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adilj Jan 16, 2008 4:19 PM

hello everyone

well my problem is simple and i think you guys will solve it in no time

ok, i have fuji f30, bought it due to its manual controls. ok my concern is outdoor low light sports photography. i wish to capture the action with or without flash. i require helpwith the shutter speed, iso and aperture because these are the things i can set while in manual mode.

help greatly appreciated.

JohnG Jan 16, 2008 5:14 PM

I'll do my best to help you out here. But realize that low light sports is extremely difficult and you've got some challenges ahead of you trying to accomplish the feat with a digicam (vs. DSLR).

Still, I can help you try to pull the most out of the equipment you do have.

First, what sports are you talking about shooting?

The F30 has a 3x zoom lens (108mm) which is not very long. Ideally you'll want to be within 20 feet of your subject when taking the photo. Depending on the sport in question that could be difficult or impossible.

I'll speak in general terms about camera settings. While I have a lot of sports shooting experience I don't have a fuji camera so some of the terms I use might be slightly different and I can't tell you how to adjust the settings on your camera (the manual will tell you that):

If it's truly night time, I'll suggest you try shooting in aperture priority mode to start. Set ISO to 1600 and aperture (f-stop) to the widest value (lowest f-stop - which should be 2.8 I believe). Zoom in all the way. Take some test shots and review them . Do the faces look exposed properly or are they in shadow? if they're still a bit dark, use positive exposure compensation until the FACES look good. Don't worry about clothes or anything else - just look at faces.

Now that you've got that down, what are your shutter speeds like? If you're getting below 1/320 then bump your ISO up to 3200.

Make sure the camera has it's continuous focus mode turned on.

When taking an actual shot you want your subject filling at least 3/4 of the portrait orientation frame or the entire landscape orientation frame. Do NOT count on cropping the photo on the computer - you'll have too much noise to do that effectively.

You'll also need to get some noise reduction software - noiseware, neatimage and noise ninja all have free downloads (I use noiseware so I can definitely recommend that product).

The two most important things are:

1. GET THE EXPOSURE CORRECT IN CAMERA - don't think you can adjust the image to make it brighter on the computer. You'll have way too much noise to do that.

2. Fill the frame with your subject - unfortunately that means you'll have to be within about 15-20 feet of your subject.

If you let me know which sports you are planning on shooting I can give you some additional advice.

adilj Jan 18, 2008 1:56 PM

First of all thanks alot for the reply. Really appreciate it. And yes I know that compared to dslr I have a tough challenge. Anyway should never give up.

Ok the sport is cricket. Hope you know it. Similar to baseball. And yes it is truly night time outdoor but still we have alot of pole lighting or we wont be able to see the ball.

Ok I will first tell you what I did prior to reading your reply.

Took pictures with shutter priority 1/1000 f2.8 iso 200 no flash = Completely black

1/60 f2.8 iso 800 flash on = areas lit where flash fell

1/100 f5 iso 1600 flashyes = dark but better image

1/-1.5 f5 iso 200 flash no = image i wish but all blurred

Coming back to your suggestions, I really appreciate them and I will let you know as soon as I use them. And yes, I think i have to still abit more closer but really cant because the ball might hit you and you can end up in a clinic :)

And can you recommend me a site or someone from where these manual settings can be learnt in detail.

The flash usage I forgot to ask you because when I use flash, only the area the flash falls is lit up and without flash, the results are brighter but image gets blurry. Isnt there a way to shot sports without flash and without blurring because i thought the shutter speed helps prevent shaking.

And yes, the dpi shown on the image properties depend on the camera? I hope.

Thanks again. Take care.

JohnG Jan 18, 2008 2:24 PM

Your camera has a flash that is designed with a 10 foot reach. Something tells me you're not standing 10 feet from the batsman. So, I wouldn't rely on it. The best you can do is turn flash off, set ISO to 1600, shoot aperture priority and set aperture to f2.8. That's the only way you'll get a decent exposure past 10 feet. Nothing you can do about the fact the camera doesn't have enough reach. So you'll still end up with low quality shots because the subject is too small in the frame. but you can't really improve upon that with your current equipment.

