ice hockey (balancing shutter speed/ f-stop/ISO for Canon)?????

Discussion in 'Sports' started by amanda_hertel, Jun 22, 2009.

  1. In the last year or so I have gotten pretty serious about my sports photography hobby ( mainly ice hockey). I had been using a Canon Rebel XS with a Tamron 75-300mm f/4-5.6. Because of the lens and lighting issues with ice hockey (having enough light/ fast enough shutter to freeze puck/ without bumping up ISO to ‘crazy noise land’) I had to spend a lot of time editing. Recently (during off-season) I have upgraded my lens to the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS USM. Seeing as though I gave up 100m in my range to get the f/2.8 would it be better for me to shoot at the end of this lens’ range (around 200mm) and crop it a little or shoot farther away (around 140mm) and crop the shot more?? Which will produce the clearer shot with the best lighting in an ice hockey arena??? Please feel free to suggest settings for ISO/ F-stop/ shutter and whatnot (-8
  2. Boy! Nice split second capture.
    Looks like maybe HS age ice hockey?? I haven't shot that for a year - dealing with cancer treatments took me out of action! But usually need min of 1/500 shutter. Now, the big thing with aperture is how much DOF your going to get a various focal lengths and focus distances. Start with f5.6 for a period, then 4.5, then 3.5 for last period. Set the ISO to keep the shutter at 1/500. Obviously you are setting all 'Manual' settings. Auto nothing!! Well, except focus!
    Part of the DOF and aperture decision is how good you are at tracking, how much of the player, or 2-3, are in focus And, your need, because of noise, to get to use a wider aperture like 3.5 so as to dial in a lower ISO.
    Maybe go to a practice if you can and try this out instead of a game you want good shots of. It's all practice of which you have had much, but like the rest of us, need more. You have the right lens, the 70-200 2.8. Another good one is the 200 f2 which you may be able to find a good used one, and even the 50 1.8 for thru the glass, at the cage. Where are you able to shoot from? I would usually be in the stands about 15' above the ice, & about half way between center and cage.
    To reduce ISO noise more without a lot of post processing and blurry shots, I think a newer/upgrade in camera body is in your future! Sorry I cannot contribute to your new camera fund at this time!
  3. I've never shoot hockey game, but I shot my kid figure skating competition a couple times, so I thought lighting would be similar although speed of action probably a bit slower. I also use that same 70-200 2.8 IS lens and the Canon 40D.
    I usually set AF to servo, center AF point, Full Manual, f/2.8 shutter 1/320, ISO 800. Shooting RAW usually I either add half to no exposure compensation with DPP. I've got satisfactory results with that.
    On your question; why wouldn't you want to max out the zoom? Less cropping is always good so you don't lose resolution as much. It's not that you gain speed by less zooming like your previous lens. Unless you need to zoom out for composition objective, I would just use maximum zoom.
  4. Amanda,
    Couple things here....
    1) the more you crop, the more evident the noise will become.
    2) You MUST nail the exposure, in order to reduce the noise in badly lit places, including these hockey rinks.
    3) the 1/500 shutter speed is the MINIMUM you want to use. The faster, the better.
    4) When i shoot Hockey, or most any sports for publication i do not hardly ever exceed f3.5 aperture. Unless there is a specific effect, that i want to show going on in the background, the background gets blurred for subject isolation.
    Hope this helps.
  5. I haven't gotten to use this lens yet because our ECHL season is over (we are ECHL affiliate for Atl Thrashers and Chi Blackhawks)....and it came in right after I did the photography for a week-long hockey camp run by some of my friends on the team.
    -I have shot from the hole in the glass before...but I don't like to be there long because I miss soo much action on the rest of the ice. I like to roam throughout the favorite spot is first row on the balcony in the center on the same side as the player benches.... I like this spot because I can avoid glass and net....and have a pretty clear view free of hands/heads/ and those darn foam fingers.... and being on the side with the bench allows me to catch facial expressions during goal celebrations. (not sure if that distance will work as well without the 300mm lens)...
    I could only attach that one picture...but I'm doing well at anticipating action and knowing where the emotion will be. I'm hoping the upgrade in my lens (and I got the monopod) will help the shots come through clearer. I have even taken advantage of ice hockey off season by playing in an adult inline hockey league (a little afraid of ice skating) I'm hoping this experience will add a new dimension to my understanding of the sport....Guess it can't hurt.
