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Sports Settings - D80

James Calron , Nov 01, 2007; 05:54 p.m.

So I've got a soccer and two football games that I'm going to be shooting soon. They're both outside, during the day with plenty of lighting. I'm taking a 300mm f/2.8 and an 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 (I know, probably not the fastest lens for sports shooting, but it'll have to do). My questions are, what settings should I be using? For example:

AF Area Mode - Dynamic? or Auto-area AF?

Center AF Area - Normal Zone or Wide Zone?

Should I shoot in Aperture, Shutter Speed, or the default "Sports Mode"??

Thanks in advance.


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Jerry Litynski , Nov 01, 2007; 07:07 p.m.

With the 300mm lens, a monopod may help (unless you have the VR lens...?) __ with the Sports mode, the camera will pick the fastest shutter speed and the best f-stop for the ISO you select. In sunshine, ISO 1000 should be more than enough. Football may give you a hint on where the play or action will be: pass or run. Soccer is a crap shoot; nobody knows where the ball and the herd will go next.

Good luck.

Gary Hamilton , Nov 01, 2007; 07:17 p.m.

I'm running a D50, have shot about 1000 clicks this season. I started out on standard stock sports setting. That was fine early in the season, but ended up bumping the ASA to 800 or 1600 for fall games as the lighting was getting low. Using Cneter focus normal. I am shooting a 55-200 4-5.6 VR, so I am ad an even greater disadvantage than you, I am really glad I got the VR though, it does a great job. The 300 will be perfect, I usually seem to be zoom in max with my 200.

This camera takes fantastic pictures, even in the point & shoot mode. But I am learning some new trick every day.

The next thing is shooting my son's basketball games.

Good luck, keep us posted.

Eric Arnold , Nov 01, 2007; 07:33 p.m.

it depends. shoot in S mode to freeze action by setting a high shutter speed -- 1/1000 and up. shoot in A mode to vary depth of field -- a shallow DoF will produce artistically blurred backgrounds. shoot in M mode if you have an idea of what shutter/aperture combo you want. also, shoot in AF-C, with continuous shooting button engaged to capture action sequences. i generally avoid preset scene modes on the d80, but you could snap a few with it just to get an idea of what it sets for A/S/ISO values. i'd go with Dynamic AF area mode (the default for the sports preset, btw) since it lets you select the focus area and Wide Zone (for tracking moving objects). The camera wont let you select Auto-Area AF and Wide Zone simultaneously, so that limits the options.

Elliot Bernstein , Nov 01, 2007; 07:42 p.m.

When I use my D80 for outdoor sports, here is how I set it:

Single area focus mode, center spot, normal zone, continuous focus mode. If you are not good at tracking the subject you are shooting, use the wide zone or dynamic focus mode.

I suggest you set your ISO to 100 or 200, turn your auto ISO on, set your shutter speed at a minimum of 1/1000. Ideally you want to shoot at f8 to f11 with the 18-200 and around f8 on your 300mm - this will increase the depth-of-field and keep your pictures in focus just in case the focus is off a little. In bright light, this shouldn't be too difficult.

Michael S. , Nov 01, 2007; 07:45 p.m.

Rather than an automatic "sports mode," Brendan, I'd recommend that you experiment a bit and get the feeling for what your camera and lenses do as you make different decisions.

The ample light will be your friend as you try different things, including S(hutter priority) at different speeds, noting which ones freeze action (probably 1/250 and faster) and which show a bit of motion blur. And if light is truly plentiful, I'd also try some aperture adjustments to help you see how the changing d.o.f. influences the results.

Not familiar with your particular camera, but I assume you can set it to continuous autofocus, and I would do that to allow you to follow action. Some use a custom function to select another button for autofocus and assuming your camera allows that, it's worth trying.

One problem with allowing your camera to select autofocus area(s) is that it doesn't always select the part of the frame *you* want to be in focus. Therefore, I'd suggest taking some photos having selected the center af sensor only, and since your camera evidently offers either narrow center or wide center, I might begin with wide center and see what you're getting.

I'd have no hesitation in raising iso to ensure you're getting the shutter speeds you want, even if that means iso 800 or above, where some noise (grain) can be visible, especially in shadow areas. After all, these are sports shots, not fashion photos.

Finally, I'd suggest taking lots of photos. Hundreds if possible. I mean it. Prices of sd cards (D80 takes sd as I recall ?), including the fast ones, have come waaaay down. Treat yourself to some extras if you can.

Good luck and have fun.

Michael S. , Nov 01, 2007; 08:12 p.m.

One more suggestion: Have a look at the Sports Forum on photo.net for more suggestions, and some very good photos.

On this thread you'll see some shots by Wilson Tsoi, who in fairness is a pro. Judging from posts of his that I've seen, he's also a very helpful guy.

Mark Newcombe , Nov 01, 2007; 09:17 p.m.

Brendan, as someone who owns a sports shooting company and specialises in soccer I think you have been getting some rather mixed info here so I'l try and help you out.

You say you are shooting a 300 2.8 which is a great sports lens used by most of us for a couple of reasons. 1/ it's a 2.8 we shot these so we can open them up wide, this has a two fold effect the first is that it will isolate the action giving you great shallow depth of field which is what you want for sports (don't step it down to f8), this wide app will also alow stacks of light which will allow you to drop the iso and still get that quick shutter speed you need for fast moving sports.

Use the lowest iso you can if its a day game try 100-200 then increase if you have to get a higher shutter speed in bright light at 2.8 you should be fine here. Shoot on app prioity 2.8 and set the iso so you get the shutter speed you need bump up the iso if you are not getting 800 or so.

Use a mono pod after a while hand holding a 300 2.8 you will get tierd a mono pod will make things much easier. Forget using VR for this application is won't help you with freezing the action use a monopod to reduce camera shake.

I'm not really up on the d80 specs but i think its only got a single cross type af point if this is correct then set the camera to that point and leave it there this will get you more keepers.

Shoot heaps this is the beauty of digital its cheap to shot heaps of shots set the shutter to continuos and blast away you be surprised at how the action changes in just one second and then edit the not so good shots out, my theory is capture as much as i can then dump rather than trying to be super selective with releases.

This is the most important thing to remember. Position yourself so the 300 fixed is in the best part of the field to capture the players you are after, with a single body you are going to get really frustrated changing the lens back and forth the action generally moves pretty quickly so you won't be able to do this efficiently my suggestion is pick out who you are going to target, get the shot and then moove on to the next target.

To clarify this lets say you are trying to get a striker you would then position yourself behind and to the side if the post, from experience most shots will come for the 6 yard box to just outside of the 18 yard box, make sure you are back from the goal enough so that a player in this region is framed well, not cut off or conversly in a tiny part of the frame. Then moove up the field for mid fielders and keep going for defenders, don't try and get deffenders from the end of the field they are running towards.

Qick and dirty. 1/ 2.8 2/ iso to get shutter speed 3/ app priority 4/ position yourself correctly 5/ cross type sensor 6/ continous shutter and af 7/ shoot heaps 8/ mono pod no vr.

Hope that helps post some results.


Mark Newcombe , Nov 01, 2007; 09:21 p.m.

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Mark Newcombe , Nov 01, 2007; 09:22 p.m.

Settings - D80

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