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Old Sep 26, 2010, 9:38 AM   #1
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Default Shooting kids soccer with a A550

This is my first attempt shooting my granddaughters soccer game with my wifes A550. I usually use a A700 but wanted to see how the a550 can track with continuous AF and using center focus point. I also set drive to continuous high for short burst and tried the live view.

I used the Sony - AF 70-400 F4-5.6 G SSM with a monopod with the sun behind me and exposure set to -7.

Using the live view I ran into a problem immediately, the auto review does not help while shooting burst, you want the camera to continue focusing on the action but you get a review instead. Be sure to turn the auto review off. I ended up preferring to use the optical viewfinder which has it's shortcomings also., Coming from an A700 I felt much more comfortable shooting with the optical viewfinder.

Continuous auto focus seemed to track OK but the use of small squares instead of small red marks at focus points took some getting used to. Sometimes there would be more then one AF square visible in the viewfinder but only the center one would light up, it's confusing until you get used to it.

To sum it up- This camera will get the job done and you will get a nice amount of keepers but to improve your keeper rate be sure to use a monopod or tripod. Set drive to continuous high and AF to continuous. Get a large card (HCSD) for the burst. Also set exposure compensation to -.7. The metering seemed to be OK for this type of shooting. For those of you coming from an A700 I think there will be a bit of a letdown. This camera is not built to perform at the level that the A700 is.

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Old Sep 27, 2010, 11:53 AM   #2
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They all look very good to me. You did a great job.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Sep 27, 2010, 3:44 PM   #3
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Thank you Sarah.
If memory serves me right you recently purchased a A500. I believe these two cameras (a500 & a550) share the same sensor and more then likely are very similar to each other. Maybe you have read the discussions that have taken place about the metering problems. When comparing photo's between the a700 and a500 I would say to take extra precautions to avoid shooting towards the sun.
Otherwise this is a very good camera.
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Old Sep 27, 2010, 3:57 PM   #4
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Thank you Sarah.
If memory serves me right you recently purchased the A500. I believe these two cameras (a500 & a550) share the same sensor and more then likely are very similar to each other. Maybe you have read the discussions that have taken place about the metering problems comparing photo's between the a700 and a500 I would say to take extra precautions to avoid shooting towards the sun with your new camera. The sky seems to get blown out very easy and when that happens the colors seem to get washed out also.
Otherwise this is a very good camera, even set to full auto you'll get great shots.
I'd like to hear your thoughts on your new camera.
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Old Sep 28, 2010, 3:52 AM   #5
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Nice shots Mike. What settings do you use when shooting in burst? While I do not seem to see the same issues with the ev settings you experience I am not coming close to the advertised frame rate in the drive mode. I am certain this is me and not the camera.

I am going to make best effort to get out this weekend and try some landscape shots to compare to yours for exposure. Thus far most of my shots have been taken inside or at night so overly bright has not been an issue.

I agree with you on the view finder as it leaves a bit to be desired. I came to DSLR from medium format Mamiya using mostly waist level view finders so the reviews of the Sony live view system (and a big box of Minolta lenses) led me to the A550.

I enjoy your running reports and the great shots.

Steve
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Old Sep 28, 2010, 5:44 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Boat Guy View Post
Nice shots Mike. What settings do you use when shooting in burst? While I do not seem to see the same issues with the ev settings you experience I am not coming close to the advertised frame rate in the drive mode.
<snip>
I agree with you on the view finder as it leaves a bit to be desired.
<snip>
I got max burst by setting drive mode to "Spd.Prty.Cont.Adv." Of course, the down side is if the subject moves too much, they'll be out-of-focus. Short bursts allowing re-focus might work.

That review caught me also when I was taking once-a-year pictures of guys mtn-biking downhill. I had one chance. I was using Live-view with my camera at waist-level. OhNO!! the first shot...review...!!! I had to shoot blind and only got 3 or 4 shots off. Shoulda known better.
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Old Sep 28, 2010, 11:34 AM   #7
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Thanks Steve

As Frank mentioned for shooting burst,press the Fn button then navigate to drive mode, then select "Spd.Prty.Cont.Adv." This is the way to get the most frames per second, 7 FPS if I'm not mistaken. Although I find that continuous advance seems quite adequate most of the times. Using the Fn button again navigate to Autofocus mode and select AF-C ( continious ) then once more Fn-AF area-Spot, for center AF area only. Then you just need to be sure your shutter speeds are fast enough to freeze the action.

