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Archive 2012 · Volleyball. Would 45 point AF helped?
  
 
OntheRez
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p.1 #1 · Volleyball. Would 45 point AF helped?


I suspect that anyone who shoots sports has shots like the one below - perfect action, incorrect focus. When I first saw this I wondered if there was a back focus problem (I have the 85mm f/1.8 MA to -7) but checking the focus point shows that it is exactly on the left hand red backed chair. Most likely this is idiot user error. I simply didn't get the center focus point lined up quick enough. (1DIV, ISO 6400 - very dark gym - Tv mode, SS = 1/800, f/2.2, AIServo, center AF point selected.) My question for sports pros particularly for those who have shot some volleyball, would using a different focus mode have helped? Currently I have Cfn III - 8 set to 1 left/right AF point and Cfn III - 2 (AI Servo tracking) set at zero - the center. I have the AF center point selected (also spot metering). This seems to work OK outside on the very dark football field (where ISO 25600 is still a stop slow), but I'm not getting as good of a success rate with these settings indoors shooting VB. Is it possible that I'd improve my hit rate by going to all 45 points? The "accepted wisdom" suggests that center AF point is best for action shooting, but that leaves no margin for error. (Lordy knows I could use a margin )

This was the most intense match I've ever covered as the 2 teams were fighting for a state birth and the match went 5 games, all past game point. I now understand why some folks claim VB is a "full contact" sport. Lots of girls digging kills off the floor.

Would appreciate insight from anyone who has done this type of shooting.

Robert



rsorrels 2012


Close but no cigar!




Oct 18, 2012 at 08:58 PM
JohnBrose
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p.1 #2 · Volleyball. Would 45 point AF helped?


I think it mostly comes down to technique and being able to anticipate where the ball is going to be and the timing that it's going to happen. I shoot vball with 1dmk3's with mostly 70-200 or 300 2.8. I do get some out of focus shots, but I don't blame the equipment, I blame my lack of ability or anticipation. As an aside, your color balance looks off to me.


Oct 18, 2012 at 09:10 PM
adamx12m
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p.1 #3 · Volleyball. Would 45 point AF helped?


If that picture wasn't cropped I'd say the center point focused where it was pointed. Given the short focal length I'd turn off the assist points and just use center point only. If you tried 45 pt I think with that busy background it would be worse unless the player filled most of the frame but I've yet used 45 pt for any sport. As for tracking 0 or -1 should be fine for VB, you still have to get that first shot focused for ai-servo anyways.

I hope your shooting raw to fix the WB. But as said previously, try to pre-focus and anticipate if possible near the action.



Oct 18, 2012 at 09:35 PM
rolette
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p.1 #4 · Volleyball. Would 45 point AF helped?


I shoot a lot of volleyball, also with a 1D4. Here's the settings that work for me:

* AI Servo, single AF point selected. It's virtually never the center AF point. No reason to limit yourself like that on the 1D4. The "accepted wisdom" about center AF point doesn't come from 1D shooters

For landscape mode (looking for digs, etc.), I normally use either the far right or far left AF point in the middle (depending on which side of the court the girls are playing on). That gives you room for them to play into the frame.

For portrait mode, I'm generally using an AF point 2 - 4 clicks down from center, in the middle or sometimes a couple of clicks to the side (depends on where I'm shooting from). That helps me frame the players properly so I don't chop off their arms when they are going up to hit, block, jump set, etc.

* Best to use M rather than Av or Tv. The lighting doesn't change during the game and is either reasonably consistent across the court or at least within "easy to fix in PP" range. Works much better than letting the camera get the exposure wrong due to uniforms, etc.

* C.Fn III-2: -1

* C.Fn III-8: 2 (Surrounding AF points). Since so much of the action is vertical, I find that helps better than '1' (left/right)

Hope this helps,
Jay



Oct 18, 2012 at 09:50 PM
Jeffrey
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p.1 #5 · Volleyball. Would 45 point AF helped?


I never figured out what all those focus points do in modern cameras. Any and all lenses can only really focus on just one distant point.


Oct 18, 2012 at 09:56 PM
scalesusa
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p.1 #6 · Volleyball. Would 45 point AF helped?


AF for the 1D MK IV is poor in very low light, thats been observed many times. I found mine to be fine if I let it find focus, but smapping off a quick shot before it finds the focus can result in a oof shot. AI servo will close the shutter even if AF is not complete unless you use set the options otherwise.

