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12-21-2007, 09:07 AM   #1
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DSLR Rookie - K100D Action Shot Tips

I'm a new K100D owner as of yesterday, and after a short practice session last night, I've got a few questions:

1. Playing around with action shots (daughter doing gymnastics in the living room) I set the camera on continuous shooting and pulled the trigger. I got 1 shot. After multiple tries with the same result, I'm under the impression that I can't shoot multiple shots w/ the flash on.

2. Setting the camera to "no flash" allowed me to shoot multiple shots, but with a good amount of motion blur, which I'm guessing means adjust the shutter speed. So now I'm reading the manual and I get that there are 3 main values I need to understand: Shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. What settings would get me in the ballpark for stop-motion photography of a little gymnast in a living room?

3. What is EV Compensation?

Thanks in advance.

12-21-2007, 09:34 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by reoterq Quote
1. Playing around with action shots (daughter doing gymnastics in the living room) I set the camera on continuous shooting and pulled the trigger. I got 1 shot. After multiple tries with the same result, I'm under the impression that I can't shoot multiple shots w/ the flash on.
Hmm, I almost never shoot with the built-in flash, but I guess not. If the camera is set for flash, I think it does wait until the flash is recharged and ready to fire before allowing another shot. There is a setting to override this behavior in the camera. It's in the menu, custom settings. On my *ist DS (whose menus are similar to the K100D's) it's called "release when charging". But I don't think it will really do you a lot of good. If you need the flash, you'll be better off using the flash -- and just learning when to click the shutter.



QuoteQuote:
2. Setting the camera to "no flash" allowed me to shoot multiple shots, but with a good amount of motion blur, which I'm guessing means adjust the shutter speed.
Well, if it's really motion blur -- if some part of the shot is in focus -- then yes, you'd need to increase your shutter speed.

When you shoot with flash, the flash itself to some extent replaces the shutter speed to freeze action. In other words, with flash, you can use a shorter shutter speed and still stop the action reasonably well.

What mode are you using to shoot? Try putting the camera into P mode, and pop up the flash. Practice your timing so you can get the camera to click just at the right instant to capture the subject's pose, in mid-somersault or whatever.



QuoteQuote:
So now I'm reading the manual and I get that there are 3 main values I need to understand: Shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. What settings would get me in the ballpark for stop-motion photography of a little gymnast in a living room?
There's a bit more to it than that, but for basic exposure, those are the three key elements.

I shoot a lot of indoor sports, although mostly in gymnasia, not so much in my living room. For indoor volleyball and basketball, I typically set my shutter speed to something like 1/250th sec or a little faster if the light in the gym is better than average; I set the aperture to f/2.8. If I'm using my K10D, I use TAv mode and let the camera figure out what ISO to use, but it will usually be at least 800, often 1100 and sometimes 1600. If I'm using the *ist DS, which doesn't have a TAv mode, I just set the ISO to 1600 and leave it there.

I never use flash when shooting sports, by the way. There's too great a chance of it causing harm to the athlete.


QuoteQuote:
3. What is EV Compensation?
It's basically a way of overriding the camera's built-in meter's sense of what constitutes a correct, balanced exposure.

I think EV stands for "exposure value." The camera's meter takes the light gathered from the scene and tells you whether that light is above or below what the meter thinks is a correct, balanced exposure, or if it's exactly on target. Now, as you learn your camera, you'll learn that certain scenes -- say, a backlit scene -- may cause the camera to think more light is coming in, but you want to expose for the subject in the foreground, who is a bit dark, rather than for the bright background, so if you were using P, Tv or Av mode on your camera, you'd push the EV up a bit, say to +1. This tells the meter to overexpose the entire scene. That may cause some of the background to be blown out, but it will cause the subject in the center to be exposed correctly.

