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Old Mar 16, 2008, 10:31 AM   #11
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For now she is not able to do the high energy ( flips,bars etc) gymnastics. She is only 5 and does mostly tumbling. I do like to pose her and take lots of portraits but again she is 5 and moves around a lot so I miss the goos pictures.
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Old Mar 16, 2008, 10:41 AM   #12
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You're still going to want higher ISO speeds with a bright prime. It doesn't take much movement to cause blurry photos from motion blur if your shutter speeds are not fast enough.

Here's a recent thread one of our members posted with results from a gymnastics event he covered I'd suggest looking through. He was shooting floor routines for 2 days. Sure, 5 year olds may not be quite as fast. But, the same kind of problems are still going to apply. Note that Mark1616 said his setup did not allow fast enough shutter speeds to freeze the action. He was shooting with zoom lenses that have f/2.8 available using ISO 3200, and only getting 1/250 second shutter speeds.

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/fo...mp;forum_id=82

Are you able to shoot from the corner of the mat? Knowing how close you can get would help help some of our sports shooters like JohnG make better recommendations.

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Old Mar 16, 2008, 11:27 AM   #13
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jenm wrote:
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For now she is not able to do the high energy ( flips,bars etc) gymnastics. She is only 5 and does mostly tumbling. I do like to pose her and take lots of portraits but again she is 5 and moves around a lot so I miss the goos pictures.
Tumbling is the hardest thing to freeze. Much harder than any of the shots I posted here.

As for posed shots. The keys there in low light are: fast AF, quick shutter response and ability to freeze the subject. Just about every dslr will have quick shutter response once focus is achieved. Fast AF is another matter - that is dependent upon the camera/lens combo.

For freezing your 5 year old, there are 2 possible ways - faster shutter speeds which high ISO and wide primes can do in some cases and/or external flash. I like the flash method as a starting point because it will work in any light. Fast primes and high ISOs only work in certain low-light situations. I'm assuming by the way we are now talking non-gymnastics (you should never use flash during gymnastics). The flash will freeze the motion of your subject even at low shutter speeds and you don't need to shoot at very high ISOs. For more stable subjects (older kids/ adults) the bright prime route can be great because it's more natural than using flash.

This is why stepping up from point-and-shoot photography is a little trickier. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Different shooting requirements often require different tools. That's the great benefit of DSLRs - they allow you to use different lenses and accessories to help you achieve your goals.

Now, entry level DSLRs have built in flashes - but they aren't very powerful, they often still have red-eye, they take a long time to recycle and they're harsh. But that's a limitation you would have to accept with a $500 budget. It would be nice if we were all independently wealthy and could afford thousands of dollars in equipment but most cant. So, we have to compromise. Sometimes that means choosing between different photographic goals and deciding - how best to allocate finances.

Without being really close to your daughter, you're just not going to get good shots of her tumbling in your price range (i.e. you could get some shots with the $75 50mm 1.8 but you have to be within 10-15 feet of her). Now, that 50mm 1.8 can get you some great portrait shots of your daughter if you have enough light - inside daylight with light in the room. But if it's nighttime and you're relying on lamps in the house then likely you'll still see some blur in the photos and flash would be a better fit.

I guess what I'm trying to say is: a DSLR isn't a magic box. You cant expect to get a DSLR and kit lens and be able to do anything with it. But sometimes a little extra (like $75 for the 50mm 1.8 and $200 for an external flash) can go a long way towards allowing you to get SOME shots. Maybe not all but a lot more than just the camera and kit lens allone.


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Old Mar 16, 2008, 12:00 PM   #14
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Here's what you're probably going to need as a minimum setup get any keepers, assuming you can get very close (and let members like JohnG know how close you can get).

Canon Rebel XTi with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens for $589 at buydig.com

Canon 50mm f/1.8 Autofocus lens for $89.99 at buydig.com

This would give you a zoom lens for outdoor use (or indoors with a flash), and a brighter 50mm f/1.8 Autofocus lens for indoor sports if you can get close enough to use it.

The percentage of keepers you can get shooting moving subjects indoors is going to depend on the lighting, how close you can get, direction and speed of movement, the percentage of the frame occupied by the subject and more (including your skill level and timing, which will take practice).

