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Old Nov 30, 2008, 12:06 PM   #1
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Hi,

I am a martial arts teacher and have been messing around with digital photography for a couple of years now. I have an Olympus E-300 currently and I am wanting to upgrade to a better D-SLR. My budget is 1000.00 max and I sure could use some advice. My photography is divided up 70/30, 70% being martial arts and I want to take more movement/action shots (this is where me and Olympus are not getting along) and the 30% being outdoor scenes. Alot of the outdoor scenes I enjoy taking are both static and movement of wildlife. If you folks have any ideas for me, I would certainly enjoy hearing from you.



Thanks,

Rich
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Old Nov 30, 2008, 12:48 PM   #2
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The Canon EOS 40D might be worth a look. It has a very fast burst mode and decent low light image quality. However, you might need to get a fast (bright) lens to avoid blurriness when taking pictures of very fast moving martial artists.
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Old Nov 30, 2008, 1:33 PM   #3
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Hey Rich,

Welcome to the forums. The Olys are great cameras but as you discovered, low light action is not their strong suit.

Canon and Nikon are the best in the business at that. Sony's A700 is a great action camera too, unfortunately the lower end models are not and the A700 is out of your budget.

Are you wanting to take photos only in your own dojo? At tournaments? If it's only your own dojo, if you could post a couple photos (without flash) I can see what the light levels are you're working with.

It's very likely you would need either ISO3200 and 2.8 lens (which means you can use zoom) or 1600 and a 2.0 lens (which means you have to use fixed length prime lenses).

Here's the challenge - the XSi has a very good focus system for an entry level model - arguably the best focus system for sports shooting of any entry level DSLR. BUT it only goes to ISO 1600. To get ISO 3200 you would need the 40d. BUT, lenses will be expensive - that's the other problem.

The least expensive prime is the 50mm 1.8 at $75 - nice lens but slow to focus because it doesn't have USM focus drive. The 85mm 1.8 is a fantastic lens at $370 but 85mm can be a tough focal length to work with if you don't have a lot of room. But, let's start with what the light levels are in your dojo. Take some available light photos and don't do any editing other than resizing. Don't worry what the shutter speed is - the only thing that matters is that you get the exposure right (i.e. the photo isn't too dark or too light). Post the photo and we can extrapolate what is needed in your new equipment.
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Old Dec 1, 2008, 5:27 PM   #4
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Thanks for the help, here are a couple of photos. I really appreciate you taking the time to help me!



Thanks much!



Rich
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Old Dec 1, 2008, 5:28 PM   #5
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Here is a shot of the school, unedited.
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Old Dec 1, 2008, 5:30 PM   #6
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Blur image.


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Old Dec 1, 2008, 5:31 PM   #7
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Blur image, with the image.... light edited
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Old Dec 1, 2008, 6:12 PM   #8
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Rich,

My apologies for not stating a condition more clearly: I was looking for available light photos - which means no flash.

There are 3 basic ways to achieve the goal of taking photos in your studio:

1. Available light - no flash - requires high ISO and wide apertures. What combination is required cannot be calculated with the photos you posted since you used flash. Turn the flash off, set ISO to 400 or 800 and see what you get. It doesn't matter if there's action - just need a person in the frame to make sure the exposure is right.

2. Using a flash - preferably an external flash - they're a bit more powerful, can be bounced off the ceiling or wall and recharge much faster than built in flash. The HUGE benefit of this solution is you can use lower ISOs and narrower apertures and the flash itself freezes the motion (I can discuss later this point because you have to use the flash a certain way to guarantee freeze of motion )

3. Using strobe(s). These are external light sources that can be triggered by the camera and fire - much more powerful than a flash and when bounced provide nice even lighting. The downside is it's more equipment AND that equipment takes up space - something you really don't have enough of. Alternatively they can be mounted from rafters (this is what happens in college and pro basketball arenas) - but with your drop ceilings you don't have this option. So I don't think external strobes are a good fit for you. You need every inch of floor space you've got.

So, take a couple more shots WITHOUT flash and post them - unedited accept for re-sizing. I can then determine what combination of ISO / aperture would work. We could then price out a solution for available light and a solution for flash and give you pros/cons of both so you can make your decision.
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Old Dec 1, 2008, 8:28 PM   #9
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JohnG-

I was left with the impresion that the new Nikon D-90 has some very good low light ability. Am I wrong? That might be an answer to Rich's needs.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Dec 1, 2008, 9:32 PM   #10
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mtclimber wrote:
Quote:
JohnG-

I was left with the impresion that the new Nikon D-90 has some very good low light ability. Am I wrong? That might be an answer to Rich's needs.

Sarah Joyce
Sarah - until I know what a proper ambient exposure is I can't recommend a solution. Also - the OP specified a budget of $1000. The D90 body only is $1000 - no lens, nothing. So, let's find out what ambient lighting is like and then some recommendations can be made for available light kits AND kits for the flash route. To make matters more difficult the studio in question appears to be pretty tight quarters. Which means a 50mm lens might be too tight. Getting wider primes may prove expensive. Certainly a 2.8 lens is going to be pricey. Again, I'll know more when I know the light levels for proper exposure.
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