Good luck.

adilj Jan 19, 2008 9:55 AM

Thanks for the update.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"Yes, I am more than 10 feet away from the batsman. And I hoped that someday I would hear that my equipment is not upto the standards. So, as you yourself are a professional sports photographer, can you recommend me a new equipment. I want to shift from point n shoot to a dslr, so tell me is it a good step, and if its yes, then please help me out with it. My knowledge is not good about dslrs so any type of help will be appreciated. My main concerns will be sports, landscape, outdoor night, and anything else it can cover. Thanks for your help.

JohnG Jan 19, 2008 10:21 AM

Any DSLR will be an improvement. But, if sports shooting is going to be a big part of what you want to do, then Canon and Nikon are the systems you want to buy into. They control 99% of the pro sports shooting market. They have the best camera bodies for sports shooters (although other manufacturers are making stridesit's still too early to say if the newest bodies from Oly, Pentax and Sony can realistically compete with the Nikon & Canon bodies - there just aren't enough quality sports shooters using them yet to know the answer). And they have the best variety of lenses for sports or anything else.

Now, the problem is: Canon & Nikon costs a little bit more.

In the Canon camp, I would advise the XTi (400D) as the entry level camera to choose. Skip over the XT (350D) as the XTi has a better focus system in addition to other features. The 40d is a definite step up but quite a bit more money.

In the Nikon camp you definitely want to skip the D40/D40x for sports work. They stripped down the focus system so it's a bad fit for the sports shooter. That leaves the D80 and D300. The D80 is a very capable camera. Not as good as Canon's 40D but probably better than the 400D. Now, the D300 is probably the best non-pro body on the market. But it's very expensive.

Since you're not in the USA, you'll have to check your own country for prices on these bodies.

But, I have to warn you, the body is just the beginning. You need the proper lenses to shoot sports successfully. Those lenses can get very expensive.

I'm going to talk in terms of the Canon system since that's what I'm most familiar with. But the story will be similar for Nikon.

Let's take Cricket. You're going to want some reach. The least expensive lens I would recommend is the Canon 70-300 IS USM. This lens costs $560 USD here so it's fairly expensive. But you also have to know that the lens won't be useful for night matches. For THAT, the least expensive option is the Sigma 70-200 2.8 lens (currently sells for $870 USD). That 200mm lens is only going to give you quality shots out to 25 meters. Beyond that quality takes a steep dive. The 300mm lens will work out to 40 meters - but as mentioned won't be very useful at night time.

To get more reach AND be able to shoot at night you would have to step up to the Sigma 120-300 2.8 ($2700 USD).

So you can see, it costs a LOT of money to be able to shoot night time sports. There are no inexpensive options - the Sigma 70-200 2.8 is as inexpensive as it gets.

Now, if you were just shooting during the day time, the next step up from the Canon 70-300 is the Sigma 100-300 f4 lens. That's a fantastic daytime field sport lens. But it sellls for $1000 USD (and still only good for 40 meters).

And, of course, many of these lenses are no good if you want to shoot indoor sports below the professional level. For that, you would need a completely different set of lenses.

Having said all this - even if you have a good body and a good lens, getting quality sports shots is not a point-and-shoot thing. There are definitely some things you need to learn about how to use the gear properly for a given sport. You're not going to set the camera in 'sports mode' (all the entry level DSLRs have a sports mode) and get good shots. There's more to learn. You have to be in the right places (i.e. you can't shoot from the stands) and you have to learn how to post process your images correctly.

