It's hard to capture action in low light without a fast lens (one with a large minimum aperture f2.8). you may be able to use high ISO setting and get decent shutter speeds. It all depends on what 'dim lighting' means and your definition of acceptable photos. try searching pbase.com for car racing photos. then look at the exif data below the photo for focal length and f stop. I would guess a 70-200mm f2.8 zoom lens would be best(900-1600 US$). a low end zoom lens may not be fast enough as most are f5.6 but is better than nothing...
I think you first need to identify your needs a little more specifically. You mention upgrading equipment, are you currently shooting these events? If so, even if the results aren't great, your current shots should help identify the direction you need to move towards..
Look at your current images and find out from the EXIF info what focal length range you need. Find out what exposure settings are being used (also in the EXIF) and then you can isolate where you need to upgrade..
A dSLR will certainly give you better low light sensitivity, but the larger sensor that gives you this, often means that larger lenses have to be used. Long focal length lenses can be expensive..
If you could post an image, with the EXIF info intact, then a lot of analysis could be done. Are your shutter speeds too slow? Are your images too noisy? Just what hare finding insufficient about your current equipment? What is your current camera?.
I have taken photos this year and they may be seen at pbase.com/mtpa. I have been able to edit most of the photos to what I consider an acceptable level..
These events took place at very different locations as far as the available lighting is concerned. The lighting ranges from good to almost non existent. All of the night photos were taken with flash. I have seen some photos taken at the same type events and the photographer said he did not use a flash..
I used a Kodak P712 camera and a JH-28M flash. I realize this is basic equipment, at best, and that is my main reason for saying I need to upgrade. I think I am stretching things taking these type photos with this equipment and know that better photos can be taken. The biggest problem I have seen with the photos is some of the shots having white spots,like water spots, on the photos. What I don't understand is why a photo will have these spots and the next photo will be spot-free with there being nothing changed on the camera or flash..
Any assistance you may offer will be well received and appreciated..
No suubstitue for apereture in your case. Basically you're going to be getting the best lens you can afford with a maximum apereture of at least f/2.8.
Given that you're looking at 50 feet or so, I think your best best is a Canon body (known for their good high ISO performance) and the Canon 100mm f/2 prime. The 350D (Rebel XT) body can be had for about $400 (including the kit lens if you buy used), and the 100mm goes for about the same (again, less if you buy 2nd hand). Wouldn't be a bad rig for the money. You could step up to the 400D (Rebel XTi) for slightly improved high ISO performance, and a few more megapixels to help you come time to crop, and still be under $1K..
If you're really on a budget, or it's really dim, then it's hard to beat the 50mm primes. The f/1.8 is almost free. The f/1.4 is nice, brighter than the 100mm and $100 cheaper. Obviously yet more cropping is necessary with the shorter lens - or you get closer .
The kit lens that comes with the Rebels will be close to useless for you for the motor sports, but it's basically free if you're buying used so you might as well pick it up (it's an OK knock around lense - always a good thing to have). It runs up to 55mm, so it'll tell you if you'd be happy with the 50mm or need to step up to the 100mm prime..
Don't forget to budget for accesories too. Memory cards, lens cleaners, and camera bags aren't sexy but you need them..
Someday your money tree will sprout, and you can get the 70-200 f/2.8 IS L ..
I have taken photos this year and they may be seen at pbase.com/mtpa.I have been able to edit most of the photos to what I consider anacceptable level..
These events took place at very different locations as far as theavailable lighting is concerned. The lighting ranges from good toalmost non existent. All of the night photos were taken with flash.I have seen some photos taken at the same type events and thephotographer said he did not use a flash..
I used a Kodak P712 camera and a JH-28M flash. I realize this isbasic equipment, at best, and that is my main reason for saying Ineed to upgrade. I think I am stretching things taking these typephotos with this equipment and know that better photos can be taken.The biggest problem I have seen with the photos is some of the shotshaving white spots,like water spots, on the photos. What I don'tunderstand is why a photo will have these spots and the next photowill be spot-free with there being nothing changed on the camera orflash..
