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Old Mar 25, 2005, 10:11 AM   #1
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:?

I am a newbie with not only my first DSLR camera but my first SLR camera period. So, needless to say I am not up on a lot of the jargon or know what it takes to take great pictures but I am ready and willing to learn. I previously owned a point and shoot Nikon Coolpix 995 (I still have it) which was OK for a few years but I was ready to "move up" in the world of photography. Not to mention a couple of friends of mine have 300Ds and I loved the quality of their pictures.

I have no intentions of becoming a professional photographer as it is more of a hobby for me, plus I take a lot of pictures for our local youth football and basketball programs for web sites. It was when I started putting the Rebel pictures from my friends on the web site that I started to realize how much my pictures needed upgraded.

This is my first post but I have spent a lot of time on this site reading up on cameras so I decided to purchase a 20D. By no means am I rich, but I am fortunate enough to be able to afford an expensive toy now and then so I ordered a 20 D last week. Unfortunately I did not have a lot of extra money for expensive lenses so I bought the camera with the kit lens and I bought, what I know to be a cheap lens, a Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 zoom lens to go with it. I also purchased two 1 gig compact flash cards so I would have plenty of memory to snap as much as I like.

Indoor shots I took the first night I had the camera seemed to turn out great. But, I took the camera to my son's basketball practice last night and was eager to start snapping some shots so I could get used to using the camera before the next game. I guess you can say I did not get real good results. I tried all of the settings and some worked better than others. I could not understand why the automatic sports setting did not work at all, nothing but blurs. On manual I could get fairly decent shots by speeding up the ISO but still not great. It tried with the flash, without the flash, and just about every combination I could and still did not get good results.

I know I do not know what I am doing but this brings me to some questions.

Should I return the cheap zoom lens and hold out for a better one or will practice make my pictures OK for my purposes? Keep in mind this is for mainly personal use.

Do I need two compact flash cards at this time or would I be better served to use that money toward a better lens?

How import is a new flash? For basketball I would rather not use one if would distract play.

Does the fact that the sports setting is not working for me mean:

a) I need a tripod
b) I need a better lens
c) sports setting is really not that great and I should learn how to use the camera
d) something could have been damaged in the camera during shipping

I do not want to drag this out much longer but I know you folks here know your stuff so I hope some of you will help me out.

Thanks!
Crow


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Old Mar 25, 2005, 11:22 AM   #2
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Crow,

I'm in much the same boat as yourself having moved up to a 20D from a Canon G2 p & s (though I have had film slrs in the past). It is bit if a steep learning curve :? Don't worry if your first shots haven't come out quite as you had expected, you will get it right soon enough.

If you are feeling brave, how about posting an example of one that didn't come out quite as you had hoped, the collective wisdom should be able to help.
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Does the fact that the sports setting is not working for me mean:

a) I need a tripod
b) I need a better lens
c) sports setting is really not that great and I should learn how to use the camera
d) something could have been damaged in the camera during shipping
a) Only if you are getting camera shake trying to handhold at the settings you are using. In fact for fast moving sports such as basketball I would have thought that following the game with a tripod mounted camera would be more difficult than handholding. A monopod might be easier.

Out of interest what does the exif data for some of your shots record for aperture and shutter speed?

b) We all need better lenses but sadly not many of us have the dosh to be able to get them. Whilst your lens may not be a world beater it isn't dreaful by any means. If, by better you mean 'faster', then yes a constant f4 or f2.8 would give you a bit more scope but at a cost. Given that you are on a budget, I don't see an easy way for you to progress to a better lens. Stick with what you have for the moment.

c) I think this is where you might be able to make some progress. I've never been a fan of the "basic zone" modes. I much prefer to have a bit more control over what the camera is doing. There are loads of folk here who take indoor sports shots (who will proably shoot me down if I'm talking rubbish). However, give this a try. Set your iso to 1600 (poss even 3200 if it is really gloomy in the sports hall) and in aperture priority (Av on the dial)open your lens right up to to is largest setting (f4 - 5.6). This should give you a reasonably fast shutter speed (one that you should be able to handhold). The only downside is that it will give you a narrowish depth of field. Your autofocus may be struggling in the low light or picking up players / objects that are not your main focus. Set the auto focus to AI Servo and the metering to Evaluative (page 71 in the manual). This should allow you to follow the action with the central focus point and stay in focus throughout. The exposure will be based on the centre point so try to keep the focal point of the image in the centre of the frame.

d) It is possible but I would suspect that it would show up in other photos and not just your sports shots.

You mention flash. the on camera flash is fine for relatively close objects but the length of a basket ball court is way beyond its reach. Besides I'm sure the players don't appreciate flash guns going off just as they are about to score the winning points!

Do you need two CF cards? No, you can send one to me!!! seriously, it is probably worth having the two. You will kick youself if you have filled a card and then spy the photo of a lifetime before you have downloaded the images from the card.

Stick at it and don't beat yourself up if you don't get perfection first time. With a bit practice you will get it :-)
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Old Mar 25, 2005, 11:47 AM   #3
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PhotoEcosse

Thanks so much for the help. We are having a basketball party tonight so I will try the settings you suggested.

