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Thread: Shooting Gymnastics: Suggestions?

  1. #1

    Shooting Gymnastics: Suggestions?

    Howdy,
    My Daughters gymnastics season starts this coming weekend.

    these meets take place in gymnasiums that are horribly lit, and Flashes are not allowed.

    I have recently acquired a Nikon D100, unfortunately i don;t think the two leses I have are going to be much help with this situation.

    One is a:
    Nikon 70-300mm f/4-5.6G AF

    I beleive the other is:
    AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR


    I realize it makes a huge difference if that last lens is really what I have (I will confirm at lunch).

    I didn't buy either of these lenses, the Camera just kind of fell into my lap.


    any suggestions for settings etc?

  2. #2
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Shooting Gymnastics: Suggestions?

    The time that expensive lenses come into their own is when you are stretching the envelope and attempting to shoot in difficult conditions. Many gyms and other gymnastic venues suffer from quite dim lighting. This is compounded when the gymnastic events are high school level and below because the lighting for these events is usually even dimmer than for college or Olympic venues. Flash is usually not allowed during competitions because it could interfere with the concentration of the athletes.

    Shooting a moving gymnast requires a fairly fast shutter speed which in turn require a fast (small f/number) lens and a high ISO.

    Additionally the focal length is determined by where you will be shooting from. If you are shooting from the stands, you will need a longer focal length lens than if you are right at the sidelines,

    You will need a lens capable of fast and accurate auto focus.

    Finally, which lens that you need depends on the quality of imagery you demand.

    Both of the lenses that you mentioned have a maximum f/5.6 sperture at their longest focal lengths. Your D100 is advertised to have a maximum ISO of 1,600. I don't think that a ISO 1,600 and f/5.6 combination would provide a shutter speed fast enough to stop the fast action of gymnastics - such as tumbling and the vault.

    However, during many routines, the gymnast is often not moving. As an example, portions of the routines on the balance beams the gymnasts are either not moving or moving very slowly. Additionally there are times during the tumbling routine that the athlete is not moving. Choosing where and when you shoot may allow you to get around the limitations of your equipment. I would suggest that you include a monopod in your kit. The pod in combination with your VR capability will help get sharp imagery but, will not stop subject action.

    The ideal combination for shooting gymnastics is a lens with a wide f/stop (lowest f/number) and a camera which can produce decent imagery at very high ISO's. The focal length required depends on your shooting location. These requirements equate to expensive equipment.

    As far as settings go, I would jack the ISO up to 1,600 and shoot in aperture prority mode with your largest aperture selected. I would also use burst mode. As far as RAW or JPEG; RAW will allow you more control over light balance and will allow more flexibility in post processing.

    I will leave any specific equipment recommendations to my Nikon using friends on CiC...
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 26th November 2012 at 02:59 PM.

  3. #3
    kris's Avatar
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    Re: Shooting Gymnastics: Suggestions?

    I take shots of moving gymnasts in a similar setup. Usually I set the camera either in Shutter (S) priority or more often Manual setting (M). Most depends on the kind of light you have. If it is enough localized on the scene you can use S mode with weighted metering, and adjust the overall exposure with exposure compensation. This usually works fine, but may slow down a bit the camera since it must measure before shooting. This is why I usually prefer the M mode. This is also useful when you have sources of light behind the scene that can disturb the metering. In this case your subject is usually dark.

    The minimum shutter speed to have reasonable sharp images is 250s or better 320s.
    With this limit I can get reasonable good images with ISO 800-1000 and f/stop 4.5

    Of course I use RAW so I can adjust the images, if too dark, in PP. How much depends on the software, the camera, and the level of noise you accept.

    Here is an example taken with a Nikkor 70.0-300.0 mm f/4.5-5.6G
    Shooting Gymnastics: Suggestions?
    S mode, 250s, f4.5, ISO800, CenterWeightedMetering, ExposureCorrection 0

    This was taken with a D800. The D100 is an older camera and the level of noise is higher, but probably still acceptable. I do not not have experience with the D100, but for sure in the same situation with the my D300 the result will be less neat. You have to make some tests and decide if the results are good enough.

    I also suggest you the get a good software to deal with noise, this helps a lot in PP. It is not really expensive.

    Bye
    A.
    Last edited by kris; 26th November 2012 at 06:36 PM.

  4. #4

    Re: Shooting Gymnastics: Suggestions?

    Ok awesome,

    So lemme see if i understand.

    in order to capture the movement without bur I need a fast shutter speed.
    in order to get enough light into the camera with a fast shutter speed, I need a wide (low) f.
    the ISO can be raised up to help but at a certain point as the ISO gets higher to accomodate a lack of light from my inexpensive lens the ISO noise becomes so intense that the picture quality degrades.
    and newer Camera will have a "better" ISO system (?) or at least produce less noise at high ISO's which would compensate for a lens with an f that doesn;t go down enough.

