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Old Mar 20, 2012, 6:12 PM   #1
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Default 14U Volleyball - trouble focusing

Another day of volleyball, another set of disappointing pictures. I feel like I am really having trouble nailing the focus (on top of trying to get the ball in the shot, as well as the player's face, etc.). Any advice on something I might be obviously doing wrong would be greatly appreciated. I've heard said here that volleyball is one of the toughest sports to shoot, and I believe it!

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Old Mar 21, 2012, 6:49 AM   #2
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Well, there are a few things going on here - which can make it difficult to be sure. The first several pictures - you're way too far away to be shooting with an 85mm lens. Just not long enough to shoot from above like that. On the last 2 shots, you're closer. What's happening there is 1/250 is too slow a shutter speed - at least 1/400, preferably 1/640. That will help along with some sharpening in post processing.

BUT, don't get too down - you've done some very good things here. Your exposures are on, and your white balance is also very good. You're getting some decent action as well. Bump up the ISO to get your shutter speeds up and shoot from within 25 feet of a player an you'll see sharper results.
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Old Mar 21, 2012, 12:39 PM   #3
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Thanks, JohnG, for taking the time to comment. I will try to make sure I am always as close to the court as possible. I just can't bring myself to spring for the $2k+ 70-200mm f/2.8, so my 85mm is going to have to do. I may have to think about renting one for next year when they play at that venue, as the balcony offers a great vantage point for pictures.

And it's nice to know I am doing a few things right, at any rate.
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Old Mar 26, 2012, 1:48 PM   #4
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Im warning you...dont rent one..youll want to buy it.
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Old Mar 26, 2012, 2:50 PM   #5
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Wish I could get a balcony view like that as I have the 70-200mm f2.8.

That extra distance would help with composure I would think.

Keep shooting.
A77, 28-75mm f/2.8, 16-50mm f2.8, 18-250mm f3.5, 70-300mm f4.5G SSM
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Old Mar 26, 2012, 4:05 PM   #6
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I already have a 70-300mm lens that works great for daytime softball and other outdoor sports. Just can't justify a 70-200mm as well, and not willing to trade-in and give up the reach. So guess I'll just muddle by with my 85mm until I win the lottery.
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Old Apr 15, 2012, 1:41 AM   #7
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To me, volleyball is a sport that requires you to shoot a fair number of games to get good shots of a team. Unlike basketball, there aren't any single"shooting lanes" that get you good access to all players and most types of plays, no matter what the lens as the net/posts and other players are often in the way at moment of contact. As well, no one contacts the ball for more than a fraction of a second - sort of like trying to capture a finger tip catch in a football game vs capturing a guard bringing up a ball. The former - you get one chance - the latter, you have 5-8 seconds of knowing where the ball is and getting your shot.

I break the game down to (and in this order of shooting - although serve shots just come whenever I'm in position):

Servers (easy and you know where the ball will be prior to the shot - not that exciting, but a safety).

Setters - they generally face the same way for a whole set, so you can shoot along the attack line - you usually know where and when the ball will get there.

Serve receive - also along the attack line - focus on the middle back player and follow the eyes - they usually let you know if you should stay on them or swing left or right a bit - body language will also tell you when the ball is about to arrive, but rapid fire helps.

Attacks - depends on the tendency of the setter and team. If you know they tend to favour one front row player over the other, I try to pre-focus when they are just off the net and shoot along the cross-court diagonal, as close to the baseline as my lens, the court and the ref will allow (~6-8 feet). If I pre-focus, I just tend to follow that player for a few rallies and hope. Even if they distribute the ball well, picking one player to focus on works as they will eventually get the set. Conversely, I occasionally pre-focus on the top of the net in the middle of the court and shoot wherever it goes. Seems to work better than counting on auto-focus if you are shooting through the net.

You can also get decent shots of blocks from the same position.

Generally, I find I have to give up on the idea of shooting all the action during the play and wait for the action to come to a certain spot.

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