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11-18-2006, 01:03 PM   #1
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Indoor sports photography at gymnastics

I am haveing a hard time getting good shots at my daughters gymnastics meets. We cannot use flash photography and distance is also a problem. I know I need a lens f2.8 or faster to get good shots. Can anyone tell me what would be the best and most economical route. Also if there is a good choice in a used lens I would not be opposed.

11-18-2006, 01:25 PM   #2
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Sigma 70-200 2.8 was going for around $600-$700 new about a month ago. Not sure now if still available in that range. Not sure what economical is for you. But any 2.8 zoom is going to cost you at least that much. Unless you get lucky or someone knows a trick I don't. Good luck. Have you tried what you have just uping the ISO as high as you can?
11-18-2006, 01:39 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by mradice Quote
I am haveing a hard time getting good shots at my daughters gymnastics meets. We cannot use flash photography and distance is also a problem. I know I need a lens f2.8 or faster to get good shots. Can anyone tell me what would be the best and most economical route. Also if there is a good choice in a used lens I would not be opposed.
you might want to try a monopod as well as a good lens.
either that or get a lens that is not as long on the telephoto, and put your camera at max resolution and crop up the shot of your kids.

not much of a help....

11-18-2006, 07:37 PM   #4
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Everything comes at a price.

since you are aiming indoor gymnastic stuff. A prime would be great but it always comes at a price (zoom would not be that necessary since fast lens is a priority). Most of the time, you will be using the extreme end anyway and you will most likely sit somewhere in the audience seat not able to move around comparing to the reporters near the athletes.

I would wait for DFA 300 coming out next year ...

plus that k10d would be so much faster in AF, really a good combo if you can wait.

11-20-2006, 08:34 PM   #5
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I had a similar problem, one area I found useful is making sure that the metering is on centre and not multi areas. use manual shutter at 125ps
I use Ds with 24 - 70 sigma ex lens.
11-21-2006, 01:24 PM   #6
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Indoor gym shooting - lessons learned

This past season was my first experience with shooting in a high school gymnasium. It was for the local newspaper and the subject was girl's volleyball.

It was a lot more difficult than I would have imagined. After several tries, some failed, some a bit successful, here is what I learned.

1.) A f/2.8 lens is almost a necessity. The aforementioned Sigma EX 70-200/2.8 is the lens that I ended up using the most. Also used a Tokina AT-X Pro 28-80/2.8 lens quite extensively. Probably close to half and half between the two of them.

For a few shots, I tried a 50/1.2 and a 77/1.8, but in each instance, the depth of field was too narrow to make the shots usable. f/2.8 seems to be the best compromise between getting a decent shutter speed and an acceptable depth of field.

One somewhat lowcost option would be the mating of a 1.4x teleconverter to a 50/1.4 lens. That will give you a 70/2.0 lens, maybe fast enough and long enough for what you need. I'd even be willing to try a 2x teleconverter also. That will give you a 100/2.8 lens, again, maybe long enough.

2.) Gym lighting stinks, so don't be afraid to up your ISO. Pretty much stayed at ISO 1600, and the histogram was well balanced. Some noise issues, but my shots were for newspaper publication, and the sized down, halftone screened images removed any objectionable noise. Neat Image (or Noise Ninja) do wonders if you need to make hardcopy prints. Even then, smaller prints (4x6 or 5x7) might be just fine even with some ISO 1600 noise.

3.) Shoot RAW. Takes extra work, but the flexibility for 'saving' images is worth the extra workflow needed.

4.) focus: I had a difficult time with auto focus and pretty much went with manual focus. Center spot focus is an absolute requirement, and even then, the camera would quite often focus on the volleyball net instead of the player behind the net.

Pre-focusing manually means that you need to anticipate action. You will miss some good shots, but will get some good ones too. It is easier if you know the sport so that you will be familiar to where action will take place. I don't know volleyball all that well, but learned fairly quickly where most of the action takes place. Since I only focused on one team, the key spots were the server, blocking at the net, and mid-court for digs (or whatever they call that). Also got some good 'atmosphere' shots during dead play of the individual players in a thoughtful, pensive mood. Autofocus works fine in that circumstance, and yielded some of the better images. Coaching timeout conferences were good to capture too.

5.) Had the best luck shooting in Tv mode. Kept it at 1/250s, which yielded an aperture between f/2.8 and f/4. 1/250s is not fast enough to freeze rapid arm motion, such as when striking the ball, but slow enough that the ball itself, (in most cases) was a circular sphere.

About it. Am scheduled to shoot basketball too when it starts up in a month or so, and will probably learn a whole lot more about indoor gymnasium photography.
11-28-2006, 06:35 AM   #7
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Indoor light conditions s...s

A couple of weeks ago I tried to some shooting at an indoor football tournament. The light conditions were pretty bad, and I should have tried iso1600 instead of staying at 800. I too had to switch to manual focus. It made me feel more in control and the shots relied on my judgment rather than the cameras. Here are a couple of example: 'istDL, K135mm f/2.5 @ f/2.5 1/180s, iso800. What you'll see is that people that are moving "rapidly" is not frozen completely in the picture and thus are not sharp. But this also adds some movement and action to the shot so it's not necessary bad under all circumstances, if you are aiming for that effect.

11-28-2006, 04:55 PM   #8
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They look pretty good to me. I think, in general, it's nice to have some movement blur in sports phots to show that they were actually moving! Although some completely frozen action can be very good also.


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