  6. Amanda,
    AFter looking over the EXIF data attached to the 2nd photo, while being less noisy, there is more camera shake/motion blurr, and it was shot at 1/320 sec. @ iso 400 and f5.6.
    Me personnally, would prefer a sharper image, and a bit more noise, then a blurry photo.
    Boost that ISO to 800, to get the extra stop in shutter speed, and with the new lens, lower your f/stop to gain more, shutter speed, and perhaps even lower your iso a bit with the new lens.
    I also noted that you shot this in a specific scene mode, probably a sports mode. THis may not allow you to override the shutter speed or aperture, so i would suggest you shoot in manual mode.I'm not familiar with your camera, so someone else can advise on overriding settings in a scene mode.
    Hope this helps a bit more.
  7. as far as locating action in hockey, a good majority of the play making, bumping a grinding and the grittiness of the game occurs in the corners, and infront of the nets.
    If you have access to the corner shooting holes, i would suggest you stick with those, as that is the place the "good action" of ice hockey. If your shooting there, don't bother taking shots, past the far blue line, as you would have to do quite a bit of cropping to get good usable shots.
    BTW, what is your end use for these? Publication? Newsprint?
  8. I think I was using either AV/or P that time...because with that lens I couldn't use manual mode without it being dark or fuzzy. With the new lens I've been able to use manual outside...but haven't gotten the chance to use it inside anywhere yet. I'm on the booster the photos mainly get used for the player's scrapbooks that they take home...or to post online so their friends & families in Canada can kinda watch them play. Or they get used in a player's music video/slideshow.
  9. There is no reason why you can't shoot in manual mode indoors. For most indoor sports with controlled/even lighting, it is probably your best option. Set you aperture to f2.8 and shutter speed to your preferred setting (probably between 1/250 to 1/400) and adjust your ISO until your shots look properly exposed.
    When shooting the goalie, consider pre-focusing.
    "3) the 1/500 shutter speed is the MINIMUM you want to use. The faster, the better." This is not always true. I often shoot at 1/80 and pan while I shoot to create stunning action shots that emphasise speed and action. This also allows me to shoot at very low ISO, typically under ISO 400. The keeper rate is low but the keepers are usually great shots. With a steady hand and practice, you can get some really great shots using this technique.
  10. I fully anticipate being able to shoot in manual inside now too...but my last lens and main lens until last week was only f/4-5.6...... That was the main reason I got the 2.8.....I'm just trying to save a whole season of guess and check with my new lens....I'm hoping to find some ice hockey games in the area to practice with until hockey season starts back in October....There are only a few leagues down here in the South.
    I typically do pan with the shots....with this being a bigger lens I went ahead and got a monopod that works standing and gets small enough to work sitting....I'm hoping the ball pivot will allow me to still have the flexibility to move the camera easily and quickly to follow action.
  11. 3) the 1/500 shutter speed is the MINIMUM you want to use. The faster, the better."
    This is not always true. I often shoot at 1/80 and pan while I shoot to create stunning action shots that emphasise speed and action. This also allows me to shoot at very low ISO, typically under ISO 400. The keeper rate is low but the keepers are usually great shots. With a steady hand and practice, you can get some really great shots using this technique.​
    Again, this really depends on the end use.
    If i were to submit this for the news outlets for use, in a daily newspaper, it most likely would not get used, unless it was some type of feature, but as Elliot points out, can yield rewarding results.
  12. This is professional, minor league hockey. Since your shooting resulted in blurry photos at 1/320 sec with the old lens, you will still get blurry results of with a f2.8 lens at 1/320 sec. even with the IS of the new lens, becuase of subject motion.
    A slower shutter speed may me ok for use in Youth Sports, but i would still bump it up for this.
  13. Currently I'm shooting with a Nikon D300, however for a couple of years I shot with the 40D and the 70-200mm lens you purchased (without the IS). You should have no problem whatsoever with that set-up, especially since the lighting in the professional arenas is far superior to the ones I was accustomed to with youth hockey.
    As mentioned earlier, shoot completely in manual mode, preferably 2.8, 400-500th shutter speed and keep your iso at 1000 or higher. Most importantly, take a custom white balance setting off the ice to achieve the most accurate colors possible.