Set for AF priority, and it will wait for focus, but you might miss the shot.



Oct 18, 2012 at 09:56 PM
Russ Isabella
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p.1 #7 · Volleyball. Would 45 point AF helped?


Robert: No. It's somewhat ironic that the most complex AF system which contains the largest number of focus points and is best suited to shooting sports is likely, in most situations, to work best when you have complete control over the single focus point determining the target of focus. The only time I have used all 45 points with great success is when I have been certain there wouldn't be anything in the frame competing for 'attention' from the AF system. When using all points, AF still begins with the center point, so you must acquire focus using the center point (even though, if I recall, it doesn't light up when all-points is selected), and then as you continue to engage AF (steadily pushing whichever button you use to control this), the camera will track the subject across all points. (Examples that have been somewhat successful: shooting a gymnast on balance beam when I am shooting from low enough that the only other thing in the frame is the crowd in the background, and this is far enough away that nothing is vying for AF; shooting a moving subject against a clear sky.) With a sport like volleyball, there are sooooo many potential distractions to the AF system that using all points would be akin to AF pinball, and you aren't likely to appreciate the results. Of course, volleyball is challenging enough that it's difficult to like the results given any approach, but you should have a better chance with a single point. Even the question of whether to allow for expansion, right or left, up or down, all surrounding points, is a matter of experimentation as far as I'm concerned. So, use a single point, aim, engage, lock, track and shoot, all while hoping both that you succeed in locking on AND that nothing else (net, hand, ball) offers a seductive level of contrast/movement to the system. You also might consider going with a slower setting for tracking.


Oct 18, 2012 at 09:58 PM
Caleb Williams
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p.1 #8 · Volleyball. Would 45 point AF helped?


rolette wrote:
For landscape mode (looking for digs, etc.), I normally use either the far right or far left AF point in the middle (depending on which side of the court the girls are playing on). That gives you room for them to play into the frame.

For portrait mode, I'm generally using an AF point 2 - 4 clicks down from center, in the middle or sometimes a couple of clicks to the side (depends on where I'm shooting from). That helps me frame the players properly so I don't chop off their arms when they are going up to hit, block,
...Show more
I can't believe I've never thought of this. I use non center points on occasion with other sports, but it never crossed my mind for volleyball. Now I can't wait to try this.

Thanks, - Caleb



Oct 18, 2012 at 10:33 PM
rolette
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p.1 #9 · Volleyball. Would 45 point AF helped?


Russ Isabella wrote:
Robert: No. It's somewhat ironic that the most complex AF system which contains the largest number of focus points and is best suited to shooting sports is likely, in most situations, to work best when you have complete control over the single focus point determining the target of focus. The only time I have used all 45 points with great success is when I have been certain there wouldn't be anything in the frame competing for 'attention' from the AF system. When using all points, AF still begins with the center point, so you must acquire focus using the
...Show more

A wall of text strikes you for 1000 HPs. You have died.



Oct 18, 2012 at 10:44 PM
OntheRez
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p.1 #10 · Volleyball. Would 45 point AF helped?


My thanks to all the quick responses. Some interesting things to try.

Thoughts:
(1) I always shoot RAW
(2) WB is always wrong. The lights in this gym (circa 1967) cycle on a sort of red-blue-yellow pattern. Also, the varnish on the floor is quite old (and yellow) and the unused back bleachers - from the town's hay day as a mining camp - are also tan/yellow. I've played with various WB techniques and just leave it on AWB and correct in post.
(3) Was pretty sure that all points AF would go crazy. Those of you who have noted the background distractions certainly nailed it. Don't know how many perfectly focused shots of a bright orange drink containers between 2 players I have tossed
(4) Never thought of using a point other than center. I can see a logic there, e.g. in portrait the player would tend to be going up so a lower AF point might grab better.
(5) I think after it all said and done, that we are looking at operator error here. I strongly suspected that. This is only my second year shooting for the local paper and I'm still bemused at how utterly different it is than landscape or for that matter even shooting wildlife. Anticipating in volleyball is another whole challenge from say FB because the action can happen in so many places. H*** there is even a basket to focus on
(6) Have another match in 2 hours. Back at it and work on pre-focusing though I really can't figure how one would be able to select an alternate focus point fast enough to keep up with the action.

Those of you who do this, is it done in "anticipation" of where you think the ball is going or as the play develops?

