View Full Version : How do I fix the grain problem?

26th of January 2005 (Wed), 08:49
I'm having problems with shooting college basketball games. I capture the shot and the lighting is fine, but the picture is grainy. My settings for this picture were ISO 1600, 1/125, and 5.6 on my Canon Rebel Digital. What do you guys recommend to improve my shots? How do I fix the grain issues? What settings do you guys recommend for shooting basketball in a well-lit gym, with a Canon Rebel Digital?

26th of January 2005 (Wed), 09:11
You wont like the answer but... I'm presuming you're shooting at f/5.6 because that's your lens wide open? A faster lens ( f/2.8 ) and ISO 400 would make the noise go away. Basically when it comes down to it, there is no real substitute for fast glass.

26th of January 2005 (Wed), 09:18
My settings for this picture were ISO 1600, 1/125, and 5.6 on my Canon Rebel Digital.

OK .... I'll try this one.

My first suggestion is to get your aperture more open than 5.6 .... and I don't know if that's the max aperture on the lens you were using or you just shot it at 5.6. But that aperture is waaaaaay too slow for indoor basketball (at least, without using strobes). You need an aperture of at least 2.8 - and sometimes even that is not fast enough.

The 1/125 shutter speed is also too slow to freeze any action. And that shutter speed may be dependent on your aperture of 5.6 (I'm guessing).

I usually shoot basketball at ISO 800, with either a 100 2.0 lens or an 85 1.8 lens with a shutter speed of at least 1/250 (and higher if I can get away with it). And that's without using strobes - that's just existing light shooting.

I'd also recommend using a custom white balance setting to make sure your colors look correct.

And watch your focus in basketball, too - it'll be very easy for the autofocus to lose track of what you're shooting. In your example, it looks like the sign in back of the players is more in focus that the players .....

Hope that helps ....

26th of January 2005 (Wed), 09:40
Also, if a new lens isn't necessarily an option, you can always get your exposure about as good as you can, then run it through a program like NeatImage. It does a pretty good job of reducing noise from high ISO. You can get the free version at neat-image.com At least it will be a temporary fix.

26th of January 2005 (Wed), 10:32
Thanks for the responses, they are very helpful. I am new at this, and eventually I will purchase a better lens. When I do, what do you all recommend? My lens aperature will only go as high as 4 currently, so in the mean time, what ISO should I shoot at 4.0? Again, I appreciate your responses.

26th of January 2005 (Wed), 11:26
....what ISO should I shoot at 4.0?

I would shoot at an ISO high enough to get your shutter speed up to a minimum of 1/250 .... and I'm going to guess right now and say that's probably going to be ISO 1600, using an aperture of 4.0 .....

I don't think you'll see a drop in your ISO settings until you can get your aperture down to 2.8 or lower, or invest in strobes. As Cadwell pointed out, "...there is no real substitute for fast glass." And he's right ....

I'll also second jmjmotorsport advice: it'd be a good idea to invest in some good noise-reductoin program to use.

26th of January 2005 (Wed), 17:31
that shot looks heavily underexposed to me as well which doesnt help with the grain....you've gotta keep high ISO shots well exposed.

26th of January 2005 (Wed), 17:47
I never go above 2.8 for indoor sports...I would seriously invest in an 85mm f1.8 or if the cash is tight the much slower AF but still good 50mm f/1.8

honestly...I mean its our goal to get nice clean crisp shots, but I often wonder if those of us that have delt with film for sports shooting are thankful for the improvements we have with digital. Its a night and day difference. As long as we know are cameras well enough technically to compose the best quality shot possible...then we have succeded...

26th of January 2005 (Wed), 23:02
Blinking8s, I really admire your work. I too am a student, actually right over the mountain from you. I just sort of fell into taking pics for the school newspaper and I want my pics to look better than what I am getting. If I purchase the 85mm f1.8, do you recommend ISO 800, set on 1.8 with at least 1/250? And, is $319 a good price for the lens?

26th of January 2005 (Wed), 23:20
I love Asheville, I make a trip a few times a month just to get out and shoot in the streets...then go eat at Doc Chey's Noodle House and haul back here. I dont go much in the winter but if the weather is nice I am there. I went twice a week when the Ansel Adams gallery was there in the fall!

I think mine cost me $319 from b&h...It is def the best lens to go with for those of us that struggle with poor indoor lighting for sports, but I am really not sure of the lighting situation where you are shooting though...shoot on Av for a bit and set it to 1.8 and see what the camera says. I usually end up on iso 1600 but can get away with 800 near the key in a basketball game. Now a lot of people disagree with this but if you are not freezing anything at current shutter speeds then just TRY shooting RAW and underexposing a little bit. This does increase the noise when you compensate for the exposure in the RAW conversion...but hey, sometimes we gotta do what we gotta do..if a little noise means getting the shot and technically there was nothing we could do to improve our situation with the camera settings, then it isnt really our problem.

I never shot iso 1600 on the drebel though...I would personally try to avoid it.

26th of January 2005 (Wed), 23:55
Jettanout, I sent you a PM I noticed your from Asheville, I'm not far from you. Just about 15 minutes west over in Waynesville.

29th of January 2005 (Sat), 00:09
I agree with the minimum 2.8, but I usually try to get a minimum 1/500 shutter. I find I get motion blur more often than not if the shutter is below that speed. I mostly shoot youth leagues and high school sports... hockey, soccer, football, basketball. At 1/350, the ball or puck never seems to be in focus due to motion blur. Sometime it's a cool effect, but most clients like that frozen moment in time look.

In the dark crappy places I shoot sports it means minimum ISO 1600, but more often than not 3200. I realize ISO 3200 is beyond the range of a d-reb, but they're times I'd be lost without it. Yeah, that means cleaning up the noise mess but the folks that use my shots don't mind that smoothed out noiseware look. As a side note, I've probably shot 12,000 pictures in the last 4 months and only once was the venue bright enough to bring it down to ISO1600.

I usually use the sigma 70-200 f2.8. I don't have the cash for L glass, but the sigma has served me well. I've also played around with the tamron 28-75 f2.8. The AF is pretty slow compared to the sigma, but when all the stars are in alignment and the AF works you can get some pretty nice shots.

Well, that my 2 cents... faster lenses, higher shutter speeds at the cost of higher ISO.