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rudvadia
18th of September 2008 (Thu), 12:05
I need to take pictures of high school marching band at half time. I think there is enough light but camera does not think so. My pictures are not sharp and some are blurrier. I tried shutter speed 40, 50 and 60 and ISO up to 1600.

What setting should I take these pictures, i.e. TV, AV, Manual, etc.? what shutter speed, etc.

Equipment:
1. Camera - Canon EOS XTi
2. Lens - Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
- Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Standard Zoom
3. Flash - Canon 430EX Speedlite

any help is appreciated.

Rodinal
18th of September 2008 (Thu), 12:10
What?
no no no no no. I can't even imagine how you can think of speeds in the two-digits. That's why it's blurred. The mode doesn't matter... numbers matters. A mode is simply a glove that you use to pick the right tool: in the end it's the chosen tool that matters. First things first: determine what do you want to do with the pics
• 13x19 prints? Then stay at below ISO 200.
• small prints? anywhere up to ISO 400
• Web? any ISO setting even ISO 400 and 800... the drop in quality resulting from higher ISO up will be less noticeable on a computer screen than on paper, so you can treat yourself with a high ISO.
• in any case avoid, if you can, higher than 800... work at 1250 only if you tested it before. 1600 ?? it's rarely nice.

Now, if there is light and your camera doesn't agree, my first thought is that you're probably at very high f/ value. Set the mode on Av., lower the f/ value. Aim for a shutter speed in the areas of: 1/100, 1/250, 1/500, etc.

• If you're close to the band, use the 50/1.8... set it at 2.8 or 3.5 to pick some needed DOF.
• If you're far, use the 28-135. Don't go higher than 5.6
• Outdoors? During the day? Then ditch the flash... Sure there is use for flash even in mid-day, but let's leave that for class 301.

One last note, I'd prefer the 28-135. The EF 50 is optically way better but because of its slow AF it's harder to work with on moving objects. The 50/1.8 is phenomenal on static objects.

convergent
18th of September 2008 (Thu), 12:39
Well I'm going to pretty much disagree with the last reply. I shoot primarily action sports, and I think you'll find that a marching band at half-time will be similar circumstances unless all your pictures are while they are standing still. I don't think I've shot anything UNDER ISO1600 in ... I can't remember how longs its been. Shooting at ISO200 means nothing if you have a blurry picture. I'll take a little minimal grain over blur any day.

You really need f/2.8 or better in that environment. I'd start with the 50mm f/1.8 lens at f/2.8. The problem will be that your depth of field will be pretty narrow and so you'll probably not get more than one row of the band in focus, so try to compose and crop to get one or two at a time. Then you'll have a problem with them being to far away. If you can rent or borrow something like a 70-200 f/2.8 it would help a lot.

Shoot in AI-Servo and I'd recommend starting with Av for exposure mode. Set the ISO to 1600 and the aperture to f/2.8 if available... if not, then go to the lowest number available. Check what shutter speed you get... if its not at least 1/250s, then you will likely get motion blur.

From this point, you can make trade-offs to get the look you want. If you aren't getting fast enough shutter, go to lower number on aperture if available... f/2, f/1.8. I don't recall if your camera will go to ISO3200, but that might be an option too.

If you are getting faster shutter speeds and have some latitude to move things around a bit, then you have a choice. If you need to widen the depth of field and get more of the subject in focus, then increase the aperture number. If you are good with depth of field, then lower the ISO to get cleaner images.

number six
18th of September 2008 (Thu), 13:39
• 13x19 prints? Then stay at below ISO 200.

Sure, stay at ISO 200 and get blurry pictures. :rolleyes:

Right now, at this very moment, I'm looking at a 20 X 30 landscape that I shot at ISO 800. With a 6.3 MP 300D.

A little selective noise processing and upscaling resulted in a poster that looks great at reasonable viewing distances, like 3 feet or so. If I put my nose against it I can see some noise in the sky. So what?

