Indoor Volleyball pictures - advice needed

Discussion in 'Digital Cameras' started by Eric Babula, Jan 15, 2007.

  1. Eric Babula

    Eric Babula Guest

    Ok, I got my DSLR (Pentax K100D) with the kit 18-55mm lens (f3.5-5.6)
    and a Promaster 70-300mm lens (f4-5.6), and started playing with it,
    trying to shoot pics at my daughter's volleyball tournament this
    weekend. FYI - I'm new to real photography, so bear with my ignorance,
    please - I'm trying to learn. And, I did get a photography book for
    Christmas: National Geographic Photography Field Guide, and will be
    reading that soon. I have a lot to learn!!

    As expected, I had to do quite a bit of tinkering to try to figure out
    how to get decent shots of this indoor sport! Throughout the day, I took
    195 photos! Of course, most are going to be dumped, but I hope I got at
    least some keepers.

    While I was there, I decided to look for someone who also was shooting
    with a DSLR, and ask some questions. I found a guy who seemed to know
    what he was doing, and he was very friendly and helpful. He told me what
    settings he likes to use for indoor volleyball, and how he sets his
    camera to Manual Mode and set it all up. As part of that explanation, he
    pulled out a gray cloth and a white cloth (he used both for his
    settings). I remember the white cloth was used to set Manual/Custom
    White Balance, but I can't remember what he used the gray cloth for.
    Would anyone here know why you would use the gray cloth? Does it have
    something to do with Exposure settings? I can't remember what he said
    about the gray cloth. What should I be concerned with, here?

    I did seem to have a bit more success after talking to this guy. I used
    my 18-55mm lens, set ISO to 1600; manually set white balance; zoomed
    full so I had f5.6; shutter speed set at 1/90; and I seemed to get
    better pics this way. He said I should have shutter speed around 1/180
    or so. I tried that, and it didn't seem to be as good as 1/90. Maybe I
    need to play some more. Or, maybe there are some other settings that I
    didn't take care of. Any ideas?

    Ok, I got long-winded again - sorry. The original question was why would
    I use the gray cloth?

    Any additional help you can offer would be appreciated, too.

    Eric Babula, Jan 15, 2007
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  2. It sounds like you learned a ton in one day. I'll leave out the grey
    card/cloth for now, as with a custom set WB, imo, you don't need to
    bother with a greycard. Others may disagree, and vociferously, but it's
    not important now for where you are, imo, obviously.

    The other guy likes the 1/180th because for him it's the fastest speed
    he can use without grossly underexposing. For you, it'd seem to be the
    slower speed that you can use, perhaps as a function solely of your lens.

    Now, when I have to do volleyball, I'll take a flash along and use it
    unless there is protest. Most gyms have lousy lighting.
    John McWilliams, Jan 15, 2007
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  3. Eric Babula

    Eric Babula Guest

    I do somewhat know what the shutter speeds and aperture do, since I
    started playing with that, with my P&S camera, trying to get decent pics
    of my daughters' volleyball games. Still learning.

    As for the lens - you're right, I didn't want a fixed focal length, just
    yet. I'm not sure at what length I'd typically be shooting, so I chose
    the zoom for now. And, I know I didn't get a really fast lens, either.
    But, I was told that with the Pentax K100D and the in-body IS, an f4.0
    lens would act more like an f2.8 in another camera. The guy in the
    camera store was convinced I'd be able to get very good pics with this
    camera and these lenses, and not have to upgrade to something much more
    expensive. We discussed more expensive cameras (Nikon D70, D200, Pentax
    K10D), but he convinced me that this camera and these lenses would make
    me very happy.

    With the camera, I got a DVD on basic Photography, which I'm gonna
    watch. And, I got a coupon for a photography class, which I will take.
    Those, and reading the book will get me a pretty decent understanding of
    what I'll need to do. But, I just wanted to hear from the experts here,
    too! From what I've seen, not many publications discuss indoor
    volleyball too much. I guess it's not much different than basketball -
    lighting, movement, etc., are pretty similar problems to deal with.

    Anyway, thanks for your input! Much appreciated!
    Eric Babula, Jan 15, 2007
  4. Eric Babula

    Eric Babula Guest

    Remember, the Pentax K100D has in-body IS, so that helps somewhat, too!

