sharper/better focused images, fast sports?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by shadowlands, Oct 12, 2017.

  1. astroNikon

    astroNikon 'ya all Bananas I tell 'ya Supporting Member

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    Yes from all the above.

    I learned long ago when doing sports on my D7000 that Single Point focus is the way to go. After all, you want to focus on ONE particular subject. The camera's computer doesn't know that. The camera wants to focus on the best contrast detected image out there. I learned that with the 70-300 nikon lens which, because of contrast issues, liked to focus on background fences and other subjects with more contrast. Nikon's also like the cross detection points in the middle of the frame (on the older AF systems).

    The single focus point will give you focus on the subject that YOU want, not the camera's computer. You do have to keep your aim on the subject.

    I also always use Manual Exposure because I want a particular Aperture and a particular Shutter Speed. You can use AP and SP but have to set those other limits to do what you want in your parameters.

    ie, you want f/2.8 for subject isolation
    and you want a high shutter speed to stop action.
    you need both with AUTO ISO to control the ISO

    Though one particular person here on TPF showed AP with parameters to counter if it got too bright the shutter would increase if the camera was at base ISO for a proper exposure.

    Once I got all that and worked on my finger's ability to push the button half way my capture rate for in-focus shots skyrocketed. Many times I knew when I took a shot that was OOF before looking at it. (I have to Focus Acquire turned off)

    As the action moved I also kept the focus throw short by focusing on the moving action but not taking a pic unless I wanted too. This minimized the focus throw distance for the lens and improved keepers once again.

    I also try to get the action (primarily soccer) moving towards me. So I'm not in the "middle" of the sidelines but I try to be at the corners to get the action and faces coming towards me.


     
  2. shadowlands

    shadowlands No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I appreciate the tips. Hey, 3D tracking is never mentioned. It's over-rated, I'm hearing? I will truly go back to single spot focus for sure. I believe that's what I did in the past with more success.
    Auto ISO, note taken.
     
  3. astroNikon

    astroNikon 'ya all Bananas I tell 'ya Supporting Member

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    3D tracking is nice especially if there is only ONE subject you are tracking and it's a clear background. Different 3D tracking/AF systems will vary a bit on that. But in soccer (or whatever), if you use 3D tracking what subject is the camera going to initially focus on? If you are using a large aperture there could be a possibility that the real subject you want is OOF.

    So Single Focus puts all the effort on the photographer. If you focus on the Subject that you want, then it's your finger, the lens focus speed, and how quickly you take the shot. Less things to go wrong, hopefully.
     
  4. shadowlands

    shadowlands No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Most excellent. Thanks big time, for taking the time.
    I'll on the filed tomorrow morning, hopefully with better results.
     
  5. vintagesnaps

    vintagesnaps Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    You may want to open up the lens if you're trying to get a close up but otherwise sports are usually done usaing a midrange to smaller f stop. Depends on the playing area and if you're trying to get a number of players in focus. Keep the shutter speed up fast enough to freeze action.

    It takes practice. Lots. I've done mostly hockey, learned with a mechanical film camera, all manual settings. I usually shoot manually with my digital camera now. It takes learning to anticipate the action to be set where the play will go next; it works better to let the play come to you rather than trying to chase it around with your lens.

    Go early, find good vantage points, consider how the background's going to look from there. Watch posts and poles etc. and frame straight, frame so you're not chopping people and things off, get them in the frame or keep them out of the frame. Go for 'clean' shots.

    Look at good professional photographers' work to learn from. Notice where they shoot from, how they frame shots, how they captured the action, etc. Some well known good photographers are Peter Read Miller, Walter Iooss, Neil Leifer, Bill Frakes, Robert Beck, Brad Mangin.... You might try Sports Photography and Photojournalism for Professional Photographers and Photography | SportsShooter.com , it's done by pro photographers. Last I looked they weren't as active (stopped doing a newsletter probably because they're working pros) but you can search the site.
     
  6. shadowlands

    shadowlands No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    You guys rock! Shot my kids football game. Single Point. MUCH MUCH MUCH improved. 90% keepers!!! I will keep practicing of course, but this is a great start!
     
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  7. ac12

    ac12 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    This is a bit late for this season, but for next year...
    I was shooting high school football, volleyball and now soccer and basketball.

    There is no magic solution, just some advice and HARD work.

    Set the AF to SINGLE POINT, CENTER. There are too many players moving around and crossing each other for the zone mode of any camera to accurately track the subject. Cameras don't have a link to your brain to know what is the subject in that mass of players.
    I have used 9 point. BUT, it is easily fooled by the line ref crossing in front of me. Then it starts to track the ref, not the player :apologetic:

    I use Continuous mode AF.

    Don't bother trying to reframe the image, things in sports are moving too fast for that.
    Just keep the subject under the center AF point.

    Practice, practice, practice. Nothing can replace practice to learn to follow the subject. If the subject is off the focus point, he will be out of focus.
    Tip, don't zoom in TIGHT. I find it more difficult to track the subject if I zoom in TIGHT.

    Learn to shoot with 2 eyes. Your 2nd eye will help keep situational awareness, before it appears in the viewfinder.

    Learn to work the zoom ring as you track the subject.

    Your stance is important. You need to stand so that you can pivot with the action and still support the camera+lens.
    It is like shooting a shotgun at clay birds.

    Finally, if you have not figured this out, SITUATIONAL awareness is critical.
    Be aware of the players on the field and as they get close to you. GET OUT OF THE WAY if they get too close. If you get hit by a player in full padding, you loose; your gear and maybe a trip to the hospital.

    gud luk
     
  8. shadowlands

    shadowlands No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Never too late. Appreciate it. Shoot, my lens is on it's way back from Midwest Camera Repair. Back-focus issue, I believe.
    I'll know more soon!
     
  9. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    What are your other settings? Aperture and shutter speed?

    If you're shooting at maximum aperture, the DOF will be very thin, making much of your subject OOF. If the shutter speed is not fast enough, you will get motion blur.

    If the action is at right angles to your lens, and moving, it will be difficult or impossible to get sharp photos.

    Position yourself to get mostly head-on shots of the players coming right at you. (Be sure to jump out of the way when they get to your position.)
     
  10. ac12

    ac12 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    For a day game, I would not go below 1/1000 sec.
    For a night game, with enough light and high enough ISO, I would not go below 1/500 sec. 1/1000 is better.

    The closer the action is to you, the faster the apparent motion, and the more difficult to freeze or for the camera to follow focus.
     
  11. shadowlands

    shadowlands No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I honestly believe my lens had a back focus issue.
    It comes back next week, and I'll test it, big time.
     
  12. Braineack

    Braineack Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    the 9-21-51 dynamic focus IMHO is much better for sports. You need to acquire focus with you selected point and the AF module will use neighboring focus points to keep the subject in focus as you/it moves -- If the focus point you're on leaves the subject or loses focus. You need to keep your focus point on the subject.

    3D tracking works best if the camera is on a tripod and not moving much at all. Your AF module will actually move from one focus point to another to keep the subject in focus, (you will see this in the viewfinder) -- as it tracks the subject's movement through the focus area. If you can't keep up tracking your subjects, this might work well for you too.

    I use AF-C 9pt almost 100% of the time and I've never had focus issues.
     

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