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View Full Version : Taking Sport Pictures -> Results Blurry and out of focus



brosen
12-07-2009, 05:21 PM
The other day I took some pictures (100) with my GH1 and did some video while my son was at a Wrestling match, videos were done at 1280x720 60fps, and I have to say the result is AMAZING, videos are VERY VERY GOOD.

I am not very satisfied with the pictures though, most of the movement shots are blurry or not in focus, really bad, I do not know if I did not setup the camera correctly or the camera has some limitations are high speed. Also to be able to increase the shutter speed I had to increase the ISO (we were indoors with artificial light) up to 3200.

Any experience taking sports pictures ?, I cannot believe the camera cannot handle high speed pictures ????, thanks

Cassius
12-07-2009, 05:45 PM
It's not the camera. Or at least not just the camera. What was your shutter speed? Were you tracking the shots or anything like that? Did you autofocus or manually pull? The camera really is just a small part of the equation.

brosen
12-07-2009, 05:51 PM
Initially I chose the SPORTS mode INDOOR, allowing the camera to setup everything automatically, most of the pictures were taking in this mode, VERY BAD results, then I started experimenting with S mode (shutter speed), M mode (Manual) and also changing the ISO value as the picture was getting darker and I was increasing the Shutter Speed, Aperture was at 5.8 I think (that's the kit lens limitation), but after experimenting for a while I got frustrated with the results and I said maybe I should buy a Canon 7D ?, I do not know, maybe it's not the camera, it's the photographer :-(

BitMaestro
12-07-2009, 06:28 PM
Aperture was at 5.8 I think (that's the kit lens limitation), but after experimenting for a while I got frustrated with the results and I said maybe I should buy a Canon 7D ?, I do not know, maybe it's not the camera, it's the photographer :-(

It's not the photographer or the camera, really; it's the kit lens. f5.8 is way slow for indoor sports. Personally, I have a (Canon EF) 100mm f2.0 prime lens that I use for indoor sports, which works quite well with my GH1 @ ISO400.

So no, you don't need to buy a 7D, just a faster lens (and an adapter for it). The one caveat is that you'll most likely loose AF capability, but that shouldn't be a huge deal for wrestling (as opposed to, say, soccer, for example).

Mark

P.S. Although, to be fair, the fact that the GH1 gets noisy above ISO400 doesn't help here.

brosen
12-07-2009, 06:36 PM
Thanks for the answer, I think that's one of the biggest weakness of the GH1 or m4/3 cameras, the lack of lenses, I have the 20mm f/1.7 as well, but for taking pictures from the side of the gym to the center is PRETTY BAD.

I agree it's not a camera issue, but I hate to have to start using an adapter, also I am not a photographer so I do not have any Canon or Nikon lenses.

I think it's easier and simpler to just buy a Canon, Nikon or Pentax camera with some lenses, my only concern is that I will miss the video, so at the end there is always a trade off.

I think with the 7D the trade off will not be that big ??

djkarn105
12-07-2009, 06:58 PM
Initially I chose the SPORTS mode INDOOR, allowing the camera to setup everything automatically

That was your first mistake.

Unfortunately, for sports photography, things move fast. To cut down on motion blur and make keeping things in focus easier, you want to shoot at a high shutter speed and f stop, meaning you need lots of light.

Next time, shoot in manual mode and fiddle with the shutter speed and iris until you can get something not blurry but with enough light for exposure.

BitMaestro
12-07-2009, 07:25 PM
I think with the 7D the trade off will not be that big ??

There are lots of GH1 vs 7D threads around here. But I think your choice is going to come down to whether you'd rather have AF while shooting video or while shooting stills.

Well, that and the 7D (body) + fast 100mm+ telephoto lens will cost a good bit more than the GH1.

Or you could try shooting RAW with the GH1 (with, say, 1/160 shutter, ISO400 (or higher, if you don't mind the noise) and aperture wide open; basically, "shutter priority") and bump up the exposure in post. I've gotten passable results even when increasing exposure by 2.0 stops.

Mark

P.S. I agree about the lack of lenses, especially fast primes, currently being the biggest weakness of the m4/3 system.

PerroneFord
12-07-2009, 07:28 PM
< Former sports photographer for the newspaper.

Shooting wrestling:

You need to be shooting 1/125 to 1/250, you need to be as close as possible to the action, and you need the widest aperature you can get. I used to shoot this at ISO 400-800, 1/125, F2.8. But really depends on conditions.

