Help with extreme low light

Discussion in 'Sports' started by russell_t, Dec 16, 2013.

  1. Hey Everyone,
    I shoot for a local adult sports & social club, and recently they started playing gym soccer in a horribly lit gym. I shoot a Canon 7D and Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 non-OS lens on a monopod, full RAW images with post-production in Lightroom 5. Usually I'm used to shooting around ISO 3200 or at the extreme ISO 4000, but in this gym I had to go even higher. I shoot at a fixed 1/200 shutter speed, and my aperture was bouncing between 2.8 and 3.5. Oh, and yes it's in AI Servo (continuous focus for you Nikon folks).

    I never get blurry images normally, but at this particular gym I got a lot of crap! Generally when the zoom was over ~150mm, I was getting tons of blur! Is it due to the high ISO, or is there something else I'm unaware of? I honestly can't figure out any other reason...
    Also, does anybody have noise reduction recommendations outside of Lightroom?
  2. Many gyms have horrible lighting. When I shot school gym sports an f/2.8
    zoom was barely adequate. I ended up using faster primes to get shutter
    speeds faster than 1/250. Anything slower guaranteed mostly blurry pix.

    Regarding noise reduction, I'm happy with Lightroom, but I see many fans
    of DxO for serious NR challenges. Give the trial version a shot.
  3. Blur usually equals insufficient shutter speed, but without examples it's hard to say.
    I wouldn't blame the high ISO per se for the blurring though - I routinely use my 7D (with the OS version of your Sigma) at higher than 3200 ISO (sometimes a lot higher) and get very sharp, detailed pictures.
    Not sure why going past 150mm is significant given that the lens is a constant aperture - you have the same aperture at 70mm as you will at 200mm, so it's not that the extended focal length has cut down on the light getting into the camera: this suggests camera shake to me.
    Lr really is pretty good in NR terms, but DxO Optics Pro is considerably better: I rate Photo Ninja highly too. The Topaz DeNoise plugin is also excellent if you use PhotoShop or similar pixel-editing software.
    But let's see an example image or two with Exif and we'll figure this out.
  4. [[Generally when the zoom was over ~150mm, I was getting tons of blur!]]
    Please post examples taken at 150mm and 70mm for comparison.
  5. I've just started on the trial version of DXO, and its noise reduction on high ISO shots is amazing.
  6. Thank you all for your feedback. When I get home from work this evening, I will post some examples with EXIF data.
  7. I usually shoot at 6400 and 1/320-1/500@f2.8 but if I have the 135/2 I will be at f2@1/500. Not a lot of light. It's good to have a camera that is great in low light. 1/200th I would anticipate blurred shots with a lens >150mm due to camera shake, but also due to subject movement
  8. Is there any reason you have not added a flash to this equation? Seems the easiest thing to do and not have to have extreme ISOs.
    It may limit you to action closer than you might desire, but you may also be able to bounce off the ceilling and light up the whole joint. Or add 2 strobes with triggers. This is often necessary in poorly lit gyms.
    Good luck! Get an external battery pack and use 8 sanyo Eneloop rechargable white batteries.
  9. 1/200 is the reason.... you need at least double that to freeze any type of fast action...
  10. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    I shoot at a fixed 1/200 shutter speed . . .I never get blurry images normally, but at this particular gym I got a lot of crap! Generally when the zoom was over ~150mm, I was getting tons of blur! Is it due to the high ISO, or is there something else I'm unaware of? I honestly can't figure out any other reason...​
    The bottom line is that 1/200s was too slow a shutter speed to use, but this is a comment about the Focal Lengths that you quoted and that you noticed more blur at the longer FL’s:
    You probably are getting the additive effects of Subject Motion Blur – AND – Camera Movement Blur using 1/200s with a zoom lens racked out to 150~200mm, even if you are using a Monopod, a Tv of 1/200 sec is not fast enough to alleviate all the Camera Movements that you might have.
  11. Hi, so here are some pictures I took. - For example: 1/160, f/2.8, ISO 4000. This isn't one I have a problem with. - Also at 1/160, f/3.5 @79mm, ISO 4000. This one came out decent, except I can't get those white parts to go away (it's not blown out).
    Here's a problem: - 1/200, f/2.8 @ 110mm, ISO 4000. This is an example of the blur I was getting.
    Mark - to answer your question, I just bought 2 monolights, so I will start learning to bounce them off the ceiling. My problem there is I will lose the high speed shutter.
    I also will download that program tonight for high ISO - thank you all!
  12. Higher ISO and higher SS will get you the shots next time around. The pix you showed simply need more SS.
  13. [[This is an example of the blur I was getting.]]
    The female player is out-of-focus because she's not in the plane of focus with the male player, plus she's moving. The ball is moving very quickly for the shutter speed and /should/ be blurred.
    Frankly I think the photo is, as presented, overexposed. You could have easily gone to 1/300.
  14. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    The three sample images all have a degree of Subject Motion Blur.
    In some images that blur might be acceptable to you and that' is your judgement call - but they all have blur which would be lessened by using a faster Shutter Speed.
    As an indicative for the indoor soccer shots I would like to be around 1/640s
    I think that Mark's suggestion concering Flash, was to use the Flash's Pulse to freeze the action, whcih as a consequence would not require you to use a fast Shutter Speed.

