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12-28-2013, 04:20 PM   #1
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Low light, action shot blues

OK, I'll admit it. I need some serious help. No, it's not LBA. (Lack of money is an amazing cure ) It's trying to shoot my son's indoor basketball games. My equipment for the gym mostly consists of a K-5ii and a DA* 60-250 f4; certainly good tools for the job. (A 70-200 f2.8 would be a better tool for this job; I don't need the reach in the gym. I do love that DA*, though; it's my favorite lens.)
I've shot a bunch of baseball and I think I've had a lot more success. I think you can plan better where the action is, pre-focus to a spot, and kind of let the action come to you. I don't seem to be doing that in basketball; I'm more trying to follow the ball with, quite frankly, increasing worse results. (I feel like since I applied the last update, the focusing issue has gotten worse, but it's probably just me.)
I've used different focusing modes (including manual.) I've tried center- or selective point focus, I usually use TAv (I think) mode, settings at f4.0 and as about 1/400 sec (faster when possible but I'm trying to keep a reasonable ISO so the photos aren't too grainy. I shoot raw, so I figured if I underexpose by a stop I can fix that in post-processing while maybe getting a quicker shutter speed.
If the kids are at the opposite side of the court, focusing is (usually) relatively quick. As the kids get closer (and the relative speed gets quicker) the camera can't seem to keep up.
Sorry about the wordiness, I just wanted to let you know what the heck I've been trying. Go ahead, laugh if you wish!
Of course, ANY constructive criticism would be very helpful, and tomorrow (12/29) I'm going to totally rethink the way I'm doing things...I'll probably sacrifice some action in order to focus to spot (around the rim) and wait for something to happen.
Am I overthinking the whole approach?
If you've used the k-3: is the tracking capabilities significantly improved? (It seems like I've heard mixed...some great, some meh.)
Thanks VERY much.
Steve

12-28-2013, 09:17 PM   #2
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Are you using the expanded area auto focus option with continuous focus set?
12-28-2013, 10:44 PM   #3
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The best basketball shots I've ever taken were with a 28mm lens from under the basket. The rest of the court was beyond me (pun intended).
12-28-2013, 11:36 PM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by SteveTheOldMan Quote
settings at f4.0 and as about 1/400 sec (faster when possible but I'm trying to keep a reasonable ISO so the photos aren't too grainy.
I don't know the lighting at your gym of course, but generally at the high school level (or younger) it is lousy for photography. In addition, to freeze sports action like basketball, a minimum shutter speed of 1/750 is necessary for consistency. I prefer 1/1000 - 1/1500. To achieve this will require you to visit the extremes of your equipment capabilities or simply spend $7000 for professional level tools.

Pump up the ISO and fix things as best you can in post. With the K-3 I've been shooting indoor soccer at ISO 6400, but it would work at 12,800. Since the K-5II has a slightly less noisy sensor this should be a doable ISO for you.

Regarding the lens, I believe that any f4 lens is too slow to work with the ISO+Shutter speed requirements noted above. Maybe your situation will prove me wrong. . .but I would use a lens at f2.8. For indoor I used both an FA 50mm f1.4 @ f2.8 and later switched to the DA 70mm Ltd f2.4 @ 2.8 for better reach. So if you have any 2.8 or faster AF lenses, bring 'em with. I would only use AF lenses for this kind of action.

Basketball is somewhat predictable in that the court is relatively small, the goal is in a fixed location, and there are only five players per side, and you generally know that most shots will be taken within a certain perimeter at each end. Generally the middle of the court is a transition zone. Consider focusing on one player/defender combo for a few minutes at a time. There will be enough touches on the ball to create good action shots. You can then rotate to other players. One person cannot capture all the action on a basketball court, there is too much going on in a confined space--baseball as you noted is predictable, especially if you follow the ball and understand the flow of the game.

Hope this helps.

