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blu_by_you Dec 4, 2007 8:29 AM

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As the title states, I have a Nikon D50 with a 24 - 120 mm AF-S VR lens and hope to get some advice on taking pictures of my kids playing hockey. I have taken some with the 'sport' mode, but there are some blurry spots here and there. The arena's are lit very well, so lighting should not bea problem. I would like to get some advice on how to get the pictures crisper. ISO maybe?

I will attach a picture where you can see the burry spots when motion is present.

JimC Dec 4, 2007 8:50 AM

You need a brighter lens for starters. Your lens is not bright enough for indoor sports.

That photo was taken at ISO 800, f/5.6, 1/50 second. You're going to get motion blur with shutter speeds that slow. You really want around 1/500 second for sports like that. ;-)

With an lens that has f/2.8 available, you would have gotten 1/200 second at the same ISO speed (f/2.8 is 4 times as bright as f/5.6, which is the widest aperture your lens has zoomed in that far). That's still not fast enough for a high percentage of keepers.

You'd need to use ISO 1600 (twice as sensitive as ISO 800) at f/2.8 to get shutter speeds up to around 1/400 second. That was slightly underexposed, too (probably due to the ice fooling the metering). But, if you tired to expose any brighter (use a +EV setting with Exposure Compensation for a brighter exposure), you'd get even slower shutter speeds.

That was taken at 85mm. You may want to consider a Nikon 85mm f/1.8 Autofocus Lens. You could shoot at around f/2 with it, and get shutter speeds 8 times as fast as you could with your zoom for any given lighting and ISO speed.

A prime (fixed focal length) lens like this is brighter than any zoom and is often preferred for indoor sports.

In a Zoom, you'll want one with f/2.8 available throughout it's focal range. In a new lens, look at the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX HSM (around $800). If you're on a real tight budget, try and you can sometimes find older Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 Autofocus zooms at very decent prices used (around $400 for some of the non-D versions). Look under Nikon 35mm, Autofocus, Zoom Lenses.

On the downside, these older zooms won't focus as fast as newer Nikkor AF-S lenses or Sigma HSM lenses. But, they're still geared for faster focus than most lenses that rely on the camera body's focus motor. For even faster shutter speeds for a higher percentage of photos without motion blur, use a brighter prime instead of a zoom (I'd grab something like an 85mm f/1.8 Autofocus Lens).

tjsnaps Dec 4, 2007 9:29 AM

First off let me say I think the blurring of leg improves the picture above. It helps to emphasize the action. Having said that, you won't want it in most cases.
Everything Jim_C said is right on. A fast lens will make a big difference. This is one case where I would NOT recommend saving money by looking for older manual focus lenses. Manual focus takes time with a D50 sense the screen was not designed for it.
Until you can afford that new lens. Try shooting at peak action, those split seconds where the movement stops before changing direction. And remember you will get less motion blur from movement coming towards or away from you than movement from side to side. (your example shows this) A good sports photog could probably tell you more. Good luck

blu_by_you Dec 4, 2007 10:40 AM

Thank you both for your replies.

However, I just got the setup in the summer and I prolly won't be in the market to get a new lens this year, so unfortuntely I am stuck with it for now. But if I continue to take sports pics of them (in which is highly likely) then I need a new glass.

The lens was just for basic family pictures and I never anticipated me taking pics of thier hockey games (cause I didn't know that they would play)

anyways, so I should set the ISO to 1600 and hope for the best?

Also, when doing so, do I choose the A for aperture priority or stick with the sports mode?

Like I said, I am a beginner big time.

JimC Dec 4, 2007 10:47 AM

Yes, use ISO 1600. That would get you up to around 1/100 second in the same lighting at f/5.6 (the brightest your lens gets if you zoom in much).

It probably won't make much difference whether you use P (Programmed Auto) mode or Av (Aperture Priority) Mode, as P mode is going to leave the Aperture wide open in low light anyway. So, use a higher ISO speed to get faster shutter speeds.

You'd have to see if Sports Mode lets you control the ISO speed or not. You want ISO 1600 in that lighting.

If budget won't permit anything else, grab a Nikon 50mm f/1.8 Autofocus lens and see if you can get any keepers with it. They're around $100. A longer 85mm f/1.8 would be better. Go used if budget is real tight. You can grab an 85mm f/1.8 Autofocus Lens for $325 in Excellent Condition from

Nikon Autofocus Fixed Focal Length Lenses at

blu_by_you Dec 4, 2007 11:35 AM

Thanks alot for the advice!

I will definately look into one of those lenses.

blu_by_you Jan 8, 2008 8:27 AM

Ok, I'm back. I am going to purchase the Nikon 80-200 2.8. I have come to crossroads regarding the Silent Wave Motor - do I get it or not. I have found a really mint condition one for a good price that does not have the SWM.

The question I suppose is: What is the purpose for the SWM and will it really really help me when taking pictures of hockey? Remember, I am a beginner.


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