If you're photos are blurry, the shutter isn't fast enough. If they are grainy, it's because your ISO isn't clean. Not much you can do about that with your current camera. And there is a reason you see pro photographers with $3k lenses.

Cassius
12-07-2009, 07:28 PM
I totally forgot about the slow kit lens. Yeah, wasted expense on that thing. I don't bother with it anymore. As nice as autofocus is in a lot of situations, the thing is slow, bulky and inferior to the cheap FD's I got on Ebay. If your goal is photography over video, the 7D is, in my opinion, superior. The controls are properly setup for best results in that area, and it has the options photographers need, just like the rest of Canon's offerings. And, most importantly, it has a wide range of available (high quality) lenses.

But the GH1 has advantages, too, especially in ergonomics for video use. And the whole being small and light thing, which is quite nice. It's at a good balance between consumer too light to handle properly and professional things I don't want to haul around too long. A battery grip would have been a nice option, but I can't expect too much this early into the product type.

PerroneFord
12-07-2009, 07:34 PM
Or you could try shooting RAW with the GH1 (with, say, 1/160 shutter

Most people are going to struggle terribly trying to handhold 1/60. I've done 1/30 cleanly ONCE and that was when I was 17 and shooting every day (and then only because I had plus-x loaded and needed the slow shutter).

He won't have a prayer of getting a wrestling match at that shutter speed unless they are waiting to start, or shaking hands. It's just too slow. Wrestling moves quickly in 3 dimensions. My F4 wasn't fast enough to autofocus it. The Canon HSM lenses were fast enough (on my EOS 10s) but modern high end cams should be fine. But you need the light.

BitMaestro
12-07-2009, 08:02 PM
Most people are going to struggle terribly trying to handhold 1/60.

Um, I think you misread. In the post of mine that you quoted, there's another "1" there--1/160, not 1/60. Basically, I was aiming for the middle of the 1/125 to 1/250 range you later specified.

Mark

thisisapocalypse
12-07-2009, 08:14 PM
< Former sports photographer for the newspaper.

Shooting wrestling:

You need to be shooting 1/125 to 1/250, you need to be as close as possible to the action, and you need the widest aperature you can get. I used to shoot this at ISO 400-800, 1/125, F2.8. But really depends on conditions.

If you're photos are blurry, the shutter isn't fast enough. If they are grainy, it's because your ISO isn't clean. Not much you can do about that with your current camera. And there is a reason you see pro photographers with $3k lenses.

I used to shoot sports for the newspaper too back in the film days (late film days, used an EOS-1) and even with an 80-200 f/2.8, I had to push Fuji 800 to 3200 in order to get 1/125 of a second if I were shooting indoors...if I could even get there, sometimes 1/80 was as fast as was going to happen - those gyms can be dim! And tungsten lights? Oye...with film? Double oye. Thank god for white balancing with digital cameras.

Even at 1/125 you have to get pretty lucky in order to not suffer too much motion blur. I used to have 2 Quantum Q-Flashes with Tele Dish attachments tied to radio receivers and we'd put them up in the ceiling (basketball, volleyball, etc.) for the game...that would get me to 1/250 using 2nd curtain sync...when the flash units fired properly! They were analog radio units and worked about 80% of the time, and they never seemed to work when you first turned them on...I am so glad I am not using those anymore.

I guess my point with all this is that sports photography is very difficult and is one of the few types of photography that really does require some specialized and expensive gear. Those big white Canon L lenses you see on the sidelines of football games and in the photographer's well at baseball games aren't there just for looks, and trust me, if we didn't have to carry those buggers around, we wouldn't have, but we did and (still) do because there is no substitute for light and fast AF when it comes to sports.

I love the GH1, but I think indoor sports photography is probably going to be its weakest link until some fast autofocus pro-level primes/zooms come out for it...and to be honest, the GH1 is not a pro photographer's body, so I am not sure we'll ever see an 80-200 f/2.8 or a 300/400 f/2.8 in m4/3 mount...this is really the domain of pro Canon/Nikon gear at present. I love my GH1, but shooting pro-sports photography is not it's bag...was never meant to be, isn't going to be - it's a great camera...I use it for nearly everything...but it would never be my first choice for sports. I'll take a 5D/1Ds with L Glass for sports.

