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10-08-2010, 07:18 PM   #1
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Sports Photography General Rules

Hello,

I have been taking some pics of my kids playing various sports.
I am happy with the composition, but I am missing that great sharp focus. What are some general settings for shooting? AF setting? TV, AV, TAV?

Outside, usually sunny, mid day. I try to use a monopod if possible.
I use a K20D with either a Pentax 17-70mm f/4 or a Tamron 28-200 f/3.8-5.6. I also have a Tamron 2x Pz-AF MC7 teleconverter that works with the Tamron lens, but won't work with the Pentax. It won't lock on using AF.

Let me know if you need any other info.

Thanks

10-08-2010, 08:10 PM   #2
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Sorry dont have a k20d, but

The higher the fstop the faster the shutter. ie f4 with a 1/1000 speed. However in kids sports you dont really need 1/1000, You can get a way with 1/250 and set the fstop for the light. That will open up your focus field and be more forgiving

Personlly I would shy away from the teleconverter, it basiclly makes your f4 lens now an f8. which will kill the action.
10-08-2010, 08:34 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by bluebronco Quote
Hello,

.
Tamron 28-200 f/3.8-5.6.

Thanks
Turn on catch in focus.
Depending on light use shutter priority keep it at 250 or higher.
or set for apatuer priority and start at f8 and raise it to maintain a minimum of 250. If you get f8 /4000 dont wory about it.
Turn off SR
Set your drive speed to hi.

Set for AFS As you see the shot coming up jam the button all the way down. and hold to your target. The camera will focus and the second it gets focus it will fire the shutter. You will get in focus shots consitatly this way. you might not get the exact shot you want.

Set for AFC press half way down on the shutter and alow the camera to track focus your target. as the shot comes up press all the way down and hold. The camera will continuasly fire every time it locks.

Start there then adjusts as you learn how it all comes together. K20d may not be the fastes shooter out there but it will do great sports outside in bright light.

PS Dont be afraid to jump the ISO to 400 to get the shutter speed you need noise will be minimal in that situation.
10-08-2010, 08:47 PM   #4
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Hi,

Lenses are usually their sharpest about 2 stops down from wide open. For the f4 that means f8. For the 5.6 that means f11.
I would try Av @ f8 and see what shutter speeds it gets. In a sunny day outside, that should give you around 1/250 to 1/500 for ISO200. If it is still slow for you, try bumping the ISO to 400. The idea is to use the lens at its sharpest and adjust the rest accordingly. Find that sweet spot.
Use AF-C and I wouldn't use the teleconverter.
Hope this helps.

Thanks,

10-08-2010, 09:00 PM   #5
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With good light the K20D can be used with ISO 1250 or even to ISO 1600 . You can set the Auto ISO range to that high, then use Tav, safely with aperture at f/8 and choose shutter speed at 1/250" or higher .
10-08-2010, 09:09 PM   #6
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Bluebronco,
How old are your kids and what sports are they participating in? What percentage of your shots meet your standards for sharpness? What are you aiming for?

Thanks

M
10-08-2010, 09:42 PM   #7
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If I had TAv mode I'd be using that. Probably something like f5.6 & 1/500s in good light would be a starting point for sport.
10-09-2010, 01:58 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by captmacq Quote
Turn on catch in focus.
I didn't think that "catch in focus" worked with AF lenses?

QuoteOriginally posted by Miguel Quote
Bluebronco,
How old are your kids and what sports are they participating in? What percentage of your shots meet your standards for sharpness? What are you aiming for?

Thanks

M
My kids are 7 & 9. The 7yr old is in soccer and flag football and the 9yr old is in tackle football. I would say about 5% are sharp. I would like to increase that. I think it is more technique than equipment.

Any technique suggestions?

10-09-2010, 04:18 PM   #9
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capmacq ... just wondering why you suggest turning off Shake Reduction in your post above? I'm a beginner and thought SR would just stay on always. ??
10-09-2010, 04:45 PM   #10
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Sr is to stop camera shake when your trying to hold the camera still and shoot a still subject.
(hand held portait or slow moving (walking)
If you use it when panning or snaping moving objects it can couse a blur.
Also at high shutter speeds 1.5x focal length. (100mmx1.5 =150 sec shutter min) the shutter
speed cancles out the need for sr.
Also if you are on a tripod it should be off.
10-09-2010, 07:20 PM   #11
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Thanks for answering my questions, it helps set context.

At this point in your kids' growth, your success at getting great team sports shots is a combination of technique and equipment. Because they are younger, you can get by with average lenses and a fairly slow camera with a very slow AF system.

The goal is to capture closeups of the kids on a big field: their reactions, their intensity, their joy, and their frustration. Sometime you can throw in wider angle action shots of the whole play unfolding with a half dozen kids involved, but those tend to be less compelling photographs to view.

Because the backgrounds to field sports are so busy, you want to try to shoot with a shallow DOF to minimize distractions. Not easy, but a worthy objective. Shoot AV, AF.C, center focus point, and aim for f4-f5.6. Increase ISO as needed maybe even up to 3200. These aren't art shots, so noise can be reduced fairly effectively with decent post-processing software.

To better capture action, lower your monopod and shoot from your knees. I use big knee pads, but I'm well into my second half-century and bony down there. The lower perspective is more engaging for viewers too; looking down at the action is what they do from the sidelines. Move the AF function down to the AF button. This lets you constantly reset the AF while composing more quickly.

The other stuff you probably have figured out: anticipate the action, choose a player and track him or her, keep things pretty stable. Anti-shake may or may not be useful, depending on your shooting behavior. So run a few tests and see.

I'd also recommend experimenting some with vertically oriented frames. It will require a Manfrotto hinged monopod head that locks down. Vertical shots better emphasize the intensity of 1-2 kids going at it.

If your kids continue playing sports in the coming years, your equipment will have to become better. This is because the soccer field expands significantly by U-11, and the pace of the games hasten significantly. By U-11 well-coached teams learn to pass the ball and this complicates your shooting because you cannot track a single go-to kid up the length of the field. There are also a lot more bodies on the pitch to keep tabs on.

What this means for lenses: minimum of 400mm focal length and f5.6. You may get by with 300mm, but the referees become more picky about where photographers can shoot from. The best place is behind the opponent's goal, about 3/4 to the corner. Make sure the light is favorable. If I see that the match is more defensive (and that happens with time too), then I'll move down the sideline and focus on the defensive players.

I would recommend a zoom that is wide enough to capture near action, especially throw-ins and corner kicks. Your Tamron is a bit too slow on the long end. The use of the TC handicaps your task moreso.

Since you asked for information about technique, I'll shy away from anymore equipment quips, except this: Unlike most areas of photography where shooter skills matter as much or more than the equipment, consistently good sports shots require tools optimized for fast frame rates, configurable AF, and the capturing of action far away.

Pentax isn't good at this compared with the two major brands.


Hope this helps.

M




QuoteQuote:

My kids are 7 & 9. The 7yr old is in soccer and flag football and the 9yr old is in tackle football. I would say about 5% are sharp. I would like to increase that. I think it is more technique than equipment.

Any technique suggestions?

Last edited by Miguel; 10-09-2010 at 07:48 PM.
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