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Old Mar 7, 2007, 11:31 AM   #1
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This lighting at the venue where I was this weekend was much better than the gymnasiums where my daughter has competed all season. I turned on the camera sporting my 2.0 lense and the settings were SS 1/400, Av 2.0 and ISO 1600. Now I am metering +2.0 or better when I focus on the first gymnast.

My question is: Where do you make the adjustments? Is it personal preference or is there a "right" answer?

I ended up shooting at SS 1/640, Av 2.5 and ISO 1000 I think for most of the meet give or take +/- 1/3 EV maybe. Since I didn't know the right answer, I moved all three to come to a correct exposure.

I really didn't need that much shutter speed, and I could have shot at 2.0 and just moved ISO down to come to the correct exposure. I'm interested to hear what you would do and why!

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Old Mar 7, 2007, 12:20 PM   #2
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As you said, I don't think there is a single right answer. But here are some things to consider when presented with this wonderful opportunity :-):
  • How distracting are the backgrounds? If they're bad, you probably want to keep a shallow DOF[/*]
  • How sharp are your test shots coming out? In other words, based on the leos of the gymnasts how tough is it to get a sharp focus? If you're having trouble, then narrower aperture might help[/*]
  • If you get past those first 2 questions and you really don't have a tremendous reason to change aperture, then I think it depends on the event. Floor exercise can benefit from faster shutter speeds because of the tumbling - beam on the other hand is much slower (IMO, floor needs most, then vault then bars then beam). So, if shooting floor I'd bump up the shutter speed. For the other events, I'd drop the ISO to get less noise.
I think the key is - since you're shooting a lot of gymnastics, figure out what the real shutter speeds are you need for the age group / level you're shooting - and as mentioned above this will differ by event. Since you're covering girls with set routines, the necessary shutter speed per event will be constant - i.e regardless of venue you'll know that for beam, 1/200 is OK, floor needs 1/640 etc (I'm just making these up). But your focus accuracy may change by venue (and I swear just by day - there are some days I shoot in a gym and my focus is dead on and other days in the same gym I seem to struggle - can't tell you why, just happens to me). Once you know that, simply set the camera to that speed on that event and use the focus check above to see if you need more DOF because of focus issues. If you don't need more dof and focus is fine then change ISO.

Anyway, it's not the 'right' answer but it's how I would approach the situation, so it's at least 'a' answer :G
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Old Mar 8, 2007, 11:45 AM   #3
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Thanks for the input, I understand what you mean by the sharp focus.

As far as DOF matters go with backgrounds, please help me out:

Let's say I had a 70-200 f/2.8 in my bag last Saturday as well as a 85 f/1.8 with the wonderful lighting but the backgrounds were less than desirable.

1. For vault I could have either put on the prime or the zoom...and lets say the distance to the vault was 15 feet. If I go to DOFMaster and input those numbers for the 85 shot wide open at 1.8, my DOF is 0.63ft. If I'm holding the zoom at 2.8, the DOF is 1.0 ft.

2. Similar numbers between my 135 f2 and the zoom for the beam routine. Subject distance is say 40 ft and the DOF would be 2.01 ft at 2.0 and 2.85 ft at 2.8.

I understand the DOF means how deep of a window I have to work with for "acceptable sharpness", but how much advantage do I get let's say for instance in #1 above in blurring my backgrounds with 1.8 versus 2.8? Am I missing something on DOFMaster which would let me know?

I always try to put a lot of "air" behind my subject but sometimes it's just not possible.


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Old Mar 11, 2007, 10:54 PM   #4
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I'm certainly not the most knowledgeable person on the subject, but here goes.

ISO1000 sounds a little low. Maybe try ISO1600. If the light is really bad, go for ISO3200.

Not sure what shutter speed you need but probably 1/500th would do it.

As for using primes, you can get a nice bright image. However, as John said, anything shot wider than F2.8 can result in depth of field / focus problems.

Therefore I usually shoot indoors at F2.8 (aperture priority) if I can manage it. Nice safe aperture. Combine that with ISO1600 and see if you can maintain 1/250th or faster shutter speed.

If you can get ISO1600, 1/250th at F2.8, you are really hitting a sweet spot!

If the light is better than that, I either adjust my speed faster to eliminate blur of human moving parts (arms, legs, usually) or I dial down my ISO to get less noise.

Sometimes I use fill flash (indoor track) which usually llmits my shutter speed to 1/250th and no faster (fastest flash synch on the Canon, I'm afraid). ++

Indoor sports in a low light gym is always a challenge. It really takes your equipment and photographic knowledge to the limit.

--- Terry
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Old Mar 12, 2007, 7:30 AM   #5
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Either my second question is really hard orreally dumb!:-)

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"I'm just trying to figure out (given enough light), is there really much difference in between the background blur between 2.0 and 2.8 at a given distance to subject and background at a given focal length?

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"I guess if nothing else, I can get out the old camera and figure it out by trial and error!
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