    SOOOO, I am shooting for at least 250ths shutter with my f all the way open (4.5 or 4 in my case).
    This will allow in a fixed amount of light, in order to get a picture that is not too dark (I shoot RAW and have CS 5.5) it's now up to the ISO. Assuming similar lighting to your shot above, the ISO setting of 800 on my D100 may or may not produce enough noise to make the picture crappy.

    am I somewhat correct? (assuming I meter the shot properly i.e. Center)

    thanks again

  5. #5
    kris's Avatar
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    Re: Shooting Gymnastics: Suggestions?

    That's exact.

    New camera have a better control of noise at high ISO. But this does not mean you cannot take good picture with the older. Just for comparison here is another example taken with a D300 and Nikkor 18-200/3.5-56

    S mode, 1/320s, f4.8, ISO6400.
    Shooting Gymnastics: Suggestions?

    The image is less sharp, due to a stronger noise reduction in PP, but still good enough. Also consider that the
    impact of the noise level depends on the size of your final output, and on the type of support.
    With a little of practice you can get good pictures.

    Cheers
    A.

  6. #6

    Re: Shooting Gymnastics: Suggestions?

    Brilliant thanks

  7. #7

    Re: Shooting Gymnastics: Suggestions?

    Hello,
    just back from my daughters meet.

    Here are two slightly random pics that show the two lighting situations,

    I was testing whether or not the ISO HI2 (~6400) is going to usable for these scenario's.

    these are JPGs but I shot in RAW, if anyone wants to see.

    I am looking for Post production noise reduction help.
    http://i.imgur.com/hWhSK.jpg
    http://i.imgur.com/U9Sqr.jpg



    thanks!

  8. #8
    kris's Avatar
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    Re: Shooting Gymnastics: Suggestions?

    For noise reduction you can use either standalone applications or plugins to use inside other applications, e.g.
    PS or Aperture.
    What are you using for PP?

    Best,
    A.

  9. #9

    Re: Shooting Gymnastics: Suggestions?

    I have photoshop 5.5 (12.1).

    I also have a trial of Lightroom 4.2.

    They seemed to have similar slider based noise reduction (in the RAW window of PS).

    I messed with the sliders and they definitely help but I'm fairly clueless...

    Windows 7 by the way, so I think Aperture is out...

  10. #10
    kris's Avatar
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    Re: Shooting Gymnastics: Suggestions?

    Quote Originally Posted by pbowler View Post
    I have photoshop 5.5 (12.1).

    I also have a trial of Lightroom 4.2.

    They seemed to have similar slider based noise reduction (in the RAW window of PS).

    I messed with the sliders and they definitely help but I'm fairly clueless...
    PS5 uses CR6 while LR4 uses CR7. The sliders looks similar but some renaming has occurred. The performance is also improved from CR6 to CR7.

    Here is some basic.
    First do not try to overcorrect the noise, you will get a plastic appearance. Usually you have to correct the luminance noise just pushing the slider on the right. Then you should increase the sharpness to recover some of the softness introduced by the de-noise process. This can be done with the sliders just above the noise reduction. Try to increase the amont slider. If you press the Alt (I have a Mac, on Win I think is Alt) while moving the slider the picture turns BW showing you the result. Also since sharpening and de-noise just go opposite way, you can localize the sharpening to the edges using the mask slider. Again press the Alt while sliding the slider and you will see the mask appearing. Remember white is where the sharpening will be applied, black are the protected areas.

    As specific plugins for noise reduction you can look for nosieware professional (http://imagenomic.com/) or Topaz DeNoise (http://www.topazlabs.com/denoise/). Both offer a free trial and have some tutorials you can watch to see how the noise should be reduced.

    Best
    A.

  11. #11

    Re: Shooting Gymnastics: Suggestions?

    awesome thanks.

    I really appreciate it.

    I think I got some really good shots with respect to framing, shutter speed etc.
    in fact my wife thinks the pics are great (they're not, they're barely usable and I likely won;t be able to reduce the noise at 6400) but it was a great learning experience and certainly a lot of fun, until I got home and started working with the noise reduction.

    at any rate, thanks a ton for your input, if I manage to get a few that aren't a total embarrassment I will definitely post for folks to see.

  12. #12
    kris's Avatar
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    Re: Shooting Gymnastics: Suggestions?

    Another application you may consider is DxO OpticsPro. It is more expensive, because I think you have to take the Elite version for the D100.

    A.
    Last edited by kris; 4th December 2012 at 04:36 PM.

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