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Old May 24, 2010, 3:58 PM   #1
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Default Canon XSi in low light

I have a Canon Rebel XSi. I am a beginner with DSLR cameras but love to learn. Unfortunately, I have not been able to get the shots I want in a theater setting taking pictures of dance recitals. My daughter also plays volleyball in a gym setting. I am only using the kit lens (18-55mm) and it just doesn't seem to have what I need (or my skills are lacking).

I would greatly appreciate any advice on settings or suggestions for a better lens for action in low light.

Thank you.
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Old May 24, 2010, 4:08 PM   #2
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You are going to need a really fast lens (small F number). the size will depend on how far back from the stage and if you can use a tripod, you probably can't use a flash. the 85 F1.8 is good, but limited to about 30 ft. Also you may have a problem with your max ISO on the camera.
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Old May 24, 2010, 4:25 PM   #3
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How low is the light you are taking the photos in at the theater. Even with a brighter lens, if the light will not allow you to get you shutter up to at least 1/250 at 1600iso. You will have to accept motion blur. Even at 1/250 you will have some motion blur, but the faces should be in focus. Unless you can uses a flash then you can freeze the action, it is somethings not permitted. The only other solution is get a body that can shoot at 3200 and 6400iso, and even 12800iso. If the lighting do not permit. And you will still need a brighter lens like the ef 85mm 1.8 USM.
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Old May 24, 2010, 5:24 PM   #4
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Your options for volleyball are very limited. Flash use is restricted for volleyball pretty much everywhere. With the ISO limitations of your camera, you're going to need an f2.0 or better lens. The 85mm 1.8 is a great choice. The 50mm is too short and it's too slow to focus. The 50mm 1.4 is faster but still not as good as the 85 and again it's too short. The key is you have to be close enough - within 25 feet. That same lens will do well for the dance recitals, but it will be more of a challenge to get within 25 feet there.
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Old May 24, 2010, 7:11 PM   #5
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Unfortunately, the theater is quite dark and flashes are not allowed. It's the same situation for the gym with volleyball only not as dark as the theater. My concern is being able to stop motion. I now understand that may be impossible with my camera body. I have read some concerns about the 85mm lens not focusing properly. Do you think this due to not being within the 25 feet distance? It may be tricky to get that close without sitting underneath the dancers.
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Old May 24, 2010, 8:27 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jessi'Girl View Post
Unfortunately, the theater is quite dark and flashes are not allowed. It's the same situation for the gym with volleyball only not as dark as the theater. My concern is being able to stop motion. I now understand that may be impossible with my camera body. I have read some concerns about the 85mm lens not focusing properly. Do you think this due to not being within the 25 feet distance? It may be tricky to get that close without sitting underneath the dancers.
Not sure where you read that. The 85mm 1.8 is one of the best focusing lenses Canon produces.
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Old May 24, 2010, 8:33 PM   #7
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The body will not be able to stop the action base on the lighting conditions you are describing. You may want to consider moving up to a T1i or T2i body. Like john mention, the 85mm is a excellent focusing lens. It will have not issues keeping up with the action. The biggest issue I have seen is that people generally use all the AF points when tracking action. And that can lead to the camera picking the wrong subject to maintain focus on. I try to use single point when I shoot low light dancing in the clubs. I will give you much better results then trying to throw all 9 widely space point at a subject.
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Old May 24, 2010, 8:44 PM   #8
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To shoot sports/action, you need fast shutter speeds to freeze the action. In dim light, you need to use large apertures or high ISOs to make up for the fast shutter speeds. Your XSi maxes out at ISO 1600, which means you need really large apertures.

For volleyball, you'll need either the Canon 85/1.8 or 100/2.0.

For dance recitals, you might be able to get away with a 70-200/2.8. The action is a little slower, so you can use a slightly slower shutter speed, and though the theater is more dim than the gym, the stage lights illuminate the performers, so they will be properly exposed though the background will be dark.
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Old May 24, 2010, 9:01 PM   #9
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Even with fast glass 2.8 or better, with the stage lighting you may need iso higher then 1600.

Here are some stage shot form another member, allot of the shots were taken at 3200iso and higher with 2.8 glass.

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/pe...irspray-2.html
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Old May 24, 2010, 9:27 PM   #10
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I started with an XSi and quickly found I needed faster glass for basketball. As mentioned above the 85 f/1.8 worked very well for me. I have not tried any dance recitals but have taken some middle and high school band performances and the 85 worked "okay" but you need to be in the first row or two.

The 85 is a great lens that you can use for years after you upgrade the body to one with higher ISO. In the mean time the 85 will get shots MUCH better than the kit lens in low light and I highly recommend some noise reduction software such as Noiseware and shoot at 1600 ISO.

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