You can definitely pick up an old fast, manual prime to use for this sort of thing...and due to the crop factor, these will get you in there...a 135mm f/2, 100mm f/2, or even the 85mm f/1.8 or f/1.2 in Canon FD mount would be much better than the kit lens, and they aren't too expensive. But they are manual focus.

I love manual focus...but not for fast moving sports. And if you're not, as you say "a photographer," then you're probably not going to like using MF (although I would argue that anyone who takes a photograph is a photographer at that moment, so don't sell yourself short here!)

Fast moving sports is just about the most demanding kind of photography there is...it's not easy - it's not point and shoot, it's bloody tough. It's physically demanding and it takes time to get good at it. Sports photgraphy is brutal on the mind and body and the wallet...if you take it seriously. You never enjoy the game and it's a constant feeling of panic...and of course, in the film days I didn't know if I had gotten a shot or not until I got back to the lab with my 10 rolls of Fuji 800 pushed 2 stops, and hoped it came out alright...and everybody had to do that back then if it wasn't a day-game...pro...pro...pro gear all the way....$10K in gear on our bodies and we still had to push 800 speed film as far as it would go...not only that, but you had to protect your lens now and then with your own body so that you'd get hit by the flying football instead of your lens. Film was $7-8/roll and you hoped 1 out of every 10 shots was "a good one." You'd think spending that kind of money on gear would yield better results...but big Canon L glass is, as expensive as it is, is still just the bare minimum when it comes to sports (there is no maximum). It's just *enough* at its best times, and never more than enough. Ask *ANY* pro sports photographer how much they'd pay for 1 more stop of light on their 300 or 400mm f/2.8s. Lenses that fast and long don't really exist (maybe some rare exotics), but if they did...no matter what they cost, they'd all be using them, and they'd *still* be willing to pay ungodly sums more for one more stop! Please! I'll be really good! Just one more stop! Please! With sports, there's just never enough light!

I wouldn't be too discouraged if your sports photography is not coming out so great in the beginning of your path down photography lane, it's really tough. Most of us failed miserably at it for a long time before we got good at it. You need the right camera gear for sure, but even once you've got it, you're going to find that the learning curve is pretty steep to get good shots. It just requires nearly every photographic skill there is to do it well, plus a whole bunch of other ones.

PerroneFord
12-07-2009, 08:24 PM
SPOT on brother! Carrying around a couple bodies (particuarly when I had the Nikon F4s with the MB23... UGH that thing probably weighed as much as my EX1. Shooting Provia (or tri-x or t-max) and pushing it...

I shot football, basketball, tennis, wrestling, soccer, and volleyball. I bought the first SLIK monopod in town and was SO thankful because it gave me back a stop since I didn't have to handhold!

Basketball was the WORST. One team goes on offense, you grab the body with the long lens, they lose the ball, grab the body with the short lens. UGH!

I was never so happy as when I gave up sports photography for nature. Traded the motor drive for a cable release!

People don't realize today how good they have it. Fast autofocus, no film, instant pic review, 6+ fps motor drives, meters that are actually somewhat accurate, noise reduction, CLEAN ISOs out to 1600+, CF cards...

I wouldn't use a GH1 or a 7D for sports work. Give me full frame 35 any day and all the light I can get.

thisisapocalypse
12-07-2009, 09:04 PM
SPOT on brother! Carrying around a couple bodies (particuarly when I had the Nikon F4s with the MB23... UGH that thing probably weighed as much as my EX1. Shooting Provia (or tri-x or t-max) and pushing it...

I shot football, basketball, tennis, wrestling, soccer, and volleyball. I bought the first SLIK monopod in town and was SO thankful because it gave me back a stop since I didn't have to handhold!

Basketball was the WORST. One team goes on offense, you grab the body with the long lens, they lose the ball, grab the body with the short lens. UGH!

I was never so happy as when I gave up sports photography for nature. Traded the motor drive for a cable release!

People don't realize today how good they have it. Fast autofocus, no film, instant pic review, 6+ fps motor drives, meters that are actually somewhat accurate, noise reduction, CLEAN ISOs out to 1600+, CF cards...

I wouldn't use a GH1 or a 7D for sports work. Give me full frame 35 any day and all the light I can get.

Absolutely, I just sit back now and then and think about how remarkably far technology has come in the last 20 years for photography, it's really an embarassment of riches at this point. There's still no substitute for great lenses, but what you get these days even with inexpensive lenses is awesome. I just remember how skeptical I was when Canon brought out the first Image Stabilized lenses, and now...IS is in everything, people are suprised if lenses *don't* have it.