How does it work? Well, in Tv (shutter priority) mode, if you set the shutter to 1/250th sec, ISO to 800, and the camera without EV compensation thinks that the correct aperture = f/8, if you push the EV to +1, the camera will automatically set the aperture to f/5.6 (one stop wider than f/8). If you're in Av (aperture priority mode), with the aperture set to f/5.6, ISO set to 800, and the meter without EV compensation thinks the right shutter speed = 1/250th sec, if you adjust the EV to -1 (asking the camera to underexpose by one stop), then it will push the shutter speed to 1/500th sec. In P mode, the camera is controlling all three variables and it uses its so-called program line to decide whether to adjust aperture, shutter, both, whatever.

If you shoot in M (manual) mode, then you don't have EV compensation available because you're manually controlling all the elements of the exposure.

The best thing you can do for yourself as a photographer is learn how to take advantage of manual mode. It's got the reputation of being hard. It's not, really. Learn how to read the meter in the viewfinder, and how to control the shutter, aperture and ISO, and simply twiddle the settings until the meter says the exposure is balanced. Learning to use M mode will get you thinking about how you control depth of field with the aperture, and how you stop motion with the shutter speed. If you don't feel ready for full manual, try using Tv or Av.

Will
12-21-2007, 09:51 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by reoterq Quote
What settings would get me in the ballpark for stop-motion photography of a little gymnast in a living room?

I'm afraid I didn't really answer this question. I told you what I do in different circumstances, which probably isn't any help at all.

If I were going to photograph my daughter, say, jumping rope in our living room, after moving all the breakables out of the room, I'd put my camera into M (manual) mode and probably use these settings for starters.

Shutter speed: 1/250th sec. This isn't super-fast. If the athlete moves very quickly, you may get some motion blur. But unless you're photographing, say, a diver at a big pool, the athlete's entire body isn't usually moving at the same speed in the same direction. A little motion blur in the feet or hands can actually be a nice effect -- it conveys, um, motion. So I'd start with this and then adjust, if I was able.

For stopping the motion, the shutter speed is the key element to adjust. Now you need to adjust your ISO so that it's possible for you to get a correct or acceptable exposure. And this will depend on the light in the room. But unless the room is extraordinarily well lit -- say, you've got a huge wall of glass on one side and it's mid-afternoon with lots of good sun coming in -- then, if you're shooting with the kit lens, which only opens up to f/3.6 or something like that, then you're going to want to open the aperture all the way, and push the ISO up high enough to get the picture.

Try putting the camera into shutter priority (Tv) mode, set the shutter to 1/250tth sec, set the ISO to 800, and take a shot or two, then look at the shots and pay special attention to the histogram. If the histogram is reasonably well centered, then you've got good settings. If it's too far to the right, the shot's overexposed (but that won't happen, trust me, because even if you set the ISO to 3200, in Tv mode, the camera will simply stop down the aperture to get the right exposure). If the histogram is too far to the left, the photo's underexposed, which means you need to boost the ISO a bit and try again.

Will
12-21-2007, 10:22 AM   #4
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Another simple solution when not using a flash that will help a little is just use brighter light bulbs.

I agree with WMBP, I don't use a flash with athletes. Who knows what might happen if you distract them at the wrong time.

I also don't use the flash on animals.

12-21-2007, 11:19 AM   #5
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I would agree with the no flash myth with only very young athletes-up to 9 or 10 years of age/about 3-5 grade in the USA-they might become distracted especially if they are short on motivation and limited in concentration.

Older players are typically capable of much great concentration and equally greater speed; a flash almost becomes a necessity. The major drawback to allowing flash is when one person is allowed every mom or dad or grandparent wants to pop from where ever they happen to be seated. This is a major distraction to officials, referees and other 'paying' fans and when allowed to excess it might begin to disturb the players.

By the time an athlete reaches high school (USA) their ability to concentrate and focus on their game tasks is great enough that they become completely unaware of anything except the game. They are neither aware of or care about a small number of photographers working the event.

Such also holds for individual sports with some extra restrictions. Distance limitations are typically imposed on photographers in gymnastic events, ice skating, diving and oddly, bowling. Golf also has such a limit but the preventive is to limit noise not flash. There may also be angle or location requirements: don't count on being allowed to flash directly into the athletes eyes during a dismount or in preparation for a jump or leap.

