the white boards of the hockey arena to set what "white" was supposed to look like and it worked. But at the gym I usually shoot at, its a mixture of three different coloured lights. The natural sunlight from the windows, a greenish flourescent light that the gymnasts dance in and out of and a warmish light when they get closer to the hallway. For that, I find I can't "PRESET" a colour balance, I don't shoot RAW because I want a nice burst speed, so I end up colour correcting the images afterwards on the computer.

The other thing is to try to take pictures of the "poses". That is when the gymnast or cheerleader holds still for a fraction of a second. This is good because they are holding a nice pose, but also if you are shooting at 1/125sec shutter speed, it gives you the best chance to capture a shot with relatively less motion blur, than let's say a shot where they are tumbling. This might also work if you can capture the girls at the top of their jump where they kinda just hover there for a fraction of a second.

Now . . . there are some venues where the lighting is pretty good. My daughter, when she was doing cheer, went to a couple of competitions where there was stage / flood lights set-up, I am assuming because they were video recording it, and I tried shooting with my 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 lens, and got some shots. Minimal motion blur, but lots of digital noise. But I ended up switching to my Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 lens because I was able to get right up beside the stage [In the "pit".] for those competitions.

FWIW, I'd suggest learning ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed, how the settings work, what their impact on the final image and how they work together for exposure. IMHO, if you learn this, you can have much more control over the final image.

Last edited by tacticdesigns; May 5, 2013 at 7:20 AM. Reason: typos
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