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Old Jul 16, 2010, 6:05 PM   #1
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Default My new Canon 70-300 IS USM - sports

So my new toy just arrived and I'm planning on taking it to Baltimore Ravens training camp in a couple of weeks after I practice with it quite a bit.

What advice do you guys have on shutter speed and ISO for getting the most out of my trip? I'll be there from about 9am to noon and I'll choose a really sunny day to go. I've been googling "what shutter speed for football" and stuff like that but I'm getting a mix of hits. One interesting thing I read was keep the shutter in line with the zoom. As in: at 300mm keep it at 1/300.

I have a Canon Xsi.

I have two crazy cocker spaniels and a pretty big backyard so I should be able to practice quite a bit before I head out to camp!

Any advice is appreciated! Thanks!

John

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Old Jul 16, 2010, 6:23 PM   #2
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That thing about keeping the shutter speed in line with the zoom is misleading and inappropriate.

First, the reason for doing that is so you don't get motion blur due to camera shake. That lens is stabilized, so you won't get motion blur due to camera shake.

Second, the method is to limit the exposure time so that not a lot of shaking will be going on. That relationship (exposure time = 1 / focal length) is for 35mm film and 'Full Frame' cameras. Your XSi has a smaller image sensor, so the same amount of camera shake will result in a larger amount of motion blur. In order to get the relationship correct for your XSi, you'd need to apply that @#$%& Crop Factor. So that would be exposure time = 1 / (focal length X Crop Factor). In your case, at 300mm, you'd need to keep the shutter speed at 1/480 or faster.

That is, if you didn't already have stabilization.

But for football, in fact for most sports, 1/500 is a good shutter speed. For other sports, where the only things moving are parts of the human body, you can go slower, but not by much.

And sometimes a little motion blur due to subject movement is a good thing for a photo.
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Old Jul 16, 2010, 6:33 PM   #3
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That's what I've seen via Google also: 1/500. When I tried to get that outside tonight I had to adjust the ISO to 400 or 800 to get that.

Do you think shutter priority is the way to go? Or stick with manual and keep aperture wide open at all times?

I'm just trying to collect as many opinions as possible to lessen the learning curve.

Thanks!
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Old Jul 16, 2010, 8:37 PM   #4
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OK - first, very sunny day = bad, bad, bad. Do it if you must, but cloudy is SOOO much better. Why? Because of the helmets. Helmets have deep shadows. Combine that with bright light outside and you've got a recipe for very difficult shooting - especially African American players.

1/500 isn't really fast enough - it will do if you're maxed out at top ISO but shoot for 1/1000 if you can.
Use either Aperture Priority or manual exposure (I prefer manual)
Adjust exposure so FACES in helmets are exposed properly not uniforms. Especially in bright light this could be 2 stops brighter than what the camera thinks it should use. For example in this shot - uniforms are blown but faces are exposed just the way I wanted them:


Shutter priority is the worst mode for stop action sports. We can go into why if you need to, but the only time to use shutter priority is if you want an artificially LOW shutter speed (like panning for bike or car shots).
Set aperture to f5.6. Adjust ISO until you get 1/1000 or better - stop at ISO 1600 unless you're still below 1/500 then go to 3200 (would only happen in heavy overcast conditions)
Set focus mode to AI-Servo
Set to multiple frames
Set focus point to one point - if it's 7d or above camera you can choose non-center - for all other cameras use center point only.

Keep looking at image on LCD - make sure you see the FACES and they're not underexposed or blown.

Shoot as tight as you can - resist the urge to shoot loose and crop - that leads to poor detail retention.

Try to position yourself so the sun is not behind the players you're shooting.
Choose your shots based on FACES - don't shoot players behinds

When you focus, track your subject for a second before firing - take 3-shot bursts as 1 of the 3 will likely be better than the others.

Have fun. I'm hoping to go to a Browns practice at some point next month.
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Old Jul 17, 2010, 7:36 AM   #5
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Thanks John, great tips. I really appreciate it.

A few comments. I only said "really sunny" because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get the fast shutter speeds needed with this lens. My Xsi only goes up to ISO 1600 so I don't think I can go any faster than that. I'll have to do some tests at home to see if I can get 1/1000 on a cloudy day with my setup.

It is interesting to me why no shutter priority. I'm guessing aperture priority because you are forcing the system to the highest aperture?
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Old Jul 17, 2010, 8:05 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnandscooter View Post
It is interesting to me why no shutter priority. I'm guessing aperture priority because you are forcing the system to the highest aperture?
Yeah. That.
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Old Jul 17, 2010, 8:27 AM   #7
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Yes, there are 2 problems with shutter priority:
1) you lose control of aperture. Wide apertures are important for sports photos because they blur the background and give you subject isolation. Choose a shutter speed that is too slow and the camera closes down the aperture to give you that speed.
2) you can more easily end up with underexposed images because you choose a shutter speed too high and the camera can't open up the aperture any more. So you end up with an underexposed shot.

Ideally I shoot 90% of my sports in manual exposure because the camera's metering gets fooled too easily. But, if you can't shoot manual, aperture priority is the 2nd best method - forcing the camera to use the widest aperture guarantees you will get the fastest shutter speed possible for your chosen ISO and aperture. Then all you do is adjust ISO to make sure you're over your minimum shutter speed. So if you get 1/2000 shutter speeds on some shots instead of 1/1000 that's great - no need to LIMIT shutter speeds to 1/1000.
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Old Jul 17, 2010, 11:57 AM   #8
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I'm hoping to go to a Browns practice at some point next month.
What a terrible fate! To be a sports photographer and trapped in Cleveland! Move to Massachusetts and find out what true happiness feels like...
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Old Jul 17, 2010, 1:51 PM   #9
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What a terrible fate! To be a sports photographer and trapped in Cleveland! Move to Massachusetts and find out what true happiness feels like...
Oh that fate is shared by all sports fans not just photographers
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