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01-21-2012, 06:31 PM   #1
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Inside a Gym - 6400 ISO Normal?

A couple of days ago, I decided to try out shooting a local high school basketball game. I equipped myself with my Kr and a DA 55-300 lens. I now have a whole new sense of respect for people that do this.

Walking in, I thought to myself, "This place is pretty well lit, I should be able to get some great shots!" Well, I quickly realized I was wrong. I shot using Shutter Priority and originally set my camera to 1/500. I took pictures in the entire focal length of the lens and struggled at every length. I dropped the shutter speed to 1/250 and the pictures got a little better, but only a little better. The aperture setting was at the lowest the lens would allow. Slower shutter speeds gave me blurry images unless the players were standing still or walking.

Next step, I started bumping up the ISO. I went up to 800, and still no good. Then I remembered reading articles about people recommending 1600. Still, no good. 3200, still lacking. It wasn't until 6400 that I could get some decent shots. By decent shots, I mean properly exposed. The noise levels were horrible.

My question is, is this normal? Did I just shoot at a really dark gym? It seemed to be well lit. Is there some setting I could have used that would have helped?

Now that I've tried it (and feel like I failed), I can't wait for the next chance I get to go out there and get some better pictures. A faster zoom lens isn't possible (no money to buy one), and I don't think flash is allowed (unless you're in the bleachers, which I'm assuming isn't helpful anyways). I do have a monopod that I can use the next time, but I'm really concerned about having to use 6400 ISO to get proper exposure, I've never read about anyone having to use such a high ISO in a gym to get proper exposure.

I would post some pictures, but these are students at a district I work at so I don't know the legality of posting these pictures on the internet without permission.

01-21-2012, 06:46 PM   #2
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Long end of DA L 55-300 is F5.8 -
Pro equipment is F2.8...
thats over 2 stops difference in light gathering ability.
Pro might shoot F2.8 1/800 @ 1600 ISO
on our entry level gear we're looking at roughly F5.8 @ 1/500 and 6400 -

Its not normal... its physics.

As for noise in the photo at 6400 - hard to judge if its normal if you don't post a sample for us to see - with Exif info. If you crop or pixel peep at 6400 it begins to get a bit bumpy -though some of the board members can lead you to some good de-noise software (I'm not familiar enough with any to make recommendations)
01-21-2012, 06:56 PM   #3
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It's why I use my FA50/1.4 in those incredibly poorly lit settings. I've thought about a Tamron 70-200/f2.8 but haven't decided yet. I'm going to give my K-5 a try with the 18-135 and see how it works first.
01-21-2012, 06:58 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by mattt Quote
Long end of DA L 55-300 is F5.8 -
Pro equipment is F2.8...
thats over 2 stops difference in light gathering ability.
Pro might shoot F2.8 1/800 @ 1600 ISO
on our entry level gear we're looking at roughly F5.8 @ 1/500 and 6400 -

Its not normal... its physics.

As for noise in the photo at 6400 - hard to judge if its normal if you don't post a sample for us to see - with Exif info. If you crop or pixel peep at 6400 it begins to get a bit bumpy -though some of the board members can lead you to some good de-noise software (I'm not familiar enough with any to make recommendations)
Wow. Is it really that much of a difference going from 5.8 to 2.8? Having 2.8 would really allow me to shoot at 1/800 with 1600 ISO?

I guess I'm just too used to shooting outdoors where light isn't an issue. Next time I'm taking my FA 50 1.4 as well. Curious to see the difference that will make.

Any other tips/advice/knowledge is more than welcome.

01-21-2012, 07:02 PM - 1 Like   #5
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two stops of F is 2.8 --> 4 --> 5.6

two stops of ISO is 1600 --> 3200 --> 6400

two stops of shutter speed 1/800 --> 1/400 --> 1/200

**As an aside 1/800 was a W.A.G. based on what I know to freeze moving limbs
01-21-2012, 07:08 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by mattt Quote
two stops of F is 2.8 --> 4 --> 5.6

two stops of ISO is 1600 --> 3200 --> 6400

two stops of shutter speed 1/800 --> 1/400 --> 1/200

**As an aside 1/800 was a W.A.G. based on what I know to freeze moving limbs
Great info. This will be going into my personal cheat sheet. Thanks.
01-21-2012, 07:11 PM - 1 Like   #7
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Scrap the cheat sheet - go get/borrow Peterson's "Understanding Exposure"
01-21-2012, 07:25 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by mattt Quote
Scrap the cheat sheet - go get/borrow Peterson's "Understanding Exposure"
+1 to this

01-21-2012, 07:26 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by mattt Quote
Scrap the cheat sheet - go get/borrow Peterson's "Understanding Exposure"
Sounds like a great book. Was reading some of the reviews on the book and someone suggested this book as having the same information and possibly more:
Amazon.com: Bryan Peterson's Understanding Photography Field Guide: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera (9780817432256): Bryan Peterson: Books

Any truth to that? Or should I just get Understanding Exposure?
01-21-2012, 07:28 PM   #10
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In the meantime take the shots that you have and try to clean them up in post processing. There are several good utilities available that have been discussed here at various times. Most of them have a free trial, and they do vary in price. Here are a few.... There are others also.The state of the art is always advancing in this area.

01-21-2012, 07:31 PM   #11
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Unfortunatly, local gyms are not what you would call 'photo friendly' (at least from an action perspective) and the lighting is #&@&! If you jump into the K-5 for sports-photography post, Ron and Dan have some very good advice (both practical and theoretical) for action photography (and yes I know you are not using a K5, but the advice is transferable from one body to another).
01-21-2012, 07:34 PM   #12
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I too, just recently shoot my high school basket ball game. I was shooting with Pentax Kx and 50-200mm lens. I put the camera in manual exposure because the lighting never really changes. I shot at a somewhat slow 1/200th of a sec. and the smallest aperture available f/5.6 in most cases.
With my camera I kept the ISO at 4000 and got all right images.
For me the images just go into the school year book which means the images are tiny anyways and noise is not a issue.
Unless you are planning to put the pictures in a news paper, or printing them out large, shooting at a high ISO of 6400 is NO PROBLEM.
I would always rather have a sharp noisy image than a blurry clean image.
01-21-2012, 07:45 PM   #13
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Yes, 6400 (and higher) is normal (and wait till you get to a dim gym ) That's why I bought a K-5.

QuoteOriginally posted by m.ichie Quote
Unless you are planning to put the pictures in a news paper, or printing them out large, shooting at a high ISO of 6400 is NO PROBLEM.
I would always rather have a sharp noisy image than a blurry clean image.
But the most important thing is to capture action and spirit.
01-21-2012, 10:15 PM   #14
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QuoteQuote:
Understanding Exposure...
UE is, but it recommends things that would generally be frowned upon by many in this forum, such as shooting at f16-22, as many of his examples do. Some of his wording is odd, as well.

But it does tell you how to compensate the exposure when metering certain common items such as blue sky or green grass, or the palm of you hand - which is the important part.
01-21-2012, 10:47 PM   #15
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Understanding Exposue

Understanding Exposure is a very useful book, For free, you could just study this. Ultimate Exposure Computer
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