    I'm still convinced that I can and will get some good shots with what I
    have! I'm already seeing an improvement over the P&S (Panasonic FZ5), so
    that's encouraging!
    Eric Babula, Jan 15, 2007
  5. Eric Babula

    Eric Babula Guest

    Yeah, I think I did learn a lot! And, I'm glad I wandered around and sat
    next to that guy, and had the audacity/guts/whatever to ask him a bunch
    of questions! Sometimes, it pays to humble oneself and just approach
    someone and ask!
    Eric Babula, Jan 15, 2007
  6. Eric Babula

    Eric Babula Guest

    My budget wouldn't allow the really good glass, unfortunately. Maybe
    some day.

    I wanted fairly big zoom, decent speed, and needed to keep the cost low.
    The Promaster was the solution the camera shop had for me. If I find out
    I can't stand this, and IF I sell enough coins on ebaY, maybe I'll end
    up getting a fast lens (85mm f1.4, or 135mm f2.8, or whatever) for the
    kids' volleyball.
    Eric Babula, Jan 15, 2007
  7. Eric Babula

    Cynicor Guest

    Well...I don't understand how IS makes 4.0 into 2.8. It can make 1/30
    look like 1/125 second. But the big problem with sports shooting is that
    you need to control for the speed first. I turn IS off now when I shoot
    hockey, because the speeds at which IS makes a difference are too slow
    to freeze the play. So there won't be any hand shake, but there'll be
    action blur.

    You have three variables to work with for a given level of light -
    aperture, speed, and ISO. You have to set the speed to where it won't
    blur the action. Then you can open up the aperture as far as you can,
    and set the ISO to give you something as close to the proper combination
    as you can.

    If I don't have a big light or two, I sometimes shoot raw, then batch
    process everything to get it to the right level. Anything above ISO 400
    on my camera starts to make noticeable noise in the darker areas (faces)
    when I look at it full size. If you're printing smaller, like 4x6, it
    won't be a huge issue.

    Anyway, try shooting some action RAW so that you can take it back and
    fiddle with it to see exactly what settings you'd need in the gym.
    Cynicor, Jan 15, 2007
  8. Eric Babula

    Eric Babula Guest

    Hmm, I'm certain that's what he said. I don't pretend to understand
    that, either. But, your might explain why the guy at the volleyball gym
    was shooting at 1/240 (or something) and I found 1/90 to be a better
    shutter speed.

    Thanks! I'll try shooting at RAW, and see if I can learn from that, too.
    Now, to get a RAW editor.
    Eric Babula, Jan 15, 2007
  9. I think you'll find that he shot at a faster speed because he could. At
    1600, wide open (smallest aperture number), you were finding that
    1/180th was underexposed. That's why a shutter speed that's twice as
    long worked better for you. If you use RAW, you may be able to shoot at
    say 1/200 or so, and in processing push up the exposure slider to give
    acceptable results.
    John McWilliams, Jan 15, 2007
  10. Eric Babula

    Mike Fields Guest

    There are a number of things you can do to get the best possible
    1) as indicated above .. FAST GLA$$ (expensive low light lenses)
    2) boost the ISO (which you indicated you have done) there is some
    software such as neatimage to help reduce noise in the image from
    the high ISO
    3) use a tripod or monopod to help reduce camera movement
    4) work at taking the pictures when there is minimum movement
    like right at the peak of a jump to spike the ball where the
    player is "hanging" in the air (takes a bit of practice). If you
    get it just right, you get one of those cool shots where things
    are mostly sharp except for the blurred arm etc.
    5) use the highest shutter speed you can for the exposure (which
    takes us back to #1 again - a lens that is 2 stops bigger (lower
    number) than what you have now means you can multiply your
    shutter speed by 4 for the same shot - there is a big difference
    between 1/125 and 1/500 when you are talking action shots.

    Mike Fields, Jan 15, 2007
  11. Eric Babula

    Eric Babula Guest

    You might be right. I'll have to tinker some more, next weekend. Both
    girls will have tournaments, so I'll have two full days to play some
    Eric Babula, Jan 15, 2007
  12. Eric Babula

    Eric Babula Guest

    To your point #3: Cynicor mentioned that I should turn off the IS,
    "because the speeds at which IS makes a difference are too slow to
    freeze the play. So there won't be any hand shake, but there'll be
    action blur." I've read that before, too. Does this make sense to you,

    Item #4: I have been working on those techniques. I try to get the top
    of the jump, or when the ball (on a serve) reaches it's apex, or when
    the ball reaches the arms on a pass, etc. I still want to stop all the
    action of the hitter in those instances, so I see the ball crisply, the
    body crisply AND the swinging arm crisply. Maybe I'm asking for too