Some people think the spots are aliens and get all worked up about them spying on us. I wonder what aliens would think about a tractor pull? Hmmm....
But these fools are wrong. The spots are dust particles in the air just in front of the camera lens. Your on-camera flash is illuminating them. They are much too close to be in focus, so they appear as a blurry white spot. The solution is to either not use a flash in dusty settings or to move the flash well off and in front of the camera. Photographers who work rodeos have this same problem, plus the dust gets inside their cameras and on the sensor! I would suggest you get a "sealed" camera and "sealed" lens and not try to change lenses at these events! Or go to your car and get inside to do the lens swaps....
As the others have said, you need a "fast" lens and a camera with a big sensor. None of your pbase pix had the EXIF data, so I could not tell what FL you used for them...or the exposure time..
Suggest you look at a Pentax K10D with a fixed-FL tele lens...something around 100-200mm?.
Charlie DavisNikon 5700 & Sony R1HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/..
The EXIFs in your shots are certainly helpful.
The camera you are using at the moment has a lens with a good maximum aperture, f/2.8 at the wide end and f/3.7 at the tele end. You appear to use the lens more at the wide end than the tele end; most of your shots are in the 6-28 mm focal length range (36-168 mm in full frame 35 mm terms). On an entry level dSLR this focal range would be equivalent to using a 24-112 mm lens. Your current camera is really limited to ISOs of 200 or less, anything higher would give you too much noise, most entry level dSLRs would give you good performance at ISO 800..
It would be difficult to beat your wide apertures with a dSLR lens without spending a lot of money, so some, not all, of what you would gain in better high ISO performance you may lose in maximum aperture..
With each increase in f-stop, you half the light hitting the sensor, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11With each doubling of ISO you get twice the light: ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600With each doubling of the shutter duration, you get twice the light.
Example: Canon 400D (Xti) with 24-105 mm f/4L IS.
Shooting at the 24 mm wide end at f/4 and ISO 800 you could shoot at half the shutter duration. At the tele end, the fixed max aperture lens isn't much slower than your current lens, so you would gain almost a two stop (four times faster shutter) advantage..
I would look for a dSLR system that has a good lens available that covers your 24-112 mm range and that performs well at ISO 800 and is acceptable at ISO 1600..
This is just a suggestion. What you did not include in your post is your budget and how you are going to use the photos. My suggestion is the Fuji S5 with a 70-200/2.8 VR lens. expensive The S5 is very good regarding low noise because of the sensor and large pixels and the lens is good for many uses. These suggestions may be out of your budget though unless the photos are to be used professionally.Will..
A big thank you to each of you that took time from your day to offer guidance and assistance. The supplied information and suggestions will greatly narrow my search and point me in the right direction..
These photos were taken as an extension of a hobby and to help promote the participants in these events. I have had some of the pullers ask about getting prints of some of the photos so this may develop in to a sideline business. At any rate, I want to be able, within a budget, to make the best photos possible. Your input has shown me the right direction and also answered my question about the spots..
These are all things I will have to consider as I decide where my money will be best spentI know what I would like to have but it will take a while to get there. I'll have to start slowly ad equipment as I am able..
Thanks so much for your help!..
You know, something that nobody mentioned is getting an old fast manual focus lens and adapter for whatever camera you end up choosing. I am shooting with an Olympus E-510, but my best lens for shooting at night is an old manual focus Sears 55mm F1.4 lens. It keeps on working when all of my other lenses have failed and gone to bed..
Best of all, we are talking about less than $20 for the lens, and $20 for the adapter (Nikon to Oly 4/3, from Ebay). And I see another one of those Sears lenses on Ebay every few months. I just don't know of a more cost-effective way to get a big fast light-gathering lens..
The one thing I know for sure is that F2.8 lenses won't work for me when I am out shooting in the twilight or later, when it gets really dark. The F2.8 lenses just don't catch enough light. It takes F1.4 or better. (I'm still looking for "better" myself.).
** 'Now I know what it's like to be high on life.** It isn't as good, but my driving has improved.'** == Nina, on 'Just Shoot Me', 13 Jan 2006...