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Picking the RIGHT Aperture (OOF pics added)

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by taat2d, Jul 3, 2008.

  1. taat2d


    Sep 28, 2007
    Last night my son had his first soccer practice. I couldn't wait to get there, because I was HOPEFULLY going to be getting some action shots of him running around. I used my Sigma 70-200 2.8, on my D80. I also used a monopod.

    Some of the shots I got came out pretty good, as far as being sharp. I know there's nothing wrong with the lens. I tried shooting in AP for the most part,and I used AF-C.

    Most of the shots I took I was using f/2.8. I was trying to get shots with just him, stop action shots, with the bacground OOF. When I got home and downloaded my disk (with about 150 images), I was VERY disappointed to find most of the shots weren't sharp. I was using high SS's, so I THOUGHT I'd get good action freezing action shots. I was wrong.

    I did luckily get a few decent shots. I realize NOW that I probably should have went with a smaller F number. Shots that I took where he was far away came out VERY soft. The closer he was to me, the sharper the shots came out. Why would that be? Every long distance shot came out soft. I KNOW it's something I'm doing wrong.

    The worst thing is that I thought just using a fast SS would produce sharp images, and get some good action freezing shots too. I thought that even if I shoot at 2.8, as long as my SS is FAST, then the shots HAVE to come out good. Unfortunately it didn't happen. Can anyone help me out here and explain where I went wrong? I'm GUESSING my mistake came in NOT choosing the correct Aperture. Is this right?

    Thanx for reading this long winded post. :biggrin:
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 3, 2008
  2. It sounds to me like the DOF was too shallow. Even small movements by your son (or you) can be enough to exceed the DOF at that wide an aperture. Try again using f/4 or 5.6 and see what happens. Your shutter speed was likely high enough to stop the action, but shallow DOF is what got you.

    Don't beat yourself up too much, it takes time and practice.
  3. Joe,

    When you say soft, it could be that you are getting camera shake, subject motion, missed focus, among other things.

    Here's what I would recommend:
    1. Make sure your lens AF is dead-on and that the lens is sharp wide open. I would recommend testing using a static subject with the camera on a tripod and the lens wide open. Just to be absolutely sure the lens is not the issue.
    2. When you say high SS, what exactly is that? I try to shoot 1/500 for soccer if I have enough light.
    3. If there is enough light, I shoot f/4 to get more DOF and still get the subject isolated from the background.
    4. Do you shoot shutter priority when you shoot AF-C? Try shooting with shutter priority + focus or even focus priority to get more in-foucs images.
    5. Do you use the AF-ON or shutter button to auto focus? If you use the shutter button, are you pressing it halfway to get the camera/lens to focus? If you don't, and AF-C is set to shutter priority, then the camera/lens won't have enough time to acquire focus before the shutter is released. I use the AF-ON button and keep that pressed while tracking my subject. When I'm ready to shoot, I simply press the shutter.

    I hope this helps.
  4. Seneca


    Dec 4, 2006
    What was your shutter set to? I too would set my Aperture at 4.0-5.6 with a shutter speed of 250 or so. I could be wrong, but I would shoot manual if I were you. I don't really shoot sports...but I sometimes try. Post an image and let's look at it.
  5. I think the early posters have all hit it squarely on the head! Except in this case it is a multi-headed monster: moving out of a narrow dof caused by shooting wide open; not using AF-C with focus priority; not using focus tracking or using the wrong type of tracing (i.e., closest subject); there could be focusing problems (front- or back-focus); and finally practice, practice, practice!
    Great question!
  6. taat2d


    Sep 28, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  7. taat2d


    Sep 28, 2007
    1. The lens is on the money. I've gotten VERY sharp images of fixed objects. I KNOW it's something I'm doing wrong.
    2. The shots I posted were shot at 1/800.
    3. There was definitely enough light, and I tried to keep the sun at my back or to my side.
    4. I was using AP and AF-C, then I switched to Sports Mode and I think I got beter results when I made the switch. What exactly do you mean by Focus Priority? I switched back from using AF/ON to half shutter press and AF-C thinking this would yield better results with tracking the action.
    5. Would I be better off switching back to AF/ON to lock focus? If so do I need to use AF-C, or should I go back to using AF-S? Also I was shooting im Matrix figuring thinking larger focusing area? Or does MAtrix give larger metering area? I can't remember.
  8. Joe,
    I don't know whether to reply here or on the other thread, but I'll choose this one.