The above suggestions of high ISO, fast shutter and wide open aperture are ages old and universal. Flash has been needed and used from the very beginning as well. Two other suggestions are 'learn to pan and follow through' and know both the sport-it's goals and rules and the players moves so that you can time your shots to occur at the natural apex of the action.

In all of these threads about shooting sports few mention the prime key ingredient. Practice. Shooting sports is less about technique then any other subject matter; it more about the photographer practicing to catch the action, anticipating the essential moment and having the timing to make the capture. And if you're blessed/cursed with a child athlete, go to their practice: fore warned is fore armed.
12-21-2007, 11:36 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by reoterq Quote
1. Playing around with action shots (daughter doing gymnastics in the living room) I set the camera on continuous shooting and pulled the trigger. I got 1 shot. After multiple tries with the same result, I'm under the impression that I can't shoot multiple shots w/ the flash on.
You cannot shoot in burst with the flash because it needs to recycle for a time that depends on the output power. Some external flashes have a much faster recycle time and can shoot in burst.

QuoteOriginally posted by reoterq Quote
2. Setting the camera to "no flash" allowed me to shoot multiple shots, but with a good amount of motion blur, which I'm guessing means adjust the shutter speed. So now I'm reading the manual and I get that there are 3 main values I need to understand: Shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. What settings would get me in the ballpark for stop-motion photography of a little gymnast in a living room?
In a living room, do not hesitate to use the flash. This will freeze the action. An external flash bounced to the wall is the best, but even the onboard flash can work at short distances. The problem with ambient light indoor is that you need a fast lens (< f2.8) and high ISO (>800). It's very difficult to get a shot of good quality. Meanwhile the flash with its very short duration (don't remember exactly but it's like 1/10000s) will freeze any action, even the fastest. When using the flash, the max shutter speed on the camera is about 1/180s. This shutter speed is related to the ambient light, it has no effect on the flash duration. If you set it to 1/180s chances are no ambient light will be exposing the sensor, only the flash light will.
12-21-2007, 11:50 AM   #7
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Anyone hear anything on the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 for Pentax?
12-21-2007, 12:11 PM   #8
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I was trying to respond to the question as asked.

Yes, the pros -- and even high school athletes -- are oblivious to distractions on the sidelines, including camera flashes. It's clear from the OP's post that we're not dealing with a pro or even a high school athlete. My experience with kids 12 and under is that they DO find flash -- especially direct flash -- distracting. I would note also that with kids under 12 and also with high school kids, my experience any way is that flash is generally forbidden at official events. So for most of my shooting, it's not even a consideration. John is no doubt right that one of the reasons for forbidding it is that, if it's NOT forbidden, you'll have sixty parents flashing away at the kids and it will be distracting to players and spectators alike.

In addition, on the basis of the nature of the OP's question, I assumed that he does not have a detachable flash unit and is using the camera's built-in flash. Bouncing with the built-in flash is not impossible but is difficult and takes a modifier like the Light Scoop or a home-made equivalent.

So back to the original poster: forget flash. The on-camera flash will be harsh and unflattering, and there is a chance that it will distract your child. Little Laker's suggestion that you turn up the lights is your best bet. Or do it during the daytime when there's bright sunlight coming in through a window. More light = faster shutter speeds possible = better pictures (other things being equal).

Will

12-21-2007, 02:30 PM   #9
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Well, actually, the original described conditions were only test conditions. As you described, flash is forbidden in competition, where we will be taking the majority of our pictures, along with her brother's basketball shots. I picked up a couple of notes from this thread, but if you could, please address the "non flash indoor action shots" more specifically, including lens tips such as the afore mentioned Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8.

