Total Focus Misses at Hockey Game with D700

Started Jan 15, 2012 | Discussions
Nadia373
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Total Focus Misses at Hockey Game with D700
Jan 15, 2012

Wow, did I mess up at my Nephew's hockey game. I totally don't understand how to focus during a hockey game. Most of the pictures were blurred, with a few sharp players in the middle of blurred. The lighting and colors were great and no grain. At the game I switched between single to continous focus and all the pictures were bad, it did not matter. I used dynamic auto area AF and 51 points; I read that I should use less focus points. My camera is set on AF-S for focus priority and AF-C release and focus. Focus tracking with lock off. My ISO was set for auto and the pictures were great no grain and bright. I used a 24-70 mm 1:2.8 FX lens. Aperture setting with F 7 set. Yes hand held. I think I need to stick with my portriat pictures. Any suggestions for next time?

Thanks in advance,
Nadia

Nikon D700
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NeilJones
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Re: Total Focus Misses at Hockey Game with D700
In reply to Nadia373, Jan 15, 2012

Nadia373 wrote:

Wow, did I mess up at my Nephew's hockey game. I totally don't understand how to focus during a hockey game. Most of the pictures were blurred, with a few sharp players in the middle of blurred. The lighting and colors were great and no grain. At the game I switched between single to continous focus and all the pictures were bad, it did not matter. I used dynamic auto area AF and 51 points; I read that I should use less focus points. My camera is set on AF-S for focus priority and AF-C release and focus. Focus tracking with lock off. My ISO was set for auto and the pictures were great no grain and bright. I used a 24-70 mm 1:2.8 FX lens. Aperture setting with F 7 set. Yes hand held. I think I need to stick with my portriat pictures. Any suggestions for next time?

What were the shutter speeds? F7 aperture?

Thanks in advance,
Nadia

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TOF guy
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Re: Total Focus Misses at Hockey Game with D700
In reply to Nadia373, Jan 15, 2012

Here is a description by Nikon about the different modes and when they should be used:

http://imaging.nikon.com/lineup/microsite/d-technology/autofocus/02sensor/index.htm

In particular read the last paragraph. Lock-on should not necessarily be off.

Finally a word of caution: I'm sure you'll get some valuable tips. But one thing I've noticed with AF-C is that the settings work for one person are not necessarily the best for another, even if we shoot the same kind of events. One recommendation is that you experience with settings. Don't wait for the next critical sport event. AF-C (at least for me) has required a bit of practice. If you're in the same boat then consider practicing first (say by attending another hockey game where your nephew is not present. Try 9-points then 21 then 51. See if one work best for you and practice practice practice)
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johncaz
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Re: Total Focus Misses at Hockey Game with D700
In reply to Nadia373, Jan 15, 2012

Nadia373 wrote:

Wow, did I mess up at my Nephew's hockey game. I totally don't understand how to focus during a hockey game. Most of the pictures were blurred, with a few sharp players in the middle of blurred. The lighting and colors were great and no grain. At the game I switched between single to continous focus and all the pictures were bad, it did not matter. I used dynamic auto area AF and 51 points; I read that I should use less focus points. My camera is set on AF-S for focus priority and AF-C release and focus. Focus tracking with lock off. My ISO was set for auto and the pictures were great no grain and bright. I used a 24-70 mm 1:2.8 FX lens. Aperture setting with F 7 set. Yes hand held. I think I need to stick with my portriat pictures. Any suggestions for next time?

Thanks in advance,
Nadia

Nadia, its not only about the hardware, sports shooting requires experience as well. So if this is your first time, im sure your next try will prove more fruitful.

On the hardware side, try this article, I'm sure it will help you understand the AF options and how better to use it to your advantage
http://nikonglass.blogspot.com/2009/02/refined-focusing-technique-for-nikon.html

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BWhite
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Re: Total Focus Misses at Hockey Game with D700
In reply to NeilJones, Jan 15, 2012

NeilJones wrote:

Nadia373 wrote:

Wow, did I mess up at my Nephew's hockey game. I totally don't understand how to focus during a hockey game. Most of the pictures were blurred, with a few sharp players in the middle of blurred. The lighting and colors were great and no grain. At the game I switched between single to continous focus and all the pictures were bad, it did not matter. I used dynamic auto area AF and 51 points; I read that I should use less focus points. My camera is set on AF-S for focus priority and AF-C release and focus. Focus tracking with lock off. My ISO was set for auto and the pictures were great no grain and bright. I used a 24-70 mm 1:2.8 FX lens. Aperture setting with F 7 set. Yes hand held. I think I need to stick with my portriat pictures. Any suggestions for next time?

