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Indoor Sports Camera
I want to take pictures of my sons' judo matches which take place inside school gyms..

Although video comes out very nicely and there's relatively bright indoor lights most of the time, the only digital camera I have is a Canon compact SD400and that cannot handle a fast enough shutter speed for indoor lighting without a flash. The pictures are blurry (even without much fast movement)..

Although I can modify the ISO level, I don't see anyway of specifically forcing a fast shutter speed (I assume the shutter speed shifts automatically, depending on the ISO selection and lighting conditions)..

I'm looking to spend several hundred dollars towards a camera with 8.0+ mega pixels with a moderate zoom. I'm not sure I need to splurge on a Canon Rebel equivalent SLR and lenses ($1,000+)..

I'm hoping that something like a Canon A720 would work to shoot inside gymnasiums (any brand camera)..

I'd appreciate any of your opinions regarding whether one needs a full SLR for this setting...or will other cheaper/smaller alternatives work fine...

Comments (13)

This is the most difficult subject in photography since you're dealing with 1) relatively low light conditions, 2) fast action, and 3) you're at a distance in most cases. To get great pics without flash a DSLR using very high ISO and a fast zoom would be necessary..

However, the Fuji F series, F31, F40 and F50, are great high ISO low light shooters but are limited in reach...only 3X. If you can close enough they may be your best bet and very affordable..

Regards,Hank..

Comment #1

I wouldn't recommend a compact for indoor sports. Not only is the available light an issue but shutter lag and fps are not acceptable in my opinion. I would really only want to shoot that with a DSLR..

It's obviously possible to get some shots from a compact that will be good, but you would expect to get many more keepers with a DSLR...

Comment #2

The action is usually 20-30 feet away, sometimes further..

Thanks for the advice re the Fuji F50 and F31. I didn't even know those existed. After looking at the reviews and the fact that the F31 cameras on ebay are $400+ new/semi-new, I'm wondering whether you think that it's worth spending a little more for the Canon G9 or $150 more to get the Rebel XTi (or other brand's equivalent)?.

Is the G9 or the XTi really going to give me many, many more keepers to justify the money? Of course, after I buy a zoom lense, it's probably a lot more money. Again, at this point I'm frustrated because I'm not sure whether the F31 will give me any decent indoor shots at that distance, so sometimes you just need to pay the price to get decent photos..

On the other hand, I'm tempted to get the new Sony HD camcorder this March with 6MP still photos. I'd assume that would handle low light conditions and have great zoom...

Comment #3

Newpics870 wrote:.

The action is usually 20-30 feet away, sometimes further..

Thanks for the advice re the Fuji F50 and F31. I didn't even knowthose existed. After looking at the reviews and the fact that theF31 cameras on ebay are $400+ new/semi-new, I'm wondering whether youthink that it's worth spending a little more for the Canon G9 or $150more to get the Rebel XTi (or other brand's equivalent)?.

Is the G9 or the XTi really going to give me many, many more keepersto justify the money? Of course, after I buy a zoom lense, it'sprobably a lot more money. Again, at this point I'm frustratedbecause I'm not sure whether the F31 will give me any decent indoorshots at that distance, so sometimes you just need to pay the priceto get decent photos..

On the other hand, I'm tempted to get the new Sony HD camcorder thisMarch with 6MP still photos. I'd assume that would handle low lightconditions and have great zoom..

No P&S, not even the G9, is well-suited for indoor sports. I would get a basic DSLR, but consider the lenses carefully. You want a large aperture, which precludes moderately priced zooms. Some possible non-zoom lenses would be an 85mm f/1.8 or a 100mm f/2.0. Both Canon and Nikon make such lenses, but Nikon's won't autofocus on their entry-level bodies. So, I would get a Canon XT or XTi with the kit lens for everyday use, and a short telephoto for sports.



I doubt you'd find the still quality of even an HD camcorder acceptable...

Comment #4

Newpics870 wrote:.

The action is usually 20-30 feet away, sometimes further..

Some math.

If we were using with a 36x24mm film frame size... a focal length of F mm would cover a rectangle of((20' / f mm) x 36mm) by ((20' / f mm) x 24mm).

A lens with a focal length of 85mm used on a Canon EF-S camera (frame size with same proportions, but (1/1.6)x the size on each dimension) would cover.

((20' / 85mm) x 36mm / 1.6) x ((20 ' / 85mm) x 24mm / 1.6) =~ 5.3 feet by 3.5 feet.

At 40', it'd cover 10.6' x 7' feet..

Is the G9 or the XTi really going to give me many, many more keepersto justify 2x the money? Of course, after I buy a zoom lense, it'sprobably 3x the money. Again, at this point I'm frustrated becauseI'm not sure whether the F31 will give me any decent indoor shots atthat distance..

A typical indoor scene might be somewhere around LV 7 light. Let's be quite generous and say that the gym has four times that amount of light LV 9. LV 0 is so little light that f/1, 1.0s, ISO 100 would be appropriate; LV 9 is 2^9 = 512 times as much light. So f/8, 1.0 s, ISO 800 would be adequate..

