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Old Mar 24, 2008, 10:12 AM   #1
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I have been trying to get my E500 with the stock lenses to take photo's of indoor basketball games. It seems like the only way to get them to be bright is to get blurry. To get them crisp is to be dark! My analysis (by using a different faster camera:-) is that the slow f/3.7 lens can't do it - I need a faster lens, in the f/2.0 range. What lens would help me here or(better) what settings have I missed on my E500 to get it to take indoor action shots? I tried all "scene" modes to no avail. I tried my dad's E510 also, just for kicks. I only got a good shot when I used an old Sony F707. Thanks!
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Old Mar 24, 2008, 10:41 AM   #2
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Welcome to the forums. I've moved your thread down to our Olympus dSLR Forum

That way, some of our Olympus owners can give you a better idea of lens choices available.

I don't want to disourage you. But, basketball is a very tough sport to shoot, even with the best of gear. One big issue can be Autofocus Speed, which will limit your number of keepers for rapidly moving subjects without a very fast focusing camera/lens combination with good tracking ability. Unfortunately, your model is not known to excel in this area. So, you'll need to practice a lot to improve the percentage of shots you get with better timing.

In a typical school gym, you're probably going to need an f/2 or brighter lens (smaller availabe f/stop numbers), and ISO 1600 to get a reasonable percentage of keepers wtihout motion blur. Most of our Canon shooters here use an 85mm f/1.8 USM lens for Basketball, because it's a very fast focusing lens, and has about the right range for a higher percentage of keepers shooting from the floor. In some lighting, ISO 1600 may not even be bright enough.

A zoom is usually not recommended by better sports shooters for basketball, because they're not bright enough (the brightest zoom lenses in most camera mounts only have f/2.8 available, which only lets in half the light of a lens with f/2 available). So, you usually need to go with ISO 3200 or brighter with an f/2.8 zoom for more photos without blur (and ISO 3200 is not available on your camera). Now, Olympus does make an f/2 zoom. But, it's a little pricey:

Zuiko 35-100mm f/2 at B&H for $2,199.95

Some of our Olympus owners can probably give you an idea of what lenses are available that may be suitable for indoor sports (at a much lower price). ;-- I'm not very familiar with the Olympus offerings in brighter lenses.

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Old Mar 24, 2008, 10:43 AM   #3
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Yes, you'll need an f2.0 lens to get decent basketball shots. Even then, it's going to be difficult as you'll need ISO 1600 which is quite noisy on the E500.

For best results, here's what to do:

1. Get a 2.0 lens - you'll want it 68mm or wider if shooting from baseline. I dont shoot Oly so I'm not sure what options are available. I would suggest making a post in the Oly DSLR section.

2. Set a manual White Balance - your camera manual will tell you how to do this.

3. Use manual exposure - none of the prefab modes. Set ISO to 1600, aperture to 2.0 and shutter speed to 1/400. Take some test shots during warmups. Adjust shutter speed up or down as necessary to get FACES exposed properly. Faces are what is important - not uniforms. Very often if faces are exposed properly you could have some clipped highlights in the uniform and that's OK. But judge exposure by how the faces look not the uniforms and not backgrounds. If you judge by white uniforms you could be a full stop underexposed.

4. Turn on whatever Oly calls their continuous focus mode.

5. Use only center focus point - the camera should allow you to turn off the other 2 points.

6. Focus on the faces not uniforms.

7. Invest in noise reduction software - noiseware, neatimage, noise ninja. Noise reduction in general photo editing packages isn't as good. These packages specialize in it and do a very good job. All 3 have free versions - but they have downsides (i.e. I think they reduce the file size output or some other thing to push you toward buying the package). If low light photography is a big part of what you do buying one of these packages is an extremely good and necessary investment.

There is a lot more to getting successful basketball shots but this will get you started. Check in the Oly DSLR forum for a 2.0 lens. After you have it, stop by the Sports Forum as there are a number of us who shoot basketball and we'll be glad to help you get better results.

Realize though, even with the lens, the iso perforrmance and focus performanceon that camera is going to be a real obstacle. How much of an obstacle depends on your standards and how important basketball is to your photography. Oly makes some great gear, but low light sports is probably it's weakest area - even in the flagship E3. With a better lens you can get better results than you're getting now - better than the Sony is giving you though.
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Old Mar 24, 2008, 10:51 AM   #4
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For us civilians it's going to be high ISO and live with the loss of quality. It's either a somewhat comprised image quality image or no image at all.

Those guys who shoot those awesome basketball images of guys hanging in the air for Sport Illustrated have a huge advantage over us-- the enitre arena is covered by high powered strobes up in the rafters triggered by on camera remotes. Plus, SI is paying for the high-priced glass.
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Old Mar 24, 2008, 11:04 AM   #5
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Looking through some of the primes (fixed focal length versus zoom) lenses, one you may want to consider is the Zuiko 50mm f/2.0 Macro ED Autofocus Lens for $424.95 at B&H

That would give you the same angle of view you'd have using a 100mm lens on a 35mm camera model. That's a bit shorter than most sports shooters would use. But, as long as you can get relatively close (not from the stands), you may be able to get some keepers with it.

