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Old Aug 21, 2008, 10:37 AM   #11
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Hi. Jim and TCAV

Good Morning. I think you guys are rightI should have my kid run around in the back yard to get a feel for the different settings because we don't have much light back there and Jim had mentioned the blurring which was a big problem for me. As long as the subject is standing still and close my camera flash is just fine ehehehe but as you have stated that is not going to be the case with night sports.

As for the photo's I have taken, if you look to the left side of my webpage and click onPhoto Albumit will bring you to the photo's that I have taken so far but also, the slide show has some of the photo's I have taken....

I cannot not tell you guys how much I appreciate all your help from saving time and money running around and getting all the wrong things.. But I do have direction now and I think I will be okay.... Our night game is in a few weeks, so as soon as I take the pics, I will post them to my web page in the Photo Album and let you guys see if I had grown :-)

Also, when I go home I will try to see what type of lens I had for that Minolta, it has been a long while since I used film.....


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Old Aug 21, 2008, 11:39 AM   #12
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Another thing you need to be aware of is flash recycle times. If you go with a flash, you may need to wait a while between each photo (probably 4 to 8 seconds for a full power flash, depending on the model). That's not a great way to capture the action, unless your timing is flawless. ;-) I have seen some reports that the new Sanyo Eneloops recycle faster than some of the other NiMH battery types, because of lower internal resistance allowing more current draw in a shorter timeframe. So, that may help a little (depending on the flash model). They're on sale now at Thomas Distributing. But, don't expect miracles (you're still likely to see something like 4 second recycle times with a typical hot shot mount flash at full power).

http://www.thomas-distributing.com/s...tteries-aa.php

A "Hammerhead" (a nickname given to the larger Metz Handle Mount Flashes) is more desirable for that kind of shooting, using a powerful external battery pack.

Basically, there's no easy, low cost solution to your problem. Night sports are very demanding on a camera and lens (as well as the photographer's skill level). A much brighter lens (i.e., one that can maintain f/2.8 throughout it's zoom range) is the desired solution for night games, and even with that kind of lens, it's going to be very difficult to get good images that are usable much beyond smaller viewing/print sizes (because you'd need to increase your ISO speed to it's max level to try and reduce motion blur from subject movement, which increases noise/grain).

Another option may be a prime (fixed focal length versus zoom lens) on a tight budget. For example, a Minolta 135mm f/2.8 is usually not too pricey. But, you'd lose the framing flexibility you have using a zoom.

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Old Aug 21, 2008, 12:11 PM   #13
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Well I don't shoot little kids football at night but I do shoot varsity football under the lights every year.

There are a few things to consider here:

1. Flash is actually very common for pro sports shooters at HS level. The reality is - even with ISO 3200 and 2.8 lenses lighting is often still very poor add to that the shadows in the helmet and you'll see a LOT of pro shooters using a flash. Especially for print sales. NOW, unless you've got a great metz flash you may STILL need ISO3200 and f2.8 to get decent photos - if you're relying on the flash to use 100% power to light your whole image you're not going to get great results. The idea is the flash is acting as fill to remove shadows.

2. Notion that flash won't cover the distance is also generally not true. The reality is the flash will reach as far as the lens used given that it's a GOOD external flash. And the reason is simple - a lens doesn't get you as much reach as you think it should. A 200mm lens is good for about 25 yards of quality sports coverage. 300mm good for around 40 yards and 400mm good for around 50-60 yards. THese are general guidelines not hard and fast rules. So assuming you can get a good external flash - absolutely do so.

3. If you really want better shots though - you need to get the flash OFF the camera. The easiest way is to use a monopod and clamp it to the monopod BELOW the camera.

4. Regardless of whether you use a flash or not you will want to shoot manual exposure. If NOT using a flash you still use manual exposure because you want to expose for FACES, not uniforms. Relying on AV or TV will get you under or over-exposed shots depending on what's in the frame when the camera meters. But realize, as you follow the team down the field you may have to change the exposure depending on the light array used. Typically there will be areas of the field that are lighter than others. But that's easily noticable. And given the nature of football and the restriction of not having a whole lot of reach with your lens you'll mostly be following the line of scrimmage anyway. So you just have to make mental notes the first trip up the field on where you need to change your exposure. A helpful tip is to frequently check the LCD after you change shooting positions, including the histogram. You'll want the histogram pushed to the right. In fact be prepared to blow out some highlghts - that's OK because the important part is to get the faces exposed properly not the uniform highlights.

