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SamG Sep 1, 2010 7:50 AM

A year later (MS Girls BB)
So a year ago I had a brand new camera (Nikon D5000) and tried it out at a girls basketball game. Here's the thread...

A year later, here are some of my pics...
ISO 3200


ISO 3200

ISO 3200

I took a bunch more, but it seemed like I was "off" just a bit... generally with focus (like in #4), but occasionally with timing. I was using the autofocus, tried in manual, but couldn't keep up. Any suggestions for working with focus & fast moving sports?

Mark1616 Sep 1, 2010 8:14 AM

Glad you are still shooting. You are getting better angles with being nice and low and caught some good facial expressions.

Your limitation is still your lens, it is probably a major cause in the focus not keeping up as the AF isn't great and also in low light you are working at f4 in the best conditions and less when you zoom. A lens with f2.8 high speed focus motor will really help you..... it will also help another problem which is the low shutter speed. Going from f4 to f2.8 will double the shutter speed you are getting which will be a big improvement although 1/320s is still lower than I would hope.

Another option is finding an 85mm f1.8/1.4 lens that has a focus motor built in (not sure of the best option as I don't shoot Nikon).

JohnG Sep 1, 2010 12:08 PM

Mark's advice is spot on. As for these photos:
shot 1: exposure and colors look good and eyes are pretty sharp - but way too much deadspace at top of frame. Get rid of it.

shot 2: face just isn't sharp enough - probably a combination of motion blur and miss focus. In general, freethrow shots are very uninteresting - just like any sports where someone is just standing around - what has to make it interesting is the facial expression. So any sport where you're shooting someone essentially standing around you want a good facial expression - and the face has to be sharp for it to work.

shot 3: best of the group. The shot is crooked though. If this was cropped, go back to the original and re-crop while straitening. Still, the defender is quite soft - most likely due to motion blur. Because she's part of the play, her not being sharp is distracting. I like the expression on the ball handler and I think the timing of the shot is good but that defender needs to be sharper for the shot to work.

shot 4: my hunch would be this was heavily cropped. The players aren't sharp - a combination of motion blur and missed focus. Even the planted foot isn't particularly sharp - so that's why I think focus was off as well or the image was heavily cropped. You can't crop much at all at high ISO with action shots.

As Mark indicated - you're lens is a limitation. Unfortunately I don't know if there are any 85mm 1.8/1.4 solutions for you that have a focus motor (and one fast enough for sports). I think the focus limitations of that lens and it's inability to give you necessary shutter speeds are going to keep holding you back.

JimC Sep 1, 2010 12:21 PM


Originally Posted by JohnG (Post 1136187)
... Unfortunately I don't know if there are any 85mm 1.8/1.4 solutions for you that have a focus motor (and one fast enough for sports).

Sigma announced one in February (85mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM). I'd expect it to start showing up as available this month.

A number of dealers are listing it now at around $899 (and although it's not in stock anywhere yet that I'm aware of, some vendors are expecting it this month).

Mark1616 Sep 1, 2010 12:23 PM

I saw that Jim a while ago and would like it along with the 50mm f1.4 in my bag...... just waiting to see the results.

Problem is the price, if Nikon didn't remove the AF motor then the 85mm f1.8 would be a really good buy.

JohnG Sep 1, 2010 12:24 PM

At that price I would rather suggest the sigma 70-200 2.8 for $800. More flexibility for lower price.

SamG Sep 1, 2010 2:14 PM

Thanks guys. Obviously I'm still using the kit lenses. I'm trying to make do with what I have since I want the cash available instead of credit card for a lens. Let me tell you with a wife and three kids, coming up with the extra money is not the easiest. lol

I have improved... instead of using aperture priority, I now work fully manual. I'm not the quickest on getting the right settings, but I did take the advice from last year to shoot a couple test shots and adjust from those.

I just want to keep improving.


JohnG Sep 1, 2010 2:29 PM

You definitely have your exposures and shooting angle better. The next easy step is straitening images (use vertical queues in the background) and in the case of free-throws, tighter framing. Those are the improvements I can recommend based on these photos. Then you're kind of at a wall. I think your approach is a good one - and realistic - fix what you can without spending money. You're almost there. Then you'll just have to get over the finance wall before you start capturing better action shots.

SamG Sep 1, 2010 4:49 PM


Originally Posted by JohnG (Post 1136195)
At that price I would rather suggest the sigma 70-200 2.8 for $800. More flexibility for lower price.

Is this the one you're talking about?

pbjunkiee Sep 1, 2010 5:08 PM

that would be her, i actually just sold mine to a friend so i can bump up to the nikon 70-200 vri, it is an awesome lens, and i kinda miss it. I think you can pick up a new one off of ebay for around 750, or get a nikon 80-200 af-s off of keh for a little more than that.

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