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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Sports Talk 
Thread started 13 Sep 2013 (Friday) 12:12
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Sports photography in low light

 
Flan50
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Sep 13, 2013 12:12 |  #1

Hi, just joined the forum after finding it in a Google search. I read a previous thread where the OP asked about tips/equipment for shooting sports action in low light situations. I found some good information, but wanted to ask a few questions that fit my situation.

I am a self-taught photographer and far from a pro. I shoot sports for a string of weekly newspapers. I get a lot of compliments and have actually won a couple of press association awards, but I'll be honest - I spend a lot of time doctoring photos to get results and have much (most) of my success with daytime shots and good light. I shoot mainly high school sports and do a fair amount at smaller schools/communities with pretty poor lighting.

A few questions -

1) I currently have a Canon 50D and a Tamron 7-200 1:2.8 (IF) lens. I shoot in various modes, sometimes using P or Av, other times completely Manual. I generally shoot in Autofocus. Does this equipment sound like something I can get reasonable results with?

2) I have been shooting low light football and baseball and indoor volleyball and basketball at ISO 3200 (and even sometimes going to H1) and then running photos through NeatImage. I usually have to manipulate the photos some - I am not thoroughly versed in Photoshop, although I use it at the office. I have been using Photoscape quite a bit. Any ideas on what I could do differently for better results?

3) I read in the other thread suggestions for using an 85 1.2 lens? Is this compatible with the 50D and would that work for the situations I described above?

I guess, in summary, I'm looking for any tips/ideas anyone would have, both for the equipment I'm currently using, software that might help, and also ideas on other equipment (without getting into exorbitant price ranges).

Thanks!




  
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Sep 13, 2013 12:14 |  #2

the 85 f/1.2 lens will focus far too slowly for any sort of action photography. the 1.8 version is much, much faster.


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Flan50
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Sep 13, 2013 13:45 as a reply to  @ narlus's post |  #3

I don't know if an 85 would be of much use for football? It would probably work for basketball - I also have a Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 lens I sometimes use for basketball. But even volleyball - seems the action would be quite a ways away with an 85? At volleyball games, I seem to be in the 135 range quite a bit. For football, I almost always am shooting zoomed out to 200 - or close to it. Would the images with the 85 be sharp enough to be able to crop quite a bit?

I see a Canon 85 f1.8 available (new) for $419, so the price isn't bad if it would be something I'd get use out of.




  
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xchangx
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Sep 13, 2013 14:39 |  #4

Flan50 wrote in post #16293736 (external link)
I spend a lot of time doctoring photos to get results and have much (most) of my success with daytime shots and good light.

Now when you say this, what exactly are you doing to your photos? Because anything beyond cropping and toning is unethical if you are submitting to a newspaper.


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Sep 13, 2013 14:53 |  #5

Flan50 wrote in post #16293736 (external link)
Hi, just joined the forum after finding it in a Google search. I read a previous thread where the OP asked about tips/equipment for shooting sports action in low light situations. I found some good information, but wanted to ask a few questions that fit my situation.

I am a self-taught photographer and far from a pro. I shoot sports for a string of weekly newspapers. I get a lot of compliments and have actually won a couple of press association awards, but I'll be honest - I spend a lot of time doctoring photos to get results and have much (most) of my success with daytime shots and good light. I shoot mainly high school sports and do a fair amount at smaller schools/communities with pretty poor lighting.

A few questions -

1) I currently have a Canon 50D and a Tamron 7-200 1:2.8 (IF) lens. I shoot in various modes, sometimes using P or Av, other times completely Manual. I generally shoot in Autofocus. Does this equipment sound like something I can get reasonable results with?

2) I have been shooting low light football and baseball and indoor volleyball and basketball at ISO 3200 (and even sometimes going to H1) and then running photos through NeatImage. I usually have to manipulate the photos some - I am not thoroughly versed in Photoshop, although I use it at the office. I have been using Photoscape quite a bit. Any ideas on what I could do differently for better results?

3) I read in the other thread suggestions for using an 85 1.2 lens? Is this compatible with the 50D and would that work for the situations I described above?

I guess, in summary, I'm looking for any tips/ideas anyone would have, both for the equipment I'm currently using, software that might help, and also ideas on other equipment (without getting into exorbitant price ranges).

Thanks!

There's no mystery here. The basic setup is a fast lens such as a 70-200mm f/2.8 and high ISO, as high as ISO 6400-12800.

From a 70-200mm f/2.8.

