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Old Jul 14, 2010, 11:10 PM   #1
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Default Lifeguarding Action Shots : Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS Telephoto Zoom Lens

I recently bought the 55-250 for my Canon Rebel Xti and also picked up a Tiffen 58 mm UV protection filter, Hoya 58 mm UV mutli coated glass filter, and a precision design et-60 lens hood for the Canon 55-250.

I play to shoot lifeguard tournaments as I am a lifeguard and would like to get some great shots of my coworkers when I myself am not competing. The tournaments usually take place between 6pm-9pm and are obviously on and around the water. What are some recommended settings for optimal photos? I used my EF-S 18-55mm F/3.5 in sport mode to take shots during the last tournament and got some great shots but picked up the 55-250 as some of the rowing events were far away. What are the best modes to shoot in and which filter should I used. I will be using the camera hand held as you can't set up a tripod due to the movement of competitors and the need to move around. Your suggestions would be very much appreciated.
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Old Jul 15, 2010, 5:36 AM   #2
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East coast or west coast? That is, will the Sun be setting in your scenes or will it be setting behind you.?
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Old Jul 15, 2010, 7:36 AM   #3
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East Coast, NJ to specific. It is likely to be either sunny or overcast/light rain in relation to weather conditions too.
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Old Jul 15, 2010, 9:15 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snowwave83 View Post
...as you can't set up a tripod due to the movement of competitors and the need to move around...
I use a monopod for those situations. Mine has the tilt/swivel head which i don't like. one day when i'm rich, i'll get a good ball-head.
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Old Jul 15, 2010, 9:27 AM   #5
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So the Sun, if there is one in the sky, will be behind you. Plus, I presume there will be other light sources.

You'll have trouble with the 55-250 since it doesn't focus very fast, especially in low light, and it has a relatively small maximum aperture. You can probably use flash, but the further away the action is, the less valuable that will be. I'd stay near a significant light source as much as possible, so I'd have enough light to keep the shutter speed fast.


There are three factors that affect exposure:
  • Aperture - The size of the opening in the lens through which light can pass.
  • Shutter Speed - The length of time the image sensor is exposed to light.
  • ISO - The sensitivity of the image sensor to light.
You want to keep the shutter speed fast, because you'll be shooting action. With a slow shutter speed, your images will contain a lot of motion blur.

Your Canon XTi can't use very high ISO settings, and at the highest settings it has, you'll get noise in your images.

All you can do is keep the aperture as large as possible (using A Mode) and rely on supplimental light as much as possible. The built-in flash on your XTi won't be much use. An external flash would be better, but even it won't work at most of the distances I think you'll be shooting at. I think your best bet is to try to use the event lighting as much as possible.
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Old Jul 15, 2010, 9:29 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frank-in-toronto View Post
I use a monopod for those situations. Mine has the tilt/swivel head which i don't like. one day when i'm rich, i'll get a good ball-head.
Actually, I suspect that everything snowwave83 will be shooting will be on the horizontal plane, so he would be better off with a monopod without a head. That's how I use mine when shooting equestrian sports.
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Old Jul 15, 2010, 1:02 PM   #7
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As TCAV mentioned, with that lens you're going to have difficulty near the end - you're just not going to have enough light. So you'll have to get your shots early. Sports mode on that camera locks in ISO at 400 - that's going to be too low. So, here's my suggestions to maximize results:
1) Set camera in Aperture Priority mode
2) select aperture of f5.6
3) set focus mode to AI-Servo
4) select center focus point only
5) set to continuous shooting
6) take test shots and check shutter speed. If shutter speed is below 1/400 bump up iso until you hit 1600 or shutter speed is over 1/400. If at iso 400 shutter is faster than 1/400 that's OK too - just leave ISO where it's at - faster is better.
7) frame TIGHT on the subject - make sure your subject is filling 2/3 of long portion of the frame. If it isn't then it's likely too far away - wait till it gets closer. The one difference is a swimmer - the 2/3 guideline roughly refers to an entire human body. with a swimmer in the water most of the body is submerged - but you still get the idea - even with just head/torso you want at least 1/4 of the frame filled.
8. Acquire your target and track for at least a second before firing. Always shoot in bursts of 2-4 shots. You'll generally find one of those shots will be in better focus or will just have a better expression/better body position.
You're going to find that 250mm is awfully short - it's worth about 30-35 yards of coverage for a person. Not a lot of distance if they're in the ocean and you're not. So you'll have to be patient and get shots when they are within that range.

Good luck and please share some of the pictures in the sports forum. Upon seeing your photos, sports shooters there can help you improve. Good luck!
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Old Jul 15, 2010, 1:03 PM   #8
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Oh and by the way - the 55-250 is a very light lens and has IS. A monopod is kind of a waste - it will restrict movement more than it will add benefit for such a light lens with IS.
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Old Jul 15, 2010, 4:48 PM   #9
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Thanks for the tips guys.

JohnG, what great advice !! You are exactly right regarding the sport mode locking at 400 ISO.

Perhaps I should trade in this lens for another lens? What would you recommend I look into. Keep in mind I will only shoot sports events maybe 6-10 times a year so it will be a seasonal lens and I spent $200 for the 55-250 and would be willing to drop another 100-150 if the improvement will be drastic.
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Old Jul 15, 2010, 4:55 PM   #10
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I may even consider renting a lens for the next 2 weeks, which is primarily when the events happen.

www.lensrental.com has treated me well in the past, what would you all recommend for my camera and shoot conditions?
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