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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EF and EF-S Lenses 
Thread started 11 Sep 2005 (Sunday) 18:53
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Struggling with indoor action shots

 
juliesimages
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Sep 11, 2005 18:53 |  #1

I shoot alot of indoor volleyball and basketball games, but the results are frustrating. The lighting is TERRIBLE! Everything looks orange, and my images are blurry.

Can anyone reccommend a good lens for better shots in these conditions? I am using a Canon Rebel XT, with a 18-55mm lens. I am willing to invest in a lens that will make my pictures better. And is the pop up flash enough?

Thanks.




  
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Wilt
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Sep 11, 2005 19:02 |  #2

orange images...try playing with White Balance. Gym lighting is quite unusual if it is the vapor lights, so you might need to use Custom balance (read your camera directions). (I haven't tried to shoot with dSLR in the gym, so I can't advise something close in one of the 'standard' white brightness settings.)

'Good lens' = something with relatively fast maximum aperture, so that you can use faster shutter speed. problem, though, is that fast aperture means low Depth of Field, making sports shooting more challenging to keep the action shot in focus. Try, instead, to use ISO 1600 if you haven't tried that already, to use faster shutter speed but with the more forgiving apertures of your current lens.


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Wilt
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Sep 11, 2005 19:04 as a reply to  @ Wilt's post |  #3

As for your pop up flash, that critter is so seriously underpowered for use for sports photography! The pop up unit works best in the relatively short ranges of rooms in your home, with reflective walls and ceiling to help bounce more light to the subject.


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robertwgross
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Sep 11, 2005 19:08 |  #4

You sound like you are going at this all wrong.

First of all, if everything looks orange, that that strongly suggests a white balance problem. So, go look at the EXIF on the images and tell us what white balance setting was used to produce the orange problem.

Hint: In a lot of gyms, the lights are really terrible for photographers. Sometimes Tungten white balance will work, and sometimes others will work. However, if the actual lamps are specialized sodium vapor or similar, then you will never get anything to work cleanly except possibly a custom white balance.

The built-in flash is totally inadequate for that kind of shooting. No question about it. Use the built-in for distances up to about ten feet or so. For getting across a volleyball court, you will need some major external flash unit.

Hint: Check in advance, because with some sports and some competitions, they do not allow any photographer to use any flash for fear that it will distract the competitors. However, if the coach and the team say that it is OK, then put the biggest/baddest external flash unit on your camera, crank the ISO up high to get range, and blast away. Still, it may not get perfect results. Real indoor sports photographers use fast lenses or else very fast lenses. So, consider f/1.8, f/2, and f/2.8.

---Bob Gross---




  
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juliesimages
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Sep 11, 2005 19:22 |  #5

I understand what you're saying, and if I am unable to use a flash, then fixing the white balance problem and using a f/1.8 or so lens will help.




  
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DavidEB
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Sep 11, 2005 19:27 |  #6

most teams won't let you use flash if you're close to the field. Forget the flash.

Let's talk lenses, focusing, exposure, white balance, and RAW/JPG.

LENSES -- you need a fast aperature (f2.8 for zooms, faster if you can use primes) and a lens with a fast focusing mechanism (USM for canon, HSM for sigma) or a really quick hand at manual focus. A 70-200 f2.8 (not the f4) from either canon or sigma works pretty well. If you can do without the zoom, the 50f1.4, 85f1.8, 100f2, and 135f2 should be excellent. The 50f1.8 focusses to slowly to be useable.

FOCUS -- put the camera in AI SERVO mode. PIck the center focus point only (more accurate and faster). PRACTICE.

EXPOSURE: Set ISO1600 and get noise reduction software (neat image or noise ninja). If the lighting is fairly constant, use manual exposure. Leave Custom Function 4 set to zero, so all you have to do is half-press the shutter button to activate focus. If the lighting is variable, set Custom Function 4 to 3, and use the * button to focus. For sports like ice hockey make sure you're exposing the players correctly, forget about the bright glary ice. Select the wide open aperature (f2.8 if you're using the zoom lens), try a bunch of shutter speeds before the game, look at the histogram and pick your shutter speed. Dial in as M mode.

WHITE BALANCE: Bring a white card (piece of paper, etc...) or for ice hockey just use the ice. Don't use jerseys, t-shirts etc -- they're not really white. Purists use expensive gray cards. Whatever, the object just has to be color neutral. Take an out-of-focus photo of the neutral object, nearly filling the frame. If the object is white, make sure your exposure for this shot makes it look gray (eg, histogram should show a large spike near the middle). Now set the WB (white balance) to custom (setting uses buttons & dials on back of camera) and go into the menu to "custom white balance" to select your neutral object as the white balance guide. indoor swim meets are the worst.

RAW or JPG -- you have much better control with RAW, and can fix exposure and WB errors better, but the downsides are two: A) your CF card fills faster and B) in shooting rapid sequences, your camera buffer fills faster. I use JPG, but it's up to you. Along these lines, get a fast enough CF memory card. I use scandisk ultra II.