What were the shutter speeds? F7 aperture?

Thanks in advance,
Nadia

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Raul
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Practice, practice
In reply to Nadia373, Jan 15, 2012

regards
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O.Wilde

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KnightPhoto2
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Re: Total Focus Misses at Hockey Game with D700
In reply to Nadia373, Jan 15, 2012

Nadia373 wrote:

... continous focus ... dynamic auto area AF and 51 points; I read that I should use less focus points. My camera is set on AF-S for focus priority and AF-C release and focus. Focus tracking with lock off. My ISO was set for auto and the pictures were great no grain and bright.

All of the above are on the right track with the exception that 9-point (or maybe 21-point at most) are preferred.

You messed up in a couple ways here:

  • f7 no, you should have been shooting at f2.8 to provide as fast a shutter speed as possible.

  • 24-70 is a poor lens choice. 70-200 is much better (or a 70-300 if you have one). I am willing to bet your shots are way to wide. And then cropping them heavily in post is not going to help (cropping is not free and degrades sharpness quite drastically )

  • you don't mention what minimum shutter speed you set with Auto-ISO nor maximum ISO. I'd think your images are far more likely blurred due to too slow a shutter speed used (and therefore the problem may be nothing to do with autofocus). You should set 1/500, 1/750 or faster minimum shutter speed and max auto-iso of 3200 or 6400 next time.

That and the other advice in this thread should help you a lot next time!

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kevroc
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Re: Total Focus Misses at Hockey Game with D700
In reply to KnightPhoto2, Jan 15, 2012

+1, bet its shutter speed and not focus issue.

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Donald Chin
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Re: Total Focus Misses at Hockey Game with D700
In reply to Nadia373, Jan 15, 2012
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tyb
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Re: Total Focus Misses at Hockey Game with D700
In reply to Nadia373, Jan 15, 2012

Sports photography is always a challenge, I shot one year with a D700 with good results, if you aren't hitting anything than a combo of settings and practice.

In your case as others have noted and a few other suggestions.

1) Shutterspeed: for fast action depending on how fast 1/250 - 1/500 and sometimes even more. Shooting F8 is a killer unless you are outisde!

2) Focus settings: AFC is a must, spot focus to start, use the AF-ON button not the shutter button to activate. I've had better luck using release priority. AF-Delay depends on many things but find that short to off if you are really good at tracking, or just normal for novices. I personally try to use spot focus and minimum number of tracking spots. These days settled on 21 points

3) Use Auto-ISO, set base ISO maybe 800, set max ISO on D700 to 6400 if you can tolerate a little noise and minimum shutterspeed to 1/500. My preference is always wide open F2 or F2.8!

Nadia373 wrote:

Wow, did I mess up at my Nephew's hockey game. I totally don't understand how to focus during a hockey game. Most of the pictures were blurred, with a few sharp players in the middle of blurred. The lighting and colors were great and no grain. At the game I switched between single to continous focus and all the pictures were bad, it did not matter. I used dynamic auto area AF and 51 points; I read that I should use less focus points. My camera is set on AF-S for focus priority and AF-C release and focus. Focus tracking with lock off. My ISO was set for auto and the pictures were great no grain and bright. I used a 24-70 mm 1:2.8 FX lens. Aperture setting with F 7 set. Yes hand held. I think I need to stick with my portriat pictures. Any suggestions for next time?

Thanks in advance,
Nadia

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tyb
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Re: Total Focus Misses at Hockey Game with D700
In reply to tyb, Jan 15, 2012
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Petruska
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Simple, shoot in burst mode...
In reply to Nadia373, Jan 15, 2012

I had the same problem as you and when I started to shoot every capture in burst mode, about 5 frames per push of the shutter release, I was able to pick out the sharpest photo in post processing. Trying to just shoot one frame at a time and get a very sharp photo with locked on focus is demanding.

Read Nikon D4 interview floating around here and it is even discussed about what frame in burst mode does the focusing lock on, thus they are saying frame number one won't be in focus much of the time.

Digital shots don't cost any money as long as you have a large and fast memory card.

Bob P.

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Ilkka Nissilä
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Re: Total Focus Misses at Hockey Game with D700
In reply to Nadia373, Jan 15, 2012

Try 9 point and single point focus area; forget about the 51 point thing, it is way too slow and peculiar in its functioning to use for fast paced sports like hockey.

Select your focus point in advance to where you think you want your main subject, compose slightly loosely and keep the focus point on the subject's face while you take the shots.

Hockey is quite hard to shoot and you need to practice a lot. Don't give up - eventually you will get it right.

