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Old Oct 6, 2009, 2:18 PM   #1
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Default Action focusing....

This link has a sequence of shots of a nice open field steal.

http://picasaweb.google.com/paxfish/...48278539498962

The subjects are out of focus, but the grass behind them looks great. How do you set the focus on a moving object, at variable distances?

This is a Nikon D60 70 to 200 lense at 90mm, 1/1000 ISO 180.

Thanks,

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Old Oct 6, 2009, 2:59 PM   #2
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What I would do if shooting action like this. Id anticipate where the ball would be and focus on that spot. Click the shutter when the ball gets there. Another method would be to center the meter on the player and use continuous focus. As it is now, you have the player in the middle in focus which is not what you want at all unless he is the subject for some reason.
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Old Oct 6, 2009, 2:59 PM   #3
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With your camera you want to select the center focus point only (i.e. not allow the camera to use all focus points) then you need to keep that focus point on your subject. You also need to be using the continuous focus mode of your camera (forget what Nikon calls the feature) so that the camera will track a moving subject. When doing so you cannot 'focus and recompose' so your subject needs to stay at the center of the frame.
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Old Oct 6, 2009, 3:08 PM   #4
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Thanks - so the challenge here is that the subject is really the play - the photo is one of a series of 6 in the link, and the series tries to capture what happened during the play. The players are moving toward the camera, both are equally important, and they are several feet apart.

Next time I will try to focus on one player.
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Old Oct 6, 2009, 3:35 PM   #5
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If you're a glutton for punishment, you might try manual focus. Doing that would take a great deal of practice, but ultimately, for moving targets, especially those moving toward or away from you, you'll get better results.

Dave
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Old Oct 6, 2009, 4:36 PM   #6
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On a final note from me, you might consider your depth of field. By closing down your aperture you will increase your depth of field. Then while using continuous focus on the ball or where the action is, you should be in the middle of it and all will be in focus. As you close down your aperture you lower your shutter speed so thats the tradeoff if you need 1/1000 or better to get stop action.
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Old Oct 6, 2009, 5:34 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chato View Post
If you're a glutton for punishment, you might try manual focus. Doing that would take a great deal of practice, but ultimately, for moving targets, especially those moving toward or away from you, you'll get better results.

Dave
As someone who photographs moving subjects I completely disagree with this notion. Manual focus does NOT provide better results. There is a reason sports photographers use auto-focus rather than manual - it does a better job - when used properly.

Quote:
On a final note from me, you might consider your depth of field. By closing down your aperture you will increase your depth of field. Then while using continuous focus on the ball or where the action is, you should be in the middle of it and all will be in focus.
The problem with this advice is increasing the depth-of-field means more of the background is in focus. Backgrounds are almost always ugly and distract from your subject. One of the benefits of wide apertures is they blur that annoying background so the viewer's attention is drawn to your subject.




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Old Oct 6, 2009, 7:22 PM   #8
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As someone who photographs moving subjects I completely disagree with this notion. Manual focus does NOT provide better results. There is a reason sports photographers use auto-focus rather than manual - it does a better job - when used properly.
You think so?

First, there is a tremendous difference in auto focus speeds of both high end cameras and lenses, and lower end cameras and lenses - Even then there are many professionals who prefer manual focus. Some great photographers, with their high end equipment do indeed use auto-focus - Why not? a few thousand shots a game; often many games a week - takes the edge off.

http://photo.net/sports-photography-forum/00Ca9y
http://photography-techniques.suite1...ocus_wont_work


This is by no means such a simplistic question as to have only one answer.

Dave
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Old Oct 6, 2009, 10:18 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnG View Post
The problem with this advice is increasing the depth-of-field means more of the background is in focus. Backgrounds are almost always ugly and distract from your subject. One of the benefits of wide apertures is they blur that annoying background so the viewer's attention is drawn to your subject.
I agree whole heartedly. I didnt explain it very well. I meant closing the aperture an fstop or 2 to increase the depth of field enough to cover the kids in front of and behind the ball. Whether the background is in or out of focus depends a lot on the distance you are shooting from. By the way, nice shots demonstrating how it should be done.

Last edited by Bynx; Oct 6, 2009 at 10:20 PM.
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Old Oct 7, 2009, 5:38 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chato View Post
You think so?

First, there is a tremendous difference in auto focus speeds of both high end cameras and lenses, and lower end cameras and lenses - Even then there are many professionals who prefer manual focus. Some great photographers, with their high end equipment do indeed use auto-focus - Why not? a few thousand shots a game; often many games a week - takes the edge off.

http://photo.net/sports-photography-forum/00Ca9y
http://photography-techniques.suite1...ocus_wont_work


This is by no means such a simplistic question as to have only one answer.

Dave
Like John, I've primarily been a sports shooter (until more recently where weddings have taken over).

There are a few situations like in the links you posted where sometimes AF is not the best option as it can't fully track the action or you are looking for a specific framing where again you want to set this up prior to the competitor coming into frame. Extreme sports are common ones for this. The advantage of this sort of sport/shot style is that you are often using a narrow aperture and often quite wide angle lenses so focus is not so key. Another time it can be used (examples shown in the links you posted) is in motorsport as you can pre-plan your shot prior to the subject arriving and then pan and shoot at the point of focus. I'm sure there are others but these are the ones that instantly come to mind.

With the majority of sports though MF is simply not an option as action is too random so you can't plan for the shot so you have to use AF. You will also in the majority of sports be shooting with wide apertures so possibly have only a foot or so of focus to play with and anything outside is just too soft. On modern cameras/lenses you don't have a focus screen to allow you to get accurate focus when using MF let alone trying to do so when you have something moving quickly where keeping good framing is hard enough. The OP posted football which certainly is a sport where AF is a must to successfully maintain focus as you track the action to allow a sequence shot etc.

Paxfish, I take it you are talking about the 70-200mm f2.8 in which case get that aperture open to f2.8, follow the suggestions of JohnG and you will start seeing some good improvement.

If you are looking at shooting more sports (which hopefully you are) then this thread I put together 18 months ago might help. http://forums.steves-digicams.com/sp...n-improve.html

Let us know how you get on.

Mark
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