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Which lens? EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM or EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM - for indoor volleyball...

lilh
Contributor

Or perhaps something else?

 

I'm looking for recommendations for the best lens option for indoor volleyball, typically shot in poorly-lit high school gyms. I'd also use it for indoor flag football, but this is not as critical as the volleyball. I hate noise!  I recently upgraded from an 80D (still own) to a 5D Mk 4. I own the Canon 24-70 2.8L II. (also own the 100-400L IS II for outdoor baseball, softball, and football).  While the 24-70 is a great lens, I do a lot of cropping (I prefer the close-ups).  Even at ISO 3200 (or 600!), cropped images are just too noisy for my preference.  I'm wondering if adding another lens will remedy this, and I'm considering one of the following:

 

EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM  (I've heard the III is not worth the additional cost)

EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM

 

Will the f2.8 at the longer focal length where I don't have to crop as much, give me enough light to limit the noise?  Or should I go with the faster f1.4 and sacfrifice the 86-200 length and the zoom factor? I'm aware with this lens I'd need to watch the DOF at the faster fstop.

 

I also shoot in RAW and process (including noise reduction) w/LR and ocassionally PS.

 

I know I can rent to try, but an overwhelming consensus one way or the other might remedy the need for that.

 

Thanks in advance for recommendations!

 

 

30 REPLIES 30

Nice shot!  Smiley Happy

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!

A word about using these extreme ISO numbers.  They are, IMHO, a, "use that high ISO or don't get the shot" situation.

I avoid them as much as I possibly can. It is a last resort.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!


@lilh wrote:

...

I think I'm just trying to convince myself that I 'need' the 70-200.  🙂  Everybody  raves about it!

 


Join the crowd. Pretty much every serious photographer in this forum owns the 70-200, or at least has access to one. I had one at work, but had to give it back when I retired. I didn't think I could do without it, so I bought myself one. Considered it an unavoidable expense associated with retiring.

Bob
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA


@lilh wrote:

Thanks for the quick reply!

 

I agree with all you said, and I think the biggest issue (aside from being a noise snob) is the cropping factor.  I went back and looked at some of my images and found the ones where I don't have to crop as much are somewhat better.  There were even a few with ISO at 6400 that were not too bad as they were in better focus due to a faster shutter speed.  I also have to admit I've only had the 5D for a few weeks and all shots have been on the flag football field as volleyball tournaments have not started yet.  Lighting should be sightly better at volleyball due to the wood floors providing a better reflective surface.  The flag football field is green turf and it's pretty dark in there. I'm definitely going to add one more lens as I want something that fits in between the 2, so I'd still like to know which one would serve me the best...


Shooting indoor sports can be as much a challenge for the gear as it is for the photographers.  With a little practice, trial and error, it is not too hard to find your own “best practice” to get the shots that you want.

 

I am by no means an expert on shooting indoor sports, but you cannot go too far wrong with a high shutter speed.  What works best for me is shooting in Manual mode with ISO set to Auto.  I then go into the menus and cap Auto ISO at some value.  This gives me complete, independent control over SS and Av, while the camera sets ISO for the exposure.  The only tweaking that is needed is dialing when AEC when I need it.

 

I have found using AEC can be beneficial.  I shoot with a 6D2 in low light scenarios.  When ISO wants to go to 25600, or higher, then I like to dial in up to one stop of negative AEC to stay within the 12800 cap put on the Auto ISO.  If I need more than one stop of negative AEC, then I start slowing down the shutter speed.

By using negative AEC, it helps to minimize the noise in the shadows, and LR can bring up the highlights, which mask noise better than shadows, in post.  Most of the time, losing details in the dark areas of low light shots is a “don’t care condition”.  I look at it as being somewhat equivalent to background blur.  As long as my subject is fairly well lit up in highlights, I am not as concerned about any loss of the details in shadows.

--------------------------------------------------------
"The right mouse button is your friend."

Waddizzle,

 

This is exactly how I started shooting indoors with the 5D - Manual mode with Auto ISO.  But I capped my ISO at a much lower setting - the thought of it ever spiking up to 12800 makes me - 'shudder.'   I have not tried the negative AEC, but I will next time out.  I feel the same way about the shadow areas - I'd rather lose detail there than deal with noise.  

 

Thanks for the tip!


@lilh wrote:

Waddizzle,

 

This is exactly how I started shooting indoors with the 5D - Manual mode with Auto ISO.  But I capped my ISO at a much lower setting - the thought of it ever spiking up to 12800 makes me - 'shudder.'   I have not tried the negative AEC, but I will next time out.  I feel the same way about the shadow areas - I'd rather lose detail there than deal with noise.  

 

Thanks for the tip!


Oh, I do not use ISO 12800.  In practice, I try to stay at or below ISO 3200. The ISO12800 cap is just a backstop, plus it gives some room to “cheat” when conditions are really bad.

