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Super Contributor
Posts: 206
Registered: ‎05-19-2016

Photographing Gymnastics?

Hello:

 

I have been asked to help shoot a gymastics event, mostly childrens balance beam.

Curious to know if anyone has done it. Seems it's going to be a long day.....

Thanks!

 

Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,701
Registered: ‎12-02-2012

Re: Photographing Gymnastics?

Tough to do because you have fast action in a relatively dim indoor venue.  Have tried with my own kids.  Assuming this is not a super bright made-for-the-Olympics gym:

 

You want an f/2.8 or faster lens.

 

Frame closely so you don't need to crop much, because at high ISO you don't capture as much detail, so you don't have much detail to spare by cropping.  Get closer if you need to. 

 

Shoot RAW so you can tackle noise and WB issues better. 

 

Make sure to get a shot shot of something white or a white card if there is mixed lighting. 

 

Move around some to avoid getting 400 photos from the exact same viewpoint. 

 

 

Scott

Canon 6D, EF 70-200mm L f/2.8 IS mk2; EF 16-35 f/2.8 L mk. III; Sigma 35mm f/1.4 "Art" EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro; EF 85mm f/1.8; EF 1.4x extender mk. 3; EF 24-105 f/4 L; EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS; 3x Phottix Mitros+ speedlites

Why do so many people say "FER-tographer"? Do they take "fertographs"?
Super Contributor
Posts: 206
Registered: ‎05-19-2016

Re: Photographing Gymnastics?

Thank you for the info.

I don't know about the gym, but it's a  tournament type so I am assuming it's big, but I'll check.

 

Also on your focus points, did you use 'Automatic AF point selection' or a '4 point AF point expansion'?

 

I have a 70-200 L f2.8 II IS USM for my lens and 7d mark II for the body.

 

Thank you,

David

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 2,999
Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: Photographing Gymnastics?


ilzho wrote:

Thank you for the info.

I don't know about the gym, but it's a  tournament type so I am assuming it's big, but I'll check.

 

Also on your focus points, did you use 'Automatic AF point selection' or a '4 point AF point expansion'?

 

I have a 70-200 L f2.8 II IS USM for my lens and 7d mark II for the body.

 

Thank you,

David


If you're using AI Servo mode, the camera can "follow" the subject as they move if you used the Automatic AF point selection mode, but you do get to pick the initial AF point.  I have not personally tested this mode in low light (I've used it in brighter lighting and it works great.)

 

In poor light, there are two modes that work well... the "exanded AF" mode borrows 4 points (above, below, left, and right of your selected center point) and there's also "surround AF" (borrows all 8 adjacent points to assist the center point.)  But these modes don't "follow" the subject if the subject moves.  You can use AI Servo (continuous focus) mode but you'll need to follow the subject with the lens to keep the focus point on them.

 

 

Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da
Honored Contributor
Posts: 7,932
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: Photographing Gymnastics?

David,

"Also on your focus points..."

 

Use just the center focus point.  Turn the others off.  Do not use AI-Servo. Use One Shot.  You already know all the exposure stuff so no need to go into that. Use what works!

 

 Most importantly, again as usual, the most important thing is location, location and location.  If you are in a bad spot, your pictures will be bad, too.  If you have to shoot from the bleachers, you are not going to get those fantastic shots.

 

I love the ef 70-200mm f2.8L and it is certainly my workhorse but if you are allowed to get on the floor, it may be too long. Even at 70mm on a 7D Mk II.  This means you need to take your ef 24-70mm f2.8L or equivalent with you.

 

I shoot and have shot tons of school events.  Traveled all over this great USA shooting them.  I never have been in a properly lighted gym from the photographers point of view.  So, you deal with and work with what you are handed.  It is just the nature of the game. Comes with the territory. This brings me to my last thought, get there early, perhaps even a day before.  Make your test shots.  Take your laptop and tether the 7D and make trials.  Even better with subjects, maybe at  a practice or warm-up.

A lot of Canon stuff. Along with, a lot of other stuff.
Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 2,999
Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: Photographing Gymnastics?


ebiggs1 wrote:

David,

"Also on your focus points..."

 

Use just the center focus point.  Turn the others off.  Do not use AI-Servo. Use One Shot.  


This really depends on whether the subject you are shooting is in motion -- or more accurately -- if the focus distance between camera and subject is changing.

 

Just to be clear... 

 

In "One Shot" mode, the camera begins focusing when you activate the focus system (either with a half-press of the shutter button or by pressing the "back button" (if enabled), and it attempts to focus the subject at the select focus point(s).  Once focus is achived, it switches OFF the auto-focus system.  After this point it waits for you to fully press the shutter to take the shot... but if the subject moves the camera will NOT re-focus... it never re-focuses after the initial focus confirmation is achieved.  

 

One other nuance of "One Shot" mode... the camera will not take the shot at all unless it can confirm that focus has been achieved.

 

In "AI Servo" mode, you still activate the focus system in the same way... but the camera continuously focuses.  Even after achieving focus it continues to check the focus in case the subject distance changed and would react to that by re-focusing.

 

However, the nuance of this mode is that the camera will take a shot when you fully press the shutter and it will do this even if it hasn't had time to focus.  So you do have to make sure you're getting the focus before you fully press the button or you'll be disappointed with the results.

 

Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da
Honored Contributor
Posts: 7,932
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: Photographing Gymnastics?

"This really depends on whether the subject you are shooting is in motion ..."

 

It really depends on whether you want to get the shot or not.  AI-Servo almost guarantees you will not, unless you get it right and the situation is right.  It has too many pitfalls and places where it goes awry.

A lot of Canon stuff. Along with, a lot of other stuff.
Super Contributor
Posts: 206
Registered: ‎05-19-2016

Re: Photographing Gymnastics?

Ai servo has worked for me on moving subjects, but I have not tried gymnastics.
Why the dissatisfaction with ai servo?
Honored Contributor
Posts: 7,932
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: Photographing Gymnastics?

How about this for starters?

 

"... the camera will take a shot when you fully press the shutter and it will do this even if it hasn't had time to focus.  So you do have to make sure you're getting the focus before you fully press the button or you'll be disappointed with the results."

 

It is flakey at best. I have used it. I have gotten it to work. I don't like it. I see it as a solution to a problem we didn't have.

A lot of Canon stuff. Along with, a lot of other stuff.
Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 3,524
Registered: ‎06-25-2014

Re: Photographing Gymnastics?


ilzho wrote:
Ai servo has worked for me on moving subjects, but I have not tried gymnastics.
Why the dissatisfaction with ai servo?

I've not photographed gymnastics either, but I've watched a fair amount of it. With floor exercises, the gymnast is all over the field of view, so you may need heroic measures to keep her in focus. But with the other exercises (horse, bars, beam, rings, etc.), you should be able to position yourself so that the main action is always reasonably in focus (i.e., within a properly chosen DoF), even if the gymnast is moving fast within the field. So in this case Ernie's probably right that center point and one-shot will work as well as anything.

Bob
Boston, Massachusetts USA
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