Tripods or monopoles for sports....

Discussion in 'Sports' started by wes_odle, Aug 19, 2004.

  1. Please forgive the ignorance of this question, but I am just learning. I thought that I could hold still enough and follow the action to take some decent photos of softball games. Some turn out crystal clear while others have a touch of blur. Yes everything is set to Automatic on a Cannon digital rebel. Lenses used are Sigmas up to 300mm. My question is will a tripod or monopole help this?
    009Dpu-19257884.jpg
     
  2. Here is another example of the blurr...
    009Dpz-19257984.jpg
     
  3. What sort of shutter speeds are you using? It appears you're shooting in good
    daylight, which means you shouldn't have any problem getting high enough shutter
    speeds. How fast is your lense? If you can get 1/500th, or better 1/1000th you
    should be okay. I've handheld the 300 2.8, which is pretty big. I'm assuming you're
    not shooting that lense, and one that's a bit smaller, but even if you are it's doable. If
    you're shooting in Auto try switching to shutter priority. It's hard to tell on screen at a
    small size, but how's your focussing? Are you spot focussed on your subject? You can
    try a monopod if you're convinced you're too shaky, but try checking your shutter
    speeds, and make sure you're in focus.
     
  4. Wes, you will probably wind up with a monopod as a. the organizers of a sporting event may not allow tripods on a field; because b. you might not be able to get out of the way of a play coming your way (e.g. foul ball in softball- potentially dangerous to both you and the athletes). For outdoor sports, like women's softball, a monopod should be just fine for holding the camera and lens still from shake. I'm fond of my Mamiya carbon fiber- very compact and light, but sturdy:

    http://www.adorama.com/MYM.html?searchinfo=mamiya%20carbon&item_no=1

    For less $$$, the Bogen #676B/3006B should be fine for your purposes:

    http://www.adorama.com/BG676B.html

    And for low-light shooting where I can't take a tripod, the Bogen 682B monopod with retractable feet is an excellent choice (I use it primarily for low-light shots during weddings):

    http://www.adorama.com/BG682B.html

    Regards, E
     
  5. And, Wes, I'd note that your shots are pretty good even without a monopod- you're stopping the action well and you are focussing where you should be.
     
  6. It's a little hard to see the blur on those small photos. But it
    looks to me like the "Lu from center" photo has a focusing problem
    more than a camera motion problem. Note that the fence in
    the background appears sharper than the pitcher. A tripod or
    monopod won't help focusing errors.
    <p>
    Under ideal circumstances, a tripod will hold the camera completely
    still and eliminate problems due to camera shake, so that stationary
    objects will show no evidence of motion blur. If stationary objects
    are already not showing motion blur, then a tripod or monopod
    won't provide much, if any, further help.
    <p>
    In sports photos, you often get blurred subject matter because
    the subject is moving so fast. A tripod/monopod won't help this.
    The solution is to either use a faster shutter speed, or pan
    the camera to follow the subject (thus making the background
    blurred but the main subject a bit sharper), or live with the
    motion blur and treat it as an artistic element connoting speed.
    <p>
    Yes, there are times when a tripod or monopod is very useful for
    sports, especially when using a long telephoto in a dimly lit
    night game. Maybe I'm missing some camera shake blur on your
    photos because those web jpegs are so small, but I don't see
    anything in your photos that will be helped dramatically
    by better camera support.
     
  7. You didn't mention the f stop of lenses you were using but with a dslr, you should easily be able to work at 400 iso. That should easily allow you to get action stopping speeds on day games even with consumer/slower lenses. When I was shooting my daughters games, Supra 400 was plenty fast with consumer speed lenses to pretty well stop everything except the tip of the bat on a swing, etc.

    Monopods or tripods can be used if off field but you need to be pretty aware of your surroundings to preclude being a safety hazard if they let you on field. Softball/baseball being somewhat different from many sports in that foul territory is in play and most other sports, the players don't usually get too far out of the field lines, etc. A monopod can be handy but I think a tripod is usually too cumbersome and slow unless you really plan to stay in one place or are working at extreme telephoto distances.
     
  8. I tried using a monopod but you miss some shots.

    Usually I try to prop my camera on a fence if it has plastic railing.
    Also sometimes i use a bag of rice to reduce movement. (Of course the fence has to be the right height, and sometime kids in dug outs hit the fence)

    I use film and try to shoot around 1/500, usually i can use 100 speed film, unless it is cloudy or late evening.

    kyle
     
  9. Richard,

    That is exactly what I am talking about. There are 7 focusing points in that viewfinder and I don't know which one the electronic wizzard is going to wave his magic wand over. I am sure that there is a way to select just one, but in most instances everything is moving so fast that I get something off center and it helps focus the shot. ( I can then crop out the crap if needed, and the parents think I'm a genius... Man have I got them fooled....) On the other hand as in Lu center field, it seemed to focus more on the fence rather than the batter or pitcher. This happens quite often. Is this more of a problem with depth of field? In short, I seem to be turning into a perfectionist with my "new hobby" and would like some instruction on how to get better.
     
  10. By the way, thanks for all of your input!!!
     
  11. It may be just me but on Lu from center, the batter seems to be in focus but as she isn't a sharp figure, there aren't any sharp edges to look sharp - the fence isn't so far away that it wouldn't necessarily be pretty sharp as well, that is, inside the focus area.

    Something to consider, you may need to experiment and see where the focus zones in the finder actually are, etc. Since the motion could move any direction, you probably can't anticipate and select an off center zone as opposed to a track event where everybody is running the same direction. I used to have some trouble shooting down from behind the first base end of the fence towards the batter/home and would have trouble with the first base coach, umpire, etc., wandering into the zone and "capturing" the focus, stepping back and it hunting back to the batter, etc. In a case like that where you have a distinct target (like the batter) and you are in a position where you might be able to use a tripod, you might be able to zoom in, prefocus, and zoom out again.
     
  12. That is exactly what I am talking about. There are 7 focusing points in that viewfinder and I don't know which one the electronic wizzard is going to wave his magic wand over. I am sure that there is a way to select just one, but in most instances everything is moving so fast that I get something off center and it helps focus the shot. On the other hand as in Lu center field, it seemed to focus more on the fence rather than the batter or pitcher. This happens quite often. Is this more of a problem with depth of field?
    You could stop down more to get more depth of field, but then you'd suffer from a longer shutter speed. It looks like you have plenty of depth of field, if you can just control the focusing better to have it focus reasonably close to your desired subject.
    I'm sorry I don't have many suggestions myself. Personally, you have hit on the main reason why I only own manual focus cameras and lenses. It's intuitive and trivially easy to control the focus with my manual focus equipment. I've tried manually focusing autofocus gear, and it's a LOT harder than manually focusing cameras and lenses that were designed for manual focus in the first place.
    Nevertheless I know some people manage to get autofocus to work well for action shots. Maybe someone will pipe in with technique suggestions. Perhaps you could have done a focus lock on the pitcher well in advance of taking the shot?
     

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