If we stipulate that the shutter speed should be no slower than 1/500s (let's say 1/512s to stick to powers of 2 for convenience 2^9), then f/1, 1/512s, ISO 100 would work but you don't have an f/1 lens unless you're playing around with a Noctilux. If you had an F31d, that's f/5 at the long end where you'd probably spend a lot of time so you'd be using at best f/5, 1/512s, ISO 2500. And that's assuming rather goodly amounts of light. Drop that back to LV 7, and you'd need a 4x improvement. I doubt that the Fuji supports ISO 10,000 very well, and you can't turn an f/5 lens into an f/2.5 lens very easily. Now, you might think of the built-in flash, but the range is somewhat limited a guide number of 12m @ ISO 100 if you're lucky.



OTOH, shoot with say a Digital Rebel XT with an 85mm f/1.8 (not a completely unreasonable recommendation, I think), and the LV 9 exposure might be set to f/1.8, 1/512s, ISO ~320. LV 7 could be dealt with at f/1.8, 1/512s, ISO ~1280..

That's modulo any differences in AF and overall responsiveness for instance, a camera with an EVF is showing you what happened a moment ago, not a completely live view and at a certain frame rate. That makes it trickier to anticipate what's going on. The AF of a fixed-lens camera on moving subjects in low light will generally not be all that fast. And if you're using a camera with a motorized zoom, instead of one with a mechanically-linked zoom ring, and you want to zoom in/out you have to wait for the motors. Not so much a problem if you want to stay at the long end, but it makes having a zoom less useful...

Comment #5

Wow, that's some fantastic info!.

Leejay Wu wrote:.

A lens with a focal length of 85mm used on a Canon EF-S camera (framesize with same proportions, but (1/1.6)x the size on each dimension)would cover.

((20' / 85mm) x 36mm / 1.6) x ((20 ' / 85mm) x 24mm / 1.6) =~ 5.3 feet by 3.5 feet.

At 40', it'd cover 10.6' x 7' feet..

I'm not sure whether 85mm is enough zoom, however, in order to fill the frame. I saw many posts in the forums regarding Tamron AF020C Canon Lens 28-300 VC XR DI Lens f/3.5-6.3 zoom lens w/ built-in vibration compensation as being much, much cheaper than Canon/Nikon name brand zooms (est. $550 street). Would something like this zoom handle 40' to 60' range well indoors?.

If you had anF31d, that's f/5 at the long end where you'd probably spend a lot oftime so you'd be using at best f/5, 1/512s, ISO 2500. And that'sassuming rather goodly amounts of light..

OTOH, shoot with say a Digital Rebel XT with an 85mm f/1.8 (not acompletely unreasonable recommendation, I think), and the LV 9exposure might be set to f/1.8, 1/512s, ISO ~320. LV 7 could bedealt with at f/1.8, 1/512s, ISO ~1280..

Based on your comments (and forgive me, I'm a complete novice with this stuff), I would think that the 40' to 60' range would be in the f/4 to f/5 range with the Tamron zoom lense, which still would require a very high ISO (and too much noise?)..

Which leads me to conclude that for decent zoom indoor shots, I would instead want to find a zoom with much lower f/xx (obviously much more expensive)..

So what are good choices amoung DSLRs and lenses that would keep me under $1,000, but still give me great flexibility for these indoor shots without flashes? Do any DSLRs (in the price range of the Canon XTi) have much better CCDs for low light conditions (just like the Fuji F30/F31 was head and shoulders above the other point-and-shoot cameras)? Are there any models you would recommend that stand out for these specific types of photos?.

Or am I being naive and I just can't go wrong with most DSLRs in the $500 price range?..

Comment #6

Newpics870 wrote:.

[snip]I'm not sure whether 85mm is enough zoom, however, in order to fillthe frame. I saw many posts in the forums regarding Tamron AF020CCanon Lens 28-300 VC XR DI Lens f/3.5-6.3 zoom lens w/ built-invibration compensation as being much, much cheaper than Canon/Nikonname brand zooms (est. $550 street). Would something like this zoomhandle 40' to 60' range well indoors?.

No. f6.3 at the long end is much too slow for indoor sports..

[snip]Based on your comments (and forgive me, I'm a complete novice withSo what are good choices amoung DSLRs and lenses that would keep meunder $1,000, but still give me great flexibility for these indoorshots without flashes? Do any DSLRs (in the price range of the CanonXTi) have much better CCDs for low light conditions (just like theFuji F30/F31 was head and shoulders above the other point-and-shootcameras)? Are there any models you would recommend that stand outfor these specific types of photos?.

There isn't much difference in low light performance between the different DSLR manufacturers - Olympus/Panasonic may be slightly worse because it has a smaller sensor. For what you want the lens is more important than the body..

The prime lenses mentioned by Leejay are your best bet. You could go up to a 70-200 f2.8 but these are all very expensive and slower than the primes. Sigma makes a 50-150 f2.8 which is cheaper..

As somebody has already said, indoor sports photography is very demanding.Chris R..

Comment #7

Some excellent replies above..