Thanks again.
12-21-2007, 02:31 PM   #10
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About the Sigma, $1000 ballpark.
12-21-2007, 02:40 PM   #11
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WMBP - after re-reading your earlier post, I see that you already addressed the indoor sports problem.
12-21-2007, 02:41 PM   #12
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I can't seem to find it anywhere. Any suggestions? Thanks.
12-21-2007, 02:52 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by reoterq Quote
Well, actually, the original described conditions were only test conditions. As you described, flash is forbidden in competition, where we will be taking the majority of our pictures, along with her brother's basketball shots. I picked up a couple of notes from this thread, but if you could, please address the "non flash indoor action shots" more specifically, including lens tips such as the afore mentioned Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8.
I thought the question about the 70-200 was just an accident. ;-)

OK, so you're shooting indoor basketball? What level? Or more important than the level are these questions:
  1. how close to the court can you get?
  2. how much will you be able to move around?
  3. how good will the lighting be? (This will usually be directly proportional to the level)
The advantage of the 70-200 f/2.8 is the f/2.8 part. The 200mm part will be nice, if you can't get down to the other end of the court.

The problem will be with the 70mm part of the lens. Your best shots for indoor basketball are going to be when you're under the basket or nearly so, at the end of the court where the action is. That's when the side with the ball will be looking in your direction -- since they'll be looking toward the basket. Not always, of course. Passing and dribbing can go in any direction. But if you play the percentages, the best place to be is under the basket or near the basket on the corners. Now, if you're down on the sidelines --- which is generally a nice place to be -- the 70mm is going to be too long for a lot of shots. I've shot with an 18-50, 28-75, 50-135 (the Pentax DA*) and a 50mm prime. The majority of my best basketball shots were taken around 40mm.

However, there's a good element of personal preference here, I think. I've talked to other sports photographers who really like having a long lens. You may figure out a good place to position yourself, so that you can take advantage of the 200mm reach and not be hurt by the 70mm limit. You might find a good spot in the stands to shoot. I shot some volleyball championships in November with the Pentax DA* 50-135 f/2.8 from a position in the stands, directly up from the net. But that was volleyball, where the net is like the basket -- that's what everybody is looking toward most of the time. For basketball if I were taking up a position in the stands, I think I'd sit up a bit and still try to get close to one of the baskets. But be warned. The problem with shooting in the stands is that your shots will be blocked frequently by other spectators, and depending on the stands, you might even find that the position isn't stable.

Will

Will
12-21-2007, 02:53 PM   #14
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I don't think you'll find the 70-200 f/2.8 for Pentax mount. Your best bet is the new Pentax DA*50-135 f/2.8. For child competitions, where you should be able to get closer to the field of play, this should work fine.

BTW, I was looking at some Sports Illustrated shots on their website, and the vast majority of their great shots of pro football were taken with a 70-200 f/2.8 on a film camera. The 50-135 on a K100D/K10D sensor is an equivalent field of view, so you should be fine.
12-21-2007, 03:14 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by rfortson Quote
BTW, I was looking at some Sports Illustrated shots on their website, and the vast majority of their great shots of pro football were taken with a 70-200 f/2.8 on a film camera. The 50-135 on a K100D/K10D sensor is an equivalent field of view, so you should be fine.
Seems to me that the pro courts have a lot more room on the sidelines than the school courts that I shoot in. On elementary school courts in particular, I'm often right on the sidelines, not just because I want to be, but because there's no place else for me to be. Of course it varies from school to school, with the richer schools having sometimes bigger courts.

John Davis's advice -- practice! -- is the very best here, and what I would suggest is that you get ahold of the lens you think you'll need, go to a court and take some tests, see what works for you. If you are shooting at 70+ mm at a minimum and the action is at your feet, you're going to miss the shot. If you're shooting with a 35mm prime, or an 18-50 zoom, and the action is at the other end of the court, unless you can run down there -- which I've done sometimes, but which usually is not permitted -- then you're going to miss those long shots. So you either need to find a vantage point that's away from the court a bit, so you can use that 70-200 to advantage, or else it sort of comes down to which shots you'd prefer to miss. Me, I'd prefer to miss the shots at the other end of the court and get the ones at my feet, which tend to be more interesting.

But really, you're going to have to give it a try and see for yourself. Of the zooms I've used, I think the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 was probably the most useful. Wish I still had it...

Will
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