D40 sports settings

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by steven_nydick, Jan 31, 2008.

  1. I have a Nikon D40 and am a novice photographer - I have a 55-200 zoom - I like
    to take photos of my kids basketball games - the sports setting and all others
    gives a blurry picture - what settings should I be using. thanks
  2. Are you shooting during the night or day?

    Here is something you can try for daylight pictures:

    1. Turn your Auto ISO on.
    2. Set your camera to S mode.
    3. Set your shutter speed to 1/500 or 1/1000

    If you are shooting at night, there are other settings you would need to use.
  3. You didn't mention if the games are indoors or not, if they are the 55-200mm may struggle to give you enough light to make proper exposures without blurring the action. As the previous user said try and use the highest ISO as possible.
  4. Sorry - these are indoor basketball games - Elliot, how does a novice like me do your steps 1-3?
  5. I have a slightly different recommendation. For mine, you'll want to at least have a peek at your instruction manual. :)

    1. Set the iso manually to at least 800. Depending upon how well, or how poorly, the gym is lit, you'll probably need to raise that, possibly to the maximum (1600 I believe ?). The high iso setting will introduce some digital noise, but will allow for faster shutter speeds yielding less motion blur. And after all, these aren't fashion photos, they're sports shots.

    2. Initially set your mode dial on the camera to S(hutter priority). In this mode, you select the shutter speed, then the camera supplies the aperture setting. Set your camera for continuous autofocus (probably called AF-C ?)

    3. I would be surprised if you'll be able to get speeds as high as 1/500 or 1/1000 indoors with a comparatively slow lens. See how 1/250 works. You might have to go slower. Note: the slower the speed [1/250 is slower than 1/500 because these are stated as fractions of a second] the more you'll see motion blur in your photos.

    4. Camera meters are easily fooled in gyms, where bright light at some point (but not necessarily at the point of the action you are photographing) can 'trick' your camera into thinking there's more available light. Hence, in the long run, I believe you'll want to select the M(anual) mode, where you'll control both aperture and shutter speed.

    5. Note that the max aperture on your lens gets smaller as you zoom out. As you zoom, that lens will need more light to give you the same exposure. Since you cannot "turn up the lights" in the gym, you'll want to get closer to the action and zoom less -- or not at all -- if possible. You'll also find that the farther out you zoom, the more your sharpness will be hurt by camera shake.

    6. Consider a 'faster' lens -- meaning one with a larger maximum aperture. But note that on your D40, only AF-S and AF-I lenses, and some Sigma lenses, will offer autofocus.

    7. This is digital. There is no per frame cost for experimenting. So experiment. Buy a couple extra cards. Take lots of photos. Hundreds. I'm not kidding. Little by little, you'll see what your camera does as you change settings.

    8. I would expect a number of your photos in that gym, maybe all of them, to be underexposed at the fast shutter speeds you'll use to freeze action. Keep in mind that it's generally easier in digital to correct (after the fact, in a photo editing program such as Photoshop Elements) for some underexposure (i.e., too dark) than it is to fix blown highlights or "hot spots."

    Never thought this would be so involved, did you Steven ? :)

    Good luck and have fun !
  6. Forgot to add: consider a position at or near one end of the court for at least part of the time. Depending upon how fast the guys are moving, it can be awfully tough to keep up with the framing as the action moves across.
  7. YIKES - ok I get most of it except how to set the iso manually to at least 800. - Thanks for your help.
  8. Setting the ISO won't be difficult, in M mode you will need to disable auto ISO (it may be on by default) and then set your chosen ISO of 800. The booklet will explain how to do this.

    The Sigma lenses which focus with your D40 are the HSM models, they are exactly like the Nikon AFS ones.
  9. Steven, while I somewhat agree with Michaels' recommendations, I still suggest you turn the Auto ISO on. Auto ISO is menu option 10. Turn it on and leave it on all the time.

    Set your camera on S mode (top dial) and set your shutter speed to 1/320 (press the bottom left button on the back of the camera, rotate the thumb dial at the back of the camera, top right side until the number at the top left of your monitor's display reads 320.

    Take some shots and see how they look. If they still come out dark or too noisy, you likely need a faster lens (a lens with an aperture of at least f2.8). There are a number of options - your best one (and most expensive) is Nikon's 70-200 lens. There are other choices if this lens is too expensive for you.

    Shooting in a gym without a fast lens (f2.8 aperture minimum) is difficult. As you will likely be shooting at ISO 1600, you will need a good noise reduction program like Noise Ninja or similar.

    Hope this helps.
  10. If this is what you will be doing a lot, I would go ahead and invest in a 50mm 1.8 lens. The lens is cheap, fast, and has more than good enough image quality for journalism and lots of other things. Put your camera on f/2.0, pick a '320 minimum shutter speed. Adjust your ISO as needed to obtain a decent exposure. If you have plenty of leeway at a decent ISO (unlikely at a children's' arena), increase your shutter speed. This is all on M mode, of course, including manual focus. Your autofocus (or even lots of better autofocus systems) won't keep up with basketball. Just prefocus on the net and make slight adjustments as necessary. Believe me: you will get far more sharp shots this way. Don't worry. Basketball is an easy sport to shoot after a couple of tries. It is all pretty much prefocused, as you know where most of the action will take place. It's all about finding a good position and getting the timing...and having the right lens. F/2.0 is a heckuva lot better than f/2.8, although in a well-lit arena, 2.8 is fine.

    With your lens, go ahead and use manual, and prefocus. Shoot wide open, don't skimp on shutter speed, and just expect your shots to be dark, and thus grainy and unsharp when prepped.

    Good luck.

  11. Steven,]

    You also need to spend some quality time with your manual, and perhaps consider an
    additional resource like Thom Hogan's guide.

  12. hi steven,

    i see someone recommended the 50/1.8 -- great for low-light, but wont AF on a D40. MF is not what you need for sports and primes are generally not as useful as zooms in those situations, either.

    therefore, a fast zoom would be better. if you don't want to spend 6x the cost of your body on glass for a nikkor 17-55/70-200 2.8 combo, consider the sigma combo of 18-50 and 50-150 HSM.

    oh, you may also want to consider adding a monopod to help with steadying your camera as you pan from side to side.
  13. er...? The shots from a person manually focusing a 50mm lens on a D40 will kill the shots of the same person shooting a 70-200 on a D3. MF is definitely what you need for many, many sports. Football and basketball are almost entirely manual focus for best results. Also, lens speed gets you more good shots than does having a zoom.


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