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Camera settings for sports shots

Discussion in 'The Pub' started by cejay, Mar 8, 2006.

  1. I found with my camera that when using the zoom, depth of field becomes a real problem. At PI over the weekend I've got shots where part of the bike is in focus, but the DoF is so shallow, the back isn't.

    I'm using a Canon 350D, with a 75-300mm zoom. it's not particularly fast, but still works ok. Is this something I just have to accept, or are there settings that I could use that would solve this? Basically, without a media pass, I can't get close enough without using the full zoom, so advice such as getting closer won't work.

  2. Generally, for panning shots, you'll be using slowish shutter speeds, which mean wider^W narrower aperture, which means deeper depth of field.

    Which mode are you shooting in? For motorsports, I generally use full manual, or Shutter priority. (actual speed depends on type of event and distance-to-target).

    But yeah, what settings were you using to shoot? (look in exif properties). A lot of noobs tend to use faster shutter speeds than necessary, leading to shallower DOF and the 'bike lying on the ground' look.
  3. 75-300mm is what, F4?

    Umm, tunaranch, a fairly wide aperture = shallow depth of field.

    Be better to stop the lens down & increase the ISO to raise your shutter speed. I can shoot at 3200ISO with the hacked firmware and then use noise ninja to remove the noise. Not that I would use it to shoot bikes in the middle of the day whilst the weather Gods are trying to cook my bald head.

    There was enough light on the weekend for you to be able to use that lens.
  4. Actually, should I have replied to that or should I have left it to a real photographer?????

    OI MATTB, your advise is needed here :LOL:
  5. I'd been using the 'Sports' setting on the Canon. It works well, obviously sets a high shutter speed.

    I really need to practice in those other zones.

    But any other tips always appreciated.

    Vic, when you say 'step down' the lens, what exactly do you mean? I see different words describing the same thing and get confused.
  6. In that kind of bright sunlight, you should have been able to increase your F-stops a few clicks higher to F8 or so, without sacrificing too much in the shutter speed - especially if you were panning.
    On such a day, I would be in "Aperture Priorty" mode...looking to shoot at F8 so that the background is still hopefully blurred by the shallowish DOF as well as motion blur from the panning movement. Shutter speed should be 500 or more, but if I found it too slow for my unsteady hands on a given day, then I would up the ISO to 200, to compensate.
    Point is...somewhere in around those figures is my personal sweet-spot for most of my action photography. I go up or down from there, depending on the type of image I am trying to capture, all other things being equal.

    I'm not a pro, but I generally get pretty good results IMHO. :oops:
  7. thx, I will try those and see what happens.

  8. It means closing your aperture, making it smaller to increase depth of field.

    F22 is almost a pin hole, F8 is around about the middle whilst F1.8 is wide open.

    Look at the top of your lens you will see all the different F stops(apertures)
  9. Can you put up a couple of examples that you think are the worst to illustrate the DOF probs you're having...I'd like to see a sample of the problem.
  10. Vic you're right. Brainfart on my part.
  11. On the contrary I WANT shallower DOF. This especially when taking pictures from the fence.

    This was taken using Nikon's 70-300mm at 300mm and f/5.6. I am really not impressed with the softness and low contrast of the pics, but hey itu's a $150 lens :roll:


    Would love to see how Canon's 300mm perform (not the L or prime please)
  12. nice shots javaman! but i would like to see more motion blur in the photos. does this mean the you were using shooting a bit quicker?

    i havent shot any sports pics yet, most of my pannin shots involve birds :)
  13. Well the $150 bucks lens does not have vertical stabilizer so slower speed would result in blurry pics, escpecially at 300mm.
  14. Its a matter of breathing and practise. When I shot the football I hand held a 400mm 3.5 lens shooting slide film at 100 asa. You learn to use your arm as a sort of monopod, and breath as if shooting a rifle. For the 600 lens I used a monopod

    Settings depend on light , and affect wanted. Things to consider ....
    The sweetest part of the lens is the middle, around f8 .
    To stop action you need a fast shutter speed for action crossing you, less for action coming at you.
    DOF will isolate or encase the action with the background. f2.8 will seperate the background from the action but focus point is critical ( with footy players for instance , or peoples faces you need to be focused on the eyes. The rule of thumb is -
    The point of focus is the sharpest and 1/3 in front and 2/3 behind that point will be the field of focus.
    You'll get a good idea of DOF distances if you lay ten beer bottles in line , focus on the fourth and shoot some frames varying the aperture. Each DOF distance changes of course with each lens focal length.

