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Canon Rebel XT EOS..problems with blurry action shots

Tammy Thomas , Oct 05, 2007; 12:17 p.m.

My daughters are both in competition cheerleading - when shooting in the gym (low lighting) we can not get any of the action shots to come out recognizable - they are all blurred. We are trying to get photos of things like tumbling passes (backhandsprings/tucks, etc)..which are quick action.

We have had this same issue when trying to shoot in the gymnastics gym.

We have also taken photos in higher lighting situations (outside - nice sunny day) while she is playing soccer and gotten good shots then.

We have the basic lens that came with the camera and a Canon ultrasonic zoom lense Ef 70-300.

We are new to all of this and need help. We appreciate any help you can give (in laymans terms - step by step type of thing).

A MILLION THANK YOUS IN ADVANCE.

Tammy

Responses


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Juergen Sattleru , Oct 05, 2007; 12:24 p.m.

You need to take the camera out of the green all auto mode and dial in a higher ISO (at least ISO800). The way you are shooting, the camera has too slow a shutter speed - which is why you are getting blurry pictures. Your shutter spped should be at least 1/125sec minimum! If you can't get there by increasing the ISO, then it is time to buy a faster (and way more expenisve) lens.

Rob Bernhard , Oct 05, 2007; 12:28 p.m.

You can search the archives for information on shooting gymnastics or other indoor sports. The problem here is 1) too low an ISO value 2) too small an aperture on your lens

A quick summary solution:

1) don't use any "scene" mode like "Action" anything similar. Shoot in a mode that allows you to change the ISO to 1600. P at least, or Av.

2) Depending on how close you can get you will likely need a lens with a larger aperture. Something like the 70-200mm f/2.8 which is very expensive or the 135mm f/2 which is still pricey if you are further back. If you can get close, the 50mm f/1.8 or the 85mm f/1.8 would work. Shoot at the largest aperture available to you.

3) practice practice practice.

Tammy Thomas , Oct 05, 2007; 12:33 p.m.

Thank you both!

Rob...question for you -- you say: 2) Depending on how close you can get you will likely need a lens with a larger aperture. Something like the 70-200mm f/2.8 which is very expensive or the 135mm f/2 which is still pricey if you are further back. If you can get close, the 50mm f/1.8 or the 85mm f/1.8 would work. Shoot at the largest aperture available to you

During practices she is close to us -- but at the actual competitions she will be far away...the lens I have is the 5.8 that is stamped on there the F value? When you say "shoot at the largest apeture available to you" are you refering to the lens? Sorry, I really am new to all of this. Is there any adjustments that can be made on the camera to help compensate for the lens?

Elliot Bernstein , Oct 05, 2007; 12:33 p.m.

If you are within about 50' of your daughters when taking your pictures, an add-on flash will get the job done for you (if they are permitted). Canon makes several models. The more expensive ones have more power and will give you better pictures from a farther distance than the less expensive ones. You can also get a different lens made for lower light conditions (they tend to be expensive but if you are close enough the 50mm 1.8 will do a fabulous job for you and costs around $100.

Tammy Thomas , Oct 05, 2007; 12:39 p.m.

At the competitions -- we are far away in lower lighting shooting onto a stage with very bright lighting... how do you work with that situation?

Jason Hall , Oct 05, 2007; 01:04 p.m.

Tammy,

the bottom line is that if you can not get a better lens, then you will have to increase the ISO to the dreaded 1600. Period. Your shutter will have to be about 1/125 Displayed as "125") of a second to stop motion like that and then you will still see some blur. The 1/125 means the shutter (effectively) is open for 1/125th of one second. Therefor only recording what motion that takes place in that short period of time.

So to get proper exposure you either have to get more light to the sensor or make the sensor more sensitive (ISO, just like film speeds). To get more light to the sensor means there must be more light available (being out side does this, or useing flash to brighten the subject), or you have to allow more light though the lens. There is a number on the front of the lens that read like this 1:4-5.6. That means at 70mm your lens has a max aperture (F number) of 4 (writen as f4) and at 300mm it is f5.6. That is what we call a slow lens.

A fast lens is more like f2.8 or f2 or f1.8 and so on. The lower the number the faster the lens because it's inside diameter (for the most part) is larger allowing in more light. Those lens cost more because they have bigger elements, makeing them heavier and must be built a little better to support the weight of those elements.

Think of it this way, a faster lens lets in more light there for exposeing the film/sensor faster.

The higher ISO makes the sensor more responsive to light so you can speed up the shutter as a result. Read the manual on how to change ISO. the higher the number the more sensitive the sensor.

As others said, use Av mode to keep the lens f number as low as possible and the camera will adjust the shutter atuomaticly to acheive proper exposure.

Hope this helps

Jason

Daniel D , Oct 05, 2007; 01:06 p.m.

During practices she is close to us -- but at the actual competitions she will be far away...the lens I have is the 5.8 that is stamped on there the F value? When you say "shoot at the largest apeture available to you" are you refering to the lens? Sorry, I really am new to all of this. Is there any adjustments that can be made on the camera to help compensate for the lens?

Tammy, it will be difficult to answer your question, you would need to understand a bit the controls that are available in your camera. Your problem (and it's not just your problem, everybody has it) is that you are in a difficult situation due to lack of light and speed of movement of your subject. This typical situation is beyond the limit of your camera and lens combination. That's why you won't find a simple 'do this' answer because it's not quite as simple.

What can try to do is:

  • Shoot at a highest ISO (sensitivity) mode, to force the camera to "record" the image quicker than usual. Your maximum ISO option is ISO 1600 which is available in the "creative" modes - e.g. P mode.
  • Shoot at the widest opening of your lens. This in the case of the 70-300 lens zoomed out would be f/5.6
What you will find now is that because there is not enough light, the camera still takes a relatively long time to take a picture and your daughters will still appear moving and blurred in your pictures.

To solve this problem you need to get more light to the camera. This can be done by:

  • Using a flash - not always an option and difficult to control in a big room
  • Using a lens that allows in more light. These are usually called "fast lenses" or lenses with "wider apertures". These are heavy and expensive, the kind of stuff that professionals use. The previous posters have already given you some great suggestions.
If you choose a new lens, you need to decide which focal length (how much zoom) would be useful for you to take the pictures, depending on the distances involved. There are some calculators over the web that you can use to find that out.

Rainer T , Oct 05, 2007; 01:06 p.m.

-- "At the competitions -- we are far away in lower lighting shooting onto a stage with very bright lighting... how do you work with that situation?"

You expose for the stage ... but what seems to be "very bright" to the human eye isn't really bright at all for your camera.

Jason Hall , Oct 05, 2007; 01:08 p.m.

The fact that you are in low light and the subject is in bright light does not matter. The light on the subject is all that matters. Keep in mind that the light on the stage looks bright to you but that is relative to the dim light you are sitting in. You eyes fool you. The stage is not nearly as bright as it appears to you. The camera is not fooled this whay. and can not adjust like your eyes can. Boy if it could :o)

Jason


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