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12-11-2015, 10:09 AM   #1
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Need help with lens and settings for basketball

I took my K-3 and Sigma 50-500 to a highschool basket ball game last night got 100 wasted shutter auctions. In TAv and wide open even as slow as 1/250 my ISO bounced around 12500 and the photos looked more like sand paper than photos.

I tried my other lens - Pentax 16-85mm f3.5/5.6 and it was no better. No reach either. I have a 1.4 converter I tried that helped the reach a bit but obviously no better shots.

I didn't have it with me but I also have a Pentax 50mm f1.8 AF and a couple of manual 50mm primes.

I love the reach of the Sigma but there is no point pushing the button with the results. I was thinking the 50mm f1.8 and the converter might move the ISO down enough to be useful but do you have any suggestions for fast moving targets under far too few florescent lights with what I have?

12-11-2015, 10:30 AM   #2
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Shooting action in a badly lit gym is problematic, even with a faster prime telephoto. Losing a stop with the TC doesn't help.

When I teach an assignment on shutter speeds and shooting movement, I'll have an entire class shoot action with three techniques: a) Fastest shutter speed to freeze everything. b) Slow shutter speed with a static camera to blur the subject. c) Slow shutter speed moving with the subject to blur the background, but have a more frozen subject. When we run the open critique, looking at everyone's results, 18/20 prefer the last option (c) as "the best technique". BTW: This is typically done at 100 or 200 ISO.

Of course this means lots of bad shots and rejects, but the best of the results are excellent and if you can't use flash, if you can't get front row seats or under the basket, and if you don't have a FF with a fast telephoto prime, you either have to live with high ISO noise or try this suggestion. Note: For best results, shoot on continuous so you get bursts of shots. And then in PP I'd use something like Google Nik Collection's Dfine software if you're still not happy with noise.
12-11-2015, 10:36 AM   #3
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Thank you Alex. I'm going to give that a try tomorrow. I would imagine this is a loaded question since the players face will be moving at a much different rate than his hands but do you have a number in mind as a starting point? 1/60 or so maybe?
12-11-2015, 12:28 PM   #4
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The 50mm A f/1.2 losing a stop gives you a 75mm f/1.8 for what that's worth (and around 100-ish mm field of view equivalent), but you still have to live with the manual focus (assuming the lens is compatible with the T/C).

12-11-2015, 01:09 PM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by charchri4 Quote
Thank you Alex. I'm going to give that a try tomorrow. I would imagine this is a loaded question since the players face will be moving at a much different rate than his hands but do you have a number in mind as a starting point? 1/60 or so maybe?
As your goal is to reduce your noise, set the ISO to 800; stay under ISO 1600. For starters, try with the fastest shutter speed with your largest aperture and review the results.

So if you're in that same gym, and were dealing with 1/250" @ f/6.3, ISO 12,800, at ISO 800, f/6.3, you're looking at 4 EVs more light needed or 1/15". If you have a monopod, use it. I've seen great results as slow as 1/4"-1/60".

And remember, it's not about how many bad shots this produces; it's about did you get some great ones? Yes, in some the torso will be sharp and not the extremities, and sometimes it's the ball or the head. At a certain point by trying different shutter speeds,
you'll find a sweet spot which is a combination of the focal length and the speed of the action. Good news is that basketball is not as fast as many other sports. Don't forget to use the Continuous Shooting mode and just make sure you have plenty of memory on the card.
12-11-2015, 02:09 PM   #6
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Copy that. Will be in a different gym so hoping for better light and will use the monopod.

With TAv ISO is auto and I have it capped at 12,800 but there were times it was blinking because it couldn't hold it. I'll set the cap to 800 and work with the shutter speed to keep the blinking under control.

I sat straight out from the opposing teams basket and all of my player shots that would have been keepers had very little or no zoom on the 50-500 lens. So it could be the solution is 50mm f1.8 and only shoot when they are straight in front of me. Dropping 40 lbs of lens weight will be helpful with a slow shutter too!
12-11-2015, 02:24 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by charchri4 Quote
Copy that. Will be in a different gym so hoping for better light and will use the monopod.

With TAv ISO is auto and I have it capped at 12,800 but there were times it was blinking because it couldn't hold it. I'll set the cap to 800 and work with the shutter speed to keep the blinking under control.

