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7d and focus mode for basketball

Herma Ornes , Feb 04, 2010; 01:11 a.m.

I am not quite sure whether to post this in sports or EOS forum, but I think this forum is more appropriate since its about the new 7d. I took it to a high school the basketball game (meaning full access to the court, not limited shooting from the bleachers). I've been experimenting with the different focus modes, but I am still unsure about which one works best. The lenses I used where 50 mm 1.4, 70-200 2.8 and the 28-75 mm 2.8 tamron. Have you had any experience with the new 7d taking basketball pictures, which mode did you like?
Any input appreciated.

Herma

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Joe Allebaugh , Feb 04, 2010; 06:42 a.m.

I would use AI Servo for the AF tracking mode with orientation specific AF sensor points with point expansion. This combination on the 7D works well for me for sports action. Read over the AF section in the manual, and Canon has a site of video tutorials for the 7D - http://www.usa.canon.com/dlc/controller?act=GetArticleAct&articleID=3167. I also use the rear AF-ON button for focus and disable AF on the shutter release (under Custom Function setup).

Your 70-200 would be the lens to use, and better if it were the IS version. Set the ISO speed high enough to get speeds of 1/200 second or so to stop action.

Nathan Meador , Feb 04, 2010; 11:09 a.m.

Most high school gyms I've been to require an ISO of 1600 or higher, shooting at f2.8 in order to get 1/500 shutter speeds to stop the action. You might get away with 1/400 but anything less will show significant blur. If you use strobes then that changes everything...but I only use existing light so I can shoot at a high frames/sec. AI Servo is the focus mode you'll want to use most of the time.

If your 70-200 has IS that is fine, but not necessary for action photography as IS has no benefit for players that are running/jumping.

Adam G , Feb 04, 2010; 11:31 a.m.

I agree with Joe, technically. His approach makes the most sense. That being said, I've been shooting basketball for the past month or so with the 7d and have had better results using manual af selectiion. This works for me because I am focusing on a single player (my kid) and not the action of the game. I have tried a 28-70 2.8 a 70-200 2.8 and a 50 1.8. I'm still not happy with the results I'm getting, but I'm happier using manual selection. I've been shooting with bounce flash at f2.8 and shutter speeds in the 160-250 range. I try to keep ISO under 1000.

Nathan Meador , Feb 04, 2010; 02:03 p.m.

Adam - your 28-70 would be great for under the backboard, set at 28-35mm, or from the corners at 70mm. 70-200 is good for action on the opposite end of the court, and as the ball is being brought back towards you.

I would suggest you lose the flash, raise shutter speed to 1/500 and iso to 3200 (should work well for the 7d). Bouncing a flash won't overpower the ambient light enough and you'll still have a lot of blur in your shots, unless your lights are powerful. To use strobes well, IMO, you have to have powerful lights like monolights that can essentially become your ONLY light source to freeze motion, either used as bounce off the ceilings or even direct lighting.

Adam G , Feb 04, 2010; 02:07 p.m.

Thanks, Nathan. I am going to try to raise my shutter speed. I think that 1/250 may just be too slow.

Nathan Meador , Feb 04, 2010; 02:13 p.m.

1/250 is ok if they are just walking around, but for most sports you need to be much higher. Even at 1/500, I still will have a little blur but for the most part it is pretty clean. I use a 40D and it does good at ISO 1600 and well enough at 3200. From all I've read about the 7D, it should be fine going that high or higher.

Philip Wilson , Feb 04, 2010; 07:39 p.m.

AI Servo with the center AF point plus AF expansion points works best for ice hockey (and probably for Basketball). If you just want general action shots then the center zone setting in AI Servo may also work for you if you have problems follwoing a single player. ISO 3200 is OK on the 5DII but it is best to clean up the noise even if shooting JPEGs. If you can stay at ISO 1600 you will get better results. You should find that 1/250 will be OK for most shots and certainly 1/500 will be fine. Ice hockey is sharp at 1/500 and basketball is a slower sport.

Joe Allebaugh , Feb 05, 2010; 08:04 a.m.

Herma,

I came across a blog article on Shooting Sports this morning (actually, it was part 2 - missed the earlier one, and both links are copied below), by Bill Millios from the Photocrati site. I believe you'll find many practical tips for your basketball and sport photography generally.
http://www.photocrati.com/shooting-sports-1-a-primer/,

http://www.photocrati.com/shooting-sports-2-indoor-courts/#more-10719

Herma Ornes , Feb 06, 2010; 12:07 a.m.

Great links Joe. Things I found out: 1/250 is often too slow, setting WB to tungsten still gives creepy light. I should have custom set it. How would I have figured out the custom setting? I don't want to shoot RAW, too much memory usage. How would I have known if it was closer to 3200 than 5000?
I experimented shooting from many angles. Looking back on the 700+ photo's I shot, I must say I liked shooting from the benches, maybe 5 rows up. Maybe it was because its easier to focus since they moved in a plane, rather than coming at me.
Phillip, how do YOU clean up noise as well as sharpen?
Thanks


1600, 2.8 1/320, actually on 5d

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