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Thread: dificulty with Action shots at night

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    Member TQaction's Avatar
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    dificulty with Action shots at night

    I've been shooting equestrian action shots with my 7D and EF 100-400mm lens. shots are awesome untill the sun sets. most of the events are twilight then under light. my images become blury, ive just purchased a speedlite 580 EX II, hoping that an external flash might help. any help feedback would be much appreciated.

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    I presume you up the ISO as it gets darker, and are using a large f stop (small number ). I haven't used that lens but someone that has will undoubtably reply. I do wonder if a flash might spooky the horses ?
    Cheers David.

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Hi TQaction. Well, you can post some of them in the New To Photography CC Forum or even in the General Help Forum for some more considered replies. I do not think an external flash is necessarily the way out, but that depends on how far away your subjects are.
    Am.
    Last edited by ameerat42; 15-01-2012 at 5:40pm.
    CC, Image editing OK.

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    Would'nt use the flash at an Equestrian event Up the ISO and use as big an aperture you can get to give you a high shutter speed which you will need , Just watch out your DOF will be very shallow so get the focus right , You will probably have to shoot in manual and do the settings yourself
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    Agree with the above. Post some examples in the critique forums, telling people what issues you have etc, and you will get good advice. By posting this to the Canon forum, a lot of members will not see it, and really its a technique issue, not a Canon specific technical one.
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    TQ you are probably getting blurry images since your shutter speed is not short enough. I'm not sure the speedlight will be close enough to affect the images enough - but I guess that depends on where you are placing it (off camera) or standing etc. Bumping your ISO will help but will add grain. You will probably require some great high ISO performance if you want to do this regularly. I was shooting basketball at 1/1000 shutter speed with a 1.4 aperture and still needs to bump my ISO pretty high

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    Member KeeFy's Avatar
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    In what event were you shooting?

    The speedlight won't really be much help unless you remote trigger the speedlight near the moving subject. You need a faster lens like a 300 f2.8, 200 f2 to stop motion combined with a high ISO. Aim for a shutterspeed 1/500 and above. It's also dependent on how fast the action is.

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    Account Closed Wayne's Avatar
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    You will ideally need:

    1 body that is good at Hi-ISO
    1 lens that is constant f/2.8 or faster not a zoom like the 100-400 that has variable aperture, because as you zoom long, it gets slower.

    Using a speedlight near horses is a sure fire way to piss owners/riders off, I reckon you will get told pretty quickly, and event organisers may not even allow it's use at all.

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    I shoot rodeos, and flashes are used by many photographers, as a horse owner myself, I would not do anything to endanger riders. Thanks for the tips :-)

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    Account Closed Wayne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TQaction View Post
    I shoot rodeos, and flashes are used by many photographers, as a horse owner myself, I would not do anything to endanger riders. Thanks for the tips :-)
    In a rodeo, the horse is already pissed off lol, but at jumping events, I'm not so sure a flash used at a distance where it is still effective would be a great thing for horse or rider.

    A flash at a long distance will be ineffective, and probably not bother a horse anyway. I too have shot rodeo, the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere 3 years running and whilst many in the crowd use their little point & shoots which flash in the dark and are useless 5m from the camera, the event organisers do not permit the use of speedlights from press photographers with the only exception being the press conference room.

    What distance from the horses do you intend to use the strobe? I'm not sure of the 580 GN.

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    Post up some of your images for us to look at, with the EXIF data intact.
    I try my hardest to avoid flash at rodeo, not due to any issues with the horses or owners or organisers, but due to the dreaded "devil eyes", very similar to red eye in humans, when the flash hits the horses eye you get this massive great devil eye, ruins the whole image.

    This Link will take you too a few from a recent rodeo up here, ISO was 6400, 1/320, f3.2, from memory, but the shot details will be very close to that
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne
    You will ideally need:

    1 body that is good at Hi-ISO
    1 lens that is constant f/2.8 or faster not a zoom like the 100-400 that has variable aperture, because as you zoom long, it gets slower.

    Using a speedlight near horses is a sure fire way to piss owners/riders off, I reckon you will get told pretty quickly, and event organisers may not even allow it's use at all.
    Can you suggest a lens, that will fulfill this task??

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    Member KeeFy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TQaction View Post
    Can you suggest a lens, that will fulfill this task??
    As i mentioned in my previous post.
    300 f2.8 and 200 f2. Prices may be a little prohibitive as they start at around $6k for the Canon variants Grey.

    Look at the 3rd party like Sigma and it'll set you back about $2.5K Grey.

    Might want to consider bumping up the camera to a 1D mk4 as well for that extra stop of ISO.

    Also look into a software called Noise Ninja. Works very well for cleaning up noise. 6400 on a 7D can be cleaned up to look like a 3200 or in some rare cases even 1600. You will need to follow the instructions to setup your noise profile for your camera.

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    Account Closed Wayne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TQaction View Post
    Can you suggest a lens, that will fulfill this task??
    Sadly the one thing missing from Canon (I think there was going to be a release of a new lens similar) is a constant f/stop long tele like the Nikon 200-400/4. Even at f/4, you may find you need pretty high ISO. You have to see what focal length most of your shots will fall into, and decide on a big, fast, expensive prime to suit. Something like 200/2 could be good even with 1.4TC as it is pretty flexible being a stop faster than f/2.8 and almost the same as a 300/2.8 with the TC. You need to couple the suitable lens with a body capable of ISO performance that works with the chosen lens.

    No good having a 550D for example and the fast glass if HI-ISO is still needed even with say an f/2 tele. Again, you could conversely have say a 1DIV, and get away with a lens that is f/4 as that body has far superior ISO performance. Both options are costly, and together very costly. What value these pics have is what will determine your choices I guess...

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    Member gw.toad's Avatar
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    Sigmas 70-200mm F2.8 may do the job depending on distance from subject...

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    Agree with the 70-200 mm L F2.8 and if needed a TC to take it to F4 constant AP. (280 + mm)

    As above mate, you need to look at your basic settings. Set ISO first, then AP and always adjust shutter speed last. Is the Rodeo inside with some form of overhead lighting? or in more of the traditional outdoor with poor flood lighting ?

    With thte ISO, try going to the highest or there abouts on the 7D body, shoot several shots and then drop the ISO down a bit and check your images at home on a good screen, some noise can be cleaned, but if your not blowing up your images to large, PP will help clean the images up.

    You need to play around with what you have to work with, I'm guessing the camera is in Auto Mode or P mode, the blur will result unless you get the shutter up and same with ISO. The price of good - fast glass is well worth it, but in saying that, it's not always the thing you need to do first. Get your basis'c right, yes flash may help, but you'll need to use it in manual mode as ttl won't allow super high shutter speed to work with the flash, not inconjunction with..

    Also need to take into account the focus point, are you using multi or spot focus? Spot is going to be your best choice.

    Go manual, ISO high, AP as high (Low number as possible 5.6 or 6.3 I think on the 100-400mm) and shutter around the 1/500 ish + to start with and see how you go from there.

    And as above have said, post some shots, we all need some help sometimes, and I'll bet you find some very useful people on this site.
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