5. Use rechargable batteries - 2500mah or better preferably. I like the Powerex batteries you can get from Thomas Distributing (steve hasa link from the batteries section of the main website).

6. Be careful shooting bursts with flash though. First, unless you've got a top notch flash you'll find after the 2nd shot in a burst everything will be underexposed. Second as Jim mentioned you have to deal with flash recycle times - so you have to wait for the flash to recharge itself. This is where external battery packs come into play. If you can get a flash that uses an external pack you'll greatly improve that performance. But finally, if you're not careful you'll burn out the flash. Most flashes will just simply let you keep firing off bursts. If you do that you can melt the flash. So if you're used to a "spray and pray" method of taking your sports snaps you'll have to coral yourself a bit.

7. FRAME TIGHT. Throw out the notion of framing loose and cropping in post processing. At ISO 1600 or 3200 that yields terrible results. In addition at these light levels the focus accuracy will drop somewhat. So you want your subject filling the frame as much as possible to give your gear a chance to get good focus.

8. Select a single focus point - do NOT use multiples. The reason is many shots will have multiple players in them but only 1 is your true subject - you want the focus to be on THAT player not the other ones. Don't leave it up to your camera to decide which player you want to focus on.

General advice for football (day or night):

1. Shoot 90% portrait orientation. Most shots for this sport have more vertical component than horizontal - for the simple reason people are more vertical than horizontal. way too many shots in landscape orientation leave distracting elements in the frame and cut off body parts of the subject.

2. During day, make sure your subject is filling 2/3 of the frame in portrait orientation. If they aren't filling at least 2/3 of the frame either you're not zoomed in enough or they're too far away. If they're too far away just accept that. Don't try to capture every play. From your shooting position imagine that 25, 40 or 50 yard arc (depending on focal length) and capture what's going in inside that range.

3. Get low - kneel or sit on the ground.

4. Use whatever your camera calls continuous focus

5. Acquire and track your subject for at least a full second before taking the first shot.

6. Take 2-3 shot bursts (if using flash you may only be able to get 2) if using flash. Take 3-5 shot bursts if NOT using flash until you get your timing down. You'll be amazed when you look at a 5 shot burst how 2 or 3 aren't in as good of focus. Especially without top notch lens/body.


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Old Aug 21, 2008, 1:08 PM   #14
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If you can swing around $300, you may want to grab a used Metz 60 CT4.

keh.com has some now with the better battery pack, cables, etc. at a good price:

METZ 60 CT-4 WITH BRACKET, CORDS, DRYFIT, CHARGER, 60 CT1/2 POWER PACK

This model also has a relatively low trigger voltage (something you need to worry about using a flash so that you don't fry the camera's electronics. ;-)

You can get an adapter to give your camera a sync port here from a reputable hong kong based vendor. It gives your camera an ISO standard hotshoe and a PC Sync port.

http://www.gadgetinfinity.com/produc...275&page=1

Turn off stablization (maximum flash sync speeds are higher that way), use Manual Exposure (M on your mode dial), set your shutter speed to 1/200 second (fastest you can use with stabilization turned off with that flash and your camera without issues), and your aperture to f/5.6 (assuming you have to stick with your existing lenses). Set your white balance to around 5500k using the kelvin settings you'll find and set your ISO speed to around 800 for more range with your existing lenses if you can't budget to upgrade them.

Then, set the Metz (not the camera) to Auto mode with the same settings for ISO speed and aperture. In this type of setup, the camera is only used for triggering the flash. The flash controls the exposure by measuring the reflected light from your subjects. When it sees enough light for the aperture and ISO speed selected, it terminates the flash burst. If the photos are too bright or too dark, you may need to use a slightly different aperture setting on the camera compared to the flash.

