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02-06-2012, 03:14 PM   #1
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K-x and sports photography

Hi all,

Im curious about the settings you use for sports photography and a k-x or similar. I was out on the weekend taking photos of dragon boat racing and a number of them are out of focus. I dont normally do a lot of action photography so just wish to get better shots next time.

I was using the 55-330 DA lens, AF-S, ISO 200-400 and central focus point.Auto white balance, and cloudy/bright sunny day.

I think partially the issue was that the shutter speeds were about 1/500. Should I have used the AF with 5 focus points instead....... And also set it at a higher shutter speed of 1/2000.....

What settings have you all found work better.

cheers

02-06-2012, 03:20 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by goldpopper Quote
Hi all,

Im curious about the settings you use for sports photography and a k-x or similar. I was out on the weekend taking photos of dragon boat racing and a number of them are out of focus. I dont normally do a lot of action photography so just wish to get better shots next time.

I was using the 55-330 DA lens, AF-S, ISO 200-400 and central focus point.Auto white balance, and cloudy/bright sunny day.

I think partially the issue was that the shutter speeds were about 1/500. Should I have used the AF with 5 focus points instead....... And also set it at a higher shutter speed of 1/2000.....

What settings have you all found work better.

cheers
Use Tv (Shutter Priority) and play with the settings. The other issue is depth of field and distance from the objects. With larger openings (lower f's) you get shallower depth of field and so movements closer and further away from the camera have more impact on focus. I use single point focus for sports mostly as it tends to result in more sharp shots of the main focal point. Were you shooting at 90 degrees or a more oblique angle? Panning is also an important technique for use in conditions where you can't push the shutter speed any higher by opening up the aperture or increasing the ISO. I routinely shot ISO800 with the K-x at sports and it did fine.
02-06-2012, 03:26 PM   #3
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Were the images out of focus or blurred from motion. If they were out of focus, higher speeds will not help. Do not use multiple focus points, just the center one, then focus there and holding the button, frame the picture and shoot.

If the images are out of focus that can be attributed to several factors ranging from not pointing to the right spot, taking the picture before the camera locked focus, using too wide F-stop and getting in shallow DOF, having back/front focus issues with the lens, etc.

If it motion blur, then a higher speed can help. Also if the SR was not ready, it can introduce some blur.

You can post some images that you see the problem and I am sure several members will give you more specific advice.
02-06-2012, 03:27 PM   #4
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For sports mode, you should use the shutter priority (Tv) or automatic (P) mode, with a shutter speed in line with the sport that you shoot: at least 1/20 s for dragon boats, better 1/50s. Faster for action sports. For example, I use between 1/100s to 1/5,000 s for volley-ball, depding upon the availalble light.

If you use SR, you need to ensure that the SR confirmation icon is on before you shoot (The hand symbol in the viewfinder.) It may take 1-2 s for SR confirmation. If you shoot to quickly, your shot may be blurred.

Center-focus is often the best for sport., But wait fro AF confirmation before shooting.

Hope that the comments may help.

02-06-2012, 03:30 PM   #5
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Hmm, might be motion blur. I was shooting at odd angles. Some boats coming head on, and others at an angle to me. And there was some distance between me and the boats. SR was on, and I think aperture ranged from 5.6 to F8 or so. I didnt use Tv mode at the time.

Thanks for the hints. Will have another go at doing some more and play around with Tv mode and panning too.
02-06-2012, 03:31 PM - 1 Like   #6
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Well, camera settings come down to so many different things. Dragon boating though...

1) ISO, I don't mind ramping ISO up to 1600 on the k-x if I need to, especially in daylight when everything is nice and lit and there aren't that many shadows. Having the ability to bump up the ISO means if cloud cover pops in, or if I want to stop down to F8+, or if I need super high shutter speed, I'm set. Run the images through some denoising, and they'll look more than acceptable.

