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HDon Jan 20, 2009 8:51 PM

Is there anything I can do while taking pictures of my kids sporting events to get pics that are not blurry? I've tried changing some random settings but really don't know what they do. Was hoping someone else might have suggestions. Seems if the subject is close, well lit, and still the pics are fine. Any distance, movement, or less than bright light = the pics are bad. Was trying to take pics at a basketball game.

Appreciate any help.

granthagen Jan 20, 2009 10:42 PM

My man....! You need to increase your shutter speed.

As a general thing, the better the light, the higher the shutter speed you can use. This is why you're getting blurred pix in poor light. The camera needs to do whatever it can to get enough light to the sensor to give an adequate exposure. This often means choosing slower shutter speeds.

I don't know what mode(s) you've been shooting in, but try Shutter Priority mode. I don't know what camera you are using, so I don't know what your manual would call Shutter Priority mode. This is a mode that lets you set the shutter speed manually and the camera chooses a lens aperture and perhaps, an ISO to give a good exposure.

Some cameras have a Sports mode. This is pretty much what I've just described, except that the camera will try to adjust things so that it's using a higher shutter speed than it might choose in some other mode.

If your Shutter Priority mode doesn't adjust the ISO along with the aperture, you might have to set the ISO to a higher setting yourself, also. This increases digital noise in the picture, but it might come down to getting a noisy but sharp picture rather than a cleaner, blurry shot. High ISO noise can be lessened with anti-noise software -- some of it free -- but motion blur can't be fixed.

You'll have to experiment a bit to find a shutter speed that works under your shooting conditions and how high you can go with the ISO before the noise becomes so bad that it ruins the picture.

You can also try panning the camera with the action to lessen subject motion blur and trying to anticipate the action so that you can take a shot at the height of motion where the subject isn't moving all that fast, like at the height of a jump shot in basketball.

There are also many online tutorials that give specific photographic advice for different types of sports. It would profit you to look for some of these.


Mark1616 Jan 22, 2009 1:19 PM

Hi HDon and welcome to Steve's!!

What sorts of sport are you wanting to shoot and which kit to you have? Sports shooting is something that can only be possible with special kit depending on the environment.

Personally going for shutter priority is not the way is it can very quickly lead to under exposed shots especially if you are already getting blurry ones with auto settings.

If you were to go aperture priority and set the aperture as wide as possible (small number) and make the ISO as high as you can and still be usable then you will get the highest workable shutter speed in the conditions you are working with.

The only time I shoot sports with shutter priority is when I want to slow the shutter down (rare in sports shooting) so anything where you want motion blur such as motor sports.

That should point you in the right direction but if you post more details and some samples then we can give some accurate advice.

Happy shooting,


HDon Jan 31, 2009 10:49 PM

Dimage Z3. Mostly I believe default settings. Fine quality, 2272x1704 resolution, no digital zoom. Auto focus, auto flash, etc. Tried changing iso between 100 and 400, didn't seem to change much. Mostly use Auto, P, or A...again, I'm not noticing much difference. I get by ok in good light, outdoors in daylight is fine. Indoors, especially lowlight is terrible.

Again, my main concern is any movement by subject results in blur.

I don't know how to try changing shutter speeds. I don't see it as an option in a menu.

I'll follow with some cropped pics.

HDon Jan 31, 2009 10:54 PM

1 Attachment(s)
With flash.

Adjusted in photoshop, increasing contrast and brightness.

HDon Jan 31, 2009 10:56 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Once again, cropped due to size limit. Problem with blurry subject.

HDon Jan 31, 2009 10:57 PM

1 Attachment(s)
One more. Blur. Cropped.

JimC Feb 1, 2009 1:46 PM

I'm afraid that there is not a lot you'll be able to do with that camera if you want to shoot indoor sports.

Indoor sports are very demanding on equipment, and you'll want a camera model with a usable ISO 1600 or ISO 3200, combined with a bright lens (f/2 or f/2.8 ) for best results (i.e., a dSLR model using something much brighter than the standard "kit" lenses you find included).