Just to emphasise one thing - you will need to use high ISO values (800 at least, probably 1600, maybe 3200). Under these conditions a picture from a compact camera will be horrible because the small sensors collect little light to start with. IN low light you end up with huge amounts of noise which is 'reduced' by very aggressive software that smears out detail to reduce noise. the results look cr@p at anything bigger than about 2 inches square..

So you do need a DSLR to have any chance of decent image quality indoors without flash (at those distances flash is not an option, and may be banned anyway)... plus the widest aperture lens you can get. The cheapest 70-200 f/2.8 zoom (the Sigma, I think) is about 600 in the UK, i.e. your entire budget, so you'll have to sacrifice zoom and get a fixed focal length lens with a max aperture of f/1.8 or f/2 (some suggestions in previous posts)..

You've chosen a tough assignment (low light, fast moving subject, a long way away).... good luck! Given the lens requirement, which should determine your choice, I would look for a Canon XT (EOS 350D) with an 85mm f/1.8..

Best wishesMike..

Comment #8

Mike703 wrote:.

Some excellent replies above..

Just to emphasise one thing - you will need to use high ISO values(800 at least, probably 1600, maybe 3200). Under these conditions apicture from a compact camera will be horrible because the smallsensors collect little light to start with. IN low light you end upwith huge amounts of noise which is 'reduced' by very aggressivesoftware that smears out detail to reduce noise. the results lookcr@p at anything bigger than about 2 inches square..

So you do need a DSLR to have any chance of decent image qualityindoors without flash (at those distances flash is not an option, andmay be banned anyway)... plus the widest aperture lens you can get.The cheapest 70-200 f/2.8 zoom (the Sigma, I think) is about 600 inthe UK, i.e. your entire budget, so you'll have to sacrifice zoom andget a fixed focal length lens with a max aperture of f/1.8 or f/2(some suggestions in previous posts)..

You've chosen a tough assignment (low light, fast moving subject, along way away).... good luck! Given the lens requirement, whichshould determine your choice, I would look for a Canon XT (EOS 350D)with an 85mm f/1.8..

Best wishesMike.

While I agree with Mike that the XT/85mm is your most promising existing light option, I wouldn't agree that flash is not an option. The big external flashes that attach to a DSLR can easily reach 100 feet, depending on lens and ISO. IF you're allowed to use one, that would offer the best quality by far. It would also reduce or eliminate the need for a large aperture lens..

A little math: A Nikon SB-800 has a GN of 184 (ISO 100/feet) at full zoom. Raise the ISO to 400 (which is excellent on a DSLR) and it's 368. At f/5.6, that gets you 65 feet. This also avoids the tricky focusing of shooting at f/1.8..

So, are you allowed to use flash?.

Greg..

Comment #9

No, no flashes are allowed..

I'm not sure if the 85mm will get me close enough, but that sounds like the most promising cost-effective solution..

The 50-150 Sigma lense sounds great, but I'm not sure I'm ready to spend $600 on a lense at this point. That range of zoom, however, would probably give me some awesome shots..

I appreciate all the advice...

Comment #10

I am new to photography too. I found this really cool site calledhttp://www.Askthephotographer.com. You can ask questions and PROs (in that field) will respond to the question..

Also they have some cool photo contests..

I hope that helps...

Comment #11

Newpics870 wrote:.

No, no flashes are allowed..

I'm not sure if the 85mm will get me close enough, but that soundslike the most promising cost-effective solution..

The 50-150 Sigma lense sounds great, but I'm not sure I'm ready tospend $600 on a lense at this point. That range of zoom, however,would probably give me some awesome shots..

I appreciate all the advice..

I'd suggest the following: get the camera and the kit lens (you want that for general photography anyway) and see:a) how much longer the lens needs to beb) what kind of shutter speed/aperture you get with it at ISO 800 and 1600.

Based on your results, you can judge what focal length you need as well as whether you really need a large aperture. You could find that f/5.6 works, allowing your typical zoom lens, or f/2.8 does, allowing a large aperture zoom or many fixed focal length lenses, or that you really need the f/1.8...

Comment #12

I think you know this by reading the replies you have so far: You are not gonna be able to buy a new dSLR and new lens that will do the job. You have 3 options:.

1. Forget indoor sports pix.2. Increase your budget.3. Buy used equipment..

Your "budget" seems to be flexible...started out at several hundred $ and quickly bumped to $1000. If $1000 is your absolute max, then I would consider #3..

I recently bought a very nice Sigma 70-200 F2.8. It was for my Nikon, but it comes in a Canon mount too. I paid $650 for a 3 month old lens that had hardly been used. Lesser versions are typically in the $500-$600 range. Couple that with a used XT and I think you can just barely keep the putchase under $1000..

BTW, there are other choices in lenses too. Look into Tamron and Tokina. Both make OK lenses, though perhaps not quite as good as the above Sigma EX. All 3 (Sigma, Tamron, and Tokina) make their tele zooms for Pentax too. You might get a real bargain on a K100D and mate it with one of these lenses?.

Charlie DavisNikon 5700, Sony R1, Nikon D300HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/..

Comment #13

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