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Old Dec 2, 2007, 7:50 PM   #1
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The sports mode of the Sony DSC-H9 is totally useless for shooting sports events because the images will always be blurry. The reason is that the camera is programmed in an inappropriate manner. The camera uses a very slow speed, 1/60, until F8 is reached. At full daylight, the speed is only 1/80. A better approach would be to use a fast speed such as 1/500 and adjust the aperture as necessary.

I have taken somedecent sports shots using the Automatic and Shutter Priority settings, but those settingsdon'thave the predictive focus that the sports mode is supposed to provide.

I called Sony about this, and they suggested that I try a camera in one of their stores. I did, and it works the same way as mine.

Has anyone else had similar experiences?
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Old Dec 3, 2007, 12:32 AM   #2
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Was the ISO set to AUTO in the main menu? Sounds a bit like the ISO was set to a manual low setting.
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Old Dec 3, 2007, 4:31 AM   #3
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Indeed, this was noted and complained about in oh, several hundred threads over a dozen forums when the 'cam was launched.


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Old Dec 3, 2007, 9:12 AM   #4
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QAZEDC wrote:
Quote:
The sports mode of the Sony DSC-H9 is totally useless for shooting sports events because the images will always be blurry. The reason is that the camera is programmed in an inappropriate manner. The camera uses a very slow speed, 1/60, until F8 is reached. At full daylight, the speed is only 1/80.
I find this hard to believe (the camera is using 1/80 second shutter speed in broad daylight with sports mode), unless you mean close to dusk or dawn and you had ISO speed set low.

You can't believe everything you read in forums.

Would you mind posting a sample image with the EXIF so that I can see what camera settings were being used?

Quote:
A better approach would be to use a fast speed such as 1/500 and adjust the aperture as necessary.
And what happens if light is not good enough to do that? For example, typical indoor lighting? You'd get a very dark (undererxposed) image.

You can only open up the aperture so far, and you lose light with most zoom lenses as you zoom in more too.

That's the more likely reason you're seeing 1/60 second indoors in Sports Mode. Indoors is very low light to a camera. You need *both* wider available apertures (smaller f/stop numbers), as well as higher usable ISO speeds to get fast enough shutter speeds indoors to prevent motion blur from subject movement. A DSLR wearing a bright prime (fixed focal length versus zoom) is the preferred choice for existing light photography without a flash.

You only have 4 main variables to take into consideration for exposure (and I use the term "main" since there are a lot of nuances to how you measure the light (for example, your metering mode), as well as different film characteristics if shooting film, and camera settings if shooting digital for the desired tone/contrast curve within an image and more). Once you have a better idea of how these 4 variables work together to give you a properly exposed image, the other fancy features will make more sense.

1. Light (typically measured as EV for Exposure Value in Photography).

2. Aperture (which works similar to the pupils in your eyes, where you can open up the aperture iris wider to let in more light, or close it down to let in less light). If you let in more light with a wider aperture, you can expose the film or sensor faster. If you let in less light with a smaller opening, it takes longer to expose the film or sensor. Note that aperture is normally expressed as f/stop, which is a ratio between the focal length of the lens and the diameter of the aperture iris. So, smaller values represent a larger iris diameter.

3. ISO speed. This is how sensitive the film or sensor is to light and is the same thing as the older ASA rating for film. The higher the ISO speed, the faster you can expose it.

4. Shutter Speed (this is how long the camera's shutter stays open to expose the film or sensor).

IOW, it all boils down to how senstive the film or sensor is to light (which you control via the ISO or ASA speed of the film you use with film, or the ISO speed settings you use with digital), and how much light you need to let it see to "expose" the iimage (which you control via the aperture opening size and shutter speed).

Now, there may be some quirks with the Sports Mode. Why even use it? Just open up your aperture as desired using Av (Aperture Priority) mode and let the camera use a faster shutter speed, adjusting your ISO speed as needed, depending on the balance between noise (since it will increase with ISO speed) and shutter speed you want to have.

If light is lower, even P (Programmed Auto) mode is going to use the widest available aperture (smallest available f/stop number) for the amount of zoom you use. So, it would work just as well for indoor lighting. You just need to increase ISO speeds as desired. But, you may not be able to eliminate all motion blur indoors. You need a very bright lens and higher usable ISO speeds if you want good quality for that type of shooting.

