Shooting Basketball Indoors

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by gary_garson, Nov 6, 2013.

  1. My son is about to start playing middle school basketball, for the first time, this Winter. I currently use a D90, and have no plans on changing any time soon (love it). I've been shooting outdoor sports for years using an 18-200, with good results.
    Which lens would one suggest for indoor sports? Any other suggestions for taking good basketball shots?
  2. I shoot High School sports and currently use a Nikon D4 w/300mm f4 AFS. That is for shooting Football and Soccer, many times at night.
    Will start shooting basketball in a few weeks and plan to use the same camera with a 80-200mm f2.8 lens.
    Get the longest, fastest glass your camera can take, and practice, practice, practice.
  3. When I photographed my son's bb last year I used a D700, iso 3200 or higher depending on the lighting and a AFS 50 f1.4 for most shots. Us dads only had a little room under the basket to shoot and moving around for a better position was impossible most of the time. In bigger gyms and shooting by the seats I used a Sigma 70-200 wide open with good results.
  4. My son has played several years of youth basketball (moving up to 6th grade this year) and his team typically plays games in elementary, middle school and even high school gyms. In a nutshell, the lighting is generally pretty poor, at least in my experience. If you want to shoot at a high enough shutter speed to stop the action (e.g. < 1/400s), you are are probably looking in the ballpark of ISO 3200 @ f/2.8. In that case, your 18-200 will simply not be fast enough. Without breaking the bank, a good option might be to settle on a 50 mm prime, knowing that you will have to position yourself in the gym to get the shots that you want. For example, near the baseline on either side of the basket. If you can afford more exotic glass as mentioned above, all the better as this will preclude the need to zoom with your feet. In addition, I highly recommend shooting RAW and making adjustments in post - it will offer far more flexibility wrt exposure adjustments as well as correcting the white balance. Good luck.
  5. I currently own a D300s and previously had a D90. I too shoot mainly for fun and mainly sports. With the crop sensor camera I found the 80-200 to be a little too long on the wide end so I settled for a used 28-70 f2.8 lens. With me seated below the basket I could get shots from half court to right under the bucket.
  6. For basketball, you can get away with a shorter lens, especially if you're allowed to step up to the sidelines or stand under the basket. Consider a lens like the Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 HSM or the Tamron 28-75mm, or as mentioned go for the primes (35mm f/1.8G, 50mm f/1.8G, 85mm f/1.8G). Maybe try renting a few lenses for testing and see what works for you.
    I always used to use a Sigma 28-70mm f/2.8 on a DX camera. Standing under the basket, it was wide enough for layups, but telephoto enough to get players running in and out of the key, dropping back to the 3-point line, etc.
  7. Brian, how high do you take ISO on the D300s? I'm using a D300 and am wary of pushing it too far when shooting indoors with low light.
  8. 80-200 or 70-200 in an indoor gym could be a little tight. the tamron 28-75 might be a better choice, depending on how close you are to the action.
  9. To some degree, it depends on the result you want to achieve. If you are targeting 4x6 prints for scrapbooks you can push the ISO a lot higher than if you expect to be making poster-sized prints.
    So the first choice you need to make is whether you want to shoot an f/2.8 lens at probably ISO 3200 or so, or shoot a faster, prime lens at around ISO 1600. You should probably perform your own evaluation of the D90's ISO performance to decide what you will accept.
    If you choose the zoom, I would probably opt for something in the 24-70 or 28-70 range. With that, you can position yourself behind the baseline and get good shots of the rebounding and drives to the basket.
    If you go the prime route, I would suggest the 50/1.8G. If you were shooting high-school basketball, where the action is closer to the rim, I'd consider the 35/1.8. You can also use the 85/1.8G, but that gets pretty tight (see photo).
    As for other advice, one of the classic problems in gyms is white balance. If you are unlucky, the gym(s) you shoot in will have old-style lighting systems which change color and intensity through the power-line cycle. (120 times per second in the US.) Our cameras aren't capable of adjusting to that, so you'll get different color balance from one shot to the next and will have to correct it as much as possible in post. If you are lucky, though, the gym will have a modern, electronic-ballast fluorescent system, as is the case for most of the gyms I encounter these days. In that case, use a gray/white card to do a preset while balance and you should be in pretty good shape, color wise.
  10. Shoot under the basket with 50mm or a 35mm. For midcourt 180mm and for other end of court 300 f2.8. The 300 tends to be a bit pricy so 180mm should be okay for other end of court. Those are for FF camera, fyi. Tip for shooting under the basket - avoid "armpit" shots. Good luck.
  11. I was able to get some decent shoots with a d5000 and a 50mm 1.8 lens the last two years. I upgraded over the summer to a d7100 and a 2.8 24-70mm lens. The most annoying problem is noise with both cameras. I shot at iso 3200 (Spot meter) with shutter priority (1/400) on the d7100 and still had noise problems. Any ideas? PS handles the white balance. The zoom is a big plus.
  12. D90 is perfectly fine for indoor sports - I've done it for years. There are three things you need:
    - A monopod. Don't underestimate what a monopod can do.
    - A fast lens. Consider a 70-200 f/2.8 if you can swing it. Otherwise go with a 85 f/1.8 lens
    - Get comfortable with setting the white balance as indoor lights can be very challenging. Learn how to manually set the white balance for every gym, and take multiple shots as the changign frequency of the lights can give different results on simultaneous shots.

