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Old Mar 9, 2011, 10:12 AM   #1
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Default Nikon d5000 70-300 mm vr lens

Hi, I just bought this camera 2 months ago and am learning. I mainly shoot my sons hockey and my daughters swimming events. I used auto plus P program mode however in p mode my hockey action pictures were blurry. I usually have to adjust lighting due to arena lights. Any suggestions as to what settings to use for good moving arena pictures? thx
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Old Mar 9, 2011, 11:26 AM   #2
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Welcome to Steve's!

Unfortunately, low light sports is one of the most difficult types of photography and one of the most demanding on gear. You're really going to struggle trying to use that lens for indoor swimming or hockey. It just doesn't have a wide enough aperture to get appropriate shutter speeds. And, with that lens you're also going to struggle with focus because the narrow aperture doesn't let enough light in for fast focusing in low light.

Ideally you're going to need an f2.8 lens to be able to shoot those sports. Something like a 70-200 2.8.

Once you have an appropriate lens, there are some common settings between both sports:
  • Set exposure mode to Manual
  • Set custom WB - for this you need a white piece of paper or white card / gray card. You simply take a photo of that card under the lighting conditions and then your manual will tell you how to use that shot to set a custom WB.
  • Set ISO to 3200 (6400 with your current lens), aperture to f2.8 (f5.6 with your current lens) and shutter to 1/400 (1/200 with your current lens)
  • take some 'test shots' of people in the pool/on the ice as tight as you can on the face. You will need to adjust your exposure until faces are correct. Do NOT worry about water, ice, etc. You want the faces looking correct.
  • Set focus mode to proper focus mode - I'm a Canon guy, so I'm not familiar with Nikon. I'm going to suggest you contact rjseeney - one of our NIkon shooters who shoots sports and is familiar with the lower end Nikon models. He can probably give the best advice as to which focus mode and which focus-point setup to select
  • Set to burst mode (vs. single shot)
Again, you're not going to have much luck until you get an appropriate lens. You really don't want shutter speeds below 1/400 and unfortunately that will be difficult with that lens. Even if you enable the ISO 6400 (your manual will tell you how) you will probably still only get shutter speeds around 1/200 - 1/250.
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Old Mar 9, 2011, 12:31 PM   #3
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Is manual mode better than shutter priority mode for these pictures? Unfortunately the 70-300 mm lens is all I have for the next while. Is burst mode the same as continuous? I sent a message to rjseeney, is that the correct way to contact or is there a forum I should post it to/
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Old Mar 9, 2011, 12:50 PM   #4
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shutter priority at first sounds like it's a good idea - after all, that should guarantee you the fastest shutter speeds - right?

In reality, shutter priority is usually only used by sports photographers when conditions don't allow manual exposure and they want to intentionally use a SLOW shutter speed to show motion blur (most often when panning with a moving car, bike, cycle). For stop-action sports photography, manual is the preferred method followed by aperture priority.

Why is manual preferred? The reason is any time you let the camera choose an exposure it's possible the camera will get it wrong. In the case of hockey, the amount of ice in the frame will skew the exposure. Additionally, uniform colors will skew the exposure. When shooting a spot with faces visible, having the faces exposed properly is the most important thing. If you take shots of two players - one in a white jersey and one in a black, the camera can meter those two players very differently. But, the "correct" exposure really doesn't change.

Lighting indoors is usually poor but it's mostly consistent. So once you know the proper exposure for faces you lock that down (which also means for Nikon switching off auto-ISO - forgot to mention that).

The only time you don't want to use manual exposure is when lighting is constantly changing - usually outdoors when sun is moving in and out of clouds. Or if for example the pool you are shooting in has skylights and there are 'squares' of light on the water and swimmers are going in and out of those bright areas.

Now, if you can't use manual, why choose Aperture priority over shutter priority?
A couple reasons:
1) in sports you almost always want wide apertures so your subject is in focus but the background isn't. When you shoot in shutter priority if you choose a shutter speed that is too slow, the camera will close down the aperture and you'll have more of the background in focus.
2) if you select a shutter speed that is too high you can get underexposed shots because of the limitation of aperture in the lens.

So if you have to let the camera determine exposure, aperture priority is the safer method for stop-action sports shooting.
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Old Mar 9, 2011, 2:12 PM   #5
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The reason your Auto pics are good is because the camera is raising the ISO automatically. The Sports Scene Mode on your Mode dial already knows what to do, so you should continue to use it. You’re not going to do much better on your own in terms of blur. All you’re going to do is to set the camera to what the Sport Mode is already setting.