    Digitally, your whole exposure values change . The vast majority of recorded data is at the highlight end of the chip and theres precious little recording in comparison down at the shadow end. Its down there that the noise is horid and while noise repairers may by useful for pictures only destined for a digital enviroment , they are not terific for a high quality large print, which is the only thing I'm really interested in. If you rack up the iso you rack up the noise level and there is ultimately no escaping the degradation to the file.
    So , in speed photography using a digital camera, you have to be really careful of your exposure if your after the most detailed image file you can get.

    In a nutshell, theres no 'correct' camera settings for shooting action because they are determined by the effect you want. That said, my own exposures would be determined by stopping the action dead and having as much in focus as possible all under the golden rule - Record as much information as is possible on that chip . Effects can be added post processing but you can never add info that was never recorded.
  15. a few examples from motogp last year
    Most of these were at iso 200 with a 300mm telephoto which was manual focused at a setting of f8
    The telephoto is a classic work of art and very large and heavy with a max aperture of f4 but still damned cheaper than an autofocus lens.




    One through the heat haze



  16. Static shot can be practiced. However for panning how would oy stabilise vertical movement without built-in stabiliser ?
  17. When panning you use your body as a swivel and press on the shutter mid pan
    The faster the action the faster you swivel.
    It should all be done in one fluid motion and try not to press too hard on the shutter.
    Most of my shots were taken mid pan and I tell you I had sore hips by the end of the races.
  18. If you're panning, depth of field being too deep isn't really a problem, as the bg will be (motion) blurred anyway. (Maybe I'm missing your point?)

    But if you want to use low shutter speeds and a wide aperture, you're going to have to actually cut down the amount of light actually coming in to the camera... with a neutral density filter. (Or a polariser... good for stealing 1 to 1 1/2 stops)
  19. mmm...yeah...it is hard to expect too much from a $150 lens...however, I believe some of the shots may not be quite up to snuff for a few other reasons. The undersexposed shots are probably coz the camera pick up on a 'hot-spot' in the view just as you snapped. It is correctable to a point in your post processing, and may recover a few shots to reasonable levels. A few appear oversaturated - that again can be adjusted post processing fairly easily. Same with anything of low contrast.
    As for focus etc...it is possible with such a shallow DOF that in the time it takes you to snap the shot, the bike has moved out of the focus zone. At very shallow DOF's it takes very little to cause that.

    My technique is to 'pre-focus' and expose for a point on the track, then site the rider up, and follow them till they hit that point. This usually captures better images initially, which can then be properly "tuned", in your digital darkroom - I use photoshop.

    Personally speaking I would not ideally drop under F8...as was explained in another post, F8 is generally the sweeter spot of lenses in terms of their capabilities...I'm happy to live with some distractions from the background for the benefit of a clearer image target, and if necessary, fix that in Photoshop as well. (cheating - since it is an image tweak, and not an image "developement". :)), but I'm not a purest.)

    We are talking digital here, and digital imagery straight out of the camera is still rather bland, and needs work done on it. It's unavoidable for hi-end shots.
    As has been said, information not stored in the original image is lost and cannot be reclaimed...so it's important to get a good reliable exposure. I do that as I said, by pre-setting the exposure. That helps to capture as much of the data that I can.

    If you have an image that you especially would like to have turned out better, but are'nt sure how to go about it, I would be happy to try and help it along a bit for you in photoshop...any digital image can be improved over what came out of the camera originally....just shoot me a PM.

  20. hehehehe,

    Not if your name is MattyB, he's a real photographer :rofl:

    Shooting bikes coming at you is hard, bloody hard, much easier if you are panning.

    One way to perfect your technique is to practice, practice, practice.