We sure learned a lot in though in what now seems like the dark ages (and it was not that long ago!). I still find it sort of a novelty that my memory card can hold 700 photos and I don't need to wear a fanny-pack anymore full of $100 worth of film, feel through the bag of some full, and some empty film canisters, find the right roll of the right speed film, reload the camera and then blow through that "long" roll of 36 exposure film in an instant with a 5fps motor drive, which back then was fast...I remember when the F5 and EOS-1V HS came out and they could do 10fps...I remember the lust! I was an Eos guy but I still really wanted an F5. That was a damn cool camera.

Oh, and did you ever shoot sports outside in the winter when it got freezing, freezing cold and the batteries (which weren't very good back then) stopped working? Rechargables? Ni-Cad... Good times!

Modern cameras make so many things easier. It's a joy.

PerroneFord
12-07-2009, 09:28 PM
Oh, and did you ever shoot sports outside in the winter when it got freezing, freezing cold and the batteries (which weren't very good back then) stopped working? Rechargables? Ni-Cad... Good times!

Modern cameras make so many things easier. It's a joy.

I used to live in West Virginia. Late season, night football, I'd have to turn off the motor drive so I didn't crack the perforations in the film. And you always programmed the camera to rewind "leader out" so you could reuse the part of the film you didn't use...

But I think our backgrounds in that kind of photography help us now. I chuckle to myself when I see people complain that these new SLRs don't have zebras, or focus aids. We never had any of that stuff. You replaced the stock focusing screen with something that was brighter and gave you a clean view, and you focused by hand. And pre-focused.

And your "instant preview" was your contact sheet. Now they put a screen on the cameras where we used to put the torn off end of the film box to tell us what we had loaded! I remember carrying an actual cooler around that had my day's film in it... still cold from my refrigerator.

Those archaic methods taught people how to actually photograph. None of this "stick it on P mode" stuff. In class you got am FM2 or K1000 and you'd be lucky if the meter worked. Of course you carried your own LunaPro or Luna6 in your pocket. I don't care HOW good Nikon or Canon said their zone metering systems were. The F4 was the first camera I owned where I trusted the meter.

It's a different world out there now. Some better, like not having to buy film... some worse, like not learning basic photography and not understanding why poor results happen. Some of these crazy cameras try to override you... PITA.

Cassius
12-07-2009, 10:02 PM
Not to help change the thread topic, but I have the same sense of nostalgia despite being in my early 20's. I find shooting film to be very enjoyable, and if I had the space there would without question be a darkroom here for me to play with. My start with video involved VHS cameras, and figuring out how to edit when I was a little kid with one camera and a VCR. Which, looking back, was pretty impressive since I didn't have any reason to even know what editing was. And I miss that. It seems too easy now, and that's taken away a lot of the fun, as well as the creative experience. Consider yourselves lucky. A decade earlier would have been nice; having experience in those things when they weren't archaic mixed in with seeing and being part of modern developments would be a good place.

Or I'm just masochistic. Even today, I love photographing stars and night scenes. Which is best when the haze clears up during the coldest part of winter, especially in the windiest and highest altitude places, or right next to the ocean.

RandyQ
12-07-2009, 10:36 PM
You need to be shooting 1/125 to 1/250, you need to be as close as possible to the action, and you need the widest aperature you can get. I used to shoot this at ISO 400-800, 1/125, F2.8.

It could be done, even at f5.6 - but its far, far from ideal.

A friend of mine proved to me that I could shoot my daughters volleyball games with my Olympus E520 and its equally slow 14-45mm lens. I didn't believe him at first, but yes it was possible (barely possible). Not great, but possible.

You will have to shoot at MANUAL, at the slowest possible speed. 1/60 or 1/125 will do it, but you will miss some shots due to blur. You will have to shoot at ISO1200 or 1600, AND it will STILL be underexposed, so you will also have to bump it up in post.

Make sure your white balance is spot on. If you're going to boost it in post, its better if the color is already right. As mentioned, not great results but you wont come home with nothing.