Good luck. Post some samples.

Mike
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Old Sep 29, 2010, 10:29 AM   #8
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Thanks for walking me through this. I did notice a few things. With the menu structure of the 550 I ended up in Manual mode and it seemed to be the easiest for me to navigate quickly once I got the feel for everything.

The speed definitely picks up when set as advised above but all live view function is lost when shooting that fast. Using my grandson and little dog I have been practicing my burst shooting and when using the slower advance I have become pretty accurate maintaining my focus point once I knew the proper settings and stopped fighting the camera.

The wife is going out of town this weekend so I am not sure if I will make the games this Friday but I am as ready as I will ever be. I did some trading and upgraded my first generation 80-200 f/2.8 APO for a second generation model that matches the 300 f/2.8 APO so with those and a couple of the correct TC's I am armed as well as I am going to get for a while.

I will put up the results as soon as I get out the next time. If they stink it is most likely all on me but good results will due to the input I have received here at Steve's.

I will not try to list names as I would leave some out and do not wish to do that but to everyone who has helped along this journey you have my heartfelt thanks.

Steve
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Old Sep 30, 2010, 9:02 AM   #9
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Mike-

Yes, I have had my A-500 for about 10 days now. I am very pleased with it. It provides a lot of bang for the buck, considering that I paid just $434 for the body, as I already had the lenses.

Living in the land of fog and rain, also known as Coastal Oregon, bright sunshine has not been a huge problem. Are you indicating that shooting directly, or nearly directly, into the sun will damage the imager? I have not seen any discussion on that issue. Can you provide a reference or a link??

The linked photo below shows well the kind of weather conditions that I have to shoot in: mostly rather gray days.

http://anchorse.smugmug.com/Other/So...1_dCrCz-X3.jpg

Sarah Joyce
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Old Sep 30, 2010, 11:58 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lomitamike View Post
Maybe you have read the discussions that have taken place about the metering problems comparing photo's between the a700 and a500 I would say to take extra precautions to avoid shooting towards the sun with your new camera. The sky seems to get blown out very easy and when that happens the colors seem to get washed out also.
That sounds like a veiling flare (a.k.a., veiling glare) issue, caused by light reflecting between optical elements in a lens.

http://www.imatest.com/docs/veilingglare.html

Some lenses are better than others in that area.

Filters can also cause this issue (which is one reason I don't use protective filters). For example, scroll down to the test images and see how bad this Tiffen is:

http://www.lenstip.com/113.24-articl...n_72mm_UV.html

Anytime you shoot with a brighter light source in the frame, you can have flare related issues, including washed out looking images. You'll sometimes see the same problems shooting into the bright side of the sky, even if the sun is behind clouds. Note that it's best to keep the lens shielded from direct light using a hood whenever possible if you can't shoot with the sun at your back, or try shooting from under shade if you must shoot into the brighter side of the sky.

But, even if you take flare related issues out of the equation, most cameras are going to have some amount of DR problem if you're shooting into the bright side of the sky and trying to capture darker (i.e., backlit) subjects, as I see you were showing in a previous thread. There are limits to what a camera can capture in harsher lighting like that (and that goes for both film and digital). ;-)

BTW, to my eyes, the images in this thread (with the sun at your back from what I understand) look underexposed to my eyes using a -0.7 setting (with somewhat "muddy" details in some of the darker faces, which is usually what you get with underexposure). So, you may want to try setting it closer to what the camera meters and see what you get in the same lighting. I'd also look at them on more than one display and see what you get (as your monitor may be set too bright causing a perception problem with exposure).

Note that when shooting jpeg, the highlight range of the A550 is actually better than the A700, given a properly exposed mid gray. It's better than virtually any other camera using an APS-C size sensor from what I can see from tests (see the DR results in the A550 review at dpreview.com for comparisons with other models).

But, the images may have a bit more contrast by default compared to the A700. So, you may want to try dialing it back more (for example, try Contrast at -2 versus -1) and see what you get in harsher lighting. I'd do the same with sharpening settings (as oversharpening can cause issues). You may also want to try different picture styles (i.e., try Portrait or Neutral versus Standard) to get a feel for how the built in tone curves differ.
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