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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Sports Talk 
Thread started 17 Feb 2013 (Sunday) 14:27
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Need help with new 85mm lens..poorly lit gyms

 
bestill4me
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Feb 17, 2013 14:27 |  #1

Hello to all,

I am relatively new here, and I need some help. I recently upgraded from a 20D to a 5D3. For many years I took candid family photos using the “P” setting on my 20D. When I got the new 5D3 I became obsessed with taking better photographs, and learning how to use my new camera. I have been fortunate to get a couple of very good new lenses (L). I have been studying hard to learn how to take better pictures. I recently purchased Lightroom 4. Just trying to learn Lightroom has been monumental :lol:. Overall my photos have definitely gotten better.

I have been working hard to try to get good pictures of my grandsons playing basketball in poorly lit gyms. Honestly I feel some of my best photos have been taken with my 70-200 2.8L. Frustration has been looming as I get a lot of pictures that are not focused well with any lens I have used in this setting…hopefully I will get better with practice.
I just purchased and received a new Canon 85mm 1.8. After considerable research I thought this lens might get better picture quality and better focus in the poorly lit gyms. After using it yesterday (only got 3 usable pictures) I am more frustrate as it appears to me the focus is not good and the noise level of the pictures is honestly not as good as I hoped for.

How have I been taking the pictures? Back button focus. Autofocus set on case 4. Single AF point. Shooting mostly from the outer edges of the baseline. Aperture set to 2.0 or 2.2 (for the 85mm). Shutter speed 1/800 (for the 85mm). ISO around 3200 (for the 85mm) Since the 85 did enable more light, I was able to shoot at a lower ISO and faster shutter. Prior to the 85mm I was shooting ISO 6400, 1/640ss, and 2.8(with my 70-200). I try to keep the back button focus engaged and pan with my subject (cute little grandsons).

I surely must be missing something as I have included a couple of pictures taken yesterday with the 85mm. I am really disappointed in them. The action in these 2 was not fast at all, yet I am disappointed in them (focus and image quality..ie noise). I am pretty new to all of this so maybe I am expecting too much. Should I expect to take many many pictures with the hopes of getting 2 or 3 good ones? I hope the Exif information is available. If not, let me know how to post pictures to show Exif.
The only processing I have done to these 2 sample photos is they have been converted from Raw to JPG using Lightroom 4.

I am trying to decide if I should return the 85mm. It generally gets good reviews taking BB pictures in poorly it gyms. Please give any suggestions or critiques you may have. My apologies for such a long note and thanks in advance. One last thing…I have learned so much from reading POTN. I am grateful for this great resource.

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Don
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rdalrt
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Feb 17, 2013 16:34 |  #2

The EXIF is not available on these.

I think at websize like these, they are perfectly acceptable in terms of noise and focus. A tad underexposed and could be cropped tighter.

With some post processing in lightroom, cropping, exposure, sharpening, masking, noise reduction, I think these would be fine.

Maybe you are disappointed in the lack of "pop"? Unfortunately that is the reality of indoor sports with ambient lighting. For that reason I prefer to strobe indoor sports when possible.

For your complaints of noise and focus, these are better than many I see posted here.

I suggest you keep at it. Shoot manual mode. f2, 1/500 should be enough to stop the action of these younger guys. Whatever ISO is needed for proper exposure. Try to capture peak action. And remember the sports shooter mantra: shoot tight, crop tighter.


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bestill4me
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Feb 17, 2013 17:45 |  #3

Thanks RDALRT for your suggestions and input. I will keep practicing and trying to learn LR4. I checked out your web page. Really awesome. Gives me something to shoot for. I am grateful that you took the time to respond.


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Don
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JeffreyG
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Feb 18, 2013 05:39 |  #4

The biggest thing I see on these images is that they are underexposed. In gyms with dingy lighting, the only way you are going to get pop while still shooting available light will be to push the exposure to the right. Make the whites in those uniforms hug the right side of the histogram. Right now the whites all look like dingy grey.

From these small images I can't comment on critical focus. They are 'in focus' at this size, but that doesn't mean you can't see a lack of sharpness if you view them close. If that's the case then the first place to look is your own skill in tracking motion. To get critically sharp sports images requires that you be very consistent in tracking the motion. Even then you will get a few where the AF just wound up a few inches off one way or another.


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bestill4me
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Feb 18, 2013 11:17 |  #5

JeffreyG wrote in post #15622639 (external link)
The biggest thing I see on these images is that they are underexposed. In gyms with dingy lighting, the only way you are going to get pop while still shooting available light will be to push the exposure to the right. Make the whites in those uniforms hug the right side of the histogram. Right now the whites all look like dingy grey.

From these small images I can't comment on critical focus. They are 'in focus' at this size, but that doesn't mean you can't see a lack of sharpness if you view them close. If that's the case then the first place to look is your own skill in tracking motion. To get critically sharp sports images requires that you be very consistent in tracking the motion. Even then you will get a few where the AF just wound up a few inches off one way or another.