This camera model is limited to ISO 1600. The ability to use ISO 3200 is desirable in some lighting for a higher percentage of photos without blur (hence the suggestion to consider moving up a notch in the Canon lineup to an EOS-20D, 30D or 40D.

Another option would be the new Sony DSLR-A200. It's available at about the same price as the XTi now (it's $599 for the Sony DSLR-A200 body with an 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6 Autofocus Lens). It also has ISO 3200 available if you have to use it.

Sony DSLR-A200 with 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6 Autofocus Lens for $599.95 at bhphotovideo.com

The problem with this setup is that you'd need to go used for lenses on a tight budget. The Minolta 50mm f/1.7 Autofocus lens is readily available from reputable vendors of used gear for around $100 or less. http://www.keh.com , http://www.bhphotovideo.com and http://www.adorama.com have relatively good stocks of Minolta Autofocus lenses (and of course, there's Ebay). Here's an example:

Minolta 50mm f/1.7 Autofocus lens in Excellent Condition for $84 at keh.com

But, if you get into longer focal length primes with f/2 or wider apertures available, it's going to cost you more than a Canon solution, even used. For example, the Minolta 85mm f/1.4 Autofocus lens is probably gong to run you around $800 used for the older versions and more for the lastest D version (that sends the camera information on focus distance for flash exposure purposes), and the Minolta 100mm f/2 AF lens is not cheap either.

Here's an example:

Minolta 85mm f/1.4 Autofocus lens in Excellent Condition for $789 at keh.com

I haven't seen anyone using that combo for indoor sports yet, so it's an unproven solution. Now, I've taken photos at a couple of basketball games capturing kids running towards the camera with a Konica Minolta 5D and 100mm f/2 on it. So, I know the 100mm f/2 can get some keepers that way (although the percentage of keepers wasn't quite as high as desired). But, considering I don't have any practice shooting that kind of thing, I thought it did OK.

The new Sony DSLR-A200 has a much faster AF system compared to my older 5D and it's also much faster than the Sony DSLR-A100 (the Sony DSLR-A100 was based mostly on the Konica Minolta 5D, and the new Sony A200 is 1.7 times as fast as the A100, with an improved Autofocus motor and tracking algorithms).

So, I think that the Sony DSLR-A200 would be another good model to look at on a tight budget if you can get close, with a used 50mm f/1.7 Autofocus lens. It's got an improved Autofocus system over my older Maxxum 5D (if you can live with the lens restrictions, going used if you're on a tight budget). The Sony DSLR models can use all Minolta Autofocus lenses.

Again, I'd let members know how close you can get for better suggestions.

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Old Mar 16, 2008, 12:06 PM   #15
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Wow that's a lot of info. I really apreciate all your help. I must be honest some of it is hard for me to understand. I am no where near prfessional. I am just a mom who wants to take good pictures of her daughter. I think from reading your info I will go with the Canon Rebel XTi. I thank you again for all the information you provided for me.


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Old Mar 16, 2008, 12:35 PM   #16
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As the person who shot the gym event in the thread which was referenced by Jim I thought I would add a quick post.

I was shooting with 2 different camera and lens set ups to give me log range for the balance shots and then the higher speeds for the tumbles. However even with a camera which will allow a very sensitive ISO of 3200 (this means you can use a faster shutter speed to better freeze the action) the XTI will not allow this, and having a lens which is f1.8 (this means a lot of light is let in) I was still only able to get 1/500s which was still leaving motion blur during the tumbles. Now I'm sure that at 5 the tumbles will not be as fast as I was experiencing (one of the competitors at this event was the European tumble champ although I didn't get anything usable of her doing tumbles as she was far too fast), so you will possibly be able to get some shots and then consider getting better equipment as she gets older.

As pointed out shooting gym is not cheap as most of us don't have well lit gyms to shoot in so we need really specialist equipment to get good shots. I'm not sure the shutter speeds John was getting in the ones he posted but I'm guessing 1/800s to freeze the action like that of the dismount!

So my advice is not to try to put you off but to be aware of the limitations of bad lighting and not being able to use flash.
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