Again, thanks to all who have helped and I'll try a variety of things tonight.

Robert



Oct 18, 2012 at 11:08 PM
 

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rolette
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p.1 #11 · Volleyball. Would 45 point AF helped?


Yes, it is done in anticipation. Frequently I pick the wrong player, but that's how it goes.

You can react if you read the setters to see where the play is going. It helps a lot to know the team and the players...

Jay



Oct 18, 2012 at 11:26 PM
rolette
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p.1 #12 · Volleyball. Would 45 point AF helped?


FWIW, I find indoor volleyball to be one of the hardest sports to shoot well - even if you are experienced shooting field sports.

Don't worry if it takes a bit to get the hang of it



Oct 18, 2012 at 11:28 PM
bbasiaga
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p.1 #13 · Volleyball. Would 45 point AF helped?


I know in some of the modes on the new 1Dx/5DIII AF system, it gives priority to the CLOSEST object under a focus point when using all 61pts. I'm not sure how it works on the 1DIV, but be careful if you decide to try it.

-Brian



Oct 18, 2012 at 11:49 PM
Caleb Williams
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p.1 #14 · Volleyball. Would 45 point AF helped?


rolette wrote:
FWIW, I find indoor volleyball to be one of the hardest sports to shoot well - even if you are experienced shooting field sports.

Don't worry if it takes a bit to get the hang of it

You and me both. I don't know if it's because I didn't really experience any volleyball growing up, or what, but it's always been the most difficult for me to follow, action wise.



Oct 18, 2012 at 11:55 PM
Pixel Perfect
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p.1 #15 · Volleyball. Would 45 point AF helped?


OntheRez wrote:
I suspect that anyone who shoots sports has shots like the one below - perfect action, incorrect focus. When I first saw this I wondered if there was a back focus problem (I have the 85mm f/1.8 MA to -7) but checking the focus point shows that it is exactly on the left hand red backed chair. Most likely this is idiot user error. I simply didn't get the center focus point lined up quick enough. (1DIV, ISO 6400 - very dark gym - Tv mode, SS = 1/800, f/2.2, AIServo, center AF point selected.) My question for sports pros
...Show more

In DPP it's very instructive to use the feature that allows you to see the AF points and what acquired focus (alt+L). That shot looks like the chosen AF point fell on the background. I would try the following settings

CFn III-2 -1 or -2
CFn III-8 2 (eight expansion points)
CFn III-4 1 (Continuous focus)

III-2 will allow more time for the AF to remain focused where it was supposed to be if the AF point slips off the target, III-8 will give you more points to assist the main AF point if you miss the intended focus point and III-IV will ignore obstacles in the foreground that land on the main AF point


This is an excellent pdf AF guide for the 1D IV.
http://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&cad=rja&ved=0CDIQFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fmedia.the-digital-picture.com%2FInformation%2FCanon-EOS-1D-Mark-IV-DSLR-Camera-Guide.pdf&ei=UZ-AUPKSJc3OigLby4GIBQ&usg=AFQjCNH6ctDRG68iqUrnRBzfm0ik9pGO8w





Edited on Oct 20, 2012 at 12:56 PM · View previous versions



Oct 19, 2012 at 12:33 AM
JohnBrose
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p.1 #16 · Volleyball. Would 45 point AF helped?


Try changing up your shooting angle and try some shots to get the kills at the net. The players aren't changing position as much on those so it wont test your skills as much, or if you can get above the net in the middle of the court maybe 20-30 feet from the side of the court you can cover both sides and being moved back from the court, your lens doesn't have to focus as much. I would suggest using your 70-200 or your 135 they are both quicker to focus than the 85mm


Oct 19, 2012 at 12:50 AM
OntheRez
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p.1 #17 · Volleyball. Would 45 point AF helped?


@Pixel, yes the focus point was exactly at the top of the left hand red chair. That's what led me to believe that it was operator error rather than a camera problem. Set Cfn III-2 to -1 last night. Given that it was a long match and our closest rival is a 1.5 hour drive away, I haven't looked at the pix yet. Thanks for the link. Looks like an excellent source. Not sure what III-IV is referring too: Cfn III - 4?

@rolette No kidding - of the 7 sports I shoot, VB is clearly the hardest. I do try to anticipate and pre-focus. Example, on the team receiving I pick a likely player in the back row - though it depends on what the opposition has been doing - and hope they stop the serve. Doesn't always work cause service is highly variable at this level.

