Night baseball shots with d3100


TPF Noob!
Feb 24, 2012
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Need help with what settings to put my camera on to take night shots of my sons baseball games. There is pretty good field lighting. These pictures will be motion shots of swinging, fielding and running
What lens(s) are you working with? Are you intending to print?.. If so, what size print? I'm assuming you can't use flash/strobe... is that the case?...
Can't flash. It is a 75-300 mm lense. Not planning to print... Maybe a few of them.
What's the max aperture on that lens.?... I'm not immediately familiar with it...
It will say on the lens... there will be a range of f stop numbers (assuming it's not a constant aperture lens, which is safe to say).... something like f3.5 - f5.6
You might have what seems like pretty good lighting, but with that lens it's going to be hard to stop the action. Go for getting faces nice and sharp and let the rest of the motion get blurred. Can't give specific settings since we don't have a measurement of the light you will be shooting in. Go with manual mode. a high ISO, with the aperture as wide as it goes. and adjust the exposures from there based on what you get in the first few shots before the game. Pop off a few shots in AV mode to get a guestimate on the exposure if you are not familiar with shooting in manual.
I haven't shot baseball, but I've been attempting to shoot my daughter at her gymnastics meets and cheerleading competitions. And its a similar situation. Bad light, no flash allowed. here's the approach I've been taking.

1) Set your ISO manually to ISO 6400. (As a starting point.) This will change.
2) Set your camera to aperture priority mode.
3) Here's the trick. You have to zoom your lens to its widest setting (75mm) and then turn the dial on the back so that aperture is f3.5. Now when you zoom in and out, your aperture will float between f3.5 and f5.6, but it will be the maximum at whatever aperture you're at.
4) Take a few test shots.
5) Then when playing back the pictures, press down on the direction pad to look at what settings the picture was taken at. The thing to look for is the shutter speed. I don't know what you need to get to for baseball, but for my daughter's sports, its 1/500 sec. Whatever the magic shutter speed is for baseball, if you're getting faster shutter speeds, you can dial the ISO back down to try to get less noise in the image. So, for instance if you're at 1/1000 but 1/500 seems good, then dial the ISO back from ISO 6400 back down the ISO 3200. If you are getting a lot of motion blur, try to crank up the ISO from ISO 6400 to 12,800. Although this is going to get noisy.

There is another way to set up the camera, but I haven't tried it out yet.

Nikon has this cool way to set ISO automatically.

Basically you tell the Nikon camera what your lowest ISO that you want, and the highest ISO that you want. So maybe choose ISO 3200 to ISO 6400. Then you tell it the minimum shutter speed you want, such as 1/500 sec. Then the camera tries to choose the lowest ISO in order to make sure your shutter speed is at least as fast as the slowest shutter speed you told the camera that you want?

Then you can use the same Aperture priority mode to maximize your aperture (or choose your aperture) and then the camera chooses everything else, including ISO. Hopefully to keep it as low as it can to maximize image quality and reduce high iso noise.

I'm getting pretty close to trying this out. I just got my Nikon D5100 about 5 months ago, upgrading from some more basic cameras, so I still have a tendency to second guess and over ride what the camera is doing. And I'm just coming round to realizing that if I just let this camera do its thing I'll be getting better pictures. <grin> This advanced way of choosing ISO automatically with these settings seems to be ideal for shooting sports where flash is not allowed. I'm planning to try it out (with other cheerleading groups, not my daughters) at an upcoming competition to see how all this works . . .
I also have a daughter who is a cheerleader and capturing her movements have proven to be difficult. I have the D3100 and am wondering if you have been able to get the to set ISO automatically?

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