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Old Mar 11, 2007, 8:09 AM   #1
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I tried to take some action shots of a football game last night, it was a dark wet night the game was played under floodlights but all my shots were very dark, i was trying to shoot at full zoom 200 for me, aperture f4 iso 1600 but was very disappointed with the results, i couldnt capture action shots without them being blurred, any suggestions/help in this matterwould be appreciated. i have nikon d50!, this was my first attempt at night time action shots!
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Old Mar 11, 2007, 8:32 AM   #2
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If f/2 is the fastest lens you have, and ISO 1600 is the fastest available on your camera (it can be stretched about one stop with software - you thought you already had noise?), the only solution is to use a longer exposure.

Of course longer exposure generally means more blur -either shake or subject motion.

When you say you have "blur" in your photos, the first thing to figure out is whether it is subject motion or shake. If it is subject motion, the solution is a shorter exposure and/or panning. If it is shake, a tripod, monopod, leaning against a post, ... should help.
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Old Mar 11, 2007, 10:19 AM   #3
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colinl wrote:
Quote:
I tried to take some action shots of a football game last night, it was a dark wet night the game was played under floodlights but all my shots were very dark
That means that you were underexposing them (your shutter speeds were not long enough for the lighting, aperture and ISO speed selected). Most metering systems will lean heavily towards your focus point if using Matrix (a.k.a., mult-segment). So, focus point has a big impact. Many of the systems can be easily fooled by bright lights, lots of white in a shot and more (since this metering mode is still looking at the entire scene). A different metering mode can also help out (center weighted or spot).

But, with widely varying uniform colors and trying to focus on a rapidly moving subject, , that may not be a good solution either. So, sometimes you have to use Exposure Compensation to help out in modes like Programmed Auto or Aperture Priority (a +EV setting will give you a brighter exposure) if the photos are consistently exposed (underexposed in your case).

Using Manual Exposure can be a good way to get around these types of issues if the lighting is relatively uniform. Just take a few test shots and adjust your Aperture (and you'll want to leave that lens wide open at f/4 if that's all it's got), and Shutter Speed until the exposure and histogram are as best as you can get, and leave it nailed down. That takes the metering headaches out of the equation.

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I was trying to shoot at full zoom 200 for me, aperture f4 iso 1600 but was very disappointed with the results, i couldnt capture action shots without them being blurred, any suggestions/help in this matterwould be appreciated.
If f/4 is the widest aperture your lens has available, your choices are more limited. An f/2.8 zoom is a better idea for night sports in a stadium (f/2.8 is exactly twice as bright as f/4, allowing shutter speeds twice as fast for the same ISO speed and lighting to get the same image brightness). Are you sure you even have f/4 available when zoomed in all the way (a lot of the non-F/2.8 zooms around are only f/4 at their wide end, and drop off to around f/5.6 on their long end).

If you're seeing motion blur from subject movement, you can deliberately underexpose as BillDrew mentioned, and if you're not underexposed enough already, use a -EV setting with Exposure Compensation when shooting in Av Mode with the Aperture Wide open. That will give you even faster shutter speeds (a -EV setting in Aperture Priority Mode gives you a darker exposure by using faster shutter speeds than the camera would normally pick). Then, brighten the exposure later using software. That will give you higher noise levels. So, be prepared to use software to help reduce it (Noiseware, Neat Image and Noise Ninja are popular choices).

If the blur is from Focus Errors versus subject movement, try a different focus mode (i.e., continuous) and see if that helps out and/or make sure you've got the focus point you want selected.

Panning with the action can help let you get away with slower shutter speeds if it's a shutter speed issue versus focus issue. If nothing else, you can pick your shots when the players are not moving as much.

You may want to post some samples for members to look at so they can see what kind of shutter speeds you're getting, too. You could also have a camera shake issue (as well as motion blur, focus or other issues impacting your results).

A brighter lens is probably your best bet (that will help with AF in lower light since the camera can "see" better for focus, and a brighter lens will also help you get faster shutter speeds). What lens have you got now?

http://www.keh.com has some pretty good deals on used Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8 AF lenses pretty often (especially with the non-D versions of these lenses). I've seen them listed for around $400 when checking the listings there pretty often. So, I'd consider a stop brighter f/2.8 lens, too.

Here's one example in Excellent Condition with Caps for $415 (and they've got more in various conditions, with and without things like caps and hood). The newer D versions are a bit more than this.

Nikkon 80-200mm f/2.8 AF Lens at KEH.com (older, non-D version)
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Old Mar 14, 2007, 11:51 AM   #4
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Colin,

to summarize the situation - you're in trouble.

Whether or not you can get out of trouble depends on the lighting. For example, when I shoot high school soccer and football under the lights I'm usually using f2.8 and ISO 3200 and then usually getting shutter speeds of 1/320 to 1/400 which is barely acceptable. Now, your lighting won't be exactly the same, but for the sake of argument lets say it were. That would mean to get a proper exposure at f4, ISO 1600 you would be using shutter speeds 2 stops slower: 1/80 or 1/100. Way too slow to be acceptable.

But it's impossible to say without sample shots, how good the lighting was and what aperture and shutter speed would be needed for a proper exposure given the limitation of ISO 1600. Your lighting may be better or worse than what i described.

It may be that with ISO1600 even 2.8 isn't bright enough. in which case, using an external speedlight is the solution to your problem. I avoid it like the plague for sports work because of the monster eye you get (even using a bracket - when the subject is 20 yards away you still get the affect). But you may not have a choice.

Also remember - 200mm isn't very long. I wouldn't advise trying to capture subjects past 25 yards with your current lens. If they're beyond that distance you're keeper rate will really take a nose dive. So position yourself appropriately and wait for the action to get in that 25 yard range.
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Old Mar 14, 2007, 2:44 PM   #5
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Thanks for the advice gents, i dont have any sample shots as i deleted them in disgust, i shall try again when i get the chance using some of your tips, it was a really dark horrible night so hopefully it was just down to that and possibly the lens that i have isnt really suitable for those conditions but if you dont try you dont get!
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