Jeffery, thanks so much for you guidance. Maybe I need to get more experience with this lens before I decide to keep it or send it back.

You are correct. When I zoom into the images in LR4 there is a ton of noise and I had difficulty trying to find any point that was in better focus. To me they just do not look good at all. Not zoomed they are definitely better. I am just learning Lightroom and as I tweek (is that a word? :lol:) the images in LR4 the faces get a "zombie" look. I think I have "photo envy". I look at your pictures on flickr and web page and the sports images look great. I think that is what I am after. Now to figure out how to get there.

New question.....is the 135 F2L auto focus as fast as the 85 1.8? Personally I like "in your face" photos...cropped tight....for the most part. I am curious to know why I am not reading more about photographers using the 135 F2L for dingy gym basketball games.

One of my grandsons has a game tonight so I will give it another go. Thanks again for your help.


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Don
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rdalrt
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Feb 18, 2013 12:48 |  #6

bestill4me wrote in post #15623476 (external link)
New question.....is the 135 F2L auto focus as fast as the 85 1.8? Personally I like "in your face" photos...cropped tight....for the most part. I am curious to know why I am not reading more about photographers using the 135 F2L for dingy gym basketball games.

The 135 f2 is my goto lens for basketball and volleyball from the floor. I find it to be just as fast, maybe a tad faster to focus than the 85 1.8. More importantly though, I found it to focus much more consistently. This is all on a 1d series body though, so your mileage may vary.


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sirquack
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Feb 18, 2013 14:14 |  #7

I am a newb, so take this as you will. One thing I found when I have been taking photos with my 85 1.8 is if the background is too bright, like the white/light colored walls in the background of these images, it tends to make for an underexposed image. With action shots, you can't exactly half press low and recompose and still get the shot. But you can manually under/over expose. This helped me get better exposure at the get-go. Then I just had to worry about getting the focus on the action. I am also playing around with AI-Servo focus. This makes sure the lens is staying focused on the object instead of fixing focus and getting less than perfect focus points. I really like my 85 focusing speed compared to any of my others lenses.


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JeffreyG
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Feb 18, 2013 17:13 |  #8

bestill4me wrote in post #15623476 (external link)
New question.....is the 135 F2L auto focus as fast as the 85 1.8? Personally I like "in your face" photos...cropped tight....for the most part. I am curious to know why I am not reading more about photographers using the 135 F2L for dingy gym basketball games.

One of my grandsons has a game tonight so I will give it another go. Thanks again for your help.

The 135L is a great lens and very fast to focus. It would not be my first choice though because it is so long, especially on a 1.6X sensor camera. From most of the perspectives I want for basketball, 135mm on 1.6X is going to be too long for anything in the paint. That leaves it pretty much a lens for guard play and shooting from the corners.

If I were using a 1.6X format camera and primes, I'd probably shoot with an 85/1.8 (first), a 35/1.4 or 50mm/something second and then a 135/2 last. In fact, I decided to analyze the most recent team I shot below. If you are wondering about the order, the athletes are just all in order of jersey number from low to high - #12 is the team's best.

http://girbach.zenfoli​o.com/p988737255 (external link)

I shot this with a 70-200 and a 1.3X sensor camera. So to correlate it to what I would chose in primes for 1.6X I looked at three ranges:

I shot 40% of the images between 70mm and 110mm, which I would use a 50mm prime for on a 1.6X body. Also worth noting, every lay-up and nearly all the action in the paint was shot in this range.

I shot 31% of the imeages between 111mm and 175mm, which I would use an 85mm prime for on a 1.6X body.

Finally, 29% of the images were from 176mm or longer, which would be for the 135mm prime on a 1.6X body. Most of these for me were the shots of the team on defense at the long end of the gym or the guards bringing up the ball on a press or after a turnover.


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JeffreyG
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Feb 18, 2013 17:17 |  #9

sirquack wrote in post #15624104 (external link)
I am a newb, so take this as you will. One thing I found when I have been taking photos with my 85 1.8 is if the background is too bright, like the white/light colored walls in the background of these images, it tends to make for an underexposed image. With action shots, you can't exactly half press low and recompose and still get the shot. But you can manually under/over expose.

This isn't related to your lens though, it's just the way the reflective meter in your camera works. Whenever you point a camera at a scene with predominantly bright tones, the camera is going to underexpose.

One solution would be to add some exposure compensation, but IMO this isn't really the simple solution as you might get a scene of all jerseys and then the camera will blow out the whites.

Better for indoor sports is simply to recognize that the light level in most gyms will be consistent from end to end and side to side. So just put the camera in M and adjust the ISO until the whites in the jerseys are on the verge of blowing out (blinkies). Then you will have the best exposure locked in and you don't need to worry about what the camera meter is seeing.


