Archives for November 2008

Shooting Basketball – Equipments and Techniques Tips

College basketball season has started and I am happy to have chance to practice some shoots. It is one of my favorite sport to take beside soccer.

First, I will discuss about ideal equipments and minimum requirement to take a good basketball pictures.

DSLR camera is a must have because 2 reasons
1. Basketball is held in indoor arena so it is dimmer than daylight
2. Basketball is a fast action sport, require a camera that has high speed auto focus and continuous shooting burst.

In choosing dSLR camera, any camera in the market has a decent performance including budget ones. Any brand will do pretty well but I highly recommend Canon or Nikon and avoid Pentax because the auto focus speed is very slow. Pentax system is great for general photography but not designed for sport just yet.

The entry level dSLRs
Canon 450D/XSi, Nikon D60 and Olympus E-520 will do the job fairly well, they have limitation on continuous shooting burst (usually around 3fps) and the noise handling is usually not as good as higher-end models. The price ranges of these cameras is around $500-$700

If you are serious about sports photography and have some bucks to spare, then I recommend you to look at semi pro model.

Semi pro models
Canon 40D or the new 50D, Nikon D90 or D300, Olympus E-30. They are a solid camera good most kind of photography, usually weather sealed and have average 2x faster continuous shooting burst (5-6.5 fps). The price range of these cameras is around $750-$1500

Pro models
Pro model such as Canon 1d Mark iii, Nikon D3 and D700, Olympus E-3 are the best in 2008. They features a weatherproof body, battery grip built in (except D700 and E3). They have incredible shooting speeds up to 10fps, sophisticated and customizable high speed auto focus system. Other than that, they handle noise very well in high iso setting. These characteristics made them ideal for sport photography either in bright or dim light. The price range of these cameras is around $2500-4500

Lenses
If you are shooting under the basket, I highly recommend 50mm f/1.4. this lens is fast enough and the focal length is perfect in cropped sensor camera (entry level/semi pro cameras). This lens is reasonably priced and great on other photography assignments such as portrait and artistic shots.

Other lenses that I recommend is 70-200mm f/2.8. With this lens, you can work on mid court to the other end of the field. I also recommend 85mm f/1.8 or 135mm f/2

Note: Avoid lens that has big aperture for example 4-5.6, because it require you to boost iso (degrade image quality) to maintain shutter speed to freeze the action.

Special Note: Image stabilization will not work in covering basketball or other sport photography because IS can only battle hand shake on slow shutter speed but can’t freeze the action.

Techniques and setting.
My usual shooting setting is as follows:

  • Manual setting (M)
  • Aperture f/2.8 ISO 1250, shutter speed 1/640
  • AI servo (predictive focus)
  • AWB around 4000-4400 (or white fluorescent setting)
  • RAW mode.
  • High speed continuous shoot

Strategy and What to shoot?
I highly recommend you to take a position close to the field arena or under the basket area. This way you will get more chance to capture close action. Getting a media pass will be great too. I volunteer to shoot for student newspaper so I can get media pass for a season. You could save ticket money by getting a media pass.

Usually I will shoot some close action of two players, a player shooting, or blocking, rebound and any action which is interesting for me. Also sometimes I look for coach, players and audience reactions. However, you will likely to need a long telephoto lens to get the coaches expression. You can also use wide angle lens to cover the entire arena in one frame.

Even your lens permit you to go lower beyond f/2.5, I recommend you to avoid it, because the image could be pretty soft except you have a high quality pro model lens such as Sigma 50mm f/1.4 or Canon 85mm f/1.2.

After shooting for a while, don’t hesitate to move around if you find your position is far from ideal, for example, the referee keep blocking your way or the players are facing other direction most of the time.

So I hope this entry will help you enthusiast basketball shooters.

Olympus E-30 highlights

Olympus has announced the new mid-range digital slr camera on 5th November 2008. Compare to camera with the same price range ( Canon 40D, Nikon D90, Pentax k20D ) , Olympus E-30 offers something different.

It inherited many features from Olympus flagship E-3. A tilt-swivel 2.7″ lcd screen, improved image stabilization up to 5 stops and on board post processing features such as art filter and multiple exposures.

Without further due, this is some key differences between this camera with others
based on their specification.

Olympus E-30 vs Canon 40D

  • 40D has slightly bigger lcd screen but can’t swivel.
  • 40D has faster burst rate (6.5fps compared to E-30 around 4-5 fps).
  • E-30 offers 2 extra megapixel resolution.
  • E-30 has tilt-swivel lcd screen with improved live view mode.
  • E-30 offers improved body stabilization (up to 5 stops, 2 extra modes for panning)

Olympus E-30 vs Pentax k20D

  • Pentax k20d has 2 megapixel extra resolution (14 vs 12 megapixels)
  • Pentax k20d has water proof body, while E-30 has not.
  • E-30 has continuous shooting up to 5 fps, k20d only has 3 fps.
  • E-30 also has swivel lcd screen with improved live view mode.