Some more hints:
- scout your best shooting locations and angles in advance.
- for kid's teams & school events, make sure you get each player
- start the game taking safe easy shots and get daring later
(easy shots in basketball are free throws, times when the players stop, passes, etc harder shots are jumps, dunks, and drives)
- watch for moments in play where the players motion is sideways rather than towards or away from you - focus is easier then.
- watch for your own safety. ice hockey from the penalty box, wear a helmet. basketball from the sidelines, watch for players falling on you. etc....


good luck.


David
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rklepper
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Sep 11, 2005 19:30 |  #7

I also take photos in gyms of sports. Both the pop-up flash and the kit lens were worthless for that purpose. I had to do several things in order to get good photos. I bought a new flash to use on the camera, I bought f2.8 lenses, I force myself to use a monopod, and I shoot in raw.


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pcasciola
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Sep 11, 2005 19:34 as a reply to  @ DavidEB's post |  #8

Get a Canon 85/1.8 and a gray card. If you don't want to spend that much money, you can get a 50/1.8 for about $80, which I've used for some indoor kids halfcourt basketball games with some decent results, but not as good as with the 85/1.8. You can either shoot Tv at 1/200 - 1/250, Av at f/1.8 - f/2, and ISO 1600-3200, depending on the conditions. Forget f/2.8 unless you can use a flash, or if you have exceptional lighting in the gym.

They gray card will enable you to accurately set the auto white balance, or you can shoot RAW and use a shot of the gray card for your white balance adjustment on the other shots.


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JBillings
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Sep 11, 2005 20:09 |  #9

DavidEB, pretty well sums it up. I regularly (weekly) shoot indoor basketball at the middle school. Lighting isn't the greatest and it's taught me, several things.

1. Shoot RAW, it will allow you to change the White Balance as required. The lighting at the middle school actually changes White Balance from one side of the gym to the other!
2. Use a fast lens. Typically I use the 70-200 f2.8L IS and the 24-70 f2.8L wide open. Both do a great job, allowing me to get "close" enough to frame what I want.
3. Use AI Servo mode, it takes practice but you'll greatly increase your keepers.
4. Use the fastest ISO you can get. I typically shoot at ISO 3200. Wide open (F2.8 ) I can get shutterspeeds of 1/250sec.
5. Use noise reduction, I use NeatImage and it makes images presentable for printing large. I've been able to make prints as large as 13 x 19" with great results.

Hope all this helps.

Check my web link. I've got some shots from a couple of games posted there.


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juliesimages
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Sep 11, 2005 20:24 |  #10

All of you have been very helpful. Do you think the 85mm f/1.8 will fit on the rebel xt lens? I understand that most canon lenses are interchangeable with their bodies.




  
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blackviolet
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Sep 11, 2005 20:59 as a reply to  @ juliesimages's post |  #11

yes, the 85mm 1.8 will fit and it is a great indoor lens - assuming the distance to the action is small enough. indoor lighting is also touch - as others have suggested, a custom white balance may be necessary. the downside is most indoor lights cycle and change colour temperature over time, so the balance might be good for some shots, and bad for others. but they can be easily changed if you are shooting in raw (and for the most part, if you are shooting .jpg, too).


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Andy_T
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Sep 12, 2005 03:19 as a reply to  @ juliesimages's post |  #12

juliesimages wrote:
All of you have been very helpful. Do you think the 85mm f/1.8 will fit on the rebel xt lens? I understand that most canon lenses are interchangeable with their bodies.

On your rebel XT, you can use ALL lenses made by Canon for the 'EOS' or 'EF' mount and also the newer 'EF-S' mount.

You should also be able to use all other third-party (Sigma, Tamron, Tokina, ...) lenses ... but in practice some of these (especially older ones) will not work because they are not compatible with the new (digital) bodies. You should be safe with those bought new from a shop today, but if a third-party lens is offered dirt cheap on eBay, then chances are it won't work and won't be able to be updated to work with your camera. For those lenses, better ask in advance if it works.

And yes, get the EF 85/1.8 lens. It'll do the best job for your requirements if you don't mind that it doesn't zoom.

Best regards,
Andy


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Jetmech1
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Sep 12, 2005 08:17 |  #13

A lot of good advice has been already given. I purchased the Canon 85mm prime for shooting those indoor gym shots of my children playing basketball. It works great for me. The reach is good most of the time since I can walk the sidelines. If shooting from the bleechers you may want to consider the Canon 135mm L lens. Cost more but everything I've read says it will be a good choice.

I typically shoot at F/1.8 on my 85mm and ISO 1600. Then use noise ninja to clean the shots up. The 85mm also works good as a portrait lens. It is my favorite lens. Good luck.


Canon Rebel XT (350D) W/Generic Grip - Canon 17-40mm L - Canon 75-300mm IS lens - Canon 85mm 1.8 Prime - Olympus SP-570UZ (Point & Shoot)

  
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