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Old Nov 14, 2003, 10:20 PM   #1
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Default Shooting sports in low light

I have an Olympus C2100UZ and I do a lot of shooting of high school sports in dimly lit gyms and at night games under stadium lights. I have a hard time getting good light and am wondering of there are any tricks.

I use the manual setting, set the ISO to 400, set the f2.8 and shutter speed to around 200 (as slow as I can go without blurring). I have an external slave flash (Digi-slave Deluxe 3000). I am not sure if I am setting it right. I set it to manual and just shoot.

What tips does anyone have to get shots from great distances or better quality? On a soccer field, the middle of the field is 30 yards from the sideline and I can't carry that distance with good light. Any tips on shooting in these types of situations is welcomed. I would love to find articles on shooting sports and on shooting in low light. I also welcome suggestions on newer cameras that may have better luck, although I have been very pleased with the Olympus picture quality and 10x zoom. I will probably upgrade soon to get to a 3 or 4 megapixel camera.

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Old Nov 15, 2003, 6:38 AM   #2
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Todd - I've never had luck using flash in those situations (night games with poor lighting). Until now I ended up using my Canon Elan 35mm film camera with 800 speed film and 75-300 lens. Have had decent luck, so I'm purchasing a Digital Rebel in the hope of replicating that. I love shooting these kinds of events, so I'd like to hear from others with more experience. Oh... http://www.sportsshooter.com is one site with interesting info.

Good luck - Andy
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Old Nov 15, 2003, 8:51 AM   #3
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I concur with the Digital Rebel choice. It's able to shoot at much higher ISO speeds, with lower noise than a consumer model (which use much smaller sensors).

If this is out of your budget (especially considering the cost of a fast lens), you may want to consider a camera like the Sony DSC-F717. It's got the fastest lens around at full zoom (190mm). It's lens is rated at F2.0/F2.4

F2.0 is twice as fast as F2.8, allowing you to use shutter speeds twice as fast for the same ISO speed and lighting conditions.

At full zoom, the difference is even greater (to the Sony's advantage) compared to most other prosumer cameras), since it's lens stops down to only F2.4 at full zoom.

The Sony also has lower noise, at higher ISO speeds, compared to the other models using this 2/3" 5MP CCD. See the review of the camera at http://www.dpreview.com for noise tests.

Sony makes a HVL F-32X "High Grade Flash" that will work with this model -- good to "real world" distances of around 32 feet, if you can get this close to the action. If not, you will probably be dissapointed with the results.

A Digital SLR (with a very fast lens -- i.e., F1.4) would be a MUCH better choice, if it is within your budget -- especially considering the ability to shoot at much higher ISO speeds with low noise, much faster focus, etc.
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Old Nov 19, 2003, 8:44 PM   #4
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A challenging question, ToddNorris! You can get very good pics with a FL-40 flash, CB-01 cable, and BK-01 flash bracket. The motorized zoom on the flash automatically extends the range of the flash when in tele. I leave mine camera set on Program even under these challenging conditions. A TCON 1.7 will get you 70% closer with virtually no light loss; you'll need a 49-55mm step-up ring to attach this to your lens. If you can get enough light on the subject to stay at ASA 100 or 200, you'll get very good shots.

Stopping the action is challenging, so experiment with shutter priority, setting your speed fast enough for the action you want to capture. 1/125 to 1/60 sec is good for most. If need be, set your ADA to 100 for best pictures, and 200 if you're having trouble stopping the action. My experience with 400 under stadium lights is that you get moderately noisy photos, but you be the judge.

Make sure you pre-focus your shots by half-pressing the shutter to greatly reduce shutter lag, and turn OFF continuous autofocus. This will greatly enhance your ability to capture very good action shots. Good luck, and let us know how you come out!
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