2) Shutter speed - When I did dragon boating, the fastest moving things were the drummer and the droplets of water. So if you are planning to literally freeze water as it splashes from the oars, you can get away with 1/1000s. If you just want to catch human motion, 1/500s is more than enough in dragon boating (I have pictures of kayakers at 1/400s and they are pretty much frozen). This also depends on how much you zoom in - the more the subject fills your frame, the higher your shutter speed needs to be to be to freeze motion.


3) Autofocus - This depends on so many things! Are you pointing at the boat as it moves and try to shoot? Try to point ahead of what you want to shoot and focus - that extra moment could get you the correct focus.
Are you aiming at something with high contrast as you shoot? Higher contrast areas (for example, where the boat side ends is a nice contrasty line) help the autofocus system.
Do I advocate anything but center focus? Not really, the k-x isn't that smart.
Can you pre-focus on a region and catch the boat as it gets there? Sorta similar to #1, but you will take a few less pictures.
Can you stop down to F8+ to get more depth of field? This helps specifically in the wider ends of the lens.

Hope some of this helps!
02-06-2012, 03:45 PM   #7
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I was trying to focus on the boats/drummer/crew etc. I didnt pre-focus due to the distance and I guess the only thing I could do was pre-focus on a spot on the water. But the boats weren't exactly tracking straight so I kept having to move/change angle.

Generally I always keep to the lower ISO settings with my pics, and wasn't sure how well they would come out if I pushed it up to 1600 or so. Not much call for that with macro,landscapes etc.

They have regular races so will go out next meeting and have another go and see if I can do better.

When Im home tonight will post some pics and EXIF data and see if that fits in what we have said.
02-06-2012, 03:59 PM   #8
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I assure you, I regularly use ISO 400-800 in outdoors light (especially as light tends to fade as the sun sets) and there is absolutely no issues with noise on the k-x unless you underexpose. Expose properly or even a little overexposure, and ISO 1600 will still be of use to you.

An example of 1/250s catching human motion (was going to load the full size, but that'd be annoying for everyone visiting this thread):


http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6166/6196282017_9e9403f16c_o.jpg
Click that link for the full size shot at ISO 500. It isn't a great shot, but you can't really see any noise (some luminance/littlewhitedot noise) if you look really closely. And if you downsize it to web sizes...


So try shooting at higher ISO to allow for greater shutter speeds and smaller apertures. Again, aim for a very contrasty area - some part of your shot where there is a good solid clear line. That helps a ton in the autofocus.

02-06-2012, 04:21 PM   #9
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apart from above suggestions u might wanna also check if the focusing sytem in ur camera is working. u can correct any problems under debug mode of the k-x. also any filters on the lens can also sometimes cause focus errors. finally when using long range lenses its a good idea to shoot with a tripod and sr switched off
02-06-2012, 06:24 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by goldpopper Quote
AF-S
I think you should use AF-C for (known) moving objects.
02-06-2012, 06:54 PM   #11
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But with AF-C , even if not in focus shutter can be triggered....
02-06-2012, 06:57 PM   #12
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I've stuck with AF-S, it's just knowing where to aim and your focusing characteristics of the lens. We don't have a D7000, so we just make do.
02-06-2012, 07:07 PM   #13
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You should be using (at least I do with incredible success) MF and CIF - the only issue is the lens you are using does not have the AF/MF linkage On/Off on the lens so enabling CIF with that lens really can't be done (well can but would have to use foil hacks and such which is cumbersome)...
02-06-2012, 11:10 PM   #14
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I find the 55-300 lens slow on focusing. It's a very fine lens, but I've had issues focusing on objects moving toward me. ie go-karts coming out of a turn straight at the camera.

The focus always seems to be behind the subject. I usually end up focusing at a point and waiting for the subject to enter my target zone. I also switch to manual focus so it doesn't change my target zone after I have it set.
02-06-2012, 11:55 PM   #15
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Some examples

1/500 , f5.6 or so

The flying dragon is at 1/200. Having looked through a number of the other pics the shutter speed went quite low at times.
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