Again, please post a sample image showing 1/80 second shutter speed in Sports mode in broad daylight (and I'm assuming you don't mean very late when the sun is going down). I'd like to see what camera settings were used (focal length, aperture, iso speed) causing a shutter speed that slow if light really was sufficient for a faster shutter speed.

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Old Dec 3, 2007, 2:37 PM   #5
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You want to see some fun with high speed action shots try a DSLR like the Canon 30d I shot a dog lure class and man that was fun.
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Old Dec 4, 2007, 12:21 AM   #6
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Thanks to everyone for taking the time to respond.

I would appreciate having a URL where the Sports Mode problem is discussed.

I didn't manually adjust the ISO mode to a low value. The camera really does have a problem.

I am an experienced digital photographer, and an electrical engineer with a fair understanding of what is going on insidedigital cameras. I know that you can't have a fixed shutter speed of 500 for all occasions, but I have found that using that setting inshutter priority mode usually works quite well for daytime outdoor sporting events. The camera is smart enough to properly adust the exposure an ISO settings.

As for the request for a photo showing the problem, I quit shooting in Sports Mode as soon as I figured out what was going on, but I have attachedan example of 1/125 and F8. (It is dark outside now, and I want to use something I have saved.) All of the shots taken on that occasion using Sports Mode were at F8, with speeds typically below 1/200. I had just purchased the camera, and hadn't learned much about it yet.

I now know how to take good pictures with my camera. Ijust wish I could take advantage of the Sports Mode,whichis supposed to anticipate what the focus needs to be when the subject is moving so that when the shutter is pressed you don't have to wait for the autofocus to work. This would be a great feature if the Sony engineers had a clue as to how program the exposure. Maybe somebody thought that having an F8 setting whenever possible would produce sharp focus.

The camera also has another annoying design goof. Glints in video mode can produce a white vertical band. This effect also shows up in the viewfinder when taking photos, but typically doesn't show in what is captured unless the shutter speed is low. The manual says that this isn't a defect, and counsels the user to avoid having bright spots in the field of view.

As an engineer, I agree that adocumented design limitation can fairly avoid being called a product defect, but I have to say that the both the Sports Mode programming and the white bands are clear examples offaulty design work. Shame on Sony for releasing a product with such poor electronics. Also shame on themany websites that have reviewed the camera without actuallytesting the Sports Mode, which is so prominently advertised as a special feature of the camera.

The reason I bought this camera was because itappeared to be thebest camera I could find that also captures video. Does anyone know of abetter camerathat also captures video? (I have a great 3-CCD video camera, but I'm careful where I take it.)



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Old Dec 4, 2007, 12:27 AM   #7
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For some reason the photo wasn't attached. Perhaps this time it will work.
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Old Dec 4, 2007, 9:25 AM   #8
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It was probably too large (either file size or dimensions in pixels).

How to Post your Photos

If you need a tool to downsize your images, you can download the free Irfanview and use it's Image>Resize/Resample feature.

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Old Dec 4, 2007, 11:29 PM   #9
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Thanks for the tip on Irfanview. The EXIF information for the attached file shows that the speed was 1/125 and the aperture F8 and ISO 100. As far as I know,these settings aren't adjustable in Sports Mode. (The attached file isn't a particularly good photo. I attached it just to show the EXIF information.)

The automatic mode does a much better job of selecting the settings, but then the predictive focus is unavailable.

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Old Dec 5, 2007, 10:17 AM   #10
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If it's going to pick f/8, just don't use Sports Mode. ;-) Use Aperture Priority instead, opening up your aperture as desired (smaller f/stop numbers), and set your ISO speed where you want it to get fast enough shutter speeds.

As for predictive focus, that kind of thing is of very limited value (other than for marketing specs) with a small sensored camera like the DSC-H9 anyway. Because of it's smaller sensor size, you can use a much shorter focal length for the same angle of view you'd need a much longer focal length for in a 35mm camera.

The actual focal range of the lens on the H9 is only 5.2-78mm (which gives you the same angle of view a 31-465mm lens would on a 35mm camera). Since Depth of Field is based on the actual focal length of the lens, you've got tremendous depth of field compare to a 35mm camera (or even a DSLR model with an APS-C size sensor).

So, focus accuracy is not as critical with a model like the DSC-H9. More depth of field for any given subject framing and aperture is one reason it's so hard to blur the background with a larger subject using this type of camera.

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