As luck would have it, I currently cannot write any detailed posts for the site yet. Upon returning home for Christmas break (and after the dreadful finals week), I have found my internet to be…sporadic at best. Currently it goes in and out every few minutes; rendering the uploading of photos and saving of posts useless. The only reason I’m writing this post now is that I am on location for a sports shoot, waiting for all my photos to export to my supervisor. Luckily there’s a bit of wi-fi I’ve hopped on to. I really do hate this happening, seeing as one of the biggest things I was looking forward to coming back home for a few weeks was to not only take photographs but to also share them on this site!
Regardless, I do have a quick photo I can share before I have to leave the building, one of the shots from the game tonight. I am photographing a basketball tournament for my university, with at least 3 more games over the next couple of days. I can’t wait to get back into the groove of basketball shooting, as well as getting my internet fixed soon! Once it is, count on a basketball-filled post (among other things).
50mm, ISO 1600, f/2, 1/500
Transylvania University is a very difficult institution. Thankfully, the administration usually acknowledges that. Even in the monotony-filled finals week, some relief is provided. These daily “Stress-Fest” events–which take place the weekend leading up to and including finals week–are designed to counter the stress caused from term papers, final exams, and presentations expected out of all the students. Kicking off the week is a fun event called “Doggie De-Stress”. Special service dogs specifically trained as stress-relievers (don’t ask me how) are brought in from local organizations for students to pet, play with, and occasionally take on a brief walk.
Unfortunately for me, I didn’t want dog saliva and hair all over my camera equipment, so I guess my “de-stressing” came in the form of taking pictures. I’ll end this post with some of the pictures from the event. All photographs captured with the Sony NEX-7 and SLR Magic Noktor Hyperprime 50mm f/.95 at f/2. Shutter speeds stayed around 1/80-1/100 and ISOs ranged between 800-1600. No noise reduction applied. Also, I’m terrible with dog names, so I rarely knew what to caption these with.
Cameras with an APS-C sized sensor are generally not thought of as low-light performers. Despite recent gains in 16 megapixel APS-C technology (NEX-5n, Fuji X-Pro 1), digital noise due to tiny pixels not getting enough light can become a problem at high ISOs starting at about ISO 3200. When packing a 24 megapixel sensor of the same size, these even smaller pixels are all the more susceptible to image degradation. On my NEX-7, I have generally stayed away from low-light (handheld, anyway), simply out of the fear of a low signal-to-noise ratio at high ISOs. But when the job calls for it–an acoustic/electronic music show hosted in a bar–pictures have to be made, so I grabbed my Nikon 50mm f/1.4 S-Auto, and went to work.
To give an idea of the (lack of) stage lighting, this guy’s computer was illuminating him more than anything else in the room!
Soprano Sax and the Macbook
50mm, ISO 1600, f/1.4, 1/60
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.
105mm, ISO 1600, f/2, 1/500