01-01-2017 11:06 AM
Your current camera is a bit limited in ISO performance. It can't use a particularly high ISO and when at the ISO's it can handle, it's fairly "noisy". A new camera can certainly solve the problem that way, but it wont be under $500 (but it could easily be under $1000).
Another angle to consider is the lens. The lens you are using is a standard "kit" lens with a variable focal ratio which means that as you "zoom" the lowest possible focal ratio that the lens can handle will vary. At the wide angle end it can handle f/2.8 but when zoomed in even just about half way to the 55mm end (say... around 40mm) the lens' lowest possible focal ratio will be f/5.6. An f/2.8 zoom would allow 4x more light than an f/5.6 lens. You could also select one of the primes such as the 40mm pancake lens or the 50mm f/1.8 STM lens. (f/1.8 collects roughly 10x more light than f/5.6).
But this has some drawbacks as well. When you go to a lower focal ratio, you're reducing the "depth of field" of the camera. "Depth of field" is the range of distances at which a subject will appear to be acceptably focused. At f/5.6 you'd have some room to play with (the subject can move a little and it will still appear to be a reasonably focused shot). But at f/2.8 it gets shallower and at f/1.8 it gets very shallow (meaning if the subject moves much at all the camera can miss focus.) You can combat that by switching the camera to "AI Servo" focus mode (which causes the camera to continuously focus -- you wont hear it beep to confirm focus in that mode because it never stops focusing.)
And then of course... there's the light. THE best way to solve this problem is to provide adequate light. The flash can easily freeze action. Flashes such as the 430EX-III RT also have a built-in focus assist beam that lights up a red pattern the camera can easily use to lock focus -- even in a completely dark room it will lock focus with no problem.) It's a great solution, but the downside is that you may not like the look of the light.
To get around the "look" of straight-on flash, these larger flashes allow you to point the head of the flash anywhere you want -- you don't have to point it straight at the subject. It has enough power to let you "bounce" the light off the ceiling giving you a shower of light rather than a pin-point source of light that came from the camera. If you are too close you'll get the "racoon eyes" (eye sockets are in shadow when the light comes from above) so a small bounce card can kick a tiny amount of light forward to fill in the eye-sockets (even though most light comes from above) and it even creates a nice reflection in your subject's eyes.
01-01-2017 11:32 AM - edited 01-01-2017 11:33 AM
"I have enjoyed perusing this forum as a visitor, and I hope to eventually contribute as I gain more knowledge. I consider myself an advanced beginner... ha ha! I have using a Rebel XSi (450D) for 8 years, out of automatic mode as much as possible (though I haven't progressed to manual focus because I mostly take pictures of my kids, who can't sit still). "
I rarely focus manually when I am hand holding the camera.
Just about the only time I do manual focus, is when I use my Rokinon 14mm manual focus lens, which has a very short hyperfocal distance, roughly 8 feet at f/2.8 and 6 feet at f/4. The short hyperfocal distance means that once I set focus at the hyperfocal distance, everything beyond a few feet is in sharp focus. I don't need to adjust it as I walk around, just periodically check that it has not moved.
I will frequently manual focus when the camera is mounted on a tripod, depending upon the shooting scenario, though. Because when I am using a tripod, I usually have the time to do it. Usually, I am shooting a subject that is hard for the camera to achieve critical focus, or I don't want the camera to change the focus once I have "locked" it in.