    The photos you posted on the sports thread do not look particularly soft. I would say that most are sharply focused. Why not post some of your soft shots of your child's game for us to look at.

    Keep in mind that soccer can be a challenging sport to photograph. It's taken me several years and lots of games to get consistently good shots. Even then, I expect plenty of soft photos in my effort to get a few nice shots for every game. Don't expect all of your shots to be keepers.

    Yes it is tougher to shoot wide open, but you paid a lot of money for your fast glass. Keep practicing and learn how to use the widest aperture you can. Watch your backgrounds for distracting elements. Position yourself accordingly to minimize these.

    Meter for the faces. You want properly exposed faces more than anything else.

    I would not use a monopod with my 70-200mm lens. Easy to hand hold and your technique and SS should be able to provide sharp images. When I shoot with a 300mm lens I always use a monopod.

    Have fun and don't be too hard on yourself. Enjoy the few good keepers you get with each outing.
  9. Seneca


    Dec 4, 2006
    I would use an ISO of about 700. What was your ISO set to?
  10. slappomatt


    May 13, 2006
    San Diego CA
    There is a setting for AF-S and AF-C in the menu. That sets the priority for the shutter release. Defualt settings are focus priority for AF-S and shutter priority for AF-C. What that means is that when you hit the shutter in AF-C on shutter priority the camera will fire right when you hit the shutter button, in focus or not. With focus priority, It will wait until the lens is in focus before firing the shutter. I have both mine set on focus priority.
  11. jfrancis


    May 8, 2005
    Orlando, FL
    I suspect your issue is more to do with focusing than DOF. At 40-60' you probably have 12-18" of DOF at f/2.8 and 200 mm. I know one pro sports shooter that shoots at f/2.8 all day long with very sharp results.
  12. taat2d


    Sep 28, 2007
    Believe me I KNOW it's DEFINITELY an IO problem......

    (Idiot Operator ) :eek: 
  13. taat2d


    Sep 28, 2007
  14. taat2d


    Sep 28, 2007
    The ISO was set on Auto.
  15. Seneca


    Dec 4, 2006
    Joe I would take it off Auto and you set it to 500 or 700. See if that works for you.
  16. taat2d


    Sep 28, 2007
    Thanx Seneca. I'll give that a try.
  17. ol geezer

    ol geezer

    Sep 29, 2007
    Plano, TX
    I disagree with Mitchell. A monopod adds stability even with SS. I use it with my Nikkor70-200 VR 2.8 for soccer. I usually shoot at f/5.6 or f/8 and forgit about the backgroundd. If action is coming toward you, you can get by with a shutter speed of 1/250. Otherwise, try to use 1/500. I actually like the Nikkor 70-300VR better for soccer. The additional 100mm will get you a lot of shots you would miss otherwise.
  18. panda81


    Feb 7, 2008
    I agree with John - at f/2.8, your DOF should be wide enough at these farther distances.

    Don't use the Sport setting. Try aperture priority with f/2.8, and manually set your ISO high enough so your shutter speed is over 1/500. Like other people said, try using focus priority first (AF-S on the D80) and see if the results improve.
  19. I don't know the D80 but suspect it has something to do with focus priority, not ISO. I shoot sports and with my 70-200VR I get very sharp results even beyond 400ISO at distances similar to Joe's so something is not right. Did you have a new filter on the lens?

  20. Hey Joe,

    I shoot a lot of sports in usually funky lighting. When I get good light, I tend to go a bit wild. I crank up my shutter speed and then make adjustments in ISO, aperture, etc.

    Here's a few examples:

    D200; Shutter priority; shutter speed 1/8000; ISO 1000; f/4; focal length 300mm...

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    D200; shutter priority; shutter speed 1/8000; ISO 1600; f/4.5; focal length 300mm...

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    D200; shutter priority; shutter speed 1/8000; ISO 1000, f/3.2; focal length 300mm...

    View attachment 220344

    So my suggestion is to set your shutter speed first (shutter priority) and then make your adjustments from there. If you use aperture priority, you'll probably get a lot of blurry shots. Just be sure to nail the focus...I missed it in the last shot (which really hacked me off:mad: ).
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