Try the setup out and ask for suggestions if they're not exposed correctly (since your Sony model is actually a bit more sensitive than set, giving you the equivalent of ISO 1000 when set to ISO 800). If the images are a tad too bright, use f/6.3 or smaller apertures (higher f/stop numbers) until the exposure looks correct, while leaving the flash set to f/5.6.

You can also get dedicated cables and modules like the SCA3302 so that it can "talk" to your camera (so that it knows the aperture and ISO speed being used without you needing to set it).

B&H also has a couple of the flashes in stock (but, they're in the $400's). See the listings here (and you can click on one of them and see features, specs, etc.).

Search for Metz 60 CT4 in used department at B&H

A cord like this one connects to the flash on one end, and connects to the PC port on that flash adapter I posted a link to, which uses your camera's hotshoe.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...t_PC_Cord.html

If that's not within your budget, let us know what your budget is for a flash and/or lenses.

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Old Aug 21, 2008, 2:13 PM   #15
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P.S.

That Metz setup (with a GN of 197 feet at ISO 100) should give you roughly the following with your existing 75-300mm f/5.6 with the camera and flash set to f/5.6. One of the Auto Ranges you'll see on the Metz is for 10-98 feet (3.0-29.9 m), which you'd use for your purposes..

35 feet at ISO 100
49 feet at ISO 200
69 feet at ISO 400
96 feet at ISO 800

The closer your subject and the higher your ISO speed, the faster your recycle times will be.

A brighter lens would be desirable if budget could swing it (for more than one reason, including autofocus speed).

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Old Aug 21, 2008, 2:26 PM   #16
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JimC wrote:
Quote:
P.S.

That Metz setup (with a GN of 197 feet at ISO 100) should give you roughly the following with your existing 75-300mm f/5.6 with the camera and flash set to f/5.6. One of the Auto Ranges you'll see on the Metz is for 10-98 feet (3.0-29.9 m), which you'd use for your purposes..

35 feet at ISO 100
49 feet at ISO 200
69 feet at ISO 400
96 feet at ISO 800

The closer your subject and the higher your ISO speed, the faster your recycle times will be.

A brighter lens would be desirable if budget could swing it (for more than one reason, including autofocus speed).
Forgot we're dealing with a 5.6 lens. Shoot at ISO 1600 and you'll accomplish 2 things:

1. Reduce the power the flash needs to output

2. Increase the distance to about 140-150 feet (remember working range for 300mm lens is about 120 feet).

With a 5.6 lens you'll be using a lot of flash power so I think it's worth the extra ISO to extend the range of the flash and reduce it's workload. You'll also get a more natural looking exposure.

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Old Aug 21, 2008, 2:49 PM   #17
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My concern was noise levels with this particular camera model (A100). I'd probably be included to push (brighten) any photos that were outside of the flash range (around 100 feet using ISO 800, which is equivalent to ISO 1000 with the A100), since the OP mentioned being 20-50 feet away from them (although I would think a number of shots are going to be at a greater distance). I see Pros and cons (higher noise at ISO 1600, but you'd have faster recycle times and more range and more ambient light contributing (which may not be desirable if light is too bright, since you'll start getting a bit of motion blur from ambient light exposure with sync speed limited to 1/200 second).

But, if it's for web viewing or small prints only, that would be another option.


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Old Aug 21, 2008, 2:55 PM   #18
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On the other hand, the flash would probably help get rid of most shadow areas (where you'd tend to find more noise). I'd probably try it both ways and see what the best compromise is.

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Old Aug 21, 2008, 3:06 PM   #19
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Oops. I just double checked the max. sync speed with stabilization turned off in the A100 specs, and it looks like it's 1/160 second versus 1/200 second. You might be able to get away with 1/200 (take some test shots to find out and look for any signs of a darker band in the image, since a non-dedicated flash like that will still fire that way). But, the A100 specs call for a max sync speed of 1/160 second. At higher ISO speeds, if you go too slow, you may have more ambient light than desired (allowing the subject to be exposed by it enough to that you can see a touch of motion blur).

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Old Aug 21, 2008, 4:49 PM   #20
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For website photos, the reduction in image size will dilute any noise anyway. Why not shoot at 1600, and do some post processing to clear up the noise for the occasional 8x10?
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