-js

rudvadia
18th of September 2008 (Thu), 13:54
I will have to try all of your suggestions. These pictures will appear on a website, so it will have to be decent enough. the 70-200 f/2.8 lens will be expensive. I am volunteering at my child's school, so I don't get paid for this, but would like to do a good job.

I am shooting in AI-Servo and max ISO is 1600 in XTI. The IS len's lowest aperture is f/3.5.

Any other suggestions will be appreciated. Please review the following pictures on the website that may help you help me. I am new to this camera and trying to learn.

http://www.chhsband.org/ImageGallery.aspx?id=Parkview+FB+Game+2008

DragonDan
18th of September 2008 (Thu), 14:16
I think those pics are a good start. I would suggest shooting in RAW (or RAW +jpeg) this way, you can leave camera on Auto WB and play with it later on your computer. Might think about setting the XTi to Evaluative metering, looks like it was metering off of white shirts and making the surroundings too dark. Evaluative would look at the whole scene, and help get exposure back on track.
I'm still a newbie myself, but hope this helps!

luigis
18th of September 2008 (Thu), 14:22
I guess the best approach is to put the camera in Tv mode set the speed to 1/200 and ISO400, then use the flash to freeze the action. Put the flash in 2nd curtain to avoid blurr, the backgrounds can get dark but you are likely to get sharp foreground images.

Luck!
Luigi

tedBalog
18th of September 2008 (Thu), 14:57
I also shoot a high school band during halftime. I'm normally between 800-1600 ISO @ f/4 or lower.

http://photos-265.ll.facebook.com/photos-ll-sf2p/v337/205/34/39116265/n39116265_33554008_9456.jpg

http://photos-265.ll.facebook.com/photos-ll-sf2p/v337/205/34/39116265/n39116265_33554021_4383.jpg

http://photos-c.ak.facebook.com/photos-ak-sf2p/v337/205/34/39116265/n39116265_33502730_6154.jpg

Rodinal
18th of September 2008 (Thu), 17:35
Sure, stay at ISO 200 and get blurry pictures. :rolleyes:

Right now, at this very moment, I'm looking at a 20 X 30 landscape that I shot at ISO 800. With a 6.3 MP 300D.

-js

Huh?
It's daytime.
Why would ISO 200 dictate a speed which would yield to blur ?

number six
18th of September 2008 (Thu), 17:42
Huh?
It's daytime.
Why would ISO 200 dictate a speed which would yield to blur ?

Maybe there's enough light, maybe there's not. Ask the OP - his camera didn't think so.

But that wasn't my point. You flatly said:
"• 13x19 prints? Then stay at below ISO 200."

To which I reply "nonsense". Meaning that in the nicest possible way, of course.

-js

madhatter04
18th of September 2008 (Thu), 19:19
As Summer turns into Fall, high school marching band halftime shows will transition from some light to nighttime.
(Coming from a high school band coach)

londonblue007
24th of September 2008 (Wed), 15:40
I've shot concerts, in absolute darkness except for selective spotlights, ISO 1600, with the nifty fifty wide open, on a XTi... just a little noise reduction and printing at 16x20, excellent results.

dschae1
31st of October 2008 (Fri), 23:57
I have shot on-field performance high school band photos as a parent volunteer for three years now. Here's what I have learned.

I've had a XTi and now have a 40D. The ISO on an XTi is ok at 1600, but the digital noise will be apparent. Use Noise Reduction software to reduce it. The 40D is better at ISO 3200 than my XTi was at 1600 IMO. Having said that, I’d rather take noise over a blurry photo! You need shutter speed to freeze the movement of the band members.

Enable the High Speed sync (Custom Function 03, look it up in your manual or see this (http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canoneos400d/page11.asp)), it will allow you to go to 1/200 second on your XTi. The 40D goes to 1/250. I have a 420EX which is slightly less powerful than your 430, and it will throw light 50 to 70 feet just fine.