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Camera Maker: Canon
Camera Model: Canon EOS 60D
Lens: 70-200mm
Image Date: 2013-02-02 17:10:44 (no TZ)
Focal Length: 97.0mm
Aperture: f/2.8
Exposure Time: 0.0016 s (1/640)
ISO equiv: 6400
Exposure Bias: none
Metering Mode: Matrix
Exposure: Manual
Exposure Mode: Manual
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Camera Maker: Canon
Camera Model: Canon EOS 60D
Lens: 70-200mm
Image Date: 2013-01-25 19:45:57 (no TZ)
Focal Length: 86.0mm
Aperture: f/2.8
Exposure Time: 0.0013 s (1/800)
ISO equiv: 6400
Exposure Bias: none
Metering Mode: Matrix
Exposure: Manual
Exposure Mode: Manual
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Camera Maker: Canon
Camera Model: Canon EOS 60D
Lens: 70-200mm
Image Date: 2013-01-09 19:06:13 (no TZ)
Focal Length: 70.0mm
Aperture: f/2.8
Exposure Time: 0.0013 s (1/800)
ISO equiv: 6400
Exposure Bias: none
Metering Mode: Matrix
Exposure: Manual
Exposure Mode: Manual
White Balance: Manual
Flash Fired: No (enforced)
Orientation: Normal
Color Space: sRGB
Software: Imagenomic Noiseware

The use of a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens is nearly universal for basketball. The only other coverage lenses that are typically used are a 24-70mm f/2.8 or a 300mm f/2.8. In two years of photographing hundreds of basketball games, I've never seen an 85mm lens in use. In this basketball-mad area, a 70-200mm f/2.8 is always in use by the leading newspaper and magazine and agency photographers whether they use Canon or Nikon bodies.
Imagenomic Noiseware noise reduction was used on these images.



  
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JeffreyG
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Sep 13, 2013 15:01 |  #6

Flan50 wrote in post #16293736 (external link)
1) I currently have a Canon 50D and a Tamron 7-200 1:2.8 (IF) lens. I shoot in various modes, sometimes using P or Av, other times completely Manual. I generally shoot in Autofocus. Does this equipment sound like something I can get reasonable results with?

The Tamron has a reputation for being one of the slowest focusing 70-200/2.8 options, but if you are not missing focus with it then I see no big problem.

2) I have been shooting low light football and baseball and indoor volleyball and basketball at ISO 3200 (and even sometimes going to H1) and then running photos through NeatImage. I usually have to manipulate the photos some - I am not thoroughly versed in Photoshop, although I use it at the office. I have been using Photoscape quite a bit. Any ideas on what I could do differently for better results?

You are not being real clear on what kind of manipulation you are doing. Are you pulling up the exposure or otherwise brightening the shots?

I'd be surprised if any kind of f/2.8 lens is going to cut it with a 50D for a lot of gymnasiums. The ones I shoot in all require ISO6400 to ISO12800 in order to hit a correct exposure at f/2.8 and 1/640 or faster.

I used to shoot with a 1D Mark III and since I didn't like it much above ISO 3200 I used primes for indoor sports. I only started using a 70-200/2.8 zoom inside with the 1D Mark IV and 5D Mark III.

The 70-200 is going to be the tool of choice for football howver, but there a well lit football field will generally allow for something around 1/800, f/2.8 and ISO 3200.

3) I read in the other thread suggestions for using an 85 1.2 lens? Is this compatible with the 50D and would that work for the situations I described above?

In general, if you are not getting enough light with an f/2.8 zoom lens then looking at one or more primes capable of f/2 or better is a reasonable approach. As I said, I used primes with the 1D Mark III to get the shots I wanted at ISO 3200.

Good choices would be:
EF 85/1.8 USM
EF 100/2 USM
EF 135/2L USM

The Canon EF 85/1.2L USM II is not a lens I would buy specifically for sports. It costs $2000 and is kind of slow to focus. The EF 85/1.8 is only about $400 and it actually is better suited to sports.

That said, if you have the 85L for other stuff it certainly can and will do sports just fine. These are both with the 85L


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Sep 15, 2013 10:41 |  #7

Probably the fastest of the fixed length lenses that even remotely would be useful for football is the 135mm f/2, but we're still talking over $1000 new. As far as editing the images for newspaper print, I think that the medium will destroy any quality that you "edit" into it. Adjust levels, crop and send. Pick up a Sports Illustrated and look at all of the noise in those photos. If it's good enough for SI, it's good enough for the local newspaper.


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Sep 15, 2013 19:13 |  #8

p3av8or wrote in post #16298109 (external link)
Probably the fastest of the fixed length lenses that even remotely would be useful for football is the 135mm f/2

The 200/1.8L is still one of my favorite lenses. I still love it for wide, handheld shots.


