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Old Aug 24, 2004, 3:10 PM   #1
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I am new to the world of digital photography and have just purchased a Dimage Z2. I bought the camera to use to take pictures for our school yearbook. I am the yearbook advisor and take most of the pictures. I was really excited about the camera but have been unable to take sport and action shots without shaking the camera. I am sure I have one of the settings wrong but have no clue. Can you please explain, in very simple and plain language, how to take a good action shot - what settings do I need to use, etc... Please remember, I have no photography background and do not understand the terminology. I would be sooooo gratful for any suggestions.
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Old Aug 24, 2004, 3:47 PM   #2
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I'll try to keep it as simple as possible.

Basically, if you are seeing what appears to be motion blur, then your shutter speeds are too slow. The camera must keep the shutter open long enough for proper exposure of the image.

When you use more zoom, the effects of camera shake are more obvious (the more zoom you use, the faster the shutter speeds will need to be).

The shutter speeds the camera will be able to use will be dependent on the amount of light available.

For outdoor sports in daylight, you can probably get the shutter speeds fast enough by using Aperture Priority Mode and selecting the largest Aperture (which is represented by the smallest f/stop number). Then, the camera will be able to select the fastest shutter speeds possible. The downside of using a larger aperture that the photos will haveless depth of field (less of the image in focus as you get further away from your focus point). But, this can also help your subject stand out.

Indoors is more complex because light levels are usually not bright enough for most non-DSLR model cameras. What is bright to the human eye, is not to the camera's lens.Flash will probably be useless because of your subject ranges. It's designed to have a maximum range of 20 feet at full wide angle, dropping down to 15 feet at full zoom (because less light reaches the sensor through the lens when using zoom).

You'll need to increase the ISO Speed setting in the camera (which increases it's sensitivity to light by amplifying the signal from the image sensor more). Each time you double the ISO speed, the camera can use shutter speeds twice as fast. Chances are, in most indoor lighting (typical Gym lighting), you'll need to set the ISO speed to 400 to have any chance of gettingphotos without excessive motion blur when using much zoom.

Depending on lighting indoors, even with ISO 400, you may have ahigh percentage ofphotos with motion blur with your model.So, you'll want to take lots of photos to increase the number of "keepers".Increasing ISO speed will also add a lot of noise to the image with your camera (similiar to film grain, only worse).

You can get tools to reduce noise. Here are a few:

Noise Ninja: http://www.picturecode.com

Neat Image: http://www.neatimage.com

Noiseware: http://www.imagenomic.com (note that this one is free, but it does strip the EXIF from the image header, which contains information about the camera settings used for the photo).

It would help for you to post some photos so we can see exactly what you are talking about (just to see the camera settings used, and confirm that it's motion bur). They will need to be unmodified images, directly from the camera (otherwise, the EXIF header in the images will be stripped out by most editors). The EXIF contains information about the camera settings used and is embedded into the image files by the camera. Then, we could see the settings used and make more informed recommendations for the lighting conditions you were taking photos in.

One good place to post them is http://www.pbase.com (you can open a free trial account that will have enough space for a few photos). Make sure you don't try to add them as attachments in the forum posts (because the forum software will strip out the EXIF). Instead, just post a link to thephotos after they are uploaded to a web site.
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Old Aug 24, 2004, 4:07 PM   #3
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Jim beat me to this but since I did type it in I'll post it anyway. You might find some other information of value ...

The magic rule is to keep the shutter speed at 1/(focal length). When zoomed in you will need to shoot at 1/380 sec or faster. If you cannot get to these speeds you will need to either use a tripod/monopod or MOVE THE CAMERA. The last option may seem a little strange but if you move the camera and track the subject and keep moving the camera you will get less jitters in the picture than if you try and hold the camera perfectly still (it's how our muscles work).

Don't zoom in all the way if you are not at the magic speed, the yearbook pictures are not going to be taking up the full page so you can get away with a little wider shot and then cropping it later.

Right before youclick the shutter take a breath and hold it.

If you are talking about outdoor sports then what you will want to do is set the speed of the camera so that it can do the fastest shutter speed available. You should be able to do this with the default settings of the camera. Try for 1/250sec or faster shutter speeds. The easiest way to do this is to use the more advanced settings (use shutter priority) or use the sports mode on the camera.

Go through the manual and look at the ASA settings try ASA 100 first and then go to ASA 200 if you absolutely must.

Indoor sports are another matter, the lights will be lower than in sunlight so you will need to compensate. Try some pictures at ASA400 and use Neat Image to clean up the grain. Of course the best way is to use a flash. You will need to get something more powerful than the built in flash for a sporting event.


Practice makes perfect. Get another member of the staff to go out to the football field and do some running. Try various shots to get some practice in. Do the same thing for indoor sports. Practice tracking with cars on the street.

Good luck..
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Old Aug 24, 2004, 4:37 PM   #4
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Just so there is no confusion, theASA settings that CastleDudereferred to are the same thing as ISO settings.

Your camera will show them as ISO (which stands for International Standards Organization). The old rating system was ASA (American Standards Organization).

These rating systems were established for determinig the senstivity of film to light. That's why you'll see different speeds of film in a store (with the higher ASA or ISO speeds being recomended for sports or low light). Digital Cameras use the same ratings, only the settings are electronic (increasing theimage sensor's sensitivityto light when you use higher ISO speed settings).

Looking through the review on your model, it does appear to have a Sports Scene mode (as suggested by CastleDude). Using this mode is usually like using Aperture Priority and selecting a larger aperture (smaller f/stop number). This is probably your best bet (using the Sports scene mode), since the camera can then select the fastest shutter speeds possible for the lighting conditions.

Using Shutter Priority can be more tricky (because if you pick a shutter speed that is too fast for the lighting conditions, your subject can be underexposed because the camera may not be able to select a large enough aperture to compensate).

You will want to monitor the shutter speeds the camera is selecting, and increase ISO Speed if they are not fast enough (using the 1/focal length rule mentioned).

This is only a rule of thumb. By practicing, and using the techniques suggested by CastleDude, most users can get by using slower shutter speeds. Of course, you'll still need relatively fast shutter speeds to freeze subject movement; so you'll need to practice (and take lots of photos to increase your number of "keepers".

Most cameras will display the shutter speeds being selected when you "half press" the shutter button. According to the review of the Z2 here, you can also see them with your model by pressing the up key when in playback mode. Only increase ISO speedas much asnecessary (because it will add noise to your image as it is increased). For indoor sports, I'm afraid you won't have much choice (you'll probably need to set it to ISO 400, which is it's maximum ISO speed).
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Old Aug 24, 2004, 7:25 PM   #5
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Use the 'sports' mode on the dial - if you are a beginner anything else is goinfg to confuse you
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Old Aug 24, 2004, 10:35 PM   #6
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Thanks to you all for your responses and suggestions. It all sounds like really good advice. I am printing your responses out and trying it them out tomorrow. I'm excited to see if I can do it - its really a lot of fun. I'll let you know how they turn out. Thanks again!!!!!!!
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