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Old Jan 12, 2008, 12:35 PM   #1
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Last night I finaly had a chance to use my 100 f2 at our local gym. I was not expecting it to be so diffucult capturing some quality shots but.

Slow autofocus made things very difficult. I was only able to take about 50 shots and only 1 was barely exceptable.

It seems that while I had good shutter speeds (1/500-f2-ISO 800) the camera would not lock onto the constantly moving subject therefore although I would be pushing down on the shutter button it would not take the shot until after the moment. Like a P&S camera.

This instantly became frustrating. I went from continuous Af to single shot AF to manual focus without much luck. Also using center weighted metering.

These kids move fast, there close to each other and arms and legs are going everywhere. So I can understand how focusing is very difficult especially with a narrow DOF.

Maybe ISO 1600 @ f2.8 would have worked better? Larger DOF, or it could work against me with more choices to focus on.

Anyone else use this combo with any luck?

I know the A700 andrumor has it that the new A200 focuses 1.7 times faster then the 5D. I don't think even that will be fast enough.

It seems like the best shots you see with indoor sports are mostly taken with Canons. Is there AF systems/lensesthat much faster then KM, Sony?

Thanks

Mike

Minolta 100mm f2 @ f2--1/500--ISO 800--center weight metering--spot AF



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Old Jan 12, 2008, 1:13 PM   #2
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The only time I've been to a basketball in over 30 years was when my brother-in-law asked me to tag along to some kids games last February that his grandkids (my great nieces and nephews) were playing in. So, I'm not very skilled at that kind of thing (and from reading through the posts in the Sports and Action forum here, it takes a bit of practice to get good at it).

I used a Maxxum 5D with both a Minolta 100mm f/2 and 135mm f/2.8 for the shots I took at the games. Here are a few with the 100mm f/2.

Maxxum 5D, 100mm f/2, ISO 1600, f/2.2, 1/500 second:



Maxxum 5D, Minolta 100mm f/2, ISO 1600, f/2.5, 1/400 second:


Maxxum 5D, Minolta 100mm f/2, ISO 1600, f/2.2, 1/500 second:


Maxxum 5D, Minolta 100mm f/2, ISO 1600, f/2.2, 1/500 second:


Maxxum 5D, Minolta 100mm f/2, ISO 1600, f/2.2, 1/500 second:


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Old Jan 12, 2008, 1:51 PM   #3
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P.S.

I tend to keep my thumb on the control pad, so I can try to make sure it favors the desired focus point by tapping it before locking with a half press of the shutter button. So, you may want to try that technique.

Center is going to be more sensitive for locking using Continuous AF (just keep in mind that if you're filling the frame much for closer subjects, a face could be out of focus with an in focus body that way at wider apertures because of a shallow DOF).

Birders seem to favor using wide area instead with Continuous AF. But, I don't think I tried that approach when I was shooting the kids, since I figured it would tend to select the wrong subject with a lot of kids running around the floor.

I'll have to ask my brother-in-law if the kids are playing this year, too. If so, I'll try to go for a game and see what the A700 can do with it's AF system (which is the fastest in most lighting compared to the Canon EOS-40D, Canon EOS-1D Mark III, Nikon D300 and Olympus E-3 according to popphoto's tests). See the posts NHL made with charts showing it in this thread.

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/fo...mp;forum_id=84

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Old Jan 13, 2008, 9:05 AM   #4
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One more thing to keep in mind...

If you read through some of the posts from JohnG in our Sports and Action Forum on indoor sports, he'll often tell members that a Canon 50mm f/1.4 is only good for shots out to about 10 feet, and a Canon 85mm f/1.8 is only good for 15 to 20 feet, and that these lenses were not designed to focus accurately beyond those distances.

I think you'll find similar restraints on most Minolta primes.

So, I'd make sure you're filling the frame enough for the AF system to find a good target. You won't be able to get good shots of the entire floor with a given focal length lens and vantage point.

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Old Jan 13, 2008, 9:53 AM   #5
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Mike,

Just to add to Jim's excellent response:

One aspect that is critical to sports shooting that NHL's charts don't point out is how well a focus system TRACKS. Initial focus lock is extremely important but it's the system's ability to TRACK that is important. And I say system because the body must predict the path of the subject and either the body or lens must focus. So it's both the body and the lens.

