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Old Mar 26, 2006, 7:59 PM   #1
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I am starting to shoot a lot of outdoor sports and people. I am used to working indoors where you have to beg for light. Now that I have light how fast is too fast on shutter speed. I want tostop all the action but still get a good crisp picture. Over the weekend I was able to get 2000 shutter and 10 aperture 400 ISO. Should I be trying for more aperture and less speed or the faster the better. I know I will have to adjust the ISO to achieve the best result but what should I be trying for as the Speed and Aperture is concerned? I do want good DOF to get all the action. Any advice would be helpful.

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RP33
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Old Mar 26, 2006, 8:53 PM   #2
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You don't list which camera you have.
To me, you have two things that effect your decision:
1) Is there too much noise at 400ISO? I bet its better if you use 200ISO (probably much better.) I know for my 20D I find the noise at 200ISO to be very good (I almost never use 100ISO) but I only use 400ISO if I don't have any other choice. I like the pictures much better at 200 than 400.
2) Larger Depth of Field. Having only the arm of the soccer player in focus is not good enough. You need a fairly good depth of field, and you'll be able to double the f-stop and still be shooting at 1/1000th of a second.

What sport? Things with sticks that move very fast might want a higher shutter speed (stopping a hocket or lacross stick is hard.) basket ball players that run around don't have the same level of speed to worry about and you can trade shutter speed for depth of field.

Eric
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Old Mar 26, 2006, 9:00 PM   #3
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I use a 20D also.

Track and field was what I was shooting but I will soon be moving to the baseball field and tennis court to shoot for the summer. 400 iso ok too but I also think 200 is beter if I can use it. I also had to use a noise program with my last camera, I am not sure I will need it witht his one. So what would be your advice in high light areas.
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Old Mar 27, 2006, 3:09 PM   #4
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There is a style question you'll be worrying about.

Do you want the bat to be slightly blurred? Maybe. That is probably acceptable.
Do you want the tennis racquet slightly blurred? No... that is probably not acceptable.

Assuming ISO200 or 400 with noise reduction, then it's a tradeoff of shutter speed and depth of field. With the player facing you, you can have less depth of field (and more shutter speed) but (of course) the camera miss-placing the DOF will kill the image, so you can't make it too small or the probability of you deleting the shot will go up.

So for tennis you'll want a faster shutter speed, but maybe slightly slower for baseball. I would look at some magazines on the different sports and see how much blur is acceptable.

I don't have absolute numbers, that you should probably figure out at a batting practice or a tennis warmup. But go into it with a thought about what type of shots you want to get and try different settings. Understanding the issues involved will help guide you quicker towards the right answer. I would start at around 1/800 or more, but bats and racquets move very fast, I bet for mid-swing shots the shutter speed will have to be MUCH higher... but only trying it out will really show you.

You'll also want to watch out for your exposures when the player is wearing white. That will cause you some trouble. But I bet you're aware of that.

Eric

ps. You might want to poke around on www.sportsshooter.com. That is a web site just about shooting sports and you might be able to find some good images with the settings that will help.
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Old Mar 27, 2006, 9:22 PM   #5
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Thank You for your help.

One last question.

On your camera settings do you use perimeter #1 or #2 and do you use large jpeg most often or raw? I hear a lot of both. What is your take on that?

Opps! Two last questions.
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Old Mar 28, 2006, 12:12 PM   #6
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RP33,

I would strongly recommend increasing the aperture on your shots if you are shooting at f10. There are instances where you need that much DOF, but they are infrequent. You really want to shoot f4 or wider to get subject isolation. And if the action is farther away you'll want f2.8.

Here are some examples of what I'm talking about.

310mm at f4 - the distracting fence in the background is blurred so not as annoying.



this one at 220mm at f5.6. See how distracting the background is?





So, I recommend shooting f4 or wider. As Eric indicated, you can get some nice effects by showing some motion. But I suggest that approach only as a minor portion of your shots. When doing that, you can catch the wrong body part moving and it ruins the shot. After you get your keeper rate up by freezing peak action - which takes timing and practice - then work on trying to show motion. There is no ill effect to high shutter speeds though. And there is NO benefit to shooting at higher ISO if you can get acceptable shutter speeds at a lower ISO. The only thing you have to watch out for is the max shutter speed (1/8000 maybe???)

