20D and night sports

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by paul_ingram, Oct 17, 2005.

  1. Big general question? I have a 20D and 70-200 IS lens. I shoot sports for my kids?s school. In daylight the sports auto setting works great. For night games and gym (both with marginal HID lighting) I use M and the average exposure is f2.8 1/200 at ISO 1600. Results okay & sometimes good but wish for better sharpness and color rendition. I attribute fuzzy pics as focus issues (the AF not always picking up the correct subject) and depth of field. I just discovered the setting that allows 3200 ISO (H). Does anyone have an array of suggestions that would improve the outcome, such as setting white balance manually (instead of post- production correction), using ISO 3200 and maybe a smaller aperture to allow for more depth of field, and if so what is the slowest practical shutter speed for football and basketball action? Also, how best to set the metering parameters under manual shooting? Do I need to use a control setting other than M? The 20D is an amazing instrument but I am not certain I am taking advantage of all the features under these shooting conditions.
  2. I would strongly suggest moving off of the automatic modes. Though I don't know if I'll convince you. I shoot all sports pretty much the same, indoor/outdoor/day/night. I usually only change my ISO as necessary but try really hard not to exceed ISO800.

    Camera setup - 20D and 70-200 f/2.8L IS. Av or Tv mode, Servo-AF, and ISO to suit lighting. Essentially I put the camera into Av or aperture priority and force my aperture at f/2.8. While this gives me a very narrow depth of field, usually in sports you want that to isolate the subject from backgrounds etc. Then I adjust my ISO to hit shutter speeds of 1/200 and up. If I can bring my ISO down to 800 or even 400 then I'm a very happy camper. Servo AF allows the 20D to track a moving subject (kind of) and is probably key to your focus issues. You no longer get a beep that the subject is in focus but the camera does track. In Servo-AI the 20D guesses between modes. Finally, White balance and exposure compensation. Depending on what I'm shooting I may need a custom white balance or exposure compensation. Its difficult for me to explain exposure compensation as I don't totally understand it myself. I tend to think of it as being similar to the push or pull capability we had with film and thats not really accurate.

    I do hope some of this helps or makes sense and good luck!
  3. The image you supplied suffers from a lot of motion blur as well as high noise. You need to get your shutter speeds up. Indoors, you should consider using an 85mm f/1.8 or 135mm f/2 for added speed. Outdoors, you may be stuck with your 70-200 at f/2.8. Lighting is indeed marginal - I'm not sure whether your image was shot at 1600 or 3200, but you will need to be shooting at 3200 and following up with noise reduction in post processing using e.g. Noiseware or Noise Ninja. Noise reduction algorithms do reduce the sharpness of images in ways that can't be compensated for using unsharp mask, so you won't be able to print these images as large as the daylight ones and still have them looking sharp.

    So far as white balance is concerned, you should try setting a custom white balance - use a suitable white object under play lights before the start of the game as the reference.

    For both the gym and outdoor night shots you can meter exposure from a midtone using partial metering before the action starts, assuming that lighting is reasonably even, if a little dim. Set the resulting exposure wide open in M mode (maybe 1 click down if you use the primes) and forget it.

    It's worth understanding how AI Servo focus mode works - read this article:


    Note that you may get sharper results shooting a small burst rather than single images (the first shot in a sequence is more often out of focus), and that you need to activate focus a good half second in advance of shooting if you want to maximise your chances of a sharp shot.
  4. I shoot many weddings with the 20D and noticed the sharpness issues. To deal with it, I shoot AV and center point focus which has greatly improved the number of usable images.
  5. From Original Poster: Great help in this forum. Thanks. I apologize for the size and quality of the image I included with my original post. The runners were coming at me, the lighting was poor and I pushed the settings and cropped. I will look at a shorter larger lens for the gym work. Fortunately the parents who order off our web site www.flashphotos.us order 4x6s so the sharpness is most often acceptable, especially if it?s their kid! (Besides, we do this for fun.) Thanks for the AI Servo article reference.
  6. Paul, Generaly I love to use 3200 ISO but only if I know I am going to use these images as B&W. The grain looks real good for black and white photo, but if you need to fix a shot that you have already done, I use Noise Ninja, it does a decent job here is the example of your shot through noise ninja. Greg

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