I've seen some very positive comments about the A700 and some positive comments about the Oly E3 but in both cases I haven't seen any type of volume of sports shots. It's difficult to draw conclusions based upon just one or two person's experience. Sony has the benefit of the Minolta background which has always had good focus systems. Canon & Nikon have the benefit of most of the worlds sports shooters to test their systems. For others it's a little more challenging to develop pro grade action focus systems because they don't have the army of testers, QAers and such. If I was going to trust in any system but Canon or Nikon it would probably be Sony because of the Minolta background. The only problem I have with them is the prices on their pro grade lenses. It could be argued my canon lenses are overpriced but Sony makes them look cheap. While they are arguably outstanding lenses it seems that if most of the world's pro sports shooters can get by with less expensive Canon gear (followed by Nikon) - the question becomes - is Sony offering a better overall solution for the higher price?

Having said ALL of that - sports shooting takes practice and technique. Especially in low light. I've never shot Sony / KM DSLRs but after having a Canon 300d, 20d and now 1d I can absolutely say each model was a huge improvement over the lesser model in terms of focus speed/accuracy. I would expect the same will be true of Sony.

But don't discount the lens in the equation. Just because a lens has a wide aperture doesn't mean it focuses fast. Typically a lens with it's own focus motor will focus faster - and even then, not all lenses are created equal. The perfect example from canon is the 85mm 1.8 vs 85mm 1.2L. The 1.2 is an 'L' lens while the 1.8 is not. It has a wider aperture, yet it focuses slower than the 1.8. So it's a less effective sports lens when focus speed counts (note some sports focus speed is more critical than others). In short, there are a LOT of variables that are in play. That's why using a chart like NHL posted is dangerous
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Old Jan 13, 2008, 10:40 AM   #6
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I had fun shooting shooting the kids. My primary goal was to get some snapshots of my great nieces and nephews. They didn't get the ball very often. But, I still managed to get a few. lol

I thought the 5D's AF worked well enough for tracking to get some keepers, once your subjects got within a certain range.

Now, if you try to lock on subjects half way across the gym floor, it's going to struggle and misfocus a lot. lol

Here's another example with the 100mm f/2 following a moving subject (a shot of my great nephew).

Maxxum 5D, Minolta 100mm f/2, ISO 1600, f/2.2, 1/500 second



Here's a shot of a moving subject with a 135mm.

Maxxum 5D, Minolta 135mm f/2.8, ISO 1600, f/3.2, 1/250 second



Here's another one of the kids my brother-in-law wanted me to get some photos of (his stepdaughter's daughter, his grand daughter).

Maxxum 5D, Minolta 135mm f/2.8, ISO 3200, f/2.8, 1/400 second



I definitely got the feeling that it would take me more than one morning shooting to get good at, and it would take some practice to find the "sweet spot" for subject range to get a higher percentage of keepers, learning when the camera's AF is more likely to lock and track correctly from a given vantage point.

I had fun though. My brother-in-law and sister are coming over to visit later this afternoon. I'll ask him if they're playing this year, too. If so, I'll try to shoot a game using the A700 and see how much better it is for this type of thing.

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Old Jan 14, 2008, 7:41 PM   #7
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JimCand JohnG; Thank you for your replies. That's great information

With only 1 game experience with the 100 f2 I know it's going to be a while before the number of keeper shots is enough to make me happy. Actually I'm looking forward to the challange it's quite rewarding to download your shots and notice more keepers then the last time.

Gettingto understandyour equipments capabilities can be a long process but that was their first game of the season so I have quite a few games left to learn.

JimCwrote

If you read through some of the posts from JohnG in our Sports and Action Forum on indoor sports, he'll often tell members that a Canon 50mm f/1.4 is only good for shots out to about 10 feet, and a Canon 85mm f/1.8 is only good for 15 to 20 feet, and that these lenses were not designed to focus accurately beyond those distances.

I think you'll find similar restraints on most Minolta primes.

Yes Jim, I have also read and looked at JohnGs post and John is probably the best on this forum atindoor action shots.


I am verysurprised at how close you need to be to get accurate focusing. I would have never guessed such close distances. My preferred place to shoot is the corner baseline and that is 35 feet from the center of the key. That may be a little too far away for 100mm. I might have to move towards the center of the court a little but thats going to be some real tight framing.