I sometimes shoot in TV mode, with the shutter speed set to match the flash Sync speed and sometimes, I just put it in P mode and fire away, adjusting for aperture with the top finger roller dial depending on what I see through the lens. (more kids in the view = higher F-Number for deeper depth of field). Sometimes I use AV mode, locked in at F2.8. All seem to produce results and some bad images as well…it happens.

For my shots, I try to compose (center) on one or perhaps two kids at a time. Sometimes I'll go for a section of kids (4 to 6 at the most), usually playing the same instrument, but I find the depth of field is too thin for to much more. IMO, I think these type images are more interesting and certainly highlight the individual, especially if the background blurs out and you see some of the band in that blurry background. I find setting the focus point to only dead center (http://img.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/XTI/ZVFNEW.JPG)is important to get better shots. (back to the manual if you need help on this)

You are at a disadvantage lens wise to shoot this way. Your only fast lens is the 50mm. However, I don't think you can get very close at that length, so you would be cropping a lot to get the portrait shot of one or two kids I mentioned above. I have a 70-200 F2.8 Sigma. I find my shots fall in this range, most of them closer to 150mm to 200mm. You simply cannot do that with the 50mm and cropping as you lose too many pixels.

I set the camera focus mode to “AI-Servo” so that the lens is constantly trying to focus with the half-button pressed. Since the band members are moving, I find this helps me to get a few more good shots. Having said that, if you don't have an USM focus lens (like your 28-135mm) I bet the lens will spend too much time adjusting the focus causing you to miss shots. This would show up likely with the 50mm.

Here are some of my results this year. Hover over the image, look for the green (i) to click on. This will tell you the settings for each shot.
Shot with Flash: (http://jasperbandbooster.smugmug.com/gallery/6246687_r5BNn#394470837_FuVzF)

These were shot without flash (http://jasperbandbooster.smugmug.com/gallery/6309471_fdx7B#397878488_dY8pP), P mode, ISO 1600, 1/160 to 1/250 shutter, F2.8 to F3.5
I almost prefer to shoot without the flash as I get a more natural color.

Good luck, I hope something here helps you…David.

penodr
1st of November 2008 (Sat), 08:23
Another way of handling noise is to shoot the pictures in RAW and over expose them by a stop or two. You can bring them back down to proper exposure in Lightroom or another program. If my understanding is correct noise is more obvious in underexposed areas of pictures than in over exposed areas. So, over exposing then bringing it back to the correct exposure will reduce some of the noise. You can't over expose too much or there will not be any detail to come down to.

I will be shooting indoor soccer soon and last year my pictures at 1/15 sec at f/5.6 were terrible. I plan on using ISO 1600 and over exposing by 2 stops. So, with a better lens and I can get 1/60 sec at f/2.8 and if I over expose by 2 stops then I should be able to get 1/250 sec. Then bring the RAW file to correct exposure in Lightroom and noise reduction as well. That's my plan anyway. I figure a picture with a little noise is better then a very blurry one.

Dave

dschae1
1st of November 2008 (Sat), 09:53
For the original poster,
I have another suggestion. During the first half, go to your normal spot where you shoot the band (for me it is right on the sideline, and I move around up and down the sideline). Take pictures of the football team during their plays and review your shots and the settings you chose. Experiment before the band takes the field. You can always delete the images unless you get some keepers that could go to the folks in charge of the yearbook.

The idea is to practice when it doesn't count. Same idea for indoor soccer, show up early and take pictures of your team's practice or the prior game.