  15. The three sample images all have a degree of Subject Motion Blur.​
    I have the feeling they're also quite heavy crops, which won't help.
  16. 1/200 sec. is the root problem as it's not fast enough of a shutter speed to completely freeze fast action. Go to minimum of 1/500 sec., manually set your aperture to the largest possible (not sure why you'd want to fluctuate f-stop between f2.8-3.5) and stay at the ISO-4000 that you find works well for you (I don't know Canon line too well.) If the combination of 1/500 sec., f2.8 and ISO-4000 still doesn't give you enough exposure, you'll want to look into f2.0 or f1.4 type of optics to gain you more light, if you choose to stay available-light. Alternatively, you can set 3-4 remote flashes around the arena/gym, lower your ISO to 800-1600 and shoot with your f2.8-f3.5 at sync speed of 1/250 sec. (or whatever your 7D syncs at,) but make sure to test out the set up before games. Bounce remote flashes off a larger, neutral color surface will yield more pleasant results than direct lights. Going this route, you'll give up a little with frame rate, but will gain a lot more with cleaner and more saturated photos while the fast flash duration speed will stop the motion.
  17. I have been in gyms where you better have a 50mm f/1.4 or 1.8 or an 85mm f/1.8 with flash to get something. I absolutely hate a flash and most of my assignments will not allow a flash but it may be an option. I would ask and then try to configure it to help without annoying the players. I did shoot this combo with a Canon 7D and got some decent results. I used a Canon 580 EX and tilted it slighty upwards and was fine. The 7D can use High Speed Flash Sync so that may solve a ton of issues.
  18. Shooting over 150mm while locked into a shutter speed of 1/150 is outside of the age old guideline of shooting the reciprocal of the focal length. So if shooting at 180mm the shutter speed should be at least 1/180th, and where there is no shutter speed that falls inline with the focal length, then the next highest shutter speed should be used.
    Shooting sports, the rule of reciprocals isn't enough because the shooter is following the action, and therefore the camera is moving on purpose, following the player while simultaneously keeping the object of the player's interest in frame (the ball, puck, apparatus, what have you).
    If the camera and the subject are both moving, then shutter speeds need to be higher, ESPECIALLY the longer the focal length. The longer the focal length, the more influence the camera's movement has on the perceivable blurriness of the photo. In the example photos shown, one can see evidence which suggests the blurriness is from both subject movement and camera movement.
    Even if panning on a stick, the pause in panning, and the counteracting force of squeezing the shutter, can easily be translated to the image at slower shutter speeds. It is no surprise whatsoever that the problem got worse at focal lengths over 150mm, as you reported.
  19. You can get a 100mm f2 lens used for just over $300. Shoot wide open at f2 and increase shutter speed to 1/400. In other
    words, full manual. Leave the monopod at home. Canon also makes a macro 100mm f2.8l lens -that's not what I would

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