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Help me improve basketball shots
  
 
GC5
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p.1 #1 · Help me improve basketball shots


I'm mostly been a landscape, macro and portrait photographer, but have been shooting a lot of my kid's sports recently. I manage ok (to my eye) in the outdoor sports, but I am just not happy with some of the basketball shots I am getting, and I imagine conditions will get worse as the kids get faster.

Some examples (and these aren't the horrid ones that I just trashed, but aren't necessarily the best either). All shots processed, which likely is some of the issue:






5d3 at 3200, 85mm, 1.8 at 1/500, some crop.






5d3 at 4000, 50mm, 1.8 at 1/500






5d3 at 3200, 50mm, 1.8 at 1/640

Is this just what I can expect. I can get cleaner portraits than this in low light, but obviously don't have to deal with trying to stop movement. Any suggestions/tips for improvement would be appreciated.

[Edit, and these three show the nice flouresecent light cycles. I need to do a better job color balancing in post... ]



Oct 21, 2013 at 10:17 PM
Russ Isabella
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p.1 #2 · Help me improve basketball shots


No doubt the specific AF settings on your 5DIII and your shooting technique will have an impact on the quality of your shots, but you also are facing the limits of the setting (lighting) and equipment. The benefit of the f/1.8 lens is its wide aperture, but this is a bit of a shortcoming as well because shooting at 1.8 gives you relatively little depth of field. Additionally, I don't think a prime is best for basketball, because your range is very limited and as a result you end up having to do a lot of cropping. I and most others I know who shoot basketball use a 70-200 f/2.8 for near-court action. (A 24-70 also can work, but for these little guys, I'd stick with the 70-200--you're not worrying about cutting off body parts the way you might if some of the players were 6-11.) Obviously this robs you of a full 1.33 stops. You probably could afford to drop your shutter speed a bit (given the relative speed of the little ones), and you'd have to make up the rest with ISO.


Oct 21, 2013 at 10:31 PM
GC5
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p.1 #3 · Help me improve basketball shots



Thanks Russ. I tried some with my 70-200, but my keeper rate went way down. Lots of shots like this:







70mm at 2.8, 1/320, ISO 6400. Not quite stopping movement and noise starting to be a real problem, though still useable. I may have to try 12800, which I've just never really even tried to do and see if I can process better (not my strong suit, to the extent I have one).



Oct 21, 2013 at 10:39 PM
rolette
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p.1 #4 · Help me improve basketball shots


With a 5D3, you've got room to go to a higher ISO instead of dropping your shutter speed. You'll want to use a little NR in post-processing (and fix that WB!), but you should be good then.

Jay



Oct 21, 2013 at 10:59 PM
timgangloff
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p.1 #5 · Help me improve basketball shots


With the 5d3, I like ISO 8000. I think that is still pretty usable. 12,800, gets, as my son might say, a bit sketchy.


Oct 22, 2013 at 12:45 AM
 

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rolette
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p.1 #6 · Help me improve basketball shots


timgangloff wrote:
With the 5d3, I like ISO 8000. I think that is still pretty usable. 12,800, gets, as my son might say, a bit sketchy.

I don't even think twice about shooting volleyball or basketball at ISO 8000 on my 1D4. I would expect no issues at 12,800 on a 1DX or 5D3 as long you nail the exposure and use a little NR.

Of course, everyone has their own tolerance for noise so YMMV. Given how little light is available for most youth/MS/HS, you have to adjust expectations some.

Jay



Oct 22, 2013 at 01:02 AM
Lutefisker
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p.1 #7 · Help me improve basketball shots


I'd suggest the 70-200 at f2.8, 1/400 and whatever ISO you need. I do shoot college basketball with a 50f1.2 (usually at f2 and kneeling as close to the post as possible) and like the limited dof because of the messy background. Although it might not matter for your subjects, but the autofocus on the 70-200 and the 50f1.2 seem to me to be much faster than the other 50s and the 85, and result in a higher percentage of keepers.


Oct 22, 2013 at 02:57 AM
Graham Goodman
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p.1 #8 · Help me improve basketball shots


I routinely use ISO6400 and 8000 at ice hockey on my 5D3 and have no issues. I will drop to ISO10000 if I can't get a shutter speed faster than 1/500 at ISO8000. I will drop to ISO12800 if I can't get a shutter speed faster than 1/400 at ISO10000. The latter will produce images that are noisy but still very much usable.

But, I think to get away with these higher settings you need to get your exposure and focus bang on. If your image is soft, I think the noise becomes more prominent in the image because you've lost those hard, contrasty edges that give the image definition. If your image is underexposed, you're going to see a lot more noise in the shadows and even in the mid-tones as they will not be bright enough to drown out the noise.

When I shoot at ISO8000, I will try and get the exposure bang on. When I shoot at ISO10000 or ISO12800, I will actually try and over-expose by a third or two-thirds of a stop and then correct the exposure post-processing (shooting RAW) in addition to my usual sharpening/noise reduction RAW settings. That way, you can remove a lot of the most distracting noise without having to soften the image with aggressive noise reduction.

Looking at your images, and this may just be because the white balance is off, they look both soft and under-exposed to me and I think this is making the noise look worse. If I take your ISO6400 shot as an example, there is nothing wrong with that background. It's the faces that are compromised. That's why I think your core problem isn't the natural noise created by your ISO setting.

Graham.



Oct 22, 2013 at 09:00 AM
ifxbonz
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p.1 #9 · Help me improve basketball shots


timgangloff wrote:
With the 5d3, I like ISO 8000. I think that is still pretty usable. 12,800, gets, as my son might say, a bit sketchy.


ISO 8K is very doable with a 5d3! LR will clean that up easily.

Andy



Nov 06, 2013 at 10:19 PM
gschlact
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p.1 #10 · Help me improve basketball shots


I shoot kids basketball with EF 24-70 mkII at f2.8 on my 1.6crop Canon 7D which has easily 2+ stops worse ISO noise than 5D III (after you factor in noise cleanup as well). Even with the 1.6 crop, the 70mm makes me really want to shoot no further than the 3pt line at most while sitting directly under the basket about 5ft back of backboard.

I'll echo some of the suggestions above with a small bit of elaboration:
1. stop action and image sharpness is much more important than worrying about noise!!!! (you have to trust us all on this one)

2. if willing to live with some motion blur (ball dribble/arm/hand/foot) then 1/320 is bare minimum but you'll really need closer to 1/800 to get sharper images.

3. Tracking technique - i suggest using single point or spot focus rather than a zone or even expanded AF. I find it easier to know whether I have kept the focus point on my player. this will be important when you have smaller DOF.

4. double check your AI Servo AF settings, they make a big difference. The 5D III has produced some great action tracking shots others have posted. While I can't comment on the zones etc, I do suggest that you (A) slow down the AF/Focus tracking that will give you a bit of tolerance moving off target and (B) prioritize Track/FOCUS over TRACK/shutter release. (in other words you want to know each frame was in focus versus just getting the fastest frame rate).

5. WB on Canon - I actually have found that the Flourescent awb setting produces the most consistent / closest WB for either Metal Halide or Flourescent lighting in the gyms. It is not perfect, but I find closest.

I look forward to your next set.

Here is a link to my bball from last season-
http://schlacter.smugmug.com/Sports/Zachary/2013-Lightning-Basketball#!/i-cpmhXCW

Sample image that did have WB corrected shot 1/500 f2.8 ISO 1600 as this gym had renovated HE Flourscent lighting (good for 1.5 stops):






-Guy



Nov 07, 2013 at 04:30 PM





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