On exposure - you want to expose for FACES in sports shots - not necessarily highlights. This is especially true with sports where helmets and hats are worn. A shot with slightly blown highlights on a jersey but where the face is well exposed is, IMHO preferable to having the jersey exposed but the face in shadow. As an example, if you are shooting baseball and the scene is backlit - you're better off blowing the highlights in the sky rather than exposing for the sky and the player is too dark.

Using RAW or large jpeg is a matter of workflow preference. For me, shooting RAW is beneficial in indoor venues where white balance is not constant. For outdoor sports I prefer jpeg because it eliminates a step in the workflow. Shooting low ISO and validating histogram frequently outdoors you really don't NEED all the tweaks RAW allows you and you save space on your cards. But it's also a matter of preference - some shooters will only use RAW.
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Old Mar 28, 2006, 12:24 PM   #7
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John G

Lots of great information thanks.

Makes a lot of sense when you put the pictures with it.
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Old Mar 29, 2006, 12:30 AM   #8
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John G has more experience than I do (I shoot animals, not people playing sports), so I won't say he is wrong, I'd say that I don't agree (conditionally) with one of his comments.

He talked about starting at f4... I would be surprised if you'd get enough Depth of field at f4. If a shoulder is 4 inches long and you really want the head in focus, then you have the question about how much risk you're willing to take in case the camera focuses on the shoulder. The larger the DOF the better chance you have for getting the head in focus as well. Now, I photograph animals almost exclusively. If the head isn't in focus I toss it out. Maybe this isn't as strong a rule with sports?

His first example of the fense in the background being out of focus. While I agree that having the fence in focus would be worse, the fence is so far in the background that I would be shocked if it were possible with a 310mm lens to get that fense in focus. It looks a good 30 feet or more away. Guessing the subject is 40 feet away (the further away the larger the DOF) I looked up the DOF at f18 (which is a VERY large aperture) and the depth of field was only 3.5 feet. So while that image is an example of how you don't want the background in focus, at the same time it is not a good example because there is no reasonable way that it would be in focus. The depth of field is more like 8 inches or so, which is just enough to get the leading shoulder and the head in focus.

His comment about properly exposing for the face is a great one that I didn't think of. That is where experience is key.

I fully agree on the RAW vs. jpg description. I might add that RAW might help you early on while learning to get exposure right. It gives you a bit of latitude that JPG doesn't (without really, really good PS skills and some extra plugins.) But for white-balance issues (especially in complex lighting situations) RAW is worth the slow down in post-processing.

In the end, the really trickly part, the part that just comes with experience, is getting the right "moment" Getting the head turned well, getting a good angle and position. The timing that only comes with experience. I take bird photography seriously (I sell some pictures) and over time I've gotten so I know, without checking the image replay on the LCD, that I've missed it. Instinctively I just know it... and its even better when you know you've caught that moment. You want to yelp with glee.

Learn to anticipiate their moves... get your timing down. Work on getting exposure right while you learn the other stuff.

Eric
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Old Mar 29, 2006, 7:24 AM   #9
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eric s wrote:
Quote:
John G has more experience than I do (I shoot animals, not people playing sports), so I won't say he is wrong, I'd say that I don't agree (conditionally) with one of his comments.

He talked about starting at f4... I would be surprised if you'd get enough Depth of field at f4. If a shoulder is 4 inches long and you really want the head in focus, then
His first example of the fense in the background being out of focus. While I agree that having the fence in focus would be worse, the fence is so far in the background that I would be shocked if it were possible with a 310mm lens to get that fense in focus. It looks a good 30 feet or more away.
Eric. A couple points of clarification. First, it's not so much a question about distracting background being IN FOCUS so much as it is a question of: is the background sufficiently blurred?. Here's another example that may better illustrate my point. This was shot at f2.8. Without it, the background would be way too distracting. It also illustrates my other point - her front leg is slightly blown out. But who cares?



I do agree, focus vs. DOF is ALWAYS a big concern. But, with wildlife you usually have the luxury of some decent background. For sports, you get fences, people, cars, etc... Just like you toss photos because a bird's head isn't in focus, the folks over at sportsshooter will toss shots because the background is too distracting.




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