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Old Jun 15, 2011, 9:47 AM   #1
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I have a Nikon D40 that I use primarily to take pictures of my sons' baseball and basketball games. I am a very inexperienced user!

Last night I was trying to take pictures of my son's baseball game which was at night. I'm looking for help on how to set my camera so that the photos are not blurred. We have a big playoff game coming up and I would like to do better than I did last night!

Thank you.
Justine
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Old Jun 16, 2011, 7:43 AM   #2
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hey Justine. Welcome to Steve's.

This question comes up a lot. For night sports "under the lights", you're going to need to shoot at higher ISO speeds using a very bright lens to increase your percentage of keepers. That means using a lens with f/2.8 available (for example, a Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 AF-S VR or Sigma 70-200mm f/2. EX DG HSM) at around ISO 3200. Also, 200mm really isn't long enough to cover the entire field. So, a longer lens is an even better bet (think Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 or primes like a Nikkor 300mm f/2.8).

What lenses do you have now? I'd use it at ISO 1600 or 3200 and take lots of photos. Try to pan with the action so that subjects are not moving across the frame, and time shots for the least amount of movement to increase your percentage of keepers.

For the basketball, same thing. Use ISO 1600 or 3200 and use the brightest lens you have (lower available f/stop numbers). Often, a prime with f/2 available is a better bet on a tight budget. For example, a Nikkor 85mm f/1.8. But, you wouldn't have Autofocus using that lens with a D40. So, I'd probably stick with a fast f/2.8 zoom (e.g., the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 HSM I mentioned) using ISO 1600, 1/200 and f/2.8; or ISO 3200, 1/400, f/2.8 using manual exposure (or if you don't have lenses that bright, set it to the highest ISO speed and lowest f/stop number and adjust shutter speed for correct exposure)

Manual exposure is usually a better bet for indoor sports since the lighting is consistent. Then if the photos are too dark, use a slower shutter speed; and if they're too bright, use a faster shutter speed. Use a custom white balance (see your manual for how to set one). You'll still have blur with that type of setup without bright lenses. But, if you take lots of photos you may get a keeper or two.

Then, upgrade your camera body later if low light sports are important to you. Your D40 is really not a great choice for that type of shooting.
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Old Jun 20, 2011, 12:06 PM   #3
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I have the 55-200mm lens that came with the camera in addition to the standard lens. I'm able to get pretty close to the field (next to the dugout) so my biggest challenge is when the sun goes down and I am relying on the field's lights. We had our 1st game of the series last night and I failed miserably trying to get a team shot as they jumped up and down when they won. Everything was a blur. During the day I can use the sports icon on the dial and they are great!

Can you tell me what setting on the dial I need to use (P,S,A,M)? And I apologize for my ignorance, but what do you mean by "pan" with the action? How do I adjust shutter speed?

Thank you for your help. I get to try again tomorrow night at the second game
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Old Jun 20, 2011, 5:21 PM   #4
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What mode to use will depend on how consistent your lighting is. ;-)

If it's very evenly lit, you may be better off using manual exposure (M on your mode dial). Then use your lowest available f/stop (which is going to be f/5.6 if you're zoomed in much with your 55-200mm) with ISO speeds set very high (i.e. ISO 3200/Hi 1 is the highest setting your camera has available).

Then adjust shutter speed so that subjects are properly exposed (take some test photos), using a faster shutter speed if they're too bright, or a slower shutter speed if they're too dark.

Or, use Aperture Priority (Av mode), and set your f/stop to it's lowest number (and that's going to be f/5.6 if you zoom into 200mm with that lens), use ISO 3200 (Hi 1), AF-C (Continuous Autofocus) and Continuous Drive Mode. Then, use a -EV setting with Exposure Compensation if photos are coming out too bright, or a +EV setting with Exposure Compensation if the photos are coming out too dark.

Here's the major problem. That lens is not bright enough for use "under the lights" for night games. You'd normally want a lens with f/2.8 available (exactly 4 times as bright as f/5.6, allowing shutter speeds 4 times as fast for the same lighting and ISO speed for the same exposure brightness). Then, you'd still probably need ISO 3200 to increase your percentage of keepers without too much blur.,

So, you'll need to compromise. No matter which way you try it, you're still going to end up with blurry photos trying to use that lens at a night game. The question then becomes how to balance noise (which will be worse as you increase ISO speeds) with blur (which will be greater if you keep ISO speed set lower).

If you use Sports Mode, it's probably going to limit ISO speed to 1600, resulting in a lot of blur in low light with that lens (and under the lights in a typical stadium at night is low light to a camera). If you go to another mode and set it yourself to Hi 1, which is ISO 3200, you're going to have more noise (ugly grain that will destroy detail). You'll have less blur at higher ISO speeds (but, I'd still expect to see a lot with much movement using that lens zoomed in much).

You'd have to decide how much noise you can tolerate and if the reduction in blur is worth it (both are going to degrade image quality).

IOW, that camera/lens combination is really not suitable for night games.

By panning, try to reduce how much movement is occurring within the frame. IOW, if someone is running, move the camera with them so that they stay in the same place in your viewfinder (which takes practice) versus running "across" your viewfinder.

You want to reduce how far they move inside of your viewfinder while the shutter is open (swing the camera from left to right (or vice-versa) with a runner so that they are in the same place in the frame while you take the photo.

That will let you get away with slower shutter speeds and you'll get more keepers that way (where you may see blurry arms and legs with a sharper torso and face). Or, if they're not running, try to time your shots for when movement is the lowest across the frame (for example, at the top of a jump; or the pause at the back of the wind up, etc.).

Perhaps some of our Sports Shooters will chime in with suggestions. But, the main reason Sports Mode can work in daylight is more light; and the main reason you're getting blurry photos at night games is because there is a *lot* less light.

As a result (low light, lens with a widest available aperture of f/5.6 when zoomed in much), the camera needs to keep the shutter open longer to get the same exposure (correct image brightness) in lower light levels, because your lens is not very bright. Also, chances are it's sports mode is probably limiting the highest ISO speed to 1600 to keep noise levels down (each time you double the ISO speed, the camera can use shutter speeds twice as fast for the same lighting and aperture)

There's no great solution with that camera/lens combo. Personally, I'd crank the ISO speed up to ISO 3200 (meaning lots of grain/noise destroying detail), use the widest available aperture (lowest f/stop numbers) in Aperture Priority mode with Center Weighted Metering, tweak exposure compensation so that most images look OK from an exposure perspective, and take my chances on getting some keepers without too much noise and blur by taking a lot of photos.
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Old Jun 21, 2011, 9:51 AM   #5
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Oh wow, lots of great information! I will see if I can put it all together and hopefully get a few decent shots tonight! Thank you!!

Last edited by justinekno; Jun 21, 2011 at 9:54 AM.
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Old Jun 23, 2011, 7:35 AM   #6
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Hi, i m new here. i join this forum today.i want to join this forums to talk about the yoga .
Welcome to All new members who join this forums after me.
thanks to Admin who give me permission to posting my post.
Thanks.
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Old Jun 23, 2011, 1:14 PM   #7
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Quote:
thanks to Admin who give me permission to posting my post.
Yea... right.

Nice try, but you've been banned (again), so that the links in your signature are no longer visible in posts here.

We're not a Yoga forum and we do not allow advertisements for other sites here, especially if they're not related to photography (as in the sites being promoted in your signature).

Sorry. This is not the place to promote yoga.
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