ONE MORE THING - If your kid makes the finals, dump your GH1 and its slow lens. Get a cheap Canon or Nikon D40 with a 70-210 f2.8

BitMaestro
12-08-2009, 03:26 AM
So, speaking of indoor sports--specifically, volleyball--and the GH1, I just threw this together:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bitmaestro/sets/72157622835294627/detail/

1st pic is with the kit lens as shot @ ISO800, 1/200, 140mm, f5.8 (wide open).
2nd pic is the same as above, but with exposure boosted one stop in post.
3rd pic is with the Canon prime lens I mentioned earlier as shot @ ISO400, 1/250, 100mm, f2.0.

Obviously the different focal lengths result in different Fields of View, but hopefully you can still get an idea of what the GH1 can do when used with the kit lens as well as with a faster (prime) lens.

Mark

RandyQ
12-08-2009, 03:53 AM
So, speaking of indoor sports--specifically, volleyball--and the GH1, I just threw this together:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bitmaestro/sets/72157622835294627/detail/


Your shots at 1/200 and ISO800 make me envious - the stadiums are obviously lit much brighter where you are! But the point is made - the original poster can be very happy with a GH1, and no more of this "I should have got the 7D" talk.

But going back to lighting these volleyball stadiums. I once shot my daughters practice session, and even if the place LOOKed bright, I had to shoot at ISO1200 to get a reasonably fast shutter speed. Thinking something was wrong with my settings, I asked some of the fellows who have been shooting there for a while and they said that yes indeed, you have to shoot at ISO1200 to get anything useful, especially with a lens opeing of f5.6. The stabilization of my E520 allowed me to get steady shots at low shutter speed, but all the people were a blur.

thisisapocalypse
12-08-2009, 06:16 AM
So, speaking of indoor sports--specifically, volleyball--and the GH1, I just threw this together:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bitmaestro/sets/72157622835294627/detail/

1st pic is with the kit lens as shot @ ISO800, 1/200, 140mm, f5.8 (wide open).
2nd pic is the same as above, but with exposure boosted one stop in post.
3rd pic is with the Canon prime lens I mentioned earlier as shot @ ISO400, 1/250, 100mm, f2.0.

Obviously the different focal lengths result in different Fields of View, but hopefully you can still get an idea of what the GH1 can do when used with the kit lens as well as with a faster (prime) lens.

Mark

Looks good - I think that's what I'd use if I were using the GH1 for indoor volleyball - either the 85mm f/1.2 or the 100mm f/2 and then prefocus - I'm sure good results could be had that way, I just wouldn't want to do it all the time, but periodically, it'd probably be okay.

Psynema
12-08-2009, 07:05 AM
Initially I chose the SPORTS mode INDOOR, allowing the camera to setup everything automatically, most of the pictures were taking in this mode, VERY BAD results, then I started experimenting with S mode (shutter speed), M mode (Manual) and also changing the ISO value as the picture was getting darker and I was increasing the Shutter Speed, Aperture was at 5.8 I think (that's the kit lens limitation), but after experimenting for a while I got frustrated with the results and I said maybe I should buy a Canon 7D ?, I do not know, maybe it's not the camera, it's the photographer :-(

Guessing the kit lens was too slow

noirist
12-08-2009, 06:26 PM
Guessing the kit lens was too slow
No, the GH1 was in the wrong mode ("indoor sports"). With most of the auto modes, the GH1 strongly prefers the lowest ISO possible, never more than 400 ISO, which invariably means a slow shutter with the kit lens. To get non-blurry indoor pictures, you need to set the shutter manually to at least 1/125. To get decent exposure on indoor pictures, you need to set the white balance and exposure as well. If you panic like I have and try to use one of the GH1 auto modes your indoor sports pictures will look like crap.

noirist
12-08-2009, 06:27 PM
What about a decent flash? How would indoor sports pictures look with a strong flash (eg., Metz 58 AF) on the GH1 with the kit lens?

thisisapocalypse
12-08-2009, 07:08 PM
What about a decent flash? How would indoor sports pictures look with a strong flash (eg., Metz 58 AF) on the GH1 with the kit lens?

A strong flash can definitely help - but you have to be careful and respectful when shooting sports with a flash. If you can fire it remotely and have it aiming down on the subject, that's one thing, but you do not want to be firing a powerful flash at eye level towards athletes in the middle of competition.

If your intentions are seriously photograph the game/match, ask if you can sit on the floor in the out of bounds areas, offer to submit photos for the school yearbook, etc., that will probably get you access. The yearbook committee is always in desperate need for good sports photos...and why? Because sports photos are crazy difficult and most photographers in middle/high-school/even-college don't have the gear nor the experience to do it well yet (obviously with exceptions).