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Old Aug 6, 2007, 6:35 AM   #1
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There was plenty of permanent light, I have set up the ISO to 400, aperture at 2.8, everyting else being automatic. What am I doing wrong ? Should have I set up the ISO higher to allow for a faster speed ? Or priority on speed ?

There so much light everywhere my flash looked like a toy. I still do not get it.

Thanks for your help !
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Old Aug 6, 2007, 9:19 AM   #2
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Your shutter speed is a big part of the reason you have blurred pics. Higher iso may help but not with the shutter speed being 1/30th of a second. Getting good handheld shots you need to have the shutter speed to be on par minimun with focal length. ie (30mm - 1/30th sec, 200mm - 1/200th sec). Also, your iso settings were at 125 for the first two and 100 for the third. This may be due to your use of flash and your iso settings being on automatic.

For sports that is a different story. Minimun with some blurring effect is 1/250th of a sec. For freeze stop action 1/500th or faster. Indoors is tough with lighting being different from one place to another. Using a 2.8 lens may not be enough in alot of cases. If you can get a 1.8 or faster you may get enough light to get that shutter speed you need. You may have to crank that iso as far as you can go.

I would not shoot in program mode either for indoor sports. Try either of these three instead, AV mode with aperture set at 2.8 and the speed will be figured out by the camera (note may not be fast enough), TV mode at minimum 1/250th of a sec. and the aperture will be figured out by the camera (note this may not give you the DOF needed to isolate your center of interest). Manual mode with aperture set at 2.8 and set the shutter speed at minimum 1/250th and iso at 1600. From there I would try a faster shutter speed and play with the iso up or down. If you have spot mode for focusing give that a try as well.

John G. is quite the expert in this field on this forum and will most likely chime in and give better suggestions that what I have here.
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Old Aug 6, 2007, 9:31 AM   #3
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What is bright to the human eye, is not to the camera's lens. Light is quite low in a gym environment for trying to freeze rapidly moving subjects

If you look at the EXIF (a header in the images that show the camera settings used), most of those were taken using a shutter speed of around 1/30 second at ISO 100 or ISO 125 on the wide end of the zoom at f/2.8.

If you would have tried to zoom in more using ISO speeds that low, your photos would have probably been underexposed *and* blurry trying to use the flash (because the lens on your Olympus S800 loses light as you zoom in more).

That's way too slow to freeze moving subjects, and the flash was not providing hardly any of the light.

To be frank, I'm surprised they came out as well as they did.

Indoor sports is one of the most demanding conditions that you can shoot in.

Our sports shooters here typically use a camera capable of shooting at ISO 1600 or 3200, with a bright prime (fixed focal length, non-zoom) lens attached, because a zoom (even one that can maintain f/2.8 throughout the focal range, which your lens will not) is often not bright enough for the shutter speeds desired, even at higher ISO speeds.

Even shooting at shutter speeds as fast 1/500 second, you can sometimes see a bit of blur in hand and foot movement. But, that is usually the target shutter speed for this type of action (around 1/400 to 1/500 second minimum).

To get a better idea of the relationship between lighting, ISO Speed and Aperture, see this handy online exposure calculator. Film Speed is the same thing as ISO speed. If you look at the light levels for Night Sports (EV of 8 ), you'll see that a shutter speed of 1/30 second would be needed for proper exposure at f/2.8 (what you were getting at ISO 100 and f/2.8 in that gym lighting for what looked to be appropriate exposure). So, the lighting in that gym is at about that level:


Note that if you change the ISO speed to ISO 800, that would get you around 1/250 second if you don't zoom in much. That's still not fast enough to freeze hand and foot movement for rapidly moving subjects. But, your percentage of keepers would be much higher there. Only ISO 1600 would get you up to around what the target shutter speeds would be for this type of action. But, only if you didn't zoom in any. Because if you zoom into the long end of your lens (most apparent magnfication), your largest available aperture drops off to f/4.9.

That means that even if you shoot at ISO 1600 and zoom in much (more apparent magnification) with your camera model,, your shutter speeds would be less than 1/100 second and that lighting (and you'll get motion blur with moving subjects trying to shoot that way).

With your camera model, your best bet is probaby to use the highest available ISO speeds in those conditions (ISO 800 or 1600), which will mean the camera will apply pretty heavy noise reduction and produce a downsized image (3 Megapixels is the maximum image size available at ISO 800 or ISO 1600 with your camera).

Then, try it with the flash off using Aperture Priority set to the largest available aperture (f/2.8 on the wide end of your zoom, dropping off to f/4.9 as you zoom in more) and see what your shutter speeds are. Smaller f/stop numbers are larger aperture openings (since aperture as expressed as f/stop is a ratio between the focal length of the lens and the area of the aperture iris diameter). Don't zoom in any more than necessary, or your shutter speeds will be too slow for many keepers unless you can catch the players when they are still.

You could try to experiment using manual exposure or shutter priority and see what you get at various ISO speeds and shutter speeds (using the camera's meter and histogram as a guide to how your settings are working).

