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Old Feb 11, 2013, 8:26 AM   #1
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Default Gymnastic and Cheerleading Picts inside a Gym

Hi. My daugter does a lot of gymnastic. I purchase the Cannon EOS Rebl T3i because it came with an extra 75 - 300 mm lens (it was christmas offer). Turns out that as much as I try, I can not get sharp pictures with this camera. I have used the AF button on lens together with the auto/Easy mode (no flash as we are not allowed flash during competitions)...results....pictures are not sharp, but rather blurry and can not crop them as they loose image. I have also tried using the sports feature for movement and it turns out worse. The pictures turn out with a yellow tint and still same aweful quality. 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
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Old Feb 11, 2013, 9:33 AM   #2
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While I can't speak to your camera model and usually wouldn't intrude in a forum for which I don't own the camera type I do have some experience as a cheer parent that might be pertinent.

First off I would try shooting in shutter priority (S) mode and setting it to at least 1/400, the reason your shots are blurry is because the shutter is staying open too long and the movement of the athletes and more importantly the movement of the camera is causing blur.

Second the 75-300mm you are using is probably not fast enough for indoors. By fast enough I am referring to the maximum aperture or f number of the lens. This means it can't gather enough light and therefore is leaving the shutter open longer. Most consumer grade zooms in this range end up at f5.6 on the long end which is just not fast enough indoors. Your best bet would be a prime lens, which is a lens with a single focal length, like the Canon 85mm f1.8. The difference between f5.6 and f1.8 is going to mean a lot more light to the sensor so shorter exposure times. Depending upon how close you can stand to the action you may even be able to use a shorter focal length but if you've already found the 75-300mm to be in the right spectrum 85mm probably makes best sense. I would review your photos and see which focal lengths you shot most at and use this as a guide to pick a lens.

Third is going to be getting the right white balance which could be responsible for the yellow tinge. What kind of lights are you shooting under? florescent? or those ones with a single big bulb that hurt to look at and hum (High Intensity Discharge)? You'll need to consult your camera manual and see if there is a setting for the type of lighting. People more familiar with Canons can probably help here. I'm not entirely convinced this is a problem though since modern cameras do a good job at figuring out the correct white balance on their own it might be more of a problem with the other factors.

hope that helps!
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Old Feb 11, 2013, 9:39 AM   #3
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Flora - I've got some bad news for you - gymnastics is one of the most demanding types of photography from an equipment standpoint. While your camera is capable, your lens is not. That lens is such a bargain because it's not really a good lens.

If you want to shoot gymnastics with that camera you're going to need a much better (and unfortunately much more expensive) lens.

There are 3 major drawbacks to your current lens:
1) when you are zoomed in the aperture is f5.6 on the lens - basically that is going to mean you can't get a fast enough shutter speed with that camera to do what you want.
2) the lens isn't very sharp when zoomed in - which means at higher ISO values with the noise that brings - even if your subject is still, the photos aren't that ogod
3) The focus motor on that lens is really poor - combined with the aperture of 5.6 it means the camera/lens can't follow moving subjects well in poor light.

If you had floor access I could recommend the 85mm 1.8 - unfortunately you really need to be within 25 feet for that lens to work. So if you have to sit in the stands you're simply too far away for the lens to be very useful on your camera.

Now, a 70-200 2.8 lens extends your range to 75 feet. You will get SOME photos but without floor access you're still not going to get photos of every event. BUT, you'll still have to shoot at ISO 3200-6400 with an f2.8 lens.

Now, you can get a sigma 70-200 2.8 OS for $1300 or the canon 70-200 2.8 non-IS for $1500. The question is: do you want to spend that kind of money recognizing that with only 200mm and your position in the stands you STILL won't be able to shoot all events well?

A less expensive option is the 135mm 2.0 lens - it's a great lens but it is a fixed focal length which makes it more challenging to use - you can't zoom in or out. That sells for $1100.

So, the question is - are you willing to spend that kind of money?
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Old Feb 11, 2013, 9:39 AM   #4
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Thanks...it is a start. I can try the S mode which I never have and play around with it. My guess is that cannon has better lens that this one that came with the offer....it was like $200 extra for that lens. Thanks you !
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Old Feb 11, 2013, 9:44 AM   #5
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Thanks John...you just told me what I feared. I guess when I bought the camera everyone spoke of how great it is...AND it really is a good camera. Has taken awesome pictures with the 35 mm lens. I guess I feel cheated when they included the other lens....although I feel the 75-300 lens does great in outdoors, just sucks indoors. Of course, I do not wan to sepnd that much money on a lens...so I guess unfortunately, I have found my response.

Thanks for taking the time to explain all this.
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Old Feb 11, 2013, 10:01 AM   #6
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Flora - don't give up hope! a new 85mm f1.8 is $419, a used one can be had for under $300. As long as you can get close enough you should be able to get good results with this.
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Old Feb 11, 2013, 10:10 AM   #7
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While the 75-300 is useless for the type of photography you want to do (and it's not very good for ANY type of photography) there are other options. JohnG mentioned the Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM ($419), but there's also the Canon 100mm f/2.0 USM ($499), the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 ($769), and the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 HSM ($894). None of them are as good as the other lenses JohnG mentioned, but they'll run rings around what you're using now.
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Old Feb 11, 2013, 10:19 AM   #8
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Again - let me caution you Flora - while the 85mm 1.8 is a great lens - you have to get really close. Closer than you're going to be able to get for most gymnastic events if you're in the stands. You may or may not be able to get close enough for competitive cheer. I say this not to discourage you but so you're better informed BEFORE spending your money this time around. That's part of what makes gymnastics so tough to shoot - not just the bad lighting but the distances when you're in the stands. I actually used to shoot gymnastics with an 85mm 1.8 years ago. But I had floor access to do it. It really is a great lens but you need to be that close (25 feet) to use it well.
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Old Feb 12, 2013, 3:34 AM   #9
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hi the t3i is capable of taking the shots you want but as others have said the 75-300 isnt up to the job. you need a lens that will be capable of low light others have suggested lenses for you i would add to this the sigma 70-200os f2.8 but i would also invest in a monopod, it will help with stability
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Old Feb 12, 2013, 6:34 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wave01 View Post
hi the t3i is capable of taking the shots you want but as others have said the 75-300 isnt up to the job. you need a lens that will be capable of low light others have suggested lenses for you i would add to this the sigma 70-200os f2.8 but i would also invest in a monopod, it will help with stability
I kept my lens recommendations on the low side of $1,000, plus while the stabilized Sigma 70-200/2.8 OS HSM is nice, the image stabilization will go to waste given that the shutter speeds necessary to capture the action would probably be sufficient to avoid motion blur due to camera shake.

And while a monopod might be useful when handling a heavy lens like the Sigma 70-200/2.8 OS HSM, it would be more of a handicap with many of the other lenses that have been mentioned.
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