That last photo was taken at ISO 200 (which is how sensitive the camera is to light), with a shutter speed of only 1/10 second. You could increase your ISO speed to ISO 400 (the maximum your camera is capable of), and get your shutter speed up to around 1/20 or 1/30 second if you're zoomed in around the same amount (your lens loses light as you zoom in more). But, that's still far too slow to freeze any subject movement, and your photos will be very noisy at ISO 400 from a Z3 (that grainy look you get).

Your camera model also has a relatively weak flash. It's got a GN (Guide Number) of 26.2 feet at ISO 100. To determine maximum flash range, you divide by the GN by the aperture of the lens (and you'll be at an aperture of around f/4 when zoomed in much with your model). Then, each time you double the ISO speed, flash range increases by 1.4x. So, you'd get something like for maximum flash range when zoomed in much (to get a properly exposed photo at faster shutter speeds, which means the flash would provide most of the light):

ISO 100 - approximately 6.5 feet
ISO 200 - approximately 9.2 feet
ISO 400 - approximately 12.8 feet

If you exceed the flash range and get an underexposed (too dark) photo, you're just going to increase noise levels by increasing brightness with software, just as if you used an even higher ISO speed to begin with. You can get software to help reduce the appearance of noise (which can also soften detail if you are not careful). So, you may want to give some of these products a try to help out with that part. Neat Image, Noiseware and Noise Ninja are popular choices.

But, with your current setup, I wouldn't expect to be very happy with the results shooting indoor sports, unless you can get some photos when the players are not moving, or get close enough to get some shots using the flash (keeping it's limited range in mind).

I think you'll find that most sports shooters are going to target getting shutter speeds up to around 1/500 second without a flash to help freeze most movement. Now, you could probably get some keepers without a lot of blur at slower shutter speeds than that. But, not as slow as you'll have with a Z3 in that lighting.

With your camera's widest aperture of around f/4 when zoomed in much (and smaller f/stop numbers represent a wider opening that lets in more light), and maximum ISO speed of 400 (which is how sensitive the sensor is to light), your shutter speeds are going to be far too slow to freeze movement without a flash (probably around 1/20 to 1/30 second in that lighting).

Since the Z3's flash is relatively weak, that's not a good option with your model either, unless you can get relatively close, and it doesn't support an external flash. You may be able to come up with some kind of slave flash arrangement to get some extra range. But, you'd need to make sure it's a relatively powerful model and you may not have very good control over exposure with one.

JimC Feb 1, 2009 2:09 PM


A slave flash is designed so that it fires when it sees the camera's flash. You'll find that most larger vendors have a selection of them (just look for Slave Flashes and you'll see them). B&H has a separate section for this type:

If you decide to go that route, you'll want to make sure you get one that works with digital cameras. That's because digital cameras use a short metering preflash, just before the main flash burst. So, the slave trigger has to be smart enough to ignore the preflash and fire on the main flash burst along with your camera's flash. Keep flash recycle times in mind if you want to use a flash (as that can limit your ability to take as many shots).

JimC Feb 2, 2009 8:26 AM

JimC wrote:

Since the Z3's flash is relatively weak, that's not a good option with your model either, unless you can get relatively close, and it doesn't support an external flash.
My bad (I was mistaken). The "doesn't support an external flash" part is incorrect. The DiMAGE Z3 does have a hotshoe. So, you could use a hotshoe attached flash instead of a slave flash if desired.

Here is a page of flash models that are compatible with Minolta and Sony dSLR models (and they'll also work with your Z3). Note that older Minolta Flash models not shown on this page are *not* fully compatible with Digital Cameras (for example, they don't understand the commands for metering preflashes needed with digital and won't vary their power as needed).

Note that the Sony HVL-F36AM is the same flash as the Minolta 3600HS (D). Sony just rebranded it. The Sony HVL-56AM is the same flash as the Minolta 5600HS (D). You can use the Sony or Minolta versions of these flash models with your camera.

HDon Feb 4, 2009 4:53 PM

...I'm confused...

An external flash will help? ...or not?

JimC Feb 6, 2009 8:46 AM

Yes (it will help). That's about the only way you'll be able to freeze the action with your camera model, and your internal flash is too weak to give you properly exposed photos at anything other than very close ranges.

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