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Flan50
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Sep 15, 2013 20:56 |  #9

Thanks everyone. I had to be gone for the weekend and just got back to read some of the responses.

I'm afraid I'm not as technically versed as most here, but I understand what everyone is saying. Basically, the problem I am having is getting dark photos that I need to try and brighten considerably when shooting above 500 (even at ISO 3200, f/2.8) or getting blur when shooting lower speeds to get more light. On the 50D, it is my understanding the H1 takes it to ISO 6400, but I get so much noise the photos are really tough to filter. Friday, at a high school football game, I did boost the EC between 1-2 at 3200 and that seemed to help some, but lighting was spotty (much different at midfield than end zones) and I was "caught" on some long plays going from one area to another doing that.

To clarify to one response, I'm employed by a string of 4 weekly papers. I also put the photos I take for high school sports on a website where parents, etc. can purchase them. I take occasional college sports photos, but cannot sell those and they are posted simply for viewing. I'm actually what I would call a professional reporter and an amatuer, self-taught photographer.

As I said earlier, I can work with a lot of what I take with Photoscape, Photoshop and NeatImage and get some very quality looking results. I have gotten a lot of compliments from area fans and parents, and cards and letters from subscribers about the photos. I'm just always looking for ways to do it better, however. Would just like to not rely on adjusting photos as much with the programs.

I do miss some shots due to slow AF with the Tamron lens - otherwise I really like the 70-200/2.8 (I bought it rather than Canon simply for cost - a little more than a third the price - since I was buying the 50D at the same time). Just wondered if there was a faster lens that was feasible for my situation. Also, what do some of you use other than NeatImage? Maybe there is a better program for filtering the noise out of photos?

Thanks again for the responses. Always looking for tips and, since I live in a rural area, there aren't a lot of pros around to ask for help.

(I thought I'd attach two photos from this weekend. The football shot was ISO3200, 400, f2.8, with EC +1 1/3. The volleyball was ISO3200, 400, f/2.8, with EC +1. Both were enhanced with Photoscape and filtered with NeatImage. To give you an idea of what I'm looking for, not totally happy with the color in the football photo and it has a kind of splotchy look. Had plenty of better shots earlier with some natural daylight still available, but about a quarter and a half were done under the conditions like this and results similar to this.)

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xchangx
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Sep 15, 2013 21:20 |  #10

Stay away form neat image (assuming it's a noise reducer?). Sure it decreases the noise, but you also lose details.

If you are shooting for a paper, noise doesn't really matter.


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PennsyBill
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Sep 19, 2013 08:52 as a reply to  @ xchangx's post |  #11

I assume you straighten your images before you show/sell them.




  
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Sep 23, 2013 19:10 |  #12

Try the 135 f/2 an amazing lens, maybe too long for you I'm not sure.
Or 100mm f/2 also a great lens.
Or the 85mm f/1.8 is also great as somebody mentioned.


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Sep 25, 2013 15:12 |  #13

Don't be affraid of noise, use the ISO you need to get the shot, I am sure the picture editor would rather you get the shots they need at ISO 12800 (not sure if the 50D can reach that though) than not get the shots you need.

Also don't spend too much time with noise reduction programs, they have never worked well for me and takes too long as I end up over editing to compensate etc. I shoot for a daily paper though my deadlines are normally tight!

Lens wise the Tamron is a slower focusing lens compared to the canon 70-200, I briefly had the Tamron then I upgraded to the Sigma OS which was so much better! I would work towards getting a 7D and a Canon 70-200 non IS for long term, this is my normal go to set up.


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Oct 16, 2013 10:20 as a reply to  @ mrrikki's post |  #14

My one question of many would be most here post not to worry about noise in the photo yet with most of the pictures posted on this thread, I see none. And my guess would be most shoot in Manual where I have read various threads about using TV or AV. How is it the ISO is at 6400 yet you see little if any noise? Starting to do volleyball games for my niece and the first try out was a disaster. Could not get the focus right, the lighting was not that great in the gym. What I would like to see is the other settings also on the camera that are being used like which light, which mode of focus and the small things like this that are needed. I was using a continuous fast shooting mode and had it set at the highest raw setting but with my 70-200 and 7D thought it should not be an issue. Thanks


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Oct 16, 2013 10:48 |  #15

Amadauss wrote in post #16375511 (external link)
My one question of many would be most here post not to worry about noise in the photo yet with most of the pictures posted on this thread, I see none.

My guess is that most folks posting pics of low light sports action shots are extremely versed in post processing their images. Of course the technique in capturing the shot correctly would be the first step. As far settings, I'll leave it to the experts to answer.




  
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Sports photography in low light
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