@Caleb I played a bit of "backyard, party VB" as a kid but this is a whole new (and to my mind) better game. A team can score when not serving, the use of liberos, the fact that a block doesn't count as a hit, etc. This is only my second season and it has taken some (read lots) of adjustment and experimentation.

@JohnBrose I have 4 positions I move between (generally between games). One, as high in the bleachers as I can get looking down on the floor with the 135mm (or last night in a very small gym only the 85mm). Second on my knees just back from the net on the side opposite the line judge. Trying to shoot on the line judge side is always frustrating because there are so many "Zebra" shoots Third is on the base line behind the opposing team shooting thru the net. This is obviously challenging, but have gotten some good "kill" shots that way, and finally on the line judge side if it faces away from the bleachers in the hope I can reduce the background clutter. Oh, none of the venues I've shot in have anywhere near 30 feet between the sideline and the walls. 10 is about max and in one school a person can barely walk between the lines and the bleachers.

One of the oddities of the local gym (and all 3 visitors I've traveled too this season) is that the net judge's stand is always on the bleacher side. (We are talking very small town/reservation schools often with archaic gyms),. This means that trying for shots of kills/blocks at the net have to go over the net judge's head. Generally I only have success if the play is at the far side away from the net judge. Oh, I am limited to my primes (not the 70-200) because - so far - I've not found a gym with enough light to shoot as narrow as f/2.8. This obviously adds to the challenge as f/1.4 - 2.2 is where nearly all of my shots fall when shooting with SS=1/640 or 1/800. Obviously the DOF is quite narrow.

My experience suggests, in VB away, dropping below 1/640 isn't going to stop ball action. This is why I'm shooting Tv rather than manual which I use for everything else.

Again, much useful information, great advice. I appreciate all who have offered their perceptions. Of course there is now just one match left in the season. (The local team tanked last night - so no state.) So I'll have to gear up for BB. Still it's the same gyms and similar challenges.

Robert



Oct 19, 2012 at 05:00 PM
John P Mulgrew
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p.1 #18 · Volleyball. Would 45 point AF helped?


Caleb Williams wrote:
I can't believe I've never thought of this. I use non center points on occasion with other sports, but it never crossed my mind for volleyball. Now I can't wait to try this.

Thanks, - Caleb


I don't know how you can use any point other than the center point when shooting Vball, I'll mainly shoot vertical but sometimes quickly go horizontal and if I'm using an AF point to the upper right while shooting Vertical then what will I get when I switch positions? Things happen so fast in Vball but I may try this during Basketball to see how it works.


Such bad lighting in this gym but I strictly use the center AF point and what would this have looked like if I had used something different?

















Oct 19, 2012 at 05:25 PM
rolette
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p.1 #19 · Volleyball. Would 45 point AF helped?


John P Mulgrew wrote:
I don't know how you can use any point other than the center point when shooting Vball, I'll mainly shoot vertical but sometimes quickly go horizontal and if I'm using an AF point to the upper right while shooting Vertical then what will I get when I switch positions? Things happen so fast in Vball but I may try this during Basketball to see how it works.


On the 1D4, you can set it up so there are different AF points selected for horizontal vs vertical. I pick the AF point I want for each, then the camera automatically switches depending on the camera orientation.

Works great.

Jay



Oct 19, 2012 at 05:56 PM
OntheRez
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p.1 #20 · Volleyball. Would 45 point AF helped?


John,

Nice shots. Love the lady trying to dig it off the floor. That 1Dx at ISO 10000 is really sweet. I'd say (at least in these small web shots) it is at least as good as my 1DIV at ISO 6400. You've got enough light and ISO so that you can use the 70-200. Wish I could do that

The second shot says it all for volleyball: beautifully framed action with the grumpy coach cluttering up the background. I'm a bit surprised that SS=1/800 doesn't freeze the ball though I've recently pushed up to 1/1000 even though my aperture gets pretty wide.

I remember noting that the 1DIV (and I presume the 1Dx) can have different selected points in either orientation. I'm trying to think thru what would be the best combination. I'm thinking in portrait maybe 2 clicks below center, but in landscape (which I don't shoot in very often) I'm not sure there is an advantage horizontally. Maybe a click below the horizontal line? Jay, how do you set yours up?

Robert



Oct 20, 2012 at 02:38 AM
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