Dave,
Great idea, but you have it backwards I’m afraid. You need to "under" expose the photo's to get faster shutter speeds. I just tried it out on my camera in my office (with poor indoor light). Set your camera on your desk so it is stationary and use AV mode ISO 800 and open the lens to the bigest aperture (smallest number) your lens will go (If it’s a variable zoom lens, go to the widest zoom setting as well) Don’t change any of these settings or move the camera!

at +-0 exposure bias. I got 1/30 shutter speed
at +1 exposure bias, I got 1/15 shutter speed (slower by 1/2)
at +2 exposure bias, I got 1/8 shutter speed (again slower by 1/2)

so, I went the other way.

at -1 exposure bias, I got 1/60 shutter speed (faster by 1/2)
at -2 exposure bias, I got 1/125 shutter speed (again faster by 1/2)

At ISO 1600, everything results the same, but at 1/2 faster again. So at -1 exposure, I get 1/125, same as going -2 at ISO 800. I took a picture on my desk at both settings (once again, the camera was not moved) The ISO 1600 & -1 shot was a better image than the ISO 800 & -2.

So, reducing exposure will increase shutter speed, but make your images darker, which you then can restore in Lightroom or any decent editor. I have not tried this when it counts on my 40D yet, but on my XTi, I used -1/3 to -2/3 stop on cloudy days shooting Lacrosse. I was trying to get 1/1000 to 1/2000 shutter speed to freeze the ball in the net or freeze the running players. Anything from -1 stop on and too many of the images became hard to rescue. Go early and practice, maybe even the day before so you can get back to the computer and test your settings and results in the editing software.

"More on Page #2"

dschae1
1st of November 2008 (Sat), 09:59
Dave,
For indoor soccer, they may have Tungsten or Flourescent bulbs for lighting. You might want to test your White Balance settings as well to get the colors right. Or if you are shooting in raw, it does not matter, you can fix that in your post processing in lightroom.

If possible, I prefer to get it right in the camera first over fixing it later. AWB in these camera is amazingly accurate as a default setting too, but like I said, if you know it's tungsten, then shoot for it.

DON'T FORGET TO RESET IT BACK AFTER THE EVENT!

lol, Yes, I'm screaming as I have made that mistake and then got "blue" tinted pictures the next time I used the camera.

rudvadia
12th of November 2008 (Wed), 19:00
Thank you everyone for their feedback and help. I have made some changes and pictures are getting better but not the best. Please check out the school site (www.chhsband.org (http://www.chhsband.org/)) and let know your suggestion. I have been using the bracketing and that is helping me. Sometimes I have to increase the ISO to 800 to get lower shutter speed but the pictures are grainer. I have the following equipment and thinking of getting a zoom lens and need your opinion. I am looking into Canon 70-200 f/4 ($600) - this lens have an excellent review but not sure how it will perform at night at high school football game/marching band. My other option is Tamron 70-200 f/2.8($670) the review is litter lower then canon - f/4. Also some people indicated on Amazon that it takes time to focus and sometime AF is not accurate.
BTW , I am volunteer parent photographer , so I don't want to spend more then $700


Equipment:
1. Camera - Canon EOS XTi
2. Lens - Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
- Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Standard Zoom
3. Flash - Canon 430EX Speedlite

penodr
12th of November 2008 (Wed), 20:11
For the original poster,
I have another suggestion. During the first half, go to your normal spot where you shoot the band (for me it is right on the sideline, and I move around up and down the sideline). Take pictures of the football team during their plays and review your shots and the settings you chose. Experiment before the band takes the field. You can always delete the images unless you get some keepers that could go to the folks in charge of the yearbook.

The idea is to practice when it doesn't count. Same idea for indoor soccer, show up early and take pictures of your team's practice or the prior game.

