A few questions re: shooting indoor sports.

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Russellhaynes, Dec 11, 2009.

  1. Russellhaynes

    Russellhaynes TPF Noob!

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    I've been following every thread I can find related to the subject of indoor sports photography. I've been shooting sports on and off for a very long time as the yearbook advisor at my school. I've been moderately pleased with my photos until I started shooting digital. Most of the photos are still good, or at least good enough, but the indoor sports shots are terrible. They are dark, blurry, you name it. I've played around with the ISO (a little, I never went as high as some photographers I've read on this site.) And I've tried to buy a better flash (one of the EZ's from Canon. I don't have my equipment here with me at home so I'm not sure the exact model, but not a high end one.) I've read from others on this site, the argument pertaining to not shooting with a flash so as not to annoy players, coaches, etc. I read from one person who shoots with the power stopped way down to use as fill flash. Then from another person who bounces flashes off the ceiling. And from many who use no flash at all.

    Here's my question. If I can afford only one thing, either the most powerful flash I can afford or the best lens (i.e. maximum aperture opening) what should I do? Also, one more question: If I have a flash that works adequately at a certain distance at ISO 400 and then I bump my ISO up to 1600, does that increase the useable distance of my flash by 4x? I would appreciate any advice. Also, is there any free noise reduction software out there that doesn't require an updated version of Photoshop? My version has to be at least ten years old. Thank you.
     
  2. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    The problem with using flash for sports photographer is light fall off.

    If the distance is doubled only 1/4 of the light gets there. Double the distance again and only 1/16th of the light gets there. It's known as the Inverse Square Law. Inverse-square law - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    So, a lens that can open to a nice wide maximum aperture provides more light gathering regardless the distance, so you can use shutter speeds high enough to stop motion. The problem here is that for sports you not only need a wide aperture, you need reach. 200mm is about the minimum reach for basketball if you're shooting from the floor.

    Many sports shooters will use a 70-200 mm f/2.8 lens to shoot indoor sports. Nikon has a nice one, the AF-S 70-200 f/2.8G ED VRII. As you can see it's not inexpensive.

    The other way you can go is to get a camera that has great high ISO performance. Another not inexpensive route to take.

    So what it really boils down to is shooting indoor, or outdoor night time, sports requires some of the more expensive photography gear available.

    A quick Internet search yielded these numerous hits regarding free noise software: free noise software - Bing
     
  3. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    I don't know why this subject get so much misinformation and why it is seen a such a difficult, insurmountable art. I was taught years ago how to shoot high school basketball and volleyball using two, balcony mounted Vivitar 285 HV flash units powered by a single, Quantum Turbo 1 battery. I often use only half power, sometimes full power, and can get f/5.6 at ISO 800 stop-action flash shots. At that time, there was very,very little information written about the subject, and at the time the original Pocket Wizzard trigger was one of only three models of triggers on the entire market. Now the web has dozens of article son how to do this rather simple thing. Strobist has articles, but they are somewhat buried now.

    If you want to cover only one end of the court, you do not need any sophisticated equipment; on an APS-C d-slr, a 50mm f/1.8 lens is ample. Light fall-off is a non-issue as well, since the distance is long, and all you need to light is the width of the key and the lane.

    I did a quick search that took me about two minutes; thee four articles detail most of my own personal experience, with the exception of the fellow who has a new camera body that can shoot at ISO 6,400; I shot at ISO 800. I do not consider the 70-200VR to be a good indoor basketball lens; I prefer a 50, or the 85/1.4 or thr 105 DC or the 135/2. If you are inexperienced, you will have the easiest time shooting basketball and volleyball from the sidelines, right from the bleachers, shooting against the far blank wall, with you r flash unit(s) set up on the balcony on stands, or rails with clamps. if you sit on the baseline, the focus distance changes radically; if you shoot sideline and concentrate on rebounds, layups, and free throws, you can shoot perfect shots with a 35mm or 50mm lens and flash,and get superb results, with no problems. Virtually ALL of the action you want will occur within the key area, so falloff is a non-issue, totally a non-issue.

    Athletes do not even SEE the flashes; I have asked them, and they say, "What flash?" besides, the stands are filled with moms and grandparents and kids shooting flash shot after flash shot with their digital cameras.

    Check these URLs to help you get an appreciation for how simple this really is, once you have a remote triggering system and some knowledge.

    Strobist: On Assignment: Prep Basketball

    Flickr: Discussing Experiment: High ISO + Strobe + Basketball > Good in Strobist for Sports Shooters

    Strobist: On Assignment: Speedlighting a College Gym


    Lighting an entire basketball gym with two speed lights on 1/4 power | LightandPixels.com
     
  4. manicmike

    manicmike No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Yep, don't worry about the flash bothering players. Back in my playing days I didn't even notice it during games.
     
  5. Russellhaynes

    Russellhaynes TPF Noob!

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    Thank you all for your help. I just purchased a Nikon D90 and the previously mentioned 2.8 zoom lens. I have great hopes this will significantly improve the quality of the photos. (At least the quality of the light. I understand it won't affect the quality of the pictures themselves.) Thanks again to all.
     
  6. BKMOOD

    BKMOOD TPF Noob!

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    I shoot sports for two local colleges. Have done so for a couple years now. I never use a flash; not allowed. I never shoot with anything slower than 2.8. ISO is usually 1600 or 3200. Canons are great in the noise reduction department. Since I am free to roam all over the court, I use three different lenses: 1) a 1.8 50mm prime for when I’m hanging around under the backboard, 2) a 1.8 85mm prime for when I’m hanging around the sidelines and 3) a 2.8 70 to 200mm zoom for when I’m hanging around half court.
     
  7. bhphotography

    bhphotography TPF Noob!

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    I shoot indoor hockey all winter long. The best investment is a 70-200mm f2.8 lens. We shoot all sports without flash, as sometimes you need a shutter speed of 1/320 or higher, which is generally above the highest flash sync speeds of 1/250th. If taken care of, you will have the lens for years and it will outlast many bodies (i'm on my 3rd body, first lens)
     
  8. petershi

    petershi TPF Noob!

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    My sons compete in gymnastics, and I've been struggling to get the best photo's of them. I was using a D200 with the 70-200 2.8. Problem is lighting in these gyms is terrible, and to get any form of a good pic I was pushing Hi 1, shutter priority, and at best getting 1/250'th.

    This was the final excuse I needed to upgrade to the D700. Been looking at it for a long time, but I bit the bullet yesterday. Thought about the D3s, but it's too bulky for everyday use, and a little too expensive for me.

    I also picked up an 85mm F1.4 lens. My guess is now I can push 3200/6400 with the 1.4 and have almost no noise.

    Any other helpful tips from folks who have tried this would be wonderful. matrix or spot metering, utilize auto ISO or fix it, etc...
     

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