When choosing a lens for indoor sports it came down to4 lenses in Minolta/Sony mount the 50 f1.4/1.7, the 85 f1.4, the 100 f2 and 135 f1.8. All these lenses with the exception of the 50s are slow focusing from the reviews I'veread so I don't know if any one lens is better thenanother forindoor sports unless your real close with a 50mm. but that's all you've got to choose from if your in the KM/Sony mount.

It may have more to do with the bodies. For anyone who shoots indoor sportsthe A700 has to make you happy with the faster focusing.The A700 with the combo of any of the4 mentioned lenses shouldincrease the number of keepers. Now I just have to wait until I can afford one.

It seems that the 5D 100 f2 combo does lock onto the subject quickly, for example,if the kid is standing at the top of the key dribbling I'll get a quick focus on his face. Then when he drives towards the basket and jumps the camera or lens wont track fast enough. I'll push down on the shutter button butit won'ttake the photo. Thats where the frustration happens.

I will be trying different focus settings to see if I have better luck.

Thanks;

Mike


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Old Jan 15, 2008, 7:04 AM   #8
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Are you sure you're in Continuous AF (not just continuous drive mode), where you've got a large focus spot in the viewfinder (the regular spot when locked, plus a circle around it)?

If so, how are your focus points set up (center, select, wide area)? I usually leave mine on select, and keep my thumb on the control pad. When I lock and release using a press of the pad, continuous seems to favor the selected point. Center is going to be fastest. So, you may want to try just Center.

You can also set the camera to shoot without a lock. I think the Canon models default that way shooting in AI Servo Mode (which is their version of AF-C ). That way, the camera is still going to try and take photos of where it thinks the subject is going to be, even without a good lock.

You see complaints from new Canon shooters from time to time that their first frame or two in a burst when a subject starts moving are out of focus. That's because when in AI-Servo mode, the camera is designed to shoot, lock or not, and it can take the camera a frame or two to get the focus right when movement starts (since it's predictive algorithms need to determine direction and speed of movement).

I never set mine that way, but you may want to set your 5D to behave the same way and see if that increases your number of keepers. Go to Priority Setup in the Custom menus and set it to Release versus AF, and it will shoot with or without a good lock.

You may also want to try AF-A mode. If you lock focus on a subject with a half press, it will automatically switch to Continuous when it detects subject movement.

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Old Jan 15, 2008, 2:31 PM   #9
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Yes Jim, I'm sure I was in "continuous AF" with "Spot AF area". I'm going to try "focus area selection" and "wide AF area settings next time out and see if that works any better.When using the "continuous adv" drivesetting, and the camera would not shoot most of the time. I also usedthe "single-frame adv" setting, I would get some shots but most were out of focus or to late.

With the

"release " priotity setup

"continuous adv drive"

"wide AF area"

"continuous AF"

that maybe something to try.

It sounds likethat puts the camera on somewhat of an autopilot.

I never thought of switching to the "release" priority setup. Thanks for that tip. That guarantees alot more shots to choose from. I may not have any more keepers but it is a different approach.

Appreciatethe advice Jim.

Mike

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Old Jan 20, 2008, 1:14 PM   #10
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lomitamike wrote:
Quote:
It may have more to do with the bodies. For anyone who shoots indoor sportsthe A700 has to make you happy with the faster focusing.The A700 with the combo of any of the4 mentioned lenses shouldincrease the number of keepers. Now I just have to wait until I can afford one.
Run, don't walk, to the closest store that has the Alpha 700 in stock and get one. :-)

I knew the AF system in the a700 was very responsive. I've been super impressed with it.

But, I don't think I realized just how good this AF system really is until yesterday, when I tagged along with my brother-in-law to take some snapshots of a kids' basketball game using the A700. I used both a Tamron SP 35-105mm f/2.8 and a Minolta 100mm f/2 AF lens.

The AF system was nothing short of amazing using the 100mm f/2, and it was even fast enough to make my old, clunky Tamron 35-105mm f/2.8 AF lens usable.

I'm right in the middle of some major PC rebuilds (replacing hard drives, reinstalling operating systems, etc.). So, it may be sometime next week before I get a chance to post some photos. Stay tuned, and I'll try to upload some images from the game sometime next week after I get everything reinstalled.

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