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Nadia373
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Re: Total Focus Misses at Hockey Game with D700
In reply to NeilJones, Jan 15, 2012

Thank you all for your help. My shutter speed was set on 1/30 and F stop at 7.1. Also, I had 51 auto points in dynamic. Honestly, I did not think of my shutter speed and setting my AV setting to 2.8 instead of 7.1. So what should my shutter speed be? I will do as suggested and go to other games to practice, now I understand why sport shooting is so hard; I will stick to posed pictures. Yes my lens is probably not for sports, I do have a 70-200 VR, the old model, not for full frame. I was told there is too much distortion.

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Marianne Oelund
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You were seriously using auto-area for sports?
In reply to Nadia373, Jan 15, 2012

Nadia373 wrote:

I used dynamic auto area AF and 51 points;

There's your problem. With Auto area AF, you are letting the camera pick your subject, which will rarely be the one you want, especially with team sports. Not to mention that you are asking the camera to evaluate all 51 AF points, which means the AF will be very s-l-o-w.

You must use Dynamic AF area, which lets you select your subject with the initially-active AF sensor that you choose. Keep the number of AF points modest, 9 or 21, to minimize processing time for AF. Always use Continuous AF for moving subjects.

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michaeladawson
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Re: Total Focus Misses at Hockey Game with D700
In reply to Nadia373, Jan 15, 2012

The old model 70-200 works just fine. It has a bit of vignetting that shows when you shoot at wider apertures. Easily corrected in post. Don't be scared off by what you have read.

If it was me I would start at ISO 3200. Or put the camera in Auto ISO with the top limit set to 3200 or 6400. That's just me. I would try shooting at 1/500s and I would shoot at f/4 as a start and take it from there.

Nadia373 wrote:

Thank you all for your help. My shutter speed was set on 1/30 and F stop at 7.1. Also, I had 51 auto points in dynamic. Honestly, I did not think of my shutter speed and setting my AV setting to 2.8 instead of 7.1. So what should my shutter speed be? I will do as suggested and go to other games to practice, now I understand why sport shooting is so hard; I will stick to posed pictures. Yes my lens is probably not for sports, I do have a 70-200 VR, the old model, not for full frame. I was told there is too much distortion.

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Higuma
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Shutter speed is your problem...
In reply to Nadia373, Jan 15, 2012

As you stated above that you were shooting at 1/30th of a second...

That shutter speed will virtually NEVER get you in focus shots at any sports event - especially hockey...

1/30 is for flower pictures with no wind (generalizing of course) and is not even fast enough to get you many portrait shots in focus without motion blur...

Next time bump the ISO and open the f-stop - try to achieve a minimum shutter speed of 1/250th for peewee hockey and faster for more talented teenagers...

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260684
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Seriously?
In reply to Nadia373, Jan 15, 2012

Nadia373 wrote:

Thank you all for your help. My shutter speed was set on 1/30 and F stop at 7.1. Also, I had 51 auto points in dynamic. Honestly, I did not think of my shutter speed and setting my AV setting to 2.8 instead of 7.1. So what should my shutter speed be? I will do as suggested and go to other games to practice, now I understand why sport shooting is so hard; I will stick to posed pictures. Yes my lens is probably not for sports, I do have a 70-200 VR, the old model, not for full frame. I was told there is too much distortion.

I don't want to be rude, but I am totally dumbfounded that someone that owns a D700, professional glass like a 24-70 2.8 and from what you are describing an 80-200 2.8 (which by the way is for full frame!) doesn't even understand the basics? I cannot understand why you where shooting at f/7.1 when you where only getting 1/30? 1/30 wouldn't freeze a person walking slowly let alone a hockey player? Obviously you do not understand exposure. Distortion? Forget about it, you are way off track with this; this is totally irrelevant for you (besides the 80-200 is fine - you wouldn't even notice distortion). Get a book or read more on the net about how ISO, shutter speed and aperture interelate to give exposure, then read up on specifically sports shooting.
Good luck!

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Nadia373
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Re: Shutter speed is your problem...
In reply to Higuma, Jan 16, 2012

Thank you so much. I totally forgot about my shutter speed and I need to change it also for basic shooting. What should I set it on for most pictures like birthday parties, weddings, etc.? I have had this camera for over a year and just now pulled the manual out, shame on me. No wonder I failed at hockey, yes they were teenagers and fast. Professional I am not but persistant I am.
Nadia

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mee
mee
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Re: Shutter speed is your problem...
In reply to Higuma, Jan 16, 2012

I would have use Center Spot AF, shutter speed of at least 1/250th to freeze the players, largest sharpest aperture the lens will performed at and chose the highest ISO the light would allow. But that is just me with my preference for action sports.

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