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02-01-2014, 06:23 AM   #1
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Shooting swimming

Haven't really used my camera for action yet. My kids are in competitive swimming and would like to take some shots. I have a ist dl sigma dc 18-200 m&m lens.
My question is how do I shoot them swimming without the blur and getting a great shot?


02-01-2014, 07:43 AM   #2
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Well, depending on the lighting, you might need a wider aperture lens, like f 2.8. You'll also need a high enough shutter speed to freeze the action.
02-01-2014, 07:46 AM   #3
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Something like this: Tamron 70-200mm F2.8 Di LD Macro Lens Reviews - Tamron Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database would probably work. I don't know how close you can get though.

I also found this: tutorial that might help you.

If the lighting is really good, you might not need a new lens. Controlling your shutter speed might be enough, if there's enough light. If the lighting is dim, you'll probably need the lens plus the higher shutter speed.

Last edited by dansamy; 02-01-2014 at 07:59 AM.
02-01-2014, 08:59 AM   #4
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If the pool is big enough and the organization allows it, get a WG3 and make some really interesting shots. You may want to bring spare clothing, though.

02-01-2014, 09:55 AM   #5

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QuoteOriginally posted by bam1515 Quote
...My question is how do I shoot them swimming without the blur and getting a great shot?...
Indoor sports are a challenge. Blur-free action shots require a high shutter speed. You need a lot of light, high ISO, or a bright (aka "fast", wide aperture, low f number) lens. I assume they're swimming indoors so it's not very bright. The ist is an older camera and you can't crank the ISO very high without introducing too much noise. A superzoom like an 18-200 tends to be a slow lens. This means you have all 3 elements working against you.

You might have to upgrade equipment but maybe you have enough light to work with. Experiment with shutter speed 1/250 or 1/500, ISO 1600, and wide open aperture. Check to see what you get. if you need more light push ISO to 3200. You might have to shoot in raw rather than jpg to process out noise later.

If all of that doesn't work, then you might need to upgrade your camera (newer models offer higher ISO) or lens to something like a 70-200 f2.8.
02-01-2014, 10:53 AM - 1 Like   #6
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I've done a fair amount of basketball photography back in my college years. My gear was an EOS-1 and a 70-200 f/2.8L. Some of my classmates didn't have a fast zoom, so they used a 50mm f/1.4 instead. The venues are different, but the photographic challenges between the sports are similar. Both (as has been noted by others) requires fast shutter speeds IF you want to stop all motion. Using shutter speeds of at least 1/500 is a good starting point, however, to really stop the droplets of water you will want to be at 1/1000 or more. If you don't have a 2.8 zoom/telephoto lens, then you could try using a simple 50mm lens and set yourself at the edge of the pool facing their take-off point. One of the key aspects of any good swimming photos is getting low. You'll never see a close shot of a swimmer in Sports Illustrated taken above eye level.

All of what has been posted is fine technical stuff, but what if you can't get more than 1/250 with your current set of gear? When ever I have been faced with limitations created by my gear, I try to use that to my advantage. In this case I'd shoot some images at the highest shutter that I could achieve. I'd try bumping up my ISO to the max to get an idea of how the extra noise works with the water. Does it add an artistic texture or does the noise kill it? Then I'd shoot very slow (1/15 or slower) to really blur the motion. You're going to want to really blur the motion because just a little blur looks like you don't know what you're doing, a lot of it looks intentional. This technique works very well with things moving sideways within the frame, but with swimming they're coming right at you so you're going to have to take a lot of images to get just one keeper if you decide to go low and slow.
I suggest to shoot not only your kids, but to use other swimmers as test subjects. Why figure things out on the important moments? Use someone else's kids to practice on.

Another very important thing you should do is look at other swimming photos and see if you can learn from what others have done. Check out the exposure, note the timing of when the shutter was released, note the angle at which the image was taken. And don't forget to capture those moments out of the pool too. Being focused on just in-the-pool shots will cause you to miss some very important moments. You're going to find out that getting the shutter speed you want is a very small part of the processes of getting The Shot.
02-01-2014, 07:25 PM   #7
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Get a fast aperture lens and maybe bump the ISO up a bit so that the shutter speed will be faster. 2.8 is recommended since telephoto zoom lenses have a widest of 2.8. Try to get those with faster AF also so that it can focus more quickly and capture the action.

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