Dave,
Great idea, but you have it backwards Iím afraid. You need to "under" expose the photo's to get faster shutter speeds. I just tried it out on my camera in my office (with poor indoor light). Set your camera on your desk so it is stationary and use AV mode ISO 800 and open the lens to the bigest aperture (smallest number) your lens will go (If itís a variable zoom lens, go to the widest zoom setting as well) Donít change any of these settings or move the camera!

at +-0 exposure bias. I got 1/30 shutter speed
at +1 exposure bias, I got 1/15 shutter speed (slower by 1/2)
at +2 exposure bias, I got 1/8 shutter speed (again slower by 1/2)

so, I went the other way.

at -1 exposure bias, I got 1/60 shutter speed (faster by 1/2)
at -2 exposure bias, I got 1/125 shutter speed (again faster by 1/2)

At ISO 1600, everything results the same, but at 1/2 faster again. So at -1 exposure, I get 1/125, same as going -2 at ISO 800. I took a picture on my desk at both settings (once again, the camera was not moved) The ISO 1600 & -1 shot was a better image than the ISO 800 & -2.

So, reducing exposure will increase shutter speed, but make your images darker, which you then can restore in Lightroom or any decent editor. I have not tried this when it counts on my 40D yet, but on my XTi, I used -1/3 to -2/3 stop on cloudy days shooting Lacrosse. I was trying to get 1/1000 to 1/2000 shutter speed to freeze the ball in the net or freeze the running players. Anything from -1 stop on and too many of the images became hard to rescue. Go early and practice, maybe even the day before so you can get back to the computer and test your settings and results in the editing software.

"More on Page #2"

You are 100% correct, I calculated the number of stops and then promptly counted the wrong way. LOL . Thanks for the tips and help!

Dave

rudvadia
13th of November 2008 (Thu), 11:59
Dave,

how do you like Canon 70-200 F4 L, especially in low light without flash?

ramesh.

dschae1
13th of November 2008 (Thu), 12:03
David here...I've owned that lens and liked it a lot for it's sharpness and overall image quality. However, it is F4, and that is 1/2 the light to the sensor as an F2.8 lens, so in low light situations, you would have to double the ISO to get the same shutter speed. of course, using a higher ISO will cause more digital noise in the image.

Bottom line, for low light, I prefer F2.8 over F4.

penodr
13th of November 2008 (Thu), 12:23
David here...I've owned that lens and liked it a lot for it's sharpness and overall image quality. However, it is F4, and that is 1/2 the light to the sensor as an F2.8 lens, so in low light situations, you would have to double the ISO to get the same shutter speed. of course, using a higher ISO will cause more digital noise in the image.

Bottom line, for low light, I prefer F2.8 over F4.

I know, the problem I have is I can't justify the cost of a 300mm 2.8. It's just not an option. The 300mm f4 is an option, and since some noise is better than being broke I will more than likely go with that option.

Dave

penodr
13th of November 2008 (Thu), 12:31
Dave,

how do you like Canon 70-200 F4 L, especially in low light without flash?

ramesh.

I love my 70-200 F4 L. I have not used it much in low light but would imagine that the shutter speed will drop quickly. I will be trying to shoot indoor soccer this year with it , but since the indoor soccer field is so small I will more than likely be using my 50 f1.8 so I can get a faster shutter speed.

Dave

dschae1
20th of September 2009 (Sun), 10:43
Ramesh,
I'm just wondering if you bought a lens and how you like it? I'm in the middle of marching season and having a blast getting photos of my daughters new band this year.

My new website this year (there are two of us shooting and sharing space)
http://planoband.smugmug.com/

Three10
25th of September 2009 (Fri), 17:15
Rudvadia - first off I want to say - complete HATS OFF to you for doing this for the band!!! I have been a band booster officer for more than 8 years, and I can tell you, your work is appreciated!

I'm a graphic designer - not a photographer and my son was a senior last year, when I purchased my first DSLR camera (an xti). I paired that up with the 70-200 f4 and I really liked it. Night time images where still hard to get, in my opinion, but I was (and am) still learning.

Another thing you might try is just lightening some of your images in Photoshop or an image editor, work with your adjustment layers, lighten slightly and then pop the curves.

Oh my goodness - here I have gone on and on and realized this is a year old post! LOL So we were learning at the same time - cool! lol How are you doing this year? Would love to see from this season!