Some photos from an indoor event. Lots more to learn...

thestrangebrew1

Platinum Member
Dec 7, 2011
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Went to our nieces' cheer competition at a local arena and boy did I have to fiddle around with settings to get decent pictures. Not very good, but a few turned out ok:


1/400 f/5.6 iso 5000


1/500 f/5.6 iso 5000

Gear I was using:

EF75-300mm f/4-5.6 USM
Canon 80D (wife surprised me with this last friday, previously had a t5i)

So, I've found, at least for me, shooting indoors is a lot harder than outdoors. Lighting obviously, but I was constantly trying to find the right settings to get bright enough photos from where we were allowed to go (about 20 yards from floor and off center to the left or right) without the shots getting blurry due to all the movement. I also had trouble focusing on the subject(s) with all the movement and jumping around. Most of the other pictures were just meh, blurry, too dark, focus was even worse. All the while learning to use a new camera lol. It was challenging, but it forced me to really play around with the settings and the whole exposure triangle. I may be doing more indoor sports photography as basketball is here and we'll be going to more games. Any tips you guys recommend for learning to shoot indoors in subpar lighting conditions? Feel free to critique/blast my photos. Just trying to learn how to be better!
 

CuriousMike

Platinum Member
Feb 22, 2001
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I'd say you did pretty good; getting good angles / removing distractions will likely be the larger issue in this type of venue.
I'm not convinced you nailed focus in these; the first photo, it looks like the AF picked up the girls leg, not her face.
The slight motion blur in the second photo seems to add a sense of movement.

Be wary of the types of indoor lights causing ever-shifting-color hues that'll throw your WB whacky.

Shooting RAW is your friend here - you'll be able to salvage any weird color casts caused by lighting.
If that fails, B&W is your friend.

If you haven't, you might skim a post I did about setting up cameras; while targeted at beginners, it would actually work well for this type of shooting: https://forums.anandtech.com/threads/curiousmikes-five-steps-for-the-new-dslr-owner.2456579/

I'll summarize what I posted in the above post
- Know what focus mode you're using.
- Shutter priority
- Auto-ISO

For you, the above would have helped you get reasonable exposures - you'd just ride the shutter speed to match static/motion.
 

thestrangebrew1

Platinum Member
Dec 7, 2011
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Thanks Mike. I did read your primer for beginners before. Very useful information. Focus was definitely off. It was tough trying to get focused shots with all the movement. I had the camera set for back button focus and tried to use that throughout. The RAW tip is also useful. I don't have experience working with RAW format but I'll adjust when I go to the basketball games and see how they turn out.
 

CuriousMike

Platinum Member
Feb 22, 2001
2,920
316
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Don't go shooting in RAW if you don't have a program that will let you edit RAW.

RAW turns photography into a 2-step process
1. Take photos
2. Spend that night editing those photos.
 

NutBucket

Lifer
Aug 30, 2000
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IMHO those are quite good. I have that lens and it seems to me it is quite slow to focus. Were you allowing the camera to choose the focus point(s)? Perhaps you'd be better off just selecting the center focus point.
 

NAC

Golden Member
Dec 30, 2000
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Those shots are pretty decent.