For sports you want a fast shutter speed. The only way to speed up your shutter under stadium lights is to increase ISO. Auto ISO works well for this function. Read page 149 of your D5000 manual to see how to set this feature. Set your Auto ISO to 3200 (make sure you enable noise reduction.) Your Auto ISO minimum shutter speed doesn’t matter for sports shooting because you’ll be in manual mode.

Set your zoom to 70mm and set your mode dial to M. Set your aperture to your max (f/4.5) and set your shutter speed to 1/200 to start. See pages 84-85 of the D5000 manual on how to set shutter and aperture.

At this point you have control of the shutter (and aperture but forget about that for now.) You can change the shutter speed and the camera will adjust ISO to provide proper exposure. Also, the camera will change the max aperture as you zoom in and out. All that’s left is for you to try different shutter speeds to see what works well with the current action and lighting.

Even though you’re using Manual mode, you’re still using automatic exposure because of the Auto ISO function. Make sure you’re using Matrix metering...that works best with auto exposure.
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Old Mar 9, 2011, 3:21 PM   #6
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You are being very helpful, thankyou.
I will use manual for these sport shots.
Going thru my settings this is what I will start with- let me know if I should change anything to start with. I know I will have to adjust as I start taking pictures.
MANUAL MODE
image quality - should I use raw or jpeg normal?
Image size - medium
White Balance - I will custom set after I take picture of ice surface
ISO - 3200
Release mode - continuous
Focus Mode - should I choose AF-C or manual?
AF Area Mode - is Dynamic the right choice?
Metering - should I be choosing spot?
Active D Lighting - Auto
Bracketing increment - should this be off or on?
ISO sensitivity - off and then set but what do you recommend to start at for adjusting?
Shutter speed -1/400
Apperture - f2.8
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Old Mar 9, 2011, 3:38 PM   #7
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If you disable auto-ISO (as you should) for this purpose, the metering mode doesn't matter. I presume AF-C is the continuous focus mode so that is correct (you certainly don't want to manually focus). The AF Area mode - again I defer to a nikon sports shooter here - so hopefully you'll hear from rjseeney (or another nikon sports shooter).
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Old Mar 9, 2011, 3:45 PM   #8
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Oh, i forgot:

your lens isn't capable of f2.8 so you won't be able to set it to that value. As graystar mentioned you could set it to f4.5 but since your lens doesn't have a constant aperture as you zoom, that's going to cause problems with your exposure settings as you zoom. I would set it to f5.6 so you have a constant exposure as you zoom in/out.

Also, ISO 3200 won't be high enough ISO at f4.5 or f5.6 to get 1/200. You need to enable ISO 6400 and set your iso to that value.
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Old Mar 9, 2011, 8:33 PM   #9
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I just caught this thread, and I'll try to add what I can (Thanks for the endorsement John!!)

Johns advice is spot on. As far as Nikon specific...I usually shoot sports with a D300 but do own the D5k. I would set it up like this:

1. Focus should be set to Dynamic area, AF-C...this allow the camera to track the subject if it briefly leaves the focus point.
2. Shutter release to continous.
3. With that lens (which I own) your going to have a tough time indoors. I never use that lens indoors...I shoot indoor sports with a Sigma 50-150 f2.8. You will likely have to shoot at an iso of 6400, which the D5k can do reasonably well. Shoot Aperture priority (A) and hope to get a shutter speed of 1/500 or better...otherwise you may have to shoot at peaks of action (the peak of a jump for example) which doesn't happen much in hockey or swimming,
4. You can use a custom white balance, especially if you are going to shoot JPEG
5. You definitely want to make sure the faces are exposed properly, but the ice can cause exposure issues, so if they are constantly coming out dark, I would dial in some + exposure compensation, which I normally do in almost every shooting situation (my nikons tend to underexpose), usually about 2/3 a stop. I use centerweighted metering....matrix is a little inconsistent in poor light, and spot is too hard for me to use shooting action.
6. I turn d lighting down to low...it speeds the camera up and helps preserve detail.
7. No need to bracket...keep it off
8. I always shoot sports at JPEG, fine. Memory is cheap, you might as well shoot at the best quality.

Shooting indoors isn't easy...I've never shot hockey or swimming (I shoot volleyball and basketball and outdoor sports). The good news is shooting a lot is free. Practice, and shoot as much as possible and you will improve.
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Old Mar 10, 2011, 8:19 AM   #10
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Thanks for your help! I will try this at the next hockey game. One more question, you recommend Aperture priority over manual for hockey games?
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