I have to work some today, even though it is a holiday, but I will post a sample of one of my "bad" shots when I get a chance.

Gotta make a little extra cash for camera goodies!:G
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Old Mar 25, 2005, 12:28 PM   #4
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Crow,

One of the reasons the Sports program won't work for you is that the Iso is set automatically, but only to a maximum of 400. Also, it will set your aperature wide open (which you may want), but will then try to achieve proper exposure with shutterspeed. Since the Iso isn't nearly high enough, the shutter speed to get correct exposure is too slow for action shots.

Also, with the lens you have it will be at f4 at shorter focal lengths and switch to a minimum of f5.6 as you zoom. f5.6 is pretty slow for indoor sports photography, so even Iso 1600 may not be adequate. Fortunately there is a setting for the 20D that allows you to go to Iso 3200 (with some noticeable noise). Try Iso 1600 first, but also read the section of the manual about custom functions so that you can see how to allow Iso 3200 if you need it.

Personally, this is what I would do:

1. Select Tv mode and set the shutterspeed to whatever you need to reasonably stop the action (say 1/250s)

2. Set the camera to Iso 1600

3. If you try a few shots and the aperature is flashing in the viewfinder, you don't have enough light. Either select a slower shutterspeed or try upping to Iso 3200.

4. Check the histogram after you shoot. If it is far from the right you probably don't have enough light.

5. Since your zoom is pretty slow, you may have to compromise and use Iso 3200. For me I'd rather live with the increase in noise as long as the exposure is correct. There are even some software programs that can remove the noise in post processing and do a pretty decent job.



Have fun, and I hope this helps!



Bob
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Old Mar 25, 2005, 6:25 PM   #5
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I'm going to ditto bob's comments.

Set your ISO to 3200 and your shutter speed to 1/250th.

If your shots come out too dark, then get another faster lens.

Try a lens about F2.8 or faster. Canon makes a 50mm F1.8 lens that costs under $100. If you can get courtside for a few shots, it should do you okay.

If you have to shoot from way up in the stands, then get an 80mm or 100mm lens (works out to 120mm to 150mm with the 20D lens cropping factor).

Then you should be all set.

-- Terry


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Old Mar 25, 2005, 6:59 PM   #6
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You can squeeze one more stop out of a slow lens in a pinch if you can tolerate some (more) noise;

shoot RAW, set exposure compensation to -1 and bump it back up in processing.

IMHO,sharp and noisy is preferable to blurry and smooth.

David
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Old Mar 26, 2005, 2:53 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the help. I may look at another lens. Would I be safe to assume that my slower lens will work better outside? If not maybe I can take it back and get something more useful. I take a lot of outdoor shots during football season.



Can someone recommend some reading that will help me understand all of the different speeds and things you all are telling me about? I hear what you are saying but wish I had a little more understanding.



Thanks again!
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Old Mar 26, 2005, 3:32 PM   #8
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Before you spend money learn to use what you have, it is not a bad start.

Once you really know what you have, and havefigured out what you need, then is the time to start looking at expensive additions.

If you get a "faster" lens, it will only be faster when used at its maximum f2.8 aperture. A long lens used at a large aperture like f2.8 has next to no depth of field, it can be measured in inches, IE: you may have the center eye(tip of nose) focused and the left/right eyescan be out of focus. It is the trade off for that extra speed.This shallow depth of field is a useful tool when you need to use it to isolatesubjects, and the camera has an easier time of auto-focusing with a faster lens.BUT if you want to get large areas(big DOF)in focus you need to stop down to a smaller aperture anyway, which your current lens is OK with).

Besides a faster lens like the 70-200F2.8 IS USM or 120-300F2.8 can cost as muchif not more than the 20D camera body itself, if you are not a pro this is a heavy investment to make when just getting into a new hobby.

I agree with the other posters activate the High-Speed custom function 8.So the camera will allow you to select ISO HS(3200), and use either Av for Tv mode, if you are not sure what you are doing use P mode, the camera will try to make the best compromiseit can for anexposure .

For books, if you can go to a library look up some John Hedgecoetitles like
  • New book of Photography [/*]
  • New manual of photography [/*]
  • Photography Basics[/*]
They are all basic books that will get you going, (I would not buy any of them for full price, you will outgrow them quickly, but not bad if you can get them from a library)

Peter.
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Old Mar 26, 2005, 7:34 PM   #9
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Thanks Peter,

You are right, I should learn to use what I have for now. I will try some of the suggestions and see what I can do.

I experimented with Av and Tv last night and did much better. I am still working but when I get a chance I will post a couple for comments.

Crow
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Old Mar 26, 2005, 10:20 PM   #10
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I think the lens question depends on how "seriously" you plan to shoot sports. If you plan on a lot of sports, consider something like the Sigma 70-200 f2.8 lens. A used one can be found for about $600. It will allow you to use faster shutter speeds and lower ISO settings for less noise.

I certainly agree with raising ISO until you get to 1/250 or faster to freeze the action.
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