Steve's Digicams Forums

Steve's Digicams Forums (
-   Sports & Action Photos (
-   -   TONIGHT: first try at sports - advice? (

urbanaries Feb 27, 2006 10:09 AM

I was just asked to shoot my cousins' tournament tonight...I am an amateurwedding/portrait photog so have very little fast action experience...

I've read some of the basketball & volleyball threads here and they are very helpful. I'm most concerned aboutkeeping entire subject in focusgiven the f/ needed to capture quickly in low light.

These are the lenses I have, I'm assuming based on my reading that the 50mm will be my walkaround? Also what rules of thumb will be useful on ISO & shutter speedat this type of event?

-Canon 50mm 1.8

-Canon EF 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS USM

-Tamron 70-200mm f4-5.6



davidreeves Feb 27, 2006 10:29 AM

Your right, the 50 1.8 is what you want to lose.

I would shoot in manual, set my shutter speed to 1/400 and Aperature to f2.5, ISO to 1600. You might try 3200 if 1600 is to dark.

Those settings should get you in the ball park. I would not shoot iso3200 unless you have to.

If the gym is lit better than most middle school gyms that I have been in, you might start edging your aperature setting up to 2.8 / 3.2

The 50mm 1.8 is a great lens and I use mine alot and love it, but at f1.8 / f2.0 you will have focus issues. The more DOF you can dial in the better off you will be. I suspect if you can get reasonably bright pics at f3.0 you will be lucky but thats where I would hope to be able to shoot.

You might start out in Tv mode. Set your shutter speed to 1/400, ISO1600 and see what aperature number you get. If you can get a faster shutter speed, say 1/500 an an aperature number of say, f2.5, thats where I would shoot. The faster the shutter speed the better chance you have of minimizing motion blur. The lower the f number, the brighter your image will be but you will get into the narrow DOF and associated focus issues

I shoot in single shot mode mainly and I do shoot bursts on action coming at me.

Good luck and would love to see some of your shots.

klfatcj Feb 27, 2006 10:37 AM

It will really depend on the lighting in the gym. If it's college/university fieldhouse type, the lights are high and bright and allow faster shooting. HS gyms are more variable. I have an XT, so am limited to ISO 1600, which is definitely fast enough for the colleges and often okay for gyms as well.

Shutter speed is more important than keeping the whole subject in focus IMO and I think in most others. You really need to stop action with speed. If you are shooting at 1/200 or less you will have a fair bit of motion blur. I try to shoot at 1/400 or faster, so am usually shooting at f2.8 (Sigma 70-200 f2.8 and Canon 50mm also set to 2.8.

If you check out sports illustrated shots, even there the whole player and ball isn't always in focus as their DOF is often quite shallow as well. I think if the face and numbers of the player with the ball are in focus you have your shot; the rest beinga bit out of focus won't really bother you. Motion blur on the limbs and ball frequently add to the shot and shallow DOF isolate the player you want at times. Depending on you position, the defender may be on the same plane as the player when you shoot and may be in relatively good focus.

If you are lucky and the light is good you may be able to use your 70-200. ISO 3200 and f5.6 would work in a bright gym and let you take some shots under the far hoop, showing about 1/3 of the width of the court. It would let you isolate players around the center line, so okay if you want to get shots of ball handlers coming up the court. By the time they are close to the close hoop, you can't get the whole player on, even at 70mm.

The 50mm is good for shots from thefoul line in. If you can position yourself along the baseline, you will be in position for most shots. You can move off to the side a bit and get players driving in, or be right under the hoop and catch them as they start their drives.

The 18-55 probably won't add much over the 50mm. The IS won't help as you won't be shooting that slow. If you do - there will be a fair bit of blur from the players movement (but I imagine you already know that).

I use center focus and aim for the numbers - it gives the focus something contrasty to grab on to.

Expect to like about 1 out of 20 shots at best, so take hundreds. Prepare to curse when you see you got the perfect moment but the AF let you down. Curse when you got the moment, the focus, but the player had just moved into a poorer lit spot, or the light was cycling. Curse even more when you got the moment, the focus and the light and the ref or another player moved just enough to block the face or the ball.

Have fun.


urbanaries Feb 27, 2006 11:13 AM

Thanks to you both for some great info & advice! This is exactly what I was looking for. The shotpositioning and focus 'philosophy' pointers are super helpful.

I am not so sure about AF settings though. Kevin, do you use AI Servo or One Shot with Center focus?

(It's a Catholic school so I'll have to try to keep my cursing at a minimum. Or at least away from the "Holy Mother"variety. LOL)

Hope to post a few decent shots tomorrow --UA

klfatcj Feb 27, 2006 1:34 PM

I generally use the AI servo as supposedly it allows some shot tracking, but I still find that when shooting in multi-shot mode that a number will be out of focus, especially if the player is drivingat the camera.

Using the AF points can help, especially if you are trying to get shots with both players in it - use an AF point off to the side as if you are shooting the centre one, it will usually be between the two players and focus on the background. If you are trying to get individuals, the centre point is fine.


urbanaries Feb 27, 2006 1:55 PM

great advice Kevin, thanks....I generally use Manual focus, so I'll have to practice! I've only had the 20D for a month and honestly don't know how to change the focus points. I will RTFM before I go ;)

ONE QUESTION - forgive my basketball ignorance, what exactly is the baseline? Are you talking about under the basket, or around the foul line, perpendicular to the basket?

davidreeves Feb 27, 2006 3:58 PM

Kevin offers some great advice.

Personally, If I am shooting from the baseline area, I rarely use anything except my 50 1.8. I also have an 85 1.8 and a 100 2.0 but it is the thrifty 50 I use most although I have been using the 85 quite a bit more lately because it focuses faster.

Dont be afraid to crop your images shot with the 50.

I gave up on AI Servo and stick with single shot. You can still shoot a burst with single shot focus. It is just my personal preference.

And as Kevin says, shoot hundreds of pictures. Im a typical HS game, I take about 350 - 4000 shots and wind up witharound 75 that I am satisfied with.

I shoot college, HS and middle school and I can tell you from my experience here, college lighting is best, middle school terrible

Good luck!

ahh, and after your done cussing, dont forget confession Saturday afternoon :-)

[email protected] Feb 27, 2006 5:18 PM

Recommend the following:

- 50mm F1.8 courtside.

- ISO3200

- Shutter priority 1/250th.

- You can use autofocus, you'll be okay.

Check your aperture, if it's wide open at F1.8, then bring your iso down to 1600 and try to get an F2.8 aperture.


-- Terry

urbanaries Feb 28, 2006 12:58 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Really appreciate everyone's help. The lighting was decent enough to shoot mostly 1/400 at f/2.5 or 2.8. I did try shooting a few at ISO 3200 (the steal) just to see what happened...didn't turn out as bad as I expected.

The thrifty fifty I borrowed is pretty old, and the AF was so unreliable. 90% of the bad shots were only bad because it was focusing on the background and not the subject. I tried Center weighting and Center averaging...not much difference. Any suggestions? (I'm gettinga new 50mm by the next game this Saturday).


urbanaries Feb 28, 2006 12:59 PM

1 Attachment(s)
#2 - not a game action shot, but I thought it was cool (i think this was at 3200)

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 2:40 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
SEO by vBSEO 3.6.0 RC 2