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HELP! Best Lens/Light/Settings for Basketball? (Canon Rebel XT)

Laura Walsh , Nov 30, 2006; 12:58 p.m.

Hi all- My niece is playing high school basketball-I needed some advice for my photos. I'm great with stills, having had plenty of time to play with lighting etc. however I'm just starting out with sports photography.

I have a Canon Digital Rebel XT, and I needed some help with selecting A) a lens, B) flash (as recommended)/other lighting (on average, I'm about 10-15 feet away when shooting) and C) Settings+technique for best capturing her in action.

I'm a bit of a procrastinator; her first game of the season is tomorrow! *eek*

Obviously, my main lighting is (terrible) high school gym fluorescents, and my subject is in motion almost continually. I did alright with standard settings for volleyball season, but basketball moves MUCH faster, and I need HELP!


Mark U , Nov 30, 2006; 03:36 p.m.

Use a Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens. Set the camera to 1600 ISO, and set a custom white balance using Tv mode and a shutter speed of 1/60th. Then set the camera to M mode and the aperture to 1.8, and adjust the shutter speed, metering off the gym floor or some other mid tone subject until it shows a correct exposure. Hopefully, you'll get a shutter speed of 1/350th or faster. Set the camera focus mode to AI Servo, and for continuous shooting. Make sure you have plenty of card capacity. Use the centre focus point, and shoot small bursts of 3-4 shots. Forget about trying to use flash.

Leopold Stotch , Nov 30, 2006; 07:18 p.m.

Which lenses do you have now? and if you're getting a new one, what is your budget?

Will Hore-Lacy , Dec 01, 2006; 12:54 a.m.

Basketball moves faster than volleyball!! I beg to differ ;) But then again I haven?t really shot basketball.

I think Mark has given a pretty good answer although when possible try and stop down a bit (f3.2-4) as even at f2.8 your depth of field is pretty shallow. However first priority is your exposure with a reasonable shutter speed (1/250 minimum, 1/400 better). If you are really struggling for light then shoot in RAW and push it a bit when post processing.

With volleyball there is no way you can be sure to catch the moment of impact for a spike if spray at 3 fps from when they are about to jump, way too much happens in 1 second. So this means that practice to get timing right will make a big difference.

So, go out, play with setting, learn what works and have fun.

Craig Shearman , Dec 04, 2006; 04:31 p.m.

Unless the gym is very bright, I wouldn't rule out flash. Not only are the fluorescents likely to be very dim and off-color, but they're coming from above and not kicking a lot of light into faces. You should drag the shutter to show some background rather than go inky black (i.e., rely on the flash for your main exposure but set the shutter speed maybe to 1/60th or even 1/30 to still get some light in the background from the fluorescents but not to the point that it cause blur in the action movement of the basketball players).

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