    Good info - thanks!
    Eric Babula, Jan 15, 2007
  13. Eric Babula

    ASAAR Guest

    You'll probably end up being very happy with your K100D, but you
    don't completely understand what the IS is doing for your pictures
    and what its limitations are. First, the IS generally reduces
    movement enough so that you get 2 or 3 extra stops of exposure to
    play with, and whether you want to take advantage of stops of
    aperture or shutter speed is up to you. IS doesn't eliminate camera
    movement, it just reduces it. It's the same with using a faster
    shutter speed. The faster speeds don't eliminate camera movement,
    they just proportionally reduce it. So if you turn IS off and need
    to shoot at 1/500th sec. to reduce camera movement to acceptable
    levels, with IS turned on you can slow the shutter speed by 2 to 3
    stops and end up with the same acceptable amount of camera movement.
    One stop slower would be 1/250th sec, two is 1/125th sec., and three
    stops is 1/60th sec. Whoever told you that IS would let an f/4.0
    lens produce results similar to an f/2.8 non-IS lens is way off,
    since the difference is only one f/stop. The two to three f/stop
    advantage that IS can provide would allow the f/4.0 lens do the work
    of an f/2.0 (two stops) or f/1.4 (three stops) lens that didn't have
    the benefit of IS.

    But there's one thing that you haven't factored in. The IS won't
    be nearly as useful for taking pictures of your daughter's
    volleyball games as you think. That's because you're not taking
    pictures of trees or buildings or mountains, which would be fine for
    your exposure settings of f/5.6 and 1/90th sec. But that shutter
    speed is too slow for a moving volleyball player and especially for
    a very fast volleyball. You might even want to use a faster shutter
    speed than the 1/180th sec. the other guy used, but to use the same
    1/180th shutter speed and get the same exposure (1/90th sec. is
    twice as long as 1/180th, so it's one stop slower) you'd need to
    increase the aperture by one stop, from f/5.6 to f/4.0. At full
    zoom this isn't possible with your lenses, so the only options
    remaining (other than finding a way to get more light) would be to
    either use a higher ISO (your camera may not have ISO 3200, and if
    it does, it might produce really ugly results) or just underexpose
    by one stop, using f/5.6 and 1/180th sec., and try to correct the
    underexposure with a photo editor. Some other things you could try
    would be:

    1. Instead of using the 18-55mm lens at full zoom (f/5.6), use it at
    a wider zoom position so that the aperture is closer to its f/3.5
    maximum aperture. You'd then be able to get the same exposure at
    1/180th sec., but would have to crop and enlarge to get the same
    shot. This would only be useful for small prints or situations
    where high resolution isn't needed.

    2. Use the bigger lens instead [Promaster 70-300mm lens (f4-5.6)],
    and if used at the 70mm zoom position you'd have the faster f/4.0
    aperture, would be able to shoot at 1/180th sec., and this would
    even give you a slightly longer focal length than is possible with
    the 18-55mm lens.

    3. Try to find a cheap 55 f/1.8 fixed length lens. Then you'd be
    able to get the same exposure with a much faster shutter speed,
    close to 1/1000th second. This is an advantage you have with the
    K100D, as it supplies the IS, not the lens. :)
    ASAAR, Jan 15, 2007
  14. Would MF be ok for fast moving sports? I'm not sure that DSLR is really
    set up for MF use, although it can be done for more static subjects I

    Cheers adrian
    Adrian Boliston, Jan 15, 2007
  15. Eric Babula

    Eric Babula Guest

    Wow! You went way above and beyond with your explanation! That all seems
    to make a whole lot of sense to even me! Thank you for your insight!

    I'm gonna try using your suggestions during warmups of my first
    daughter's tournament next weekend. Actually, they have practice tomorrow
    and Wednesday, so I could bring the camera there, and practice then! That
    way, I'll have a better idea of what I can and can't do!

    Thanks again!
    Eric Babula, Jan 16, 2007
  16. Eric Babula

    ASAAR Guest

    You're welcome, and good luck with the practice, both yours and
    your daughter's. :)
    ASAAR, Jan 16, 2007
  17. I shoot volleyball a ton. I've NEVER seen a flash allowed. is last season.

    I'll respond to Eric directly in another post.

    Steve Cutchen, Jan 16, 2007
  18. Eric Babula

    Cynicor Guest

    Do you think the IS will really make a big difference if he's shooting
    at 1/125? I always turn it off when I'm shooting ice hockey now.
    Cynicor, Jan 16, 2007
  19. It could make a difference.

    OTOH, do you really gain anything by turning it off?

    John McWilliams

    There is a television ad for M$ Outlook with the sequentia "Confutatis"
    from Mozart's Requiem (K 626) rising in the background.