Some of our Olympus owners can probably comment on it's suitability (sharpness wide open, focus speed, etc.).

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Old Mar 24, 2008, 11:11 AM   #6
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PJM wrote:
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For us civilians it's going to be high ISO and live with the loss of quality. It's either a somewhat comprised image quality image or no image at all.

Those guys who shoot those awesome basketball images of guys hanging in the air for Sport Illustrated have a huge advantage over us-- the enitre arena is covered by high powered strobes up in the rafters triggered by on camera remotes. Plus, SI is paying for the high-priced glass.
While it's certainly true you're not going to get SI quality images without strobes and some expensive gear, it's not a completely black and white issue. There are shades of grey here. Different things contribute to overall image quality:

1. Camera body being used (sensor being used, it's high iso performance, it's focus speed and accuracy in low light, it's predictive focus algorithms)

2. Lens being used

3. Skill of photographer

4. Available light levels.

For instance, here's a shot from a year ago with a Canon 20d (now has 2 generations of DSLR replacing it) and 85mm 1.8 lens ($360). Similar performance can be gotten out of the 400D. So the solution is about $1000. My point is not to say the OP needs to switch systems. It is just to say you can get very good results without a Sports illustrated budget. Now, if $1000 is too much money then sports shooting is going to be a very tough go. No question about that.

These were HS gyms so no exceptional lighting (ISO 1600, f2.0 or f1.8 and 1/400):









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Old Mar 24, 2008, 12:37 PM   #7
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Hi Tommy

Jim, John, PJM, thanks for all the comments in the post - was very nice reading.

Tommy, the best person to help you with your question would be Greg. He's shot both indoor basketball (Oly E1 + mid pro lenses) and also NHL Ice hockey with an E510 (kit lenses). If your happy with Oly, and if price is a limiting factor I'd get the E510 as the first step. Greg's ISO1600 shots of several NHL games with the kit lenses have been simply superb. There's a definite improvement in high ISO in the newer cam's and at the price the 510 currently is at it's pretty much a steal. Depending on how much you have left then as JimC recommended you might want to go for the 50mm F2 - that'll give you a macro, a really good portrait lens and a low light lens all in one package.

If your looking for a fast zoom lens then theres only one lens you want and that would be the 35-100F2. Its pricey but its a beautiful lens - tack sharp at F2, fast focusing, etc etc.

Cheers

Harj

:? :O

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Old Mar 24, 2008, 1:21 PM   #8
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HarjTT wrote:
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...Greg's ISO1600 shots of several NHL games with the kit lenses have been simply superb.
NHL or College games with great lighting are one thing. But, most High school gyms or church gyms won't have lighting that lets you get away with using dimmer lenses (unless you want lots of blurry photos when the players are not relatively still).

The OP didn't say what type of games. So, that will be important for lens choice.

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Old Mar 24, 2008, 1:27 PM   #9
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JimC wrote:
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NHL or College games with great lighting are one thing. But, most High school gyms or church gyms won't have lighting that lets you get away with using dimmer lenses (unless you want lots of blurry photos when the players are not relatively still).

The OP didn't say what type of games. So, that will be important for lens choice.

Absolutely important. College can be a full stop better than HS (or the same depending on the college) and pro arenas can be 2 stops better. That's a tremendous range.

For example:

Local HS gym by me: 1/400 f2.0 ISO 1600

Quicken Loans Arena (where Cavs play): 1/500 f2.8 ISO 800 (2 1/3 stops brighter)

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Old Mar 24, 2008, 1:43 PM   #10
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PLTommyO wrote:
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I have been trying to get my E500 with the stock lenses to take photo's of indoor basketball games. It seems like the only way to get them to be bright is to get blurry. To get them crisp is to be dark! My analysis (by using a different faster camera:-) is that the slow f/3.7 lens can't do it - I need a faster lens, in the f/2.0 range. What lens would help me here or(better) what settings have I missed on my E500 to get it to take indoor action shots? I tried all "scene" modes to no avail. I tried my dad's E510 also, just for kicks. I only got a good shot when I used an old Sony F707. Thanks!
Hi PLtommyO,

Harj is right, the go to guy in this forum on indoor sports photography is Greg Chappell. Here is a post complete with photos that Greg posted recently. I think it also includes some of the settings he used to achieve the results.

You mentioned in your original post that you have access to your dad's E-510. you may want to give the settings a try with the E-510. as Harj is right, the E-510 will give you better results with ISO 1600 settings.


http://forums.steves-digicams.com/fo...mp;forum_id=36

good luck

Zig
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