M

12-29-2013, 08:55 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Miguel Quote
I don't know the lighting at your gym of course, but generally at the high school level (or younger) it is lousy for photography. In addition, to freeze sports action like basketball, a minimum shutter speed of 1/750 is necessary for consistency. I prefer 1/1000 - 1/1500. To achieve this will require you to visit the extremes of your equipment capabilities or simply spend $7000 for professional level tools.

Pump up the ISO and fix things as best you can in post. With the K-3 I've been shooting indoor soccer at ISO 6400, but it would work at 12,800. Since the K-5II has a slightly less noisy sensor this should be a doable ISO for you.

Regarding the lens, I believe that any f4 lens is too slow to work with the ISO+Shutter speed requirements noted above. Maybe your situation will prove me wrong. . .but I would use a lens at f2.8. For indoor I used both an FA 50mm f1.4 @ f2.8 and later switched to the DA 70mm Ltd f2.4 @ 2.8 for better reach. So if you have any 2.8 or faster AF lenses, bring 'em with. I would only use AF lenses for this kind of action.

Basketball is somewhat predictable in that the court is relatively small, the goal is in a fixed location, and there are only five players per side, and you generally know that most shots will be taken within a certain perimeter at each end. Generally the middle of the court is a transition zone. Consider focusing on one player/defender combo for a few minutes at a time. There will be enough touches on the ball to create good action shots. You can then rotate to other players. One person cannot capture all the action on a basketball court, there is too much going on in a confined space--baseball as you noted is predictable, especially if you follow the ball and understand the flow of the game.

Hope this helps.

M
All excellent points. The fastest lens I have is an 85mm f1.4 which would probably do the trick, reach-wise, at the closer end of the gym. Even though it's a manual focus lens, I might play with it just to see what results I can get from it (and me .)
We'll see how it goes today. Thanks for the input!
-- Steve
12-29-2013, 09:47 AM   #6
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Great subject, guys. I have just arrived in DSLR-ville. My oldest granddaughter has just begun her HS basketball career (freshman playing JV and she has three more coming up behind her.. So, I will be structuring a kit of lenses.

I have started with a K50 and 18-135mm WR (for convenience).I have had some modest success with that lense in the HS gym, but I know I can get better with faster lens. I am thinking about the f/4 60-250 (reach and some speed) and the f/2.8 50-135 (faster). I would also like some advise on good focal length for indoor basketball if I go with a fast prime.

Seve, please share your results. Thanks. Joe
12-29-2013, 10:47 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by 2put Quote
Great subject, guys. I have just arrived in DSLR-ville. My oldest granddaughter has just begun her HS basketball career (freshman playing JV and she has three more coming up behind her.. So, I will be structuring a kit of lenses.

I have started with a K50 and 18-135mm WR (for convenience).I have had some modest success with that lense in the HS gym, but I know I can get better with faster lens. I am thinking about the f/4 60-250 (reach and some speed) and the f/2.8 50-135 (faster). I would also like some advise on good focal length for indoor basketball if I go with a fast prime.

Seve, please share your results. Thanks. Joe
Since gyms vary so much lighting-wise, it's hard to make specific recommendations. First, I assume you are shooting from the sidelines, particularly the end line region. If not, I'd say just use your iPhone to take a few snaps and enjoy the game because shots from the stands are not impactful. You want to fill 2/3 of the frame with action..Remember to shoot vertically.

Secondly, take an exposure meter to get a baseline of what the ideal settings would be in a few places where you will be shooting. Often lighting is spotty, and you may not realize this until you review your shots. Thirdly, while I assume your zoom Is too slow, the focal range is great, and it will give you good data on what particular focal lengths are preferred for you.

Then you can determine the faster best lens for the game. Maybe DA 70mm Ltd. Maybe DA 40 because it is so fast to focus. Maybe the cheap 50mm f1.8. I would avoid the 50-135mm-- great optics, but too slow to AF sadly. The worse the lighting the sooner and harder you will run into the wall of Pentax lens limitations--which is why 99.84% of sports shooters use Canon or Nikon.

M
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