 

A594C62B-2BE0-488D-96AC-ECC315CB8491.jpeg

 

The above photo was taken one night when I was shooting everything with -1 Ev of AEC.  Most shots were ISO 10000 to ISO 12800, after compensaton.   Focus is on the ball carrier.  I am guessing shutter speed was around 1/400.

--------------------------------------------------------
"The right mouse button is your friend."

Waddizzle - this is a great shot - I'm impressed!  Do you mind if I ask what lens you used and whether or not this is cropped?    Football is my favorite sport to photograph and I crop all my shots. But my grandson is only 10 so it will be awhile before I have to shoot any high school night games.  Although he does play a few night baseball games so I'm hoping to get better at those this year.  Another reason I am leaning towards the 70-200 lens.

 

Thanks for sharing that image!


@lilh wrote:

Waddizzle - this is a great shot - I'm impressed!  Do you mind if I ask what lens you used and whether or not this is cropped?    Football is my favorite sport to photograph and I crop all my shots. But my grandson is only 10 so it will be awhile before I have to shoot any high school night games.  Although he does play a few night baseball games so I'm hoping to get better at those this year.  Another reason I am leaning towards the 70-200 lens.

 

Thanks for sharing that image!


Thank-you.  That was the 6D2 and the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM.  Yes, the shot has been cropped.  I was near the goal line, and the play was around mid-field.  Call it between the 40s.  In fact, the SS may have been as slow 1/200.  I would need to check my archives when I get back home.

--------------------------------------------------------
"The right mouse button is your friend."

Waddizzle - 

"...That was the 6D2 and the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM.  Yes, the shot has been cropped."

 

Now I'm even more thrilled. Since I already own that lens, I'm thinking I'll be able to get better shots with the 5D than I could with the 80D (although it's a very nice crop frame, just not as good in low light).  Maybe not at our night baseball games, as those lights are horrible, and it's hard to get close to the action. But with the tips you've provided, I'm certainly going to try!  Much appreciated!

 

 

TCampbell
Elite

BTW, noise is relatively easy to control if you think about how things work.

 

Every camera has noise at every ISO.  You just don't notice it at low ISOs.  If you were to shoot an exposure with the lens covered, you'd get a black photo (no suprise).  But if you actually moused over each individual pixel, you'd find the pixels don't technically read "0, 0, 0" for RGB ... they'd read some very low non-zero values.  This is the bias value of the sensor.  You'd also notice that the value varies from pixel to pixel by a very tiny amount.  

 

When you boost ISO, the camera has to amplify the values.   This means pixels that were so close (but not identical) that you could not notice a difference, start to show more of a difference and ... now you "notice" the noise.  

 

To de-noise, the software compares pixels to it's neighbors and averages down the values and this makes the nosie go away.  But a side-effect of this is that areas that are supposed to show sharp detail now start to look a little soft (becuase crisp sharp edges were "averaged" with their neighbors.)

 

Noise is very noticeable in flat areas that lack important detail.  This means you can REALLY help an image if you could protect the areas that need to be sharp (edges of contrast) and just de-noise the areas away from the edges.  

 

In Photoshop you can create an "edge mask" (there's no specific tool with this name ... but there are techniques to build one fairly quickly) and then de-noise the image with the edge-mask protecting the edges.

 

But it turns out this is a built-in feature if you use Lightroom.

 

Pull up your photo, switch to the Develop module, then scroll down along the right to find the "Detail" panel (that's the panel that lets you do sharpening and de-noising).

 

In the "Sharpening" section of the Detail box, you'll find a slider named "Masking".

 

Here's the trick.  Instead of adjusting the slider ... HOLD DOWN your Alt/Option key WHILE moving the slider.

 

When the slider is all the way left and you're holding down the Alt/Option key, the whole image will go solid white.  What this means is EVERYTHING is "in bounds" when it comes to adjustments for sharpening or de-noising).  

 

As you drag the slider to the right, more and more of the image will start to go black and what you'll notice is that just edges of contrast (where you should have detail) are still white.  This is your "edge mask".

 

When you apply sharpening, it will ONLY sharpen in areas that are white (edges of contrast) and it will NOT attempt to sharpen the black areas (flatter areas of the image that don't have contrasty detail).  This means you can sharpen just the parts of the image that matter without driving up noise globally across the entire image.

 

ALSO... when you apply "noise reduction", it will de-noise the flat areas that lack contrasty detail but will PROTECT the edges that need contrasty detail.

 

There are other 3rd party tools that also apply clever techniquest (noise tends to be more noticeble in dark areas and less noticeable in highlights ... so they apply more or less aggressive de-noising depening on the tonal range of the area in the image.

 

Lastly... you can always grab the "adjustment brush" tool in Lightroom and tell it to just apply sharpeing or de-noising in specific areas.  

 

I used to hate noise ... but now that I've learned technqiues for dealing with it ... it's really no big deal.

 

 

Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da
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