Olympus E-30 vs Nikon D90

  • The size between both camera is almost the same.
  • Nikon’s unique feature is ability to record movie.
  • Nikon D90 has higher iso setting (up to 6400).
  • E-30 has swivel lcd screen with improved live view mode.
  • E-30 offers improved body stabilization (up to 5 stops, 2 extra modes for panning)

Olympus E-30 vs E-520

  • E-30 expand the iso setting up to 3200. Although there is no test yet, but we can expect the E-30 performs better from E-520.
  • E-30 body is bigger and has tilt-swivel lcd screen.
  • E-30 body offers greater control, handle and built.
  • E-30 has faster burst rate (5 fps vs 3 fps)
  • E-520 is way cheaper, it has only half the price of E-30.

Olympus E-30 vs E3

  • Olympus flagship camera E-3, around $100-200 more expensive has a slightly bigger body and view finder and it is water splash proof body, while E-30 is not water proof.

Along with this camera, Olympus also announced a new lens Zuiko 14-54mm f/2.8-33.5 II that supports the fast contras detect Live View.

In conclusion, this camera is all around camera that designed for enthusiasts or beginner in dslr. Many features are user-friendly and post processing become easier with art filters and multiple exposure on board. .

From the specification, this camera has some advantages over some camera in $1000 range, and that is why this camera will be price slightly higher in the market $1200-1300. But I think $1100-1200 is a great price. I believe most users will be satisfied of the camera’s performance and user friendliness. The camera will be available on January 2009.

Other thing to consider is the lens selection and the fact that Olympus System is a micro four third system which has unique framing 4:3 instead of 3:2 that we find in many others. Also the crop factor is 2 not 1.5 or 1.6 like camera on the other brands.

EOS-1Ds Mark III Studio Masterclass

The advantages of shooting with the full frame EOS-1Ds Mark III camera in the studio is in its dynamic range. The EOS-1Ds Mark III is easy to set up for smooth operation in the studio when shooting studio photography. View easy to understand videos and tutorials on the Canon EOS-1D Mark III and how to set it up for studio photography. Learn how to make the Canon EOS-1D Mark III work for you and your studio photography with ease with these quick refrence tips.

http://cpn.canon-europe.com/content/masterclass/eos_1ds_mark_iii_studio.do

Landscape Photography Masterclass

 Learn why the EOS-1Ds Mark III high–spec DSLR is perfect for shooting landscapes. The EOS-1Ds Mark III is easy to set up for smooth operation in the field when shooting Landscape photography. View easy to understand videos and tutorials on the Canon EOS-1D Mark III and how to set it up for Landscape photography. Learn how to make the Canon EOS-1D Mark III work for you and your Landscape photography with ease with these quick refrence tips.

http://cpn.canon-europe.com/content/masterclass/eos_1ds_mark_iii.do

EOS-1D Mark III Masterclass

Canon EOS-1D Mark III Masterclass. Learn how to set up your Canon EOS-1D Mark III camera for smooth operation in the field. View easy to understand videos and tutorials on the Canon EOS-1D Mark III. Learn how to make the Canon EOS-1D Mark III work for you with ease with these quick refrence tips.

http://cpn.canon-europe.com/content/masterclass/eos_1d_mark_iii.do

Flash Difusers reviews: Stofen Omnibounce, lightsphere cloud, demb diffusers

If you have an external flash for your digital slr camera, using flash difusers are highly recommended. The simplest forms of flash diffusers are bounce cards in the top of the flash. In some models it is included.

The basic idea why flash diffusers matter is because light from the flash unit is too harsh to the object, that is why it causes unnatural look.

You can also create your own flash diffusers at a cheap cost. .

If you decided on buying ready-made flash diffusers instead, then there are three products that I have tried and I will tell you about my opinion on each of them.

Stofen Omnibounce
This small omnibounce has many benefits, it is cheap, it is small and portable, and it sticks like a glue, of course if you buy the correct fit. But even it helps to soften the light from your flash unit, the result is not as good as other flash diffusers. Because of its ultimate portability, this diffuser is popular among photojournalists that value portability.

Gary Fong Lightsphere Cloud
This diffuser are big and one of the most expensive in the market. It does distribute and soften the light well, but it still cast shadow. The major drawback of this diffuser is it is not clinging well into my flash unit, so there are couple times that it fell off.

The lightsphere cloud is made to soften the light as much as possible and the lightsphere clear is to pass the light as much as possible and in the same time soften it a little bit.

According to Fong, the lightsphere clear is better to light up wide area such as group picture and the cloud is more suitable for portrait picture.

Fong’s products are marketed heavily in the internet and trade shows for wedding or events photography.

Joe Demb Diffuser
This is the diffuser that I like the most, it is simple, fold flat, and it stick like glue to my flash. It is moderately expensive but do the job very well. The other advantage is it has option of directional lighting through the Flip-It. The diffuser will further soften the light.

Because the flexibility of the diffuser, there are many creative things that the users can do with it, for example adjusting the power of the light forward by adjusting the Flip-It, and directing the flash to an angle to create a more dynamic lighting.

The drawback might be it is relatively bigger than the omnibounce, could attract attention, and quite expensive. The website of this diffuser is here. This is my main Diffuser and I mainly use this diffuser for event photography and portraits..
The camera in self timer so I can be in the group picture. The diffuser (Flip-It) is set 90 degree and the Demb diffuser is tilted forward. It is a very dim living room with tungsten lighting.