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Old Oct 26, 2008, 9:34 AM   #1
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Hoping that someone can help me with suggestions for getting the best results with the SX10. Grandfathers are expected to be the official soccer and Little League photographers and I don't want to let the gang down.

I used my SX10 here in CA yesterday and got wonderful videos with it. The combination of great IS, perfect autofocus and really excellent sound makes a good overall video. I really prefer using the SX10 to the HD TX1 I used last season. The larger camera is simply easier to control, zoom, and switch from stills to videos.

I also got good still shots of kids sitting on their soccer balls, eating their treats etc. The only place I came up short was in the action stills I tried to get. The SX10 has a slow continuous mode and the sports mode didn't seem to be very effective. I'd lose the view after the first shot.

Does anyone have a suggestion for action shots of these kids with the SX10. I know, I know, I should buy a DSLR,......but that's not going to happen. If there is a suggestion on shutter speed, ISO or whatever that might work well, I could set that up in my C mode and get on with it.

For those of you still considering the SX10, all I can say is that I sure like it for my purposes. The slow lens worried me when I first read about it but has not proven to be a limitaton on my normal usage. In my opinion, the WA and super zoom make accepting other compromises a good deal.

Jack
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Old Oct 26, 2008, 1:13 PM   #2
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OK,

What you're running into is the fact the burst rate with continuous focus is only 0.7 frames per second. That's agonizingly slow but not much you can do about it.

I suggest the following:

Set servo focus on - with center option (I believe you can choose between center or face but I'm not sure - I'm just going off what I see in the manual online).

Set mode to aperture priority and dial in the widest aperture (lowest f-number value).

I don't think auto-ISO works in AV mode on that camera so you'll have to set it manually. Set it based upon shutter speed. You want a minimum of 1/500 shutter speed - so you may have to go up to ISO 400 to get it.

Then unfortunately you have to be patient. This particular model wasn't built for sports shooting (0.7 fps in continuous focus) so you'll have to be patient.

What you CAN do however, is work on your timing. Get a feeling for how much lag time there is on the first shot from when you press the button to when the shutter fires. Then you work on your timing. With the slow burst rate you need to nail the shot on the first shot. The only way you're going to do that is to practice.

Also - and here's the downside of being the "official" photographer - you have to start watching the game like a photographer and not like a fan. What I mean by that is - taking sports photos is about planning on your part - anticipating where the action will be and waiting for it to happen and taking the shot. You don't have the benefit of watching like a fan with a wide angle of view where you can watch a large portion of the field. If you do that and then try to bring the camera up and shoot you'll miss most of the action. For instance, let's say you're taking shots of players batting. First of all you want to be on the correct baseline. For right-handed batters you want to be on 1st baseline. For lefthanders you want to be on 3rd baseline. For pitchers it's the reverse (3rd base for right handers, 1st for lefthanders). The reason being you want to get faces in the shots.

When shooting the fielders - here is the biggest difference between a fan and photographer - you need to watch the PLAYER, not the ball. Don't try to follow the ball with the camera - see where the ball is going then focus on the player you think is going to make the play.

AND, here's the biggest secret of all - get photos during warm-ups. Gives you a chance to get every player making a play.

For both sports a real key to success is not shooting action too far away. You really want the action filling 2/3 of the portrait orientation frame or about 90% of the vertical portion of landscape orientation frame. Why? Because it will give you the best chance at accurate focus AND will provide you with the most detail.

Have fun and good luck!
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Old Oct 26, 2008, 6:41 PM   #3
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I usually shoot sports in "shutter speed" priority. Shoot at 1/250th of a second or if that doesn't freeze the action well enough, shoot at 1/500th.

The camera will pick the correct aperture so the shot will be exposed correctly.

Also, if it is sunny out, keep the ISO (sensitivity) at 80. If it's overcast, pick ISO 400. If it's a night game under lights, pick ISO 1600.

Changing the ISO to reflect the lighting conditions will help your camera to freeze the action while exposing the photo correctly (ie keep the image bright and not dark looking).
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Old Oct 27, 2008, 11:30 AM   #4
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[email protected] wrote:
Quote:
I usually shoot sports in "shutter speed" priority. Shoot at 1/250th of a second or if that doesn't freeze the action well enough, shoot at 1/500th.

The camera will pick the correct aperture so the shot will be exposed correctly.
One minor correction - in shutter priority, the camera will TRY to pick an aperture vallue to expose properly. However, the required value may not be one the camera is capable of providing. You can set a camera to shutter priority and dial in 1/500 in a dark room and the camera will let you try it.

It's one of the reasons I don't suggest using shutter priority for stop-action sports (i.e. you can get underexposed shots).

Full manual exposure is preferred, but if you don't want to worry about all the variables I suggest using aperture priority. There you don't have the same risk of underexposure you do in shutter priority. And, for stop action sports there's no good reason to LIMIT your shutter speed. If 1/500 is a minimum value you want, getting a shutter speed of 1/1000 isn't a bad thing.