Now, it sounds like a lot of work and it is - but it's a lot of fun too. You just need to be aware that there is a learning curve - sports shooting is one of the most difficult styles of shooting because it takes such expensive equipment and because it has certain techniques and because it is not staged - you don't have time to re-do the shot if you get it wrong.

So, you ask if it's a good step to switch to DSLR. The answer is - IT DEPENDS

If you want quality sports shots, especially in low light then a DSLR is essential. But not just any DSLR / Lens will do. You have to be willing and able to spend the money and you have to be willing and able to learn the techniqes and post processing and you have to have access to the fields / courts where the action is occuring. If all those things are true for you then yes it's worthwhile. If it's not true then you can end up spending a lot of money and still get very poor shots.

I can give you more information if you've got specific questions. But after you digest all this you have to decide how important it is for you to get quality sports shots. For most people it just isn't cost justified to do so.

Trojansoc Jan 20, 2008 8:19 AM

JohnG wrote:

Any DSLR will be an improvement. But, if sports shooting is going to be a big part of what you want to do, then Canon and Nikon are the systems you want to buy into. They control 99% of the pro sports shooting market. They have the best camera bodies for sports shooters (although other manufacturers are making stridesit's still too early to say if the newest bodies from Oly, Pentax and Sony can realistically compete with the Nikon & Canon bodies - there just aren't enough quality sports shooters using them yet to know the answer). And they have the best variety of lenses for sports or anything else.

John is giving you some solid advice. I am a Pentax shooter, and he and I have talked on many occasions about the frustration of finding quality sports glass for the Pentax system. For instance, until the last couple of weeks, it has been impossible to find a 70-200 f2.8 for the Pentax system. Sigma and Pentax had both made them at one time, but discontinued them, so what used lenses showed up in the marketplace were going at 300-500 usd ( 1200-2100 usd) over the original price. Fortunately, Tamron this week began marketingone at 700 usd (mine is on order, John). Pentax has already introduced some good low, light shorter lenses, and is expected to also announce a new 60-250mm f4 constant aperture zoom.

I love the Pentax K10d & K100d bodies, but they have limitations for sports shooting. For instance, the ceiling on ISO on the K10d, the flagship camera, is ISO 1600. For nightime sports shooting that just isn't high enough. The burst rate is also somewhat lower than Canon/Nikon. Pentax is coming out with a new generation of DSLR's this week, and it's expected some of these issues will be addressed.

I don't regret my purchase of a Pentax K10d by any means. For nature, portraiture, etc., it's a wonderful camera. The only place where it lacks is low-light sports photography. I've got too much invested in the Pentax system to switch, but were I starting anew, and I knew sports photography was going to be a premium priority, I would look hard at the Canon/Nikon systems.

I think Pentax is going to get there, but there is no question that Canon/Nikon are the leaders at this point.

adilj Jan 20, 2008 2:01 PM

Well that was an EXPLOSIVE reply. Really thanks for it and truly speaking, all my questions have been answered. Nothing more to ask regarding the DSLRz and I think you are right, it depends on me for whether to switch or no. So lets see what I make my mind. But until then, really thanks for the advice. And yes, Im still learning to photograph better and better everyday. And I will surely advice my friends to play cricket in the day :) And one more thing, regarding the aperture, ISO and shutter, can you give me some good values while shooting sunsets, landscapes, people on the move etc. Thanks once again.

adilj Jan 20, 2008 2:13 PM

Thanks for the reply Trojan. I sure will keep your advice in mind. Cheers.

adilj Feb 2, 2008 8:12 AM

Hello there. Im back with some questions. Ok, my first concern is that do we have to buy bodies and lens separate. I mean cant there be dslr's with enough zoom. Like Sony H-9, it has around 12x zoom and takes great pictures.

Second thing is, even if I go with Canon 400d, the lens I'm getting is ef-s18-55mm, f/3.5-5.6. I mean to say my fuji has better than this. Please comment on this.

And please can anyone tell me the price you have it in your country.

Looking forward. Thanks.

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