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View Full Version : how do you take sports pics at night with a D40 ?



bobc4d
07-31-2007, 06:52 PM
I have a D40 and would like to take pictures of my kid at soccer and softball at his night games. There is a picture in the nikon picture of the day forum of a baseball game at night. Taken with a D200 the setting he used are: manual mode 1/400 at F/4.8, ISO 1000 and the shot looks great. I tried a test shot in my room at 1/400 at F/5, ISO 800 and ISO 1600 but they always came out dark. I was able to get it bright enough but at a speed of 1/2 sec which is way to long for sports.

so what settings would you use to take sports pictures at night lit by the flood lights on the field ?

thanks,
bob

wh0128
07-31-2007, 07:16 PM
Um you must realize I think it was TNB's shot that that baseball game was quite lit up by the stadium lights and probably produces alot more light that lets say your bedroom lightbulb.

Just take the camera to one of the games and test out the camera in the night under the stadium lights. I'm sure you'll get a pretty good quality picture. If not then maybe the lights aren't as bright as the one's TNB shot.

tekriter
07-31-2007, 07:45 PM
The problem as I see it is your lens - if you zoom it to 200mm it's an f5.6. Most amateur field lights won't be bright enough for you to get by with that lens. That's why you will find most actual sports shooters will go for a lens of f2.8 aperture.

What it will do for you is take the same light and allow a much faster shutter speed.

I shoot a lot of high school sports, and for night baseball an f5.6 lens would probably mean using a shutter speed of around 1/100th even at ISO 1600.

By all means give it a try, but you may not get great results.

K1W1
07-31-2007, 07:56 PM
Go straight to ISO1600 set the shutter speed as slow as you can to stop the action (you can get away with 1/320 sec or even 1/250 sec if things aren't moving too fast but generally for adult sport 1/400 sec is probably what you will need) and blast away. If the light is good go back to ISO800.
Virtually all good sports shots are flukes anyway. The action is totally unscripted and in most cases fairly random and whilst you can be in position near the goal or at home base or where ever you can't stop the umpire from getting in the way or the ball from being hidden behind a player. Just try to anticipate as much as you can and shoot lots of shots. Invariably there will be a couple of worthwhile ones and a large proportion of duds.
If you shoot in RAW and the pictures are still a little underexposed you may be able to get them acceptable using software later on so don't worry to much if they appear a little dark on the camera LCD.

tcadwall
07-31-2007, 07:58 PM
The problem as I see it is your lens - if you zoom it to 200mm it's an f5.6. Most amateur field lights won't be bright enough for you to get by with that lens. That's why you will find most actual sports shooters will go for a lens of f2.8 aperture.


Correct of course. But most small parks don't even have good enough light to stop action with a 2.8.

tekriter
07-31-2007, 08:10 PM
Correct of course. But most small parks don't even have good enough light to stop action with a 2.8.

Also quite correct!

Unfortunately for me, my high school's home field has marginal lighting in the center, say between the 20 yard lines, but when you get to the end zones I'm lucky to get 1/80th or 1/100th at f2.8, iso 1600.

Out of respect for the players, I don't use a flash. At one of our games last year, another photographer used a flash for about five minutes before BOTH coaches asked him to stop.
Amateur fields are just soooo variable. We have a few high schools around St. Louis that have facilities that would rival a small college. Artificial fields, great lights, you name it.

I never get to shoot at those places.:(:(

r3g
07-31-2007, 09:43 PM
Correct of course. But most small parks don't even have good enough light to stop action with a 2.8.


+1


Even at high ISO it is very hard to take decent shots in dim light unless you have a pretty fast lens. I learned that fast the first time i tried to shoot in a highschool basketball gym. Without a fast lens there is not much you can do.

wh0128
07-31-2007, 10:48 PM
Yeah even a 2.8 sometimes can't be fast enough. The fastest shutterspeed I had at a nighttime football game I think was 1/500 at f/2.8 with ISO 1600 or 800.