    You don't need a 300 for indoor sports and your camera is also fine so no need to upgrade that.
  13. If the school makes you sit rather than stand under the basket like the NBA does, the most important item you will need is a floor chair. Get the Stadium Chair SC-1 (About $60 online) and your back will love you in the morning.
    The best price that I found is $37 from The Sports Athority or Acadamey Sports:
    When getting lens reccomendations you MUST know the crop factor that the person reccomending the lens is using. A 300mm f/2.8 lens is actully 4 different lenses depending on the crop factor:
    FF FX sensor 1.0x crop = 300mm
    Nikon APS-C sensor 1.5x crop = 450mm
    Canon APS-C 1.6x crop = 480mm
    4/3 sensor 2x crop = 600mm
    For example, Tim Bimler shoots with a D5000 and a D7100. Since I don't use Nikon I had to look them up and they are APS-C sensors with a 1.5x crop factor. The 50mm lens is like a 75mm on a FF camera, a 47mm lens on a Canon 1.6x crop body or a 38mm lens on a 4/3rds camera. All have the same angle of coverage.
    Under the backboard I use a 50mm f/1.4 on my Olympus E-3 which has a 2x crop factor. This is the same as a 100mm lens on a FF camera, a 67mm lens on a 1.5x crop camera, or a 63mm lens on a 1.6x crop camera.
    For far end shots I use a 150mm f/2 lens which is the same as a 300mm lens on a FF camera, a 200mm lens on a 1.5x crop body, and a 188mm lens on a 1.6x crop body.
    Lots of pros use the 300mm f/2.8 on 1.5x crop bodies for far end shots. For me I would need a 225mm to get the same angle of coverage with my 4/3rds camera. Since Olympus didn't make one, I just use the 150mm. I could get closer with my 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD zoom but I would loose 2 stops. I have a 1.4x Olympus teleconverter that changes my 150mm f/2 lens into a 210mm f/2.8 which is a good match. However, the light is so bad in HS gyms that I prefer to stay at f/2 and crop the image ("digital zoom").
  14. A 300mm f/2.8 lens is actully 4 different lenses depending on the crop factor:​
    Well, the Nikon's V1 is CX format, so that makes it 5! A 300mm 2.8 > 825mm....a little long maybe?....:)
  15. I'd suggest an 80-200 mm f/2.8. I used one on a D200 for years to photograph my daughter's basketball games.
    The lighting in most school gymnasiums is weak. At ISO 1600 and f/2.8, I was lucky to shoot at 1/250 s, which is marginal to stop action. And of course that ISO on a D200 is also barely useable. The D90 being one generation newer may be able to get useful results at higher ISO>
  16. My son is now a senior, I started the ultimate BBall shot quest when he was in the 7th grade. Been through a lot of shots/cameras/lenses/$'s since. I shot ACC college basketball in the late 70's with film and manual focus, technology is a little (lot) better now, but technique still counts.
    1. Shoot from the baseline. Give some photos to the yearbook if necessary to get baseline "press credentials."
    2. With the D90, probably the 35 or 50 AFS-G lenses would be best. Most MS and HS gyms have terrible lighting. Either of these lenses would give much better results than any zoom. I can't even get good results with the 28-70/2.8 AFS in our home gym, which does not even have enough light to see how to get out if there was a fire. I was amazed at how much better the 35 & 50G lenses were than the "highly regarded" 50/1.8D I used to use. Spend the $200.00, leave the zoom at home or put it on for after the game shots.
    3. Press the shutter button a lot. Delete the junk photos later, keep the good ones.
    4. Anticipate action, anticipate the good shot. Set the AF operation optimally (AF-C and focus tracking) I used a D90 for one season, don't remember the exact settings. Learn to start AF tracking with enough time for the camera to react and achieve focus.
    5. The D90 can work, I got good results with the one I used a couple of years ago. Were I to use a D90 today (with either the 35 or 50/1.8G), I would shoot RAW files, and run them through the DXO9 software to create JPGs..
    6. Find the best combination of f/stop, shutter speed, and ISO. If I went out with a D90 (with one of the G lenses) to shoot BBall tonight, I would probably be at ISO2200, f/2.2, and 1/400 shutter speed, depending on the light at the gym, and shoot RAW+JPG. The depth of field gets so shallow below f/2.2 that too many shots are out of focus.
    7. The old 50mm/1.4D is a good lens, also, if you find one at a good deal. Think that is the lens I used on the D90. Just pass on the 1.8D with the other choices you have today.
  17. The new Sigma 18-35/1.8 might be a good choice, as well. But, I have not used one, don't know how well it would work.
  18. Sigma 50-150 f/2.8 OS, with any of the 17-50 f/2.8. On my D300s, I go to ISO 1600.
  19. I shoot my son with a 135/2 and 200/2.8 in the basketball courts usually at 3200 sometimes higher. I find I need every once of speed. I could use an 85 or a 50, but you are certainly not "in the action" with those lenses. Depends a little what you want. A 70-200 f2.8 would be good too.

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