    The following image was shot wide open; 2.8, 1/400th at iso 1250. Keep in mind that IS will do nothing for action shots as fast as the game of hockey.
    Have fun and keep experimenting.
  14. I have shot sprint car racing, cutting (horse/rider cut a cow from herd and keep it a bay), horse racing, and inline hockey. I have a similar set up, Canon 30D w/ 70-200 mm f/2.8 IS L. I agree with John and Glenn on the settings. You'll get what you came for Amanda. However, I also agree the custom white balance will increase (not with motion freeze, however) the over all quality of the images.
    You can see my metadata at: (Cutting Events set). I'm not sure if I have any sprint cars there, but I do at (see galleries at the bottom of the page. There are 11K images there so its best to know where to go.)
    You are an inspiration. I moved near Jobbing Arena in Phoenix with the hopes (in part) of shooting the Coyotes. Come to find out they might be leaving, and don't even practice at the arena 2 min from my house... Another story for another day, however, I will watch and wait to see your images from the up coming season. Are you shooting practices at all?
    The second image of the slide stop was indoors, stadium florescents and far away, too far for my short little 70-200mm. However, after throwing some "junk" at it after the fact I was able to pull something from it.
  15. They also practice at a facility 2 miles from my house..but I can only shoot there in off-season because during the season I'm a full time teacher which keeps me busy during their practice times. I'm gonna be shooting some ice hockey pics there tonight for one of the guys on my inline hockey team so we'll see how it goes on the Thrashers practice facility (i shot a camp there and I know the glass is terrible to shoot through...dont know if I can get on the bench this time).
    Meanwhile I've been trying to find as many chances to practice with this lens in the offseason as possible so I've been going to some minor league baseball games and all to work on finding the right settings and focusing from far away.
  16. Amanda, my favorite settings for hockey are ISO 1000 F/2.8 - 4.5, 1/640th - 1/800th. I use 70-200 2.8 L IS, 300mm 2.8 L IS, and 400mm 2.8 L IS. Here are some of my images from last year Shooting Dayton Bombers. By the way, Tomi Zanoski stopped by for a cup of coffee in Dayton and played a couple of games. I enjoyed interacting with him when he was here.
  17. I love your pics. Tom Z is a great guy....after seeing the music video I did for another guy...he had asked me to do one for him after the season ended and had me send it to him in Toronto then put it on Youtube. All the photos were mine from throughout the year. The video were from another friend. Feel free to check it out. Being a Bomber might also know Mike Looby. He's a friend of mine...cause I actually met him while he still played for you guys before we got him. He's actually worked with me on my inline hockey skills. Yesterday he was one of the guys at the Atlanta Thrashers' Prospect Camp... so I went and did some shots for him in the Thrashers wear. (The lighting in there is terrible....long florescent uncovered bulbs that project a lot of random reds on one side of the ice and greenish blue on the other. I had a photographer (non-sports) friend there with me helping me find settings to combat this through the glass. We weren't able to go custom white balance with the ice, the wall, signs or a WB cap. So we had to go with auto and edit afterwards...Had to use higher ISO than I like and lower shutter than I wanted. Grrrr. But after editing, some were salvageable.
  18. I find the easiest way to set things up is to go into manual mode, set your aperture wide open, set your shutter speed to 1/500th or so, and then adjust your ISO until your exposure meter reads +1. Over exposing helps get the ice and jerseys white (same theory as shooting snow) and it helps make up for darker spots in the arena lighting. The other way to do it is to set your shutter speed in Tv, set your ISO so that most of your photos are exposed properly, and then exposure compensate +1. By default your aperture will stay wide open.
    I also custom white balance after my camera is set. In AWB, take a picture of some plain ice after it has been scraped up a bit. Then use this photo to set the custom white balance. Sometimes after this is set, I will do this again to get the ice really white - take a photo of the ice after you have set the custom white balance, and then use that second photo to again for the custom WB.
    In NHL arenas I usually end up with an ISO around 640. Higher end international tournaments have been around 1250 and some local arenas are frequently up to 2500. Sometimes I have to knock down the ISO 2/3 or the way through the period after the ice gets totally messed up and reflects more light.
    I use the 70-200 2.8 non-IS with the 5D MKII and get great results almost all of the time, even if the arena is a barn. Give it a try and let me know how it works.
    Cheers, Dave

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