It was still a little underexposed but I always shot in RAW so I could compensate just the right amount to make the shot look natural or somewhat normal.

Like tekriter said though, give it a try and see what you get. If none of your photos turn out as you planned and you still can't get the shutterspeed fast enough to stop action, either upgrade to the 70-200 f/2.8 VR or what I have the 80-200 f/2.8 which is a very good lens. Or invest in an Sb600 or Sb800 to stop the action.

bobc4d
08-01-2007, 08:40 PM
thanks everyone for the replys. I 'tried' some shots and they were under exposed with the ISO at 1600 and shutter at 1/60. I used the flash a couple of times after a goal or when there was a break in the action so as not to interfere with the game and they came out better but I didn't want to try during action.

I may get the faster lens after I learn my way around the camera, maybe next year.

thanks again,
bob

TNB
08-01-2007, 10:13 PM
I have a D40 and would like to take pictures of my kid at soccer and softball at his night games. There is a picture in the nikon picture of the day forum of a baseball game at night. Taken with a D200 the setting he used are: manual mode 1/400 at F/4.8, ISO 1000 and the shot looks great. I tried a test shot in my room at 1/400 at F/5, ISO 800 and ISO 1600 but they always came out dark. I was able to get it bright enough but at a speed of 1/2 sec which is way to long for sports.

so what settings would you use to take sports pictures at night lit by the flood lights on the field ?

thanks,
bob

I'm glad you liked my baseball photo. As the others mentioned, a test shot in your room is probably not going to be the same as at a game. And the field where I shot is probably not going to be the same as your field since the lighting is probably not the same.

The lighting where I shot also varied since it was close to sunset when the game started and then continued on into the night--the lighting also varied depending on where I aimed the camera. For this reason I chose to focus more on the infield and since the teleconverter also caused me to loose an F/Stop+, I removed it though that home plate photo was captured with it on after the sun had set. I actually removed the TC after the home plate shot.

I realize that is not much help, but below is a link about shooting baseball. I reviewed it very quickly prior to the game since I hadn't shot baseball before that night. However, I didn't take a lot of photos and I didn't rapid fire as that article seemed to suggest (or at least I didn't think so but it was over 200 photos). I just tried to get in sync with the pitcher, the batter, and the other players as suggested--one thing I did was watch the pitcher out of the corner of one eye then take the photos of the batter as he swung. I also shot in .jpg mode as the article suggested though I usually shoot in the RAW mode--next time I plan to shot in RAW.

In short, a steady hand, fast lens, high ISO, and practice.

http://www.popphoto.com/popularphotographyfeatures/4016

bobc4d
08-02-2007, 08:06 PM
you are welcome. Thanks for the link. My 55-200 lens is F4.5 so it wasn't fast enough even with the ISO at 1600 to get any good shots. It was better with the flash but I didn't want to use it during any actual play.

again, thank you for all the input and help.

bob

tekriter
08-03-2007, 11:03 AM
bobc4d -

You may be able to find a camera shop near you that rents equipment. If you can find one that does, ask about renting a Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 VR AF-S.

It will give you a much faster maximum aperture which should be enough for many night sports, depending upon the lighting of your particular field.

The shop near me charges $31 a day for this lens, and a weekend counts as just one day there.

bobc4d
08-03-2007, 06:51 PM
thanks tekriter, I'll look into renting a lens. renting that bad boy would be the only way I could ever use it, that or win the lottery :rolleyes:

e_dawg
08-07-2007, 08:19 PM
I was going to say use an external flash unit, but i guess you don't want to disturb people. Too bad, 'cause the flash can light up a distant subject very well at fast shutter speeds and high ISO. I don't think it bothers the players too much, to tell you the truth. Some people just overreact.

TNB
08-08-2007, 02:01 PM
Some places don't allow a flash. For that matter, some places don't even allow a camera with a detachable lens.