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04-06-2010, 05:56 AM   #1
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Low light action shooting

Can anyone suggest a good lens for a sporting event in an indoor arena situation? Unfortunately flash is out of the question when the event itself is happening and the lighting is less than spectacular. Think basketball court with way less lighting.

Thanks.


Edit: I might add I tried shooting over the weekend in the arena and the best images I got were with my 50mm 1.4 with ISO @ 800, but I'm looking for a little bit sharper of an image.


Last edited by JeffAdams; 04-06-2010 at 06:02 AM. Reason: additional info
04-06-2010, 06:40 AM   #2
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Maybe you should tell us what is wrong with the images that you took. What do you mean by sharper? Is there motion blur? If so, higher ISO will get you faster shutter speeds. If it's out of focus, that is the problem with fast lenses used at their widest apertures; the slightest focusing mistake results in OOF as there is hardly any DOF

Maybe post some examples.
04-06-2010, 06:48 AM   #3
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I'm going through the images now, but basically I'm hoping for the next go round to be able to get the ISO down to get the images less grainy, and yes it was hard to keep moving objects in focus at f/1.4.
04-06-2010, 07:00 AM   #4
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When posting the images, please add info about ISO, shutterspeed and aperture.

04-06-2010, 09:15 AM   #5
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You're already at the edge of the possible options. A couple of lenses can match f1.4 at different focal lengths, like the Sigma 30mm f1.4 or the DA* 55mm f1.4. You'd still have a narrow depth of field - the Sigma is a little better if you shoot from the same spot, but if you move closer, not really. Faster lenses exist but are manual focus with even narrower depth of field. I don't think a lens will help you fix your problems. Technique, higher ISO, processing and maybe a different camera body might help more.
04-06-2010, 12:17 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by JeffAdams Quote
I'm going through the images now, but basically I'm hoping for the next go round to be able to get the ISO down to get the images less grainy, and yes it was hard to keep moving objects in focus at f/1.4.
Well, think about it - the only way to get ISO lower is with a larger, not smaller aperture - and that's going to make it harder, not easier, to get things in focus. There is way to improve both of those at once.

As Dave implies, I'd work on PP skills to reduce the noise for the ISO 800 shots. I'm assuming you're pixel peeping big time, but for most real world purposes (eg, viewing on screen, prints of 8x10" and smaller) it's pretty unlikely the noise of an ISO 800 shot would be objectionable, and be prepared to go to ISO 1600 if necessary to allow you to stop down a little bit.
04-06-2010, 05:37 PM   #7
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Well you didn't state what camera you are using. I'd say bump up to at least ISO 1600 and remove the noise in PP. Nothing slower than F4 will give good results.

I used to do freelance for a local paper shooting HS football. The equipment I was using at the time was a Canon XT, 70-200 F4 L. If I remember correctly my ISO was always at least 1600 and even then I had to use +2/+3 EV to get anything decent.
04-07-2010, 05:39 AM   #8
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Thanks for the input guys, I'm using a K10D btw and my 50mm is a manual focus. And i did think that possibly in print the image may come out more to my liking as opposed to looking at it on my monitor. I'm just so used to shooting in a studio it's a bit of a change for me.

As far as the shoot info, its was 50mm f/1.4 @ 1/250, 800ISO and I shot RAW so I could white balance post production.

Maybe I should re-word my question more towards what are YOUR opinions on a good lens for this type of situation? Preferably an auto-focus

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04-07-2010, 07:05 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by JeffAdams Quote
..................

Maybe I should re-word my question more towards what are YOUR opinions on a good lens for this type of situation? Preferably an auto-focus
The DA* 55mm f/1.4 and the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 come to mind.
04-07-2010, 08:36 AM   #10
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People say that the high iso performance of the Kx is very good. Others who have used / are using both the K10D and the Kx might be able to state how much you can win.

Just a thought.
04-07-2010, 09:20 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by JeffAdams Quote
As far as the shoot info, its was 50mm f/1.4 @ 1/250, 800ISO and I shot RAW so I could white balance post production.
On the shot you posted: You'll get clearer shots with the action moving towards or away from you, not when it's sweeping past you and you don't pan to follow. (A monopod is useful for panning.) And 1/250 was just too slow; bump the ISO up and shoot faster to stop the action. As has been mentioned, noise can be fixed in PP but blur can't. For focus with your manual lens, enable Catch-In-Focus (CIF), prefocus on a place (preferably lit) where the action will be, and hold the shutter down.

CIF is free AF, and quick when you've prefocused. An AF f/1.2 lens won't get you better shots in the situation shown -- the DOF problem remains, and AF can be problematic in low light with moving targets. Can you persuade the facility management to turn up the house lights a bit? I don't think the lens is your problem. If you really need low-light capability and you're not happy with your K10D's high-ISO performance, consider a Kx.

Last edited by RioRico; 04-07-2010 at 09:26 AM.
04-07-2010, 11:47 AM   #12
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QuoteQuote:
JeffAdams: Maybe I should re-word my question more towards what are YOUR opinions on a good lens for this type of situation? Preferably an auto-focus.
Jeff, the K10d is a great camera, but not a lot of use above 800 ISO. An auto focus lens is not going to give you the faster shutter speeds you need. You can buy a K20d or a K-X and then you will be better off. The K20d provides a stop and one half better ISO performance over the K10d.

If you really want a new lens, then go with either of the fast primes out there, but it will have to be an f 1.4 just to keep you where you are at. Sigma is about to release an 85mm f 1.4 which may be of interest to you.

Last edited by Jewelltrail; 04-07-2010 at 08:52 PM.
04-07-2010, 06:33 PM   #13
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There are already some very goo advice. I may add only a few comments.

- I would favor a fast prime. The quality of these is superb in low light without zoom.

- I would recommend to use MF; set the MF to the target distance that you want (i.e. where you want to shoot the action); and...

- Use some continuous shooting, starting when the target is about and just before the focal distance; you will get a couple of good shots in each burst.

- Lastly, I would recommend to shoot towards some incoming targets, rather than 'evading targets'; this was mentioned already and will give you more dynamic pictures.

Hope that the comment will help ....
04-07-2010, 06:52 PM   #14
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I guess I would consider an upgrade of the camera. The kx, K20 or K7 all have better iso 1600 to 3200 than the K10. That would let you double your shutter speed and maintain similar quality. Use continuous auto focus -- this would probably work best using the K7.

Practice a lot. Action photography is hard for just this reason -- it is hard to get things in sharp focus at wide apertures. A lot of pros use D3x's and iso 12800 regularly and they still throw away a lot of photos.
04-07-2010, 07:15 PM   #15
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I'd take a good hard look at the FA* 85mm f1.4.

It's tack sharp, a longer focal length, fast autofocus, and can shoot at 1.4, or stop down if you've got better lighting conditions.

Even though the K-7 is awesome, I'd also be thinking about the full additional stop of ISO on the K-x. It's been pretty well hashed out that it's the better performer in low light conditions.
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