What better way to finish up my return to sports photography than a true test of both my manual focusing skills and the capabilities of my camera than indoor volleyball? Sure, soccer was much more difficult to chase focus, and field hockey didn’t fall too far behind in the challenge department, but both of those sports are generally played outside; where there is a lot of sunlight. Shutter speeds can top out very fast and ISOs can stay at a cool low thanks to the abundance of natural light.
Not so for indoor sports!
Save for professional arenas well-lit by tons of floodlights or corner-mounted room strobes, getting high shutter speeds with low ISOs under artificial light is pretty much impossible. Staying around ISO 1600-3200 with a shutter speed of at least 1/500 will stop most motion in sports such as basketball and volleyball (and should have controllable noise with modern cameras). Only problem for this situation, a fast aperture is needed to get what little light there is to the sensor. If a lens isn’t at least f/2.8, forget about it, and if the optic doesn’t perform well at this aperture, consider it a nail in the coffin for trying effective indoor sports photography.
But I came prepared. Enter the 180mm f/2.8, 105mm f/1.8, and 50mm f/1.8 E (not used this time, but I brought it just in case), three lenses that perform very well at f/2.8. With these I get the light, I get the shutter speed, and I also get the “pop” from the large aperture allowing subject separation. In other words, no worries.
All of the following captured with the NEX-7. I decided to not apply any noise reduction to maintain as much detail as possible. Pretend it’s just like old-timey film grain.
And the shot of the game:
What a round of firsts it has been. I look forward to really learning more about all three of the recent sports I’ve been photographing lately. After all, I can only get better from here, manual focus, reaction time, and all. I will admit, times like these make me wish I had the 200mm f/2 AI-s to help keep shutter speeds even higher or ISOs even lower. Maybe someday…
Last night marked the end of summer for the northern hemisphere. Mother nature decided to treat us with a nice golden sunset and decorator clouds. How nice.
That’s all for this post guys and gals. Thanks for dropping by, and have a great day!