Then, see if the flash can help when you're close enough to use it (you may be able to use a bit faster shutter speeds to block out some of the ambient light in the gym, and let the flash try to freeze the action). Forget trying Auto modes, as they will keep the shutter speeds too slow (allowing exposure of the subjects by ambient light, which will allow you to see motion blur).

Basically, the gym lighting there is bright enough so that it's going to expose the subjects at slower shutter speeds. So, the flash is not the primary light source.

If you can use faster shutter speeds so that the photo would normally be underexposed (dark) without the flash, the flash can help to freeze the action (because the flash burst is very short, with the subjects only exposed during the short flash burst).

But, your flash range will be limited without increasing your ISO speed and trying to stay towards the wide end of the zoom (least apparent magnfication).

Here are it's specs (note that higher ISO speeds will get your more range (each time you double the ISO speed, the flash range increases by 1.4x), and zooming in will lower your flash range (that's why you see numbers for the wide and telephoto end of the zoom range listed). They show it at both Auto ISO (which assumes it's going to raise it some) and ISO 1600

Program Auto: W: 21.3 ft (6.5m), T: 11.5ft (3.5m)
ISO1600: W: 42.0 ft(12.8m), T: 23.6 ft (7.2m)

Note that the GN (Guide Number) of your built in flash is 10 meters at ISO 100. To compute actual range in meters at ISO 100, divide the Guide Number (10) by the aperture you use (2.8, etc.). Then, multiply the range by 1.4x each time you double the ISO Speed.

For example, if shooting at ISO 100 and f/2.8, your flash range would be around 3.6 meters. The Auto ISO rating shown in their specs assumes the camera is increasing ISO speed (but, it's not going to do that unless shutter speeds get relatively slow in darker conditions, and it doesn't know that you're trying to shoot rapidly moving subjects). So, you'll want to set thinks like ISO speed and other camera settings yourself. Basketball is not a subjerct type where you can use Auto with a camera. ;-)

There is no real good solution with this type of camera if you want to use one often in these conditions. You may want to try shooting with Shutter Priority set to a fast enough shutter speed so that the photo would be dark without the flash (i.e, try 1/500 or faster), using a high enough ISO speed to stay within the flash range if you can get close enough that way. Then, see if the flash can freeze the action (since it's providing most of the light, and it's burst length will be around 1/1000 second or faster, freezing the action).

Shutter speed has no bearing on how much light the camera sees from the flash (only aperture and ISO speed impact that, because of the very short duration of the flash burst). So, the idea is to use shutter speeds that are fast enough to make it where the subjects are too dark to be properly exposed without a flash, then use the flash to illuminate them and freeze the action).

If not, you may need to try and expose more with ambient light and use ISO 800 or 1600 and see if you can get a high enough percentage of keepers, trying to stay on the wide end of the zoom range where your lens is brightest. On the wide end of your lens, that may get your shutter speeds up fast enough for an acceptable number of keepers (but, probably not if you zoomed in much).

If you're going to be taking a lot of photos in these conditions, your best bet is a dSLR capable of shooting at ISO 1600 or ISO 3200 using a bright prime (fixed focal length, non-zoom lens). A inexpensive choice would be something like a 50mm f/1.8 if you can get close enough (this kind of lens is more than twice as bright as your zoom is on it's widest zoom setting). If you zoomed in much with your lens, the difference would be much greater. The best focal length would probably be around 85mm when shooting from the floor (on a dSLR with an APS-C size sensor). But, these typically sell for much more than a 50mm.

Or, as an alternative, a powerful external flash (using the technique I mentioned where you set the camera so that not enough ambient light gets through to expose the subjects without a flash, using the flash burst to illuminate them and freeze the action).

You can get some ideas about how shooting basketball is typically done by reading through JohnG's posts in this thread:


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Old Aug 6, 2007, 10:09 AM   #4
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vIZnquestand JimC,

Your advices are like gold to me and I am very grateful indeed.

I am about to buy a good DSLR, like a NIkon 80 or Canon 400D. I won't develop as it is not the correct thread for that, but your infos are certainly going to highly influence my choice.

Thanks again

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Old Aug 6, 2007, 10:51 AM   #5
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That's really your best bet (a DSLR) if you want to take a lot of photos in those types of settings.

You can get a brighter lens for one (and the kit lenses do not fall into that category), and they'll have higher usable ISO speeds available (without as much loss of detail from noise suppression and downsizing of the image like you'd need to do with your current model). You'd also be able to use an external flash more easily with a dSLR type of solution.

Now, regardless of the solution you go with, it's not going to be easy. lol It will take lots of practice to increase your percentage of keepers. For one thing, your Depth of Field will be much shallower than you're accustomed to for a given aperture and subject framing. That's great for helping your subject stand out from distracting backgrounds. But, your Autofocus point becomes more critical to make sure your intended subject is sharp. We have a few Sports Shooters here that can help you out with that process (JohnG, Mark1616 and others).

For that type of shooting, I'd probably go with a bright prime (non-zoom, fixed focal length lens) type of solution, versus a zoom using a powerful external flash (although either solution type has it's merits).
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