70-200 2.8 IS II for photographing college lectures?

purpleroan

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I am a student photographer for my school, and many of my assignments include photographing guest speakers in dimly lit lecture halls. I recently purchased a used 70-200mm 2.8 IS II, I spoke extensively with the seller. He simply didn't find enough use for it, and it is in near-mint condition. I used it a few days ago for the first time in one of the lectures, and was the photos turned out nothing like what I'd expected from reading thousands of online reviews the past 5 months. The pictures were very soft and blurred sometimes due to a lower shutter speed...anything too high made them too dark, even at 2.8. I've heard that this lens can freeze sports motion at nighttime games, so I'm a little confused. Its very possible I'm just getting used to it, but I'm curious what your recommended settings would be for these circumstances, and if it's even an appropriate lens. I played with the ISO, but they got noisy if it was pushed too high. I am shooting with a 70D if that makes a difference. Any and all advice/info welcome..thank you!
 

DB_Cro

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70D will do fine up to ISO3200 and you'd probably risk motion blur and camera shake at anything below
1/200s at 200mm. Sometimes you'd probably be able to shoot slower but do bursts just to be on the safe side.

If you didn't have the IS stabilization you'd have to be above 1/500s for the same result so.. yeah..

Sure the lens can do what you wrote above re: nighttime games, but most photographers shooting that will be using
a 1DX that can go a lot higher in ISO. Shoot RAW, don't be scare of ISO3200 or even a bit more, it's more important
to get a proper exposure.

You'll get more noise from a ISO800 image that you brighten in photoshop then shooting at 3200 in the first place.
You should probably show us a few shots with EXIF.
 

jaomul

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You need about 1/125 to 1/250 sec to freeze people just doing everyday things. Faster for sports. I'd chance manual mode, 1/125 sec, f3.5 and auto I so, see how you get on
 

tirediron

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Not familiar with the high-ISO/noise characteristics of a 70D, but what you need is more ISO. Your shutter speed needs to be at least 1/125; chances are you will need to shoot at at least ISO 3200, perhaps even 6400.
 

JonA_CT

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I'd probably also bet that for what your school needs the photos for (I'm guessing mainly web use, or relatively small photos in publications), that you can get the noise low enough in PP to not make much difference.
 

Didereaux

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First off you have what is considered by many the most versatile lens made. Can you get by in the lecture halls with a monopod? If so you will be able to get some good shots at 1/60 (even 1/40 with care) in burst mode. ON the monopod set the IS to the '1' setting. There are three 1,2, and off. One of them is for handheld circular movements, and the other for side to side movement as in panning and that you would have on a monopod.
 

imagemaker46

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My first thoughts on this is that you aren't a very experienced camera owner, the 70-200 2.8 is the pro photographers workhorse lens. If your images are blurry, your shutter speed is too slow, or you don't have the ability to hand hold it without movement. You only need to know three things, shutter speed, f-stop and iso. If you are at f 2.8 and the images are too dark, either lower the shutter speed or increase the iso, if you can't hold the camera steady at the shutter speed you require, raise the iso and the shutter speed. Holding the camera steady can simply come down to taking a deep breath and breathing out slowly, bracing your arm against your chest, holding the lens in the centre of the barrel at the point where it feels balanced. Basics.
 

Didereaux

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...as for holding a camera steady....do NOT go to photographers for this! Go instead to firearms shooters. Study carefully the stances, and methods used by competitive rifle shooters. There is no one steadier than an an expert marksman! PERIOD. The stances and techniques easily transfer to holding a camera. I might add that pressing a shutter button and pulling a trigger are precisely related...they are identical in fact.
 

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Can you post an example or two?

With an example be can be definitive in the source of blur; however it does indeed sound like you need to take the ISO higher and higher in dimmer conditions. Yes that means more noise, but you can fix that in editing; you can't fix the blur and underexposing will only result in more noise when you brighten it up in editing than if you'd have taken the shot at a higher ISO to start with.

Yes high ISO can be scary noisey and requires learning new steps; but its sometimes the only option. I know doing sports indoors I've been at 1/500sec f2.8 on the same lens and had to go to ISO 12500 to get a good exposure. Sure that means lots of noise but aperture won't go wider; shutter can't go slower so ISO it has to be. (this of course assumes you're not able to add light from a flash of course).
 

imagemaker46

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...as for holding a camera steady....do NOT go to photographers for this! Go instead to firearms shooters. Study carefully the stances, and methods used by competitive rifle shooters. There is no one steadier than an an expert marksman! PERIOD. The stances and techniques easily transfer to holding a camera. I might add that pressing a shutter button and pulling a trigger are precisely related...they are identical in fact.

I hand hold all my gear, including a 300 2.8 and a 400 2.8, I can hold them both steady and shoot at 30th of a second without any problem. I agree that learning how to stand and learning how balance is key. There are lots of people that will have trouble hand holding a 70-200 2.8, it comes down to something very simple, upper body strength, shoulders especially. Holding a lens and body together is roughly 3 pounds, if anyone is planning on using that lens on a regular basis doing some light weight exercises isn't a bad idea. In this case, it's ok to ask a photographer how to hold a camera. 400 2.8 and body is approximately 15 pounds. As you mentioned earlier a monopod would be the best option.
 

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