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Old Apr 4, 2007, 6:09 PM   #1
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I need some help for setting up my D80. I went to a supercross the other day and took some shots in the stadium that came out absolutly horriable. Made me a little upset about spending $1300 on this camera. I'm sure its something I'm doing. I bought the Nikon D80 with the 18-135 lens package. I tried the camera in the auto mode and the sport mode. It did take good shots when the subjects were not moving but in the sports mode (for moving subjects) the pictures came out like crap. If someone can help me with setting up one of the modes so I can get some great shots of these races I would be very greatful. (So would my husband since he races them all summer.)

I need to also find a book out there that will help me better to understand all this. Any suggestions??

Thank you very much for any help.
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Old Apr 5, 2007, 12:17 PM   #2
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As far as books go, sorry, I can't help you. Based on your question, any general photography book should help you learn about shutter speed, aperture, depth of field concepts, etc. etc.. Also, feel free to search this forum for a key word, like shutter speed and aperture (sp?). There's PLENTY of info here, as well as the entire web.

Your D80 CAN take wonderful pictures, not just the blurry one's your're currently experiencing (Good news after plopping down $1300, huh?). You just need a little tweeking. You're on the right track with the sports mode. I use that taking shots of the kids skate boarding, wake boarding, etc. etc and it works extremely well.

The one thing you need when you shoot fast moving objects is a fast shutter speed to freeze the subject. To get a fast shutter speed, you either need more light (Probably not an option in your situation), a faster lens (More money to spend), or a faster ISO speed (Bingo!). The last one is adjustable within your camera, so hopefully a change to that will allow you to get a faster shutter speed to freeze the action.

I'm at work, so I can't provide the EXACT way to set your ISO higher, but here goes. Set your D80 to Sports mode using the dial on the left. Next, press the Menu button, and scroll around to find the ISO menu option. It's probably set to Auto. You'll need to bump that up to 400, and then press the Ok button. Test that, and see if that helps. If not, try adjusting it to 800, but that's about as high as I would go. Increasing the ISO above 800 (Heck, even 400) will result in pictures that contain "noise", and your pictures will look grainy.

I'll update this post when I get home, and give you the exact menu selections.
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Old Apr 5, 2007, 2:56 PM   #3
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I have never shot Supercoss events but I do shot alot of R/C racing events and the techniques should be about the same. You also didn't say if the even was inside with stadium lights or outside during the day. That makes a huge difference. Besides the ISO boost already mentioned ( I use 800-1600 and live with the noise ) you can try the "S"hutter priority mode. keep that shutter speed up over your true focal length and then I use twice that speed. Never below 1/250. I find I have still have control of the aperture for DOF control.

The second half of the process is to follow the action. Pick up the target, a motorbike in your case, and follow it until you get to the spot you want the photo. Press the shutter at the spot you want the picture and keep following the target through the shot. This will reduce the blur of the target and will give a blur to the background to givea sense of speed and reduce distraction. The last part is to pre-focus at the distance you will take the picture and leave it in manual focus at that setting so the camera does not have to focus than snap the photo. I have used my SB600 in the FP mode to add light and it worked well. The sync speed of the internal flash is to slow on the D80 for this.

These are difficult pictures to take with any camera. Practice will get your timing perfect and will yield the best results. I take the same picture at the same spot on the track every lap and get about half right and about 1 in 10 great. So hopefully is at least a ten lap event. Good luck.

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Old Apr 9, 2007, 3:35 PM   #4
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Supercross is shot indoors, often in less than ideal lighting conditions because of the large venues. Add to it the speed of the action and you have a recipe for a difficult shoot. Next time youre at an event look to see what the guyson the ground are using. You'll see super long and lenses that can cost 10's of thouands of dollars. Your camera is more than capable of getting great shots, but chances are that your lenses are not. Depending on the venue, Ive shot at ISOs of 400-1600, at shutterspeeds of 1/320-1/100 and all at an aperaturearound f1.4. When I shoot at 1600 I do get noise, a little if the exposure is correct...a whole bunch if my exposure is off. A noise reduction program like Noise Ninja or Noiseware will clean that up. As mentioned your first order of business is to learn photography 101. Learn how aperature, shutter speed WB and ISO work in relation to each other and understand it. Its the most fundamental property of photography. Give a Pro a 200.00 P&S and he'll take better pictures than a newcomer using a 6000.00 Canon-if that newcomer doesnt have the knowlege. Shooting outdoor MX will be a whole lot easier for you. Usually sport mode will suffice, but by that time you will have "mastered" the necessary skills and youll find yourself shooting in Shutter mode or Aperature mode. Post some of the pics you took and it willgive everyone a better chance to see what actually happened and where the problem lies. Good luck and dont get discouraged.
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