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Old Nov 30, 2008, 1:20 AM   #1
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Hi- I hate to admit this- but I am just a normal mom who wanted to buy a cool camera to take pictures of her kids; thus,about 3 years ago we bought a D50. We figured we would eventually learn how to use it but I think we have only gotten worse. My sons play hockey, where the lighting is horrible, the glass is in the way, and the kids are fast. The camera used to rapid fire (when we pressed the button down it would take a lot of pics) but now it only will do that on the "sports" setting and then it doesn't use the flash and all of the pics are blurry. Can anyone tell me what settings would be best and how I get it to start taking numerous pictures again without refocusing over and over and pressing the button a million times? (Honestly, I probably should have just taken a lesson when I first got it- but never did and am totally regretting it.) I still have the manual but it is way over my head. I consider myself to be a fairly technical person, but this camera lingois new to me.
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Old Nov 30, 2008, 4:23 AM   #2
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There are two settings you should use for shooting your son's hockey.

The 'Shooting Mode' is what determines whether or not the camera takes a single shot per press of the shutter button, or it takes shots continuously until you release the shutter button. The D50 User's Manual, page 21 describes the procedure for changing the shooting mode. But remember that, while using continuous, or burst mode, the flash will not operate. The flash takes longer to recharge than the camera takes to take subsequent shots, that the flash would be mostly useless.

You should also use the Continuous AF mode (AF-C). The procedure for setting the Autofocus mode is on page 87-88 of the manual.

To suppliment these settings, because of the poor lighting, I think you should use the Aperture-Priority (A) Mode and use the largest apertureyou can.

Shooting anything in poor light is tough; shooting action in poor light requires a lot of effort and special equipment. There are three settings that affect exposure:Shutter Speed, ISO Setting, and Aperture. For hockey, you want to use a shutter speed fast enough to capture the action; something like 1/250 should be fast enough for most shots. Since there isn't much light, you should use the highest ISO Setting you can without getting a significant amount of image noise; 400 should be good, but you may want ot experiment with 800 or even 1600. In order to get good exposure with a fast shutter speed and an ISO of 400 in a poorly lit hockey rink, you need to use the largest aperture you can; f/2.8 would be the smallest aperture you should use. A lens like the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 Di LD (~$700), Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG Macro HSM II (~$800) or the Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8D ED AF (~$900) would be good choices.

There is also a good chance that at least some of the motion blur you're seeing is a result of camera shake. You might consider using a monopod (once you've gotan appropriatelens), or you can use an image stabilized lens like the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G AF-S VR Zoom (~$1,600)
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Old Nov 30, 2008, 12:19 PM   #3
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All of TC's advice is good. In addition, you'll need to dial in some exposure compensation, of up to +1.0. The camera will tend to underexpose the players because of the bright white ice. This is done by holding the +/- button and spinning the rear control dial to the left.

The D50 is not terribly fast (a little over 2 frames per second), so you'll need to get good at timing your shots. Hockey moves fast (I'm sure you already know that), so you'll have to anticipate where the action is heading, rather than trying to follow along. Try to prefocus in an area and snap the shot when the players arrive. This will help minimize camera shake.
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Old Nov 30, 2008, 2:21 PM   #4
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rjseeney's has given some good advice. I like the idea about exposure compensation, but I caution you that his suggestion about prefocusing uses manual focus. You'll need to keep the aperture at f/2.8, and at 100 feet and a focal length of 200mm, you only have a depth of field of a little over 8 feet. For a single player, that's not too bad, but for multiple players, your guess better be good. Of course, at longer distances the depth of field increases significantly, but then a 200mm focal length might not be enough, and with a 6MP image sensor, there isn't a lot of cropping you can do.
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Old Nov 30, 2008, 4:19 PM   #5
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Pre-focusing isn't a bad option, given the D50's AF mechanism isn't all that robust to begin with (I've shot sports with a D50). There is a chance the AF might not keep up with a fast moving player, and coupling that with panning the camera, there is a good chance you have a lot of unfocused/blurry shots. Prefocusing will work well with action around the net, not so well in the middle of the ice, where it's hard to predict where things are going.

Regardless, it's going to take some work and practice to get consistently good results with the setup that the poster has. It's worth trying any available options.
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Old Nov 30, 2008, 9:29 PM   #6
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Good advice from everyone. I would only add that you may as well forget about using flash anyway, given that you are behind glass. The reflections, even if you are right up against the glass, will wash out what you are trying to shoot. A polarizer will help with reflections, but of course you lose light.

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Old Feb 16, 2009, 12:50 AM   #7
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TCav, RJ and Brian- thank you so much for your time and help. I am anxious to try your suggestions. I took my camera into Best Buy (I really regret buying it from them but we got a good deal) because I keep getting ERR codes and they are going to try and fix it. Hopefully I will have it back soon and I can shoot some great pictures!
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