I sat straight out from the opposing teams basket and all of my player shots that would have been keepers had very little or no zoom on the 50-500 lens. So it could be the solution is 50mm f1.8 and only shoot when they are straight in front of me. Dropping 40 lbs of lens weight will be helpful with a slow shutter too!
Actually having the weight with the monopod helps to stabilize you. Just be realistic with your expectations as the lighting in most school gyms are no where close to arenas where it is lit for television.
12-11-2015, 02:51 PM   #8
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Basketball settings

I recommend the 50 1.8, get courtside or under basket if possible. Set to manual, then ISO 1600 or 3200, 1/1000, f 2.8. Then apply noise reduction in PP.(Lightroom or Topaz Noise) Then they will look great. no motion blur, sharper at F 2.8 with the 50 prime. I take sports pics all the time for profit. (mustangsphoto.com).

12-11-2015, 03:53 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by charchri4 Quote
I took my K-3 and Sigma 50-500 to a highschool basket ball game last night
The Sigma is too slow, Charchi. Basketball stadiums are typically very poorly lit.
12-11-2015, 05:18 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kevwaly Quote
I recommend the 50 1.8, get courtside or under basket if possible.
I agree with Kevwaly.


Shot a few basketball games last season using the 50 1.8. All the shots were courtside mostly from the baseline perspective. I don't remember exactly what settings I used, but do know I selected a static shutter speed and let the camera select the aperture and ISO. I probably had the max ISO set to 6400. I didn't do much PP due to lack of time, mostly white balance correction. Gym and stadium lights are tough on white balance due to the sporadic frequency of the different lighting.

Your more than welcome to check the below albums out and look at the settings for those that turned out. Since the pictures are for the players and parents, I try to upload as many photos as possible even the not so good ones. I'm still working the craft.

These first two are games from the same gym and the third album is in a different gym. If you click on the picture it will show the camera settings and you can also view the exif data.

https://flic.kr/s/aHsk7veFvg
https://www.flickr.com/gp/124439334@N08/E3wxh2
https://flic.kr/s/aHsk4yH2e3

good luck, have fun and let us see some of them. Two of my sons have ball games tomorrow, hoping I can get away from work to get some shots.
12-11-2015, 05:46 PM   #11
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You just have to accept that you're just not going to get SI-quality photos in those dim gyms. Concentrate on getting good action shots and use NR liberally in pp.
12-11-2015, 07:21 PM   #12
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You know I should have posted a shot. I have light room but there is no way noise reduction would fix this mess. This is f4.5, 1/250, ISO 12800 and 50mm on the big lens.


And a zoom for you.


Those are both just compressed a tad for file size but other than that no processing.

In other news I put my 50mm 1.8 on and wow is that puppy tiny! Just moving around the room here compared to the big lens I think I could keep my ISO below 5000 using f2.0 and 1/400 in the same light as the shots above. Hard to tell but I'll find out tomorrow!
12-12-2015, 12:02 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by charchri4 Quote
This is f4.5, 1/250, ISO 12800 and 50mm on the big lens
anytime that you shoot fast action like this, shutter speed is always the first priority.

at least 1/800th fixed, not floating, better to be at 1/1000th or quicker if possible, as was mentioned earlier... it will be very hard to get clean action at 1/250th, even 1/400th is too slow.
12-12-2015, 03:56 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by charchri4 Quote
I have light room but there is no way noise reduction would fix this mess.
It would improve it.

QuoteOriginally posted by charchri4 Quote
This is f4.5, 1/250, ISO 12800 and 50mm on the big lens.
I suggest f 2.8, 1/800 (maybe cheat down a bit on EV) and let ISO go where it has to.
Then roll up your sleeves and learn how to make silk out of sow's ears in pp.

That actually looks like a pretty well lit venue--be prepared that some of your away games will be played in caverns lit by tallow torches. ;~)
12-12-2015, 07:49 PM - 1 Like   #15
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Well the 50mm was the way to go for sure. Much lower ISO and really not too much cropping. I played a lot with settings and 1.8 is too shallow and hard to focus but 2.2 to 2.8 worked well. Shutter speed was another area I spun the wheel a lot and 1000 or 1250 worked well. I did do some playing with panning and slower too. Nothing great and the light was just as bad but I'm happy with the way it turned out.

They were not all like this but lots of bad light.




This was the best one.


And a crop


All in all a very good exercise and I at least I know my inclination towards my next lens being the Pentax 50-135 f2.8 is spot on!

Thank you so much for your help!
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