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TXPhoto Jan 22, 2007 9:15 AM

I'm currently photographing HS basketball using a Canon 10 D, 24-70 mm, 70-200 mm and a 550EX flash. Photos I have recently taken have been soft and out of foucus. I use Av of 2.8, with a shutter speed of 90 on the 24-70 and 200 on the 70-200 with 800 ISO in Al Servo mode with the center point selected and a monopod. I read John G's post on the Basketball tips. John thank you for doing that it is an excellent source!

My question is, I have difficultly manual focusing because of my left hand and trying to hold the camera. What is the best way to get better shots in focus? Do I use all of the focus points and not one? Shutter [priority and not Av? Any help would be appreciated.


JohnG Jan 22, 2007 9:51 AM

TXPhoto wrote:

I use Av of 2.8, with a shutter speed of 90 on the 24-70 and 200 on the 70-200 with 800 ISO in Al Servo mode with the center point selected and a monopod.

OK Jerry, I'm very confused here. Are you shooting manual mode? Just curious as to the different shutter speeds for the 2 lenses since all the other parameters are the same. Are you just using minimum shutter speeds to prevent camera shake? I'm going to assume that's the case.


My question is, I have difficultly manual focusing because of my left hand and trying to hold the camera. What is the best way to get better shots in focus? Do I use all of the focus points and not one? Shutter [priority and not Av? Any help would be appreciated.
Manual focus is extremely difficult to do when you have the shallow DOF the 2.8 aperture provides. The only way it works, IMO is if you pre-focus on a specific place - the rim or a spot on the floor. This isn't the same as tracking a subject 50 yards away where you have a lot more DOF to play with. Trying to track a moving subject 20 feet away with manual focus would be very frustrating.

Switching exposure modes won't make a bit of difference in focus accuracy though.

What focus mode are you using? Ai-Servo, AI-focus or One shot? If you're not already, you should be using one-shot.

as to one focus point vs. all - I prefer to use a single focus point in low light situations for 2 reasons: 1 - at shallow DOF you have less margin for error and 2 - with low light/low contrast situations you want to give the camera as few possibilities for error as possible - if you use all focus points, while the camera acquires with the center point it could guess wrong about which point to pass focus on to and suddenly switch to focusing on another player or the wall. This seems to be more of a problem in low light (for instance, when I use my 2.8 lenses indoors I get a lot more mis-focus shots then when I use the same lenses outdoors).

The other thing to be sure about is that you're framing tightly. For the same reasons as above you want as much of your subject over the focal point as possible - for indoors shots I prefer my subject to be filling at least 2/3 of the frame if they're moving.

You've got 2 great focusing lenses there, but depending on what the lighting is like it may be that 2.8 lenses have a problem focusing - even with the assist beam of the flash.

Have you got some sample photos?

TXPhoto Jan 23, 2007 8:59 AM


Thank you for your reply! I'm using Al Servo mode not one shot. I noticed with my shots they are out of focus or blurred. If you would like, send me your e-mail and I will email you a few photos of the original shots I took before they have been cleaned up color corrected etc. Also, manual would be harder for me since I only have use of one good arm. I was born wth Cerebal Palsy which affects my left arm and leg. Although I have done well with it.

Is it better to use 2.8 apeture or go alittle higher? Thank you so much for your help John look forward to hearing from you.


JohnG Jan 23, 2007 9:04 AM


If you're using flash, you can certainly step down the aperture and that could help depending on what the problem is. I'll send you my email address so you can mail me the photos.

klfatcj Jan 23, 2007 4:55 PM

1 Attachment(s)
The focus also depends on the uniforms - some teams uniforms are very plain and without areas of contrast, so the camera can't find a focus point. If the shorts are a different colour from the top, use the waist band as the area to centre on, if fairly uniform in colour, the number or logo on the chest.

I would consider shooting at ISO 1600 (or even 3200 - I think the 10d goes there - don't know what the noise is like), and running the pic a noise reduction program such as Neat Image. This allows you either one more f stop - slightly better depth of field (and many lenses are a bit soft at maximal aperature), or my preference - shooting a bit faster. At 1/90 sec you will be getting motion blur from the players - they are moving even when I shoot my 10 year olds games.1/200 is pretty much the slowest I would go.

Another focus issue is where you are standing relative to the movement. Again, the players are really moving and given the shallow DOF, the time between the camera's focus selection and shutter opening is sufficient for the player to have moved out of focus if the movement is towards the camera. Shots where the player is moving across the camera field of view give you a bit more time with the player in focus. Once you know the players and their moves, try shooting when they change direction - they may drive toward the camera, but then cut - at that moment, they stay in focus a bit longer or when they pull up for a jumper.

No matter what, expect to toss the vast majority of pictures - I take about 400/game and expect 20 keepers.

The attached shot is an example of one taken as the player cuts - he was driving the sideline and I fired just as he turned - not as much motion toward the camera for that moment. (Rebel XT, f3.2, 1/500 (university gyms have much better lighting) but ISO still 1600 - run through Neat Image)


TXPhoto Jan 25, 2007 8:36 AM


Things went much better this time around shooting. I used both lenses the 24-70 and 70-200. I shot on ISO 1600 using Tv and Av. In the end, I found Av to be better to keep the constant 2.8 apeture. Plus I found the center focus point to work good, as well as using all focusing points.

/Now for the trouble, I noticed when I used my 70-200 I could not get the shutter speed faster then 200. What caused this and why? Also, having the 70-200 on a monopod helps a lot, I found it difficuult to get the camera straight. Is there a level I could attach like to the hotshoe to help with this?

Also, what about shooting 35mm film as well as digital would I get better results? If so, what speed film etc. I use a Canon EOS 1V.

Lastly, I'm looking into rechargable batteries ,because I have noticed using both Duracell and Energizer are good for only one game plus alittle more and quit on me in the middle of the next game.

You can e-mail me at [email protected] Thank you for all your help.


davidreeves Jan 25, 2007 11:33 AM

I have always had the best luck with Energizer 2500 mAH rechargeables.

JohnG Jan 25, 2007 1:19 PM


Glad to hear things went better this time around. The 1/200 sounds like a flash synch speed thing although I thought the synch speed was 1/250. Were you using flash? Did the flash slip out of HSS mode? Otherwise I'm stumped.

As for shooting film, I can't really say - I never shot sports with film. The 1V does have a better focus system, but you'd be using 1600 speed film which is going to be pretty grainy. I think the ISO 1600 of the digital is going to beat out the film.

To be honest I wouldn't fret over being level with the monopod - fix it when you crop in post processing. You want to be relatively close to level, but with having to move/pivot the camera on the monopod you don't have time to check a level - so fix it in PP.

TXPhoto Jan 25, 2007 1:28 PM


Yes, I was shooting flash. I'm not sure how to adjust the sync speed as I have never fiddled with the buttons. Any suggestions? Also, I'm using Microsoft Digital Image Suite 2006to edit photos since I cannot afford the $60.00 plus for Adobe. Any suggestions on what editing software to use? What do you use?


TXPhoto Jan 26, 2007 1:17 PM

Also, I was thinking of buying a 50 mm 1.8 for Canon. Any other lens choices for basketball?

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style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"Jerry

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