    "Where do you want to go today?" flashes on the screen while the chorus
    sings: 'Confutatis maledictis, flammis acribus addictis,' ["The damned
    and accursed are convicted to the flames of hell."]
    John McWilliams, Jan 16, 2007
  20. What level of volleyball... what age? That will have some bearling on
    how to shoot it.

    I shoot high school ball for my daughter's team.
    This is a good first lesson. Lots of shots. When I first started, I
    was using an OLY C2020Z P&S. I would get about 20% keepers.

    My current setup is a Canon 300D Dig Rebel (1st gen) with the hacked
    firmware that lets me shoot ISO 3200.

    Use a monopod. It helps with shake, aim (I can take shots without
    using the eyepiece if I have to, because I'm used to how the setup
    aims) and to really reduce fatigue.

    My favorite lens is a 28-105 3.5-4.5 USM. This is shooting from the
    sidelines behind the benches, from deep behind the baseline or from the
    stand, maybe 5-10 rows up. Another good choice here would be the
    Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 XR Di LD.
    In a really dark gym, I'll use my 50mm MkI. Beautifully sharp lens.
    I also will move to the top of the gym and use my 70-210 3.5-4.5 USM

    I would say currently, about 75%+ are decent shots from a photo
    composition standpoint, though not all of the "correct" shots are high
    impact. Often the play ends up differenly than you anticipate, and you
    get a shot of nothing... heh.

    Last season I ended with 4500 photos in my iPhoto library.
    I shoot in Apeture Priority, letting the shutter speed float. In a
    darker gym, I'll open the lens wide to get an acceptable shutter speed.
    I think 1/120 is a minimum when using a monopod. In a brighter gym,
    I'll stop down a stop or two to get more Depth of Field.

    I always shoot ISO 3200. I use NoiseNinja with a custon noise
    calibration for my camera to reduce the ISO noise. This works fine for
    me since I'm shooting for the web site and for an end of year video. I
    would need Great Gla$$ if I was shooting for 8x10s or more. F2.8 would
    be a max at ISO 800 for some gyms I shoot in... and even 2.8 is
    probably slow at that ISO.

    I use a gray card to set a custom white balance. Most gyms are Mercury
    Vapor, which is not a stock setting for my 300D. I also shoot some
    gyms with skylights. So the Freshman and JV games may be a mix of
    Sunlight and Mercury Vapor, and Varsity might be much darker and
    Mercury Vapor only. I've got to adjust my Custom WB during the
    matches. This is really important if you want good color. I could
    shoot RAW, but with 200-300 shots per night, that would really add to
    my post processing work flow.

    Best shooting positions are
    1) near the net behind the bench. Mind the positions of the down ref.
    Also, depending on your lens, this can be too close for the front
    player on your side of the net. But it gives some really nice angles
    for defensive digs and for sets. Also, this is a nice place to shoot
    down the bench for some nice candid shots of players and coaches. Move
    to about the 10ft line and you get some nice angles for the middle
    blocker, right side and outside.
    2) behind the baseline, at the right rear corner. This is the opposite
    corner from the line judge, so they are not in your way. Really nice
    angle of blocking from behind the action. And the shots of the outside
    hitter from here are nice. And bench & fan shots can be good from
    here. Also, shooting from the "other side" baseline from your team can
    give some nice face shots through the net.
    3) in the stands, analogous to #1. You are up a bit higher, so the
    angles are different, which is good. Can see over backcourt players.
    Still shoot with the monopod, just adjust it down to shoot from a
    sitting position.
    4) Position 1-3 are shot with the 28-105 lends. Position 4 is Way UP
    in the stands, with the 70-210 lens. In most gyms I can shoot with the
    210 from the top wall. I get some great shots of net play including

    (By "shot", I mean photo, not volleyball play...)
    You should try to decide what shot you are looking for before each
    shot. Maybe a player that doesn't play a lot is in, and you
    concentrate on her. Maybe you are hoping to get a good shot of the
    setter. Or a defensive specialist...

    Anticipate the play on the court. This lets you change your mind on
    the shot you are looking for as the play proceeds. Maybe you are
    trying to get a good serve receive shot... then the ball is shanked
    right. Try to get that dive attempt at the save! Think ahead of the
    play. As you become a better volleyball fan, you will get better at
    anticipating where the play will go, and can prepare yourself.
    If you get a chance, take the fraction of a second before the target
    play occurs to "pre-squeeze" and give the focus and exposure a chance
    to get ready...

    Expect to post-process. You can turn a decent shot into a great shot
    with a minor crop and a touch of photo adjustment.

    Have fun! Get into the game! The best shots will come as you become a
    better, more informed fan.
    Steve Cutchen, Jan 16, 2007
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