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rdalrt
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Feb 18, 2013 17:22 |  #10

JeffreyG wrote in post #15624840 (external link)
Better for indoor sports is simply to recognize that the light level in most gyms will be consistent from end to end and side to side. So just put the camera in M and adjust the ISO until the whites in the jerseys are on the verge of blowing out (blinkies). Then you will have the best exposure locked in and you don't need to worry about what the camera meter is seeing.

Excellent advice.


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Blaze
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Feb 19, 2013 14:14 |  #11

JeffreyG wrote in post #15624840 (external link)
This isn't related to your lens though, it's just the way the reflective meter in your camera works. Whenever you point a camera at a scene with predominantly bright tones, the camera is going to underexpose.

One solution would be to add some exposure compensation, but IMO this isn't really the simple solution as you might get a scene of all jerseys and then the camera will blow out the whites.

Better for indoor sports is simply to recognize that the light level in most gyms will be consistent from end to end and side to side. So just put the camera in M and adjust the ISO until the whites in the jerseys are on the verge of blowing out (blinkies). Then you will have the best exposure locked in and you don't need to worry about what the camera meter is seeing.

In my experience, the light level in gyms is NOT terribly consistent (especially when some of the lights are burnt out). Regardless, shooting in M and exposing to the right like you explained is good advice does give me much better results than relying on the camera's metering.

bestill4me, remember if you are using the wider apertures with your 85 than with your 70-200, then your DoF is also going to be smaller making it more challenging to nail the focus every time. If you're keeper rate with the 85 is worse than the 70-200 when using the same f-number, then you might have a problem with the lens. Otherwise you may just be struggling with inherent difficulty of trying to keep fast moving subjects within your shallow plane of focus.




  
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Feb 19, 2013 17:29 |  #12

JeffreyG wrote in post #15624840 (external link)
This isn't related to your lens though, it's just the way the reflective meter in your camera works. Whenever you point a camera at a scene with predominantly bright tones, the camera is going to underexpose.

One solution would be to add some exposure compensation, but IMO this isn't really the simple solution as you might get a scene of all jerseys and then the camera will blow out the whites.

Better for indoor sports is simply to recognize that the light level in most gyms will be consistent from end to end and side to side. So just put the camera in M and adjust the ISO until the whites in the jerseys are on the verge of blowing out (blinkies). Then you will have the best exposure locked in and you don't need to worry about what the camera meter is seeing.

This is my experience also. There are a few gyms with brighter and darker areas but not too many fortunately. Don't be afraid to shoot your 5D Mark3 at ISO 6400. The noise level will be better controlled by "exposing to the right" (increasing exposure just short of clipping the highlights) and then using noise reduction. Underexposing will result in noisy images even at ISO 3200. That higher ISO may also allow you to avoid razor thin depth of field from shooting at f/2.0. I suspect that is why you got more keepers with your 70-200 at f/2.8

Focus case 4 is fine but I would use it along with 4 or 8 auxiliary focus points. Keep shooting and posting. Practice helps you become proficient in tracking your subjects.

Phil


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Feb 19, 2013 17:31 |  #13

Not sure if anybody posted this yet about shutter speed, are you sure you need to have your SS @ 800 ? for those kids ages. You can go @ 500 SS, I shoot some of the big boys games at SS 640 for HS & college hoops.
Give it a go, happy shooting,


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bestill4me
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Feb 19, 2013 18:34 |  #14

Thanks so much to all of you for some great advice. I continue to shoot and try to improve my skills.

Phil Zivnuska...thanks for the suggestion about trying more focus points. I have been wondering if that might be effective. I will give it a try. Also thanks to you, rdalrt, and Jeffery for the advice to shoot to the right. I tried that last night and I can definitely tell a difference in the noise level vs my underexposed shots.

Joe300 thanks for the ss suggestion of 1/500. I tried it last night and that seemed to work fine and helped me get to a better exposure result.

Last night I shot another game of one of my grandsons. Again poor lighting. I shot the first half with the 85 and the second half with the 70-200. I really like the 70-200 images (plus I get a nice workout...:lol:) Right now I am thinking I will keep the 85mm. I am sure there will be times when I need the large aperture...indoor sports or maybe family portraits.

I am most grateful to all of you.


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Don
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Feb 20, 2013 09:58 |  #15

Prior to getting my 5D3, I shot with mostly prime lenses for indoor sports... in order of frequency of use... 135 f/2, 200 f/1.8, 85 f/1.8, 50 f/1.4. When I went to the 5D3, one of the big reasons was to get away from using primes and be able to use my 24-70 and 70-200 f2.8 zooms. Since doing that, I have kept only the 135 f/2 and have tried it a few times, but just don't see it being that big of a difference in noise to go from f/2.8 to f/2 on the 5D3, AND, the more narrow depth of field doesn't produce results that are as good as processed f/2.8. I like both offense and defense player in focus, and with f/2, that doesn't happen.

Between the 135 f/2 and 85 f/1.8, I found the 135 was significantly better at AF tracking vs. the 85.


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Need help with new 85mm lens..poorly lit gyms
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