Where shutter priority comes into play for action shots is when you intentionally want a SLOW shutter speed to show motion blur - for instance when taking a photo of a prop plane or helicopter you want to see some blur in the prop/rotor so shutter priority is a great mode to ensure you get that slow shutter speed.

In the end, it's all your choice - just thought I'd point out some of the risks/benefits of TV vs AV.

Good luck!
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Old Oct 27, 2008, 12:29 PM   #5
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JohnG,
I will explain why I shoot shutter priority versus aperture priority.

If I chose a wide open aperture, it might be so dark that the camera will choose a shutter speed so slow that the action is blurred - just ruining the shot - even though it is correctly exposed.

If I pick shutter priority of 1/250th, let's say for basketball, then I know the action will be "frozen" regardless of how bright or dark the shot is.

If the shot is dark, I can probably bring it up a stop or two in post-production (especiallly with RAW versus JPEG - more exposure latitude with RAW).

So, I shoot shutter priority in order to freeze the action as my first priority, then I will worry about whether the shot is properly exposed as a second priority. I can always "fix" the exposure to some extent, but I can't fix a blurred shot.
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Old Oct 27, 2008, 12:49 PM   #6
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I'd go manual exposure instead.

If you shoot Shutter Priority, your exposure is likely to be very inconsistent, with lights in the frame, different background colors, different jersey/uniform colors, etc. impacting your results.

With manual exposure, you've still got control of your shutter speed (rather than setting it to 1/250 using shutter priority, just set it to 1/250 using Manual Exposure and pick the darkest aperture you think you can tolerate if you need to push the shots any later if you're out of ISO speed settings). You'll probably need around f/2.8 at 1/250 second using ISO 1600 (but, faster is better for more keepers without blur, with 1/500 being a better target).

Lighting is probably within one stop in most areas of a typical gym. So, you'd probably end up with more exposure inconsistency using shutter priority relying on the camera's metering (and the more underexposed an image is, the more noise you're going to have fixing it later).

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Old Oct 27, 2008, 1:00 PM   #7
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OK,

Reeling us back in here :-)

The OP isn't shooting basketball - they're shooting little league and soccer - both outdoors. Shooting basketball is a whole other topic with it's own challenges.

And while I'm a huge advocate of manual exposure for outdoor sports as well - that can be very challenging -- probably moreso than the OP wants to deal with. Given the 'relatively' good light the OP will experience there's really no good reason to limit shutter speeds to an artificially low value. If it's bright enough to get 1/2000 shutter speeds - no reason to force things down to 1/500. And let's also remember the OP is not using a DSLR - noise performance associated with underexposed images will cause a significant problem in his shots.

Still, as I mentioned before, the OP can try both methods and see what works best for him.


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Old Oct 27, 2008, 1:15 PM   #8
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Awesome discussion on the merits of aperture versus shutter priority for sports thanks!
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Old Oct 27, 2008, 3:41 PM   #9
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Once in awhile, a thread produces some good stuff. This is one of those threads.

As I think about the options, I wonder if picking wide open AV is better with any other setting such as ISO?,.....or can it be left in auto? My guess is that if I set ISO 200 for example, the only variable I leave is shutter speed, which will probably be 1/500th or faster, even in sunny conditions. I'm not sure on this,.....?

If I set 1/500th, or anything else, I leave lens opening as the main variable. If it's really sunny, I will get a setting of something less than wide open,......longer field of focus (or whatever that's called) would result.

I realize there is no magic bullet and I thank everyone for the ideas. I've almost decided that with the SX10 the burst mode is not going to be very usable. I can still benefit from this discussion with a solid first shot. I like the idea of the servo AF. I can focus on my grandson in the batters box, as I stand down the first base line, and actually take the shot sometime during his run to first base.

As a result of this discussion, I have put servo AF in my C mode on the SX10.
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Old Oct 27, 2008, 3:53 PM   #10
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Yup - excellent thread!

In the "good old film days", experienced amateurs and professionals could pick out the ISO based on the light conditions.

For instance, sunny day was ISO100, cloudy ISO400, early morning or late evening ISO400 to ISO800.

As the ISO (sensitivity) increases, the noise (well, it used to be "grain" in film days) increases.

So generally you pick the lowest ISO you can get away with. But if it's cloudy, I pick ISO400, etc. etc. etc.

I think as a generally rule you should think about adjusting the ISO to the conditions. Most "point and shooters" don't adjust ISO at all, to the detriment of their shots.

My father used to shoot black and white film starting in the 1940's. He could look at a scene at tell you the exact manual setting for that environment without a light meter and THEN check his assessment with a light meter:

"I'm shooting ISO400 at F5.8 for 1/125th of second" and he'd be dead on or maybe one stop out, which he could correct in his darkroom.

Digital cameras do so much now we barely think of this stuff, but most serious amateurs and professionals are always thinking about ISO, F-stop, shutter speed, focal length, etc. etc. as part of shot composition.

The more "conscious" you can be of your decisions - the better photographer you'll be in the long run.
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