My recommendations:
  • Try to learn to shoot full manual. Set to 1/400 shutter, the lowest aperture that you can, and take some shots adjusting the ISO until they come out good when chimping at the shot and the histogram. Main challenges will be:
    • the lens has a changing aperture as you zoom. So most likely just choose 5.6 and stick with it. But for example if you are almost always at 75mm, you may be able to use a lower aperture.
    • Lighting is different at different areas of the gym. So you'll need to chimp more pictures and adjust ISO occasionally. Actually, I usually find lighting to be pretty consistent, unless I start taking pics of folks in the stands. Outdoors on a partially cloudy day, or if some a field is in the shade, some in the sun, is a much bigger problem than indoors gyms.
  • I would manually set white balance when you get there and hope for the best. Most gyms are LED now, which are consistent but don't give off a large color spectrum and just don't look as good as sunlight. To manually adjust, ideally bring one of those gray cards, but to be honest I just hunt around for something neutral and usually can get it to look to my liking.
  • I use single point focus, AI servo, at the highest FPS.
  • I would shoot jpeg because getting the right moment - at the top of a leap, etc - is more important than being able to adjust color. And the 80D buffer would fill up too quickly in raw. At least, that is my opinion. Note that you can adjust the color of a jpeg, and unless printed huge it would look ok. In my 70D, I set for the large JPEG but with higher compression (with the blocky icon) because the buffer never has to wait. I don't notice a difference in the pics in this mode as compared to the lower compression, smooth icon.
  • Shoot slightly wide and then crop on the computer - so for example in the second shot her hair wouldn't be slightly cut off the frame. Don't worry about losing some megapixels to cropping, you have plenty.
Regarding equipment
  • Your camera is about as good as it gets. Enjoy learning how to use it. But....
  • the 75-300 is one of the cheapest and worst Canon zoom lenses. I would consider getting a 55-250 STM lens when it is available refurbished for about $130 on Canon Price Watch (or often around $200). Should be sharper and focus faster. Other alternatives - if you find you mostly use around 50mm (80 equivalent), or 85mm or 100mm - then a relatively cheap 1.8 aperture prime lens may be a good buy. The ideal lens for most indoor work is a to spend a lot for a 2.8 zoom lens, which would be a big jump in quality - you can shoot at a nice high aperture to use a lower ISO and blur the background more.
 

thestrangebrew1

Platinum Member
Dec 7, 2011
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Thanks for the tips. I do have the 55-250 STM, I just didn't bring it as I thought I wanted more reach. I also have the 85mm and the 50mm, but again, I wanted more reach to get individual shots. This was my first time shooting indoors and I wasn't sure what to bring. High school basketball is coming up here shortly so I'll have more opportunities to play with the different lenses. I'm trying to save up for the 70-200mm 2.8 lens. Just not sure if I want to get IS or non-IS. It's a huge price difference!
 

biostud

Lifer
Feb 27, 2003
15,119
364
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As already said post editing is your friend an shooting in raw.

Photoshop elements is really good value.
 

Paladin3

Diamond Member
Mar 5, 2004
4,434
668
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For high school basketball use your 85/1.8 with the aperture wide open. That should let you shoot from down on the floor under the basket, out near the corner of the court. Get close, act professional, keep your legs crossed and stay out of the refs way so nobody will give you any trouble. Don't be afraid to turn up your iso as high as necessary to get a shutter speed of 1/1000th or faster.

You can shoot raw if you want to spend hours in post process, but it's far easier to set a good manual white balance, get your exposure correct, and shoot .jpg. As a professional photographer I've never shot sports in raw. Ever. It just takes too much time to post process when getting in correct in camera is all too easy.

If you do get an 80-200/2.8, put it on your other body and use it to shoot when the ball is down at the other end of the court. Again, wide open aperture, turn iso up until you get a shutter speed of 1/1000th or faster. I wouldn't worry about IS unless you have the extra money to blow. IS is really only useful on still subjects and needs to be turned off for sports.

If you have to keep using your slower zooms, use the 55-250 because it is a tad sharper and focuses faster. Use it wide open and turn up the ISO as high as you can to get a shutter speed of 1/1000th or faster. The t5i should do a good job at iso 6400, and the 80D even higher than that.

And don't be afraid to turn your camera vertical and frame tight. Keep the camera to your eye and follow the action through the viewfinder. Resist the urge to chimp once you've determined the exposure is good, and shoot bunches at the cameras highest FPS.

And just out of courtesy, don't shoot when the players are shooting free throws. Sooner or later a coach will hear your motordrive and complain, even if you wait until after the player releases the ball. Free throw shots are kinda lame, anyway. :)
 
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kathykit

Junior Member
Nov 14, 2016
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Those shots are pretty decent.

My recommendations:
  • Try to learn to shoot full manual. Set to 1/400 shutter, the lowest aperture that you can, and take some shots adjusting the ISO until they come out good when chimping at the shot and the histogram. Main challenges will be:
    • the lens has a changing aperture as you zoom. So most likely just choose 5.6 and stick with it. But for example if you exhibition are almost always at 75mm, you may be able to use a lower aperture.
    • Lighting is different at different areas of the gym. So you'll need to chimp more pictures and adjust ISO occasionally. Actually, I usually find lighting to be pretty consistent, unless I start taking pics of folks in the stands. Outdoors on a partially cloudy day, or if some a field is in the shade....
Thank you for you advise. That's really useful!!;)
 
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