Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Tweaks of sports photos

No matter for whatever kind of photos, you must set your camera to:
  • Always use single point focusing and the smallest focus area. If you let the camera to pick up a focus point for you, you simply waste your time.
  • Always use either AF-S for still objects or AF-C for moving ones. AF-A sounds great but no manufacturer have implemented it well; so never use it.
  • Always use A (aperture) mode. For one object or two such as portrait, use f/1.8 or the widest aperture; f/8 for massive objects such as landscape. If you use auto or P mode, you simply waste your time.
  • Set a minimum shutter speed. For still objects, set it to 1/8 for standard lenses and 1/30 for telephoto lenses. For a party, 1/60 or so; for chasing a child, 1/125 or so; for sports, 1/250 or 1/500. Canon and Sony entry-level cameras do not have this option, this is why I bought the Nikon D3300 instead.

Now about sports:
  • As already mentioned, use a minimum shutter speed of 1/250. Use 1/500 or even faster if lighting allows (without pushing ISO to too high).
  • Use AF-C mode. When the moving object is approaching, half press down the shutter to make an initial focusing, hold the shutter and, once the object reaches your desired spot, press down fully the shutter to take the shot.
  • If the object is moving from left to right, aiming at it, half press down the shutter to make an initial focusing, hold the shutter while moving camera to follow the object and, once the object reaches your desired spot, press down the shutter fully to take the shot.
  • To isolate the object from the surroundings, use the longest focal length and widest aperture and go as close as possible.
    Now about D3300 and its kit lenses:
    • Like other Nikon cameras, D3300 also suffers from shutter shock between 1/30 and 1/125. So use either 1/30 or slower, or 1/125 or faster.
    • Because the AF-S VR II lenses are sharp at all focal lengths including 200 mm (55 mm), so feel free to zoom all way in. But I found the best focus accuracy is achieved around 165 mm (45 mm), so I always try to use this focal length whenever possible, i.e., just a little bit back from the longest end.
    • Focusing with the 55-200 lens is not so quick, especially when the focus was far away from the object. Therefore, it is almost mandatory to do aforementioned initial focusing while the object is approaching.
    • Usually I focus on a person's eye, but for sports this is very difficult and often unnecessary. Because D3300 has only one cross-type focus point at the center, so I use it to focus on the center of the body. I keep my camera level - not looking down or up; so the person's face will be mostly in focus as well.
    • Set camera's sharpening to 7 for sharp but not over sharp images.