Advice on camera settings

Discussion in 'Sports' started by alanrusso, Feb 15, 2008.

  1. Hi - I shot my first basketball game yesterday (outdoors) at work, and while I
    was really happy with the composition, I was disappointed to see that the shots
    were all a bit soft. This was exacerbated when I converted from RAW to JPEG to
    share with the guys on the team.

    I was using a Canon 5D, Tv priority 1/500. ISO 500. The lens was a 70-200mm
    f/2.8L. The apertures were in the 4-5.6 range, with a polarized filter to cut
    down on the sun's glare.

    What settings would you typically use to get tack-sharp action photos with
    acceptable depth of field? I'd like the aperture to be narrow enough so that
    the the 2-3 players relevant to the action will all be sharp, not just the ball
    or the one player I focused on. How high would you go on ISO when shooting
    outdoors as to not have too much grain?

    Thanks for the advice!

  2. Alan -

    An example photo might help but here's what I would do...

    ISO no higher than 400. Autofocus center point / continuous server mode. Shutter speed 1/500 aperture 5.6

    What program are you using to covert to JPEG?

  3. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    >>> I was disappointed to see that the shots were all a bit soft <<< (AR)

    Please analyse (or post examples) and accurately define `soft`:

    1. Focus in front or behind key subject / photographer reaction time / inappropriate AF procedure

    2. Slight subject movements (1/500 might just be too slow)

    3. Underexposure / inappropriate AE

    4. Too shallow DoF / FL too long

    5. Camera jitter (yes, I read Tv = 1/500)

    6. OoF on near shots only / AF selection at 3m to infinity

    7. Inferior PF

    8. Combination of any or all.

    Please reconfirm the lens is: EF 70 to 200F2.8L USM (i.e. not IS version)

    A few image examples might help comments.

    >>> What settings would you typically use to get tack-sharp action photos with acceptable depth of field? <<< (AR)

    I should be happy with 1/500sec in most instances for BBall, but being outside I think I would most likely use 1/640 or even 1/800

    The DoF when working this lens is greatly dependent upon the SD (Subject Distance) and the Focal length.

    I know that previous statement is obvious: what I am meaning is the awareness of this fact is very important.

    I have mental `go` and `no go` areas etched into my brain, as I use exactly this lens, usually at F2.8 or F3.5, for swimming events.

    This is why I am, without image evidence, I am leaning towards a DoF and or an Auto Focus issue which is bothering you: rather than the lens being `soft` or something else.

    Just for clarification, and as an example:

    From my rules which I commit to memory:

    At 200mm I need to work at 20 to 25 ft for the Half Shot on a 5D (Vertical Framed Image)

    My `rules` tell me I have DoF @ F2.8 = 6 inches, and then add 3 inches for each stop, thus:

    F2.8 = 6

    F4.0 = 9

    F5.6 = 12

    F 8.0 = 15

    At F8 it is probably more DoF, especially at 25 ft, but I hardly use F8, and at F2.8 @ 20ft I have probably less DoF: understand these are my rules` and are my shooting `guide` only, from using a 200mm on a film SLR covering sports.

    The point is you can see there is not much to play with at F4: and this fact, combined with a little AF issue could just be the causes of your concerns.

  4. William/David,

    Thank you for your responses. I am using Photoshop Elements 6.0 to do my conversions. The lens is a 70-200 f/2.8L with IS, which was on in mode 1 (X & Y stablization).

    Attached are 2 images which are examples of what I'm experiencing. The first is converted to max quality JPEG, resized to allow for posting here. It's a shot I like taken from about 20-25 feet away as one of the guys muscles though for a lay up. The second is a crop of his face and part of his hand with the image at 100% magnification. Here is where you can see what I mean by soft. When I take portraits or architecture or landscape photos, the images are tack sharp at 100%, and prints are very satisfying. Obviously - movement is negligible, and I often use a tripod. While it may not be possible to get exactly that same quality of image, I've seen lots sharper than what I took!

    Image 1:
    Image 2:

    Your advice is appreciated!


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