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How to keep background in focus when shooting indoor basketball on a t5i 18-135mm

PCarroll
Occasional Contributor

I am new to this and so far I love my camera. However shooting these games is sometimes difficult.  How do I keep the background from being out of focus. Sometimes using the auto focus it catches someone's arm that closer than the intended subject and I miss the shot. How do I avoid that. Your help is appreciated.  Thanks

1 ACCEPTED SOLUTION

Skirball
Respected Contributor

When you look through the viewfinder you'll see 9 boxes arranged in a pattern.  These are the AF points.  When using all points the camera checks all points and sees if there is something it can focus on at that point.  It then decides what the subject is and focus on it.  Sometimes it will jump back and forth between something in the foreground and background.  But since the subject is typically in the foreground the camera is typically going to choose that over background noise.  In your case, something is coming into the foreground and the camera is choosing that as the focus point since it's the closest.  Best way to eliminate is to be cognizant of all AF points when shooting.  If things are too dynamic to keep all 9 points free of non-subjects, then move to a single AF point:

 

If you want precise choice of the focus point then change it to only read the center point.  There should be a button on the upper right that allow this.  If you half press the shutter the camera will focus on whatever is at the center point.  You can then recompose (if you want) and take the photo.

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11 REPLIES 11

Skirball
Respected Contributor

When you look through the viewfinder you'll see 9 boxes arranged in a pattern.  These are the AF points.  When using all points the camera checks all points and sees if there is something it can focus on at that point.  It then decides what the subject is and focus on it.  Sometimes it will jump back and forth between something in the foreground and background.  But since the subject is typically in the foreground the camera is typically going to choose that over background noise.  In your case, something is coming into the foreground and the camera is choosing that as the focus point since it's the closest.  Best way to eliminate is to be cognizant of all AF points when shooting.  If things are too dynamic to keep all 9 points free of non-subjects, then move to a single AF point:

 

If you want precise choice of the focus point then change it to only read the center point.  There should be a button on the upper right that allow this.  If you half press the shutter the camera will focus on whatever is at the center point.  You can then recompose (if you want) and take the photo.

ebiggs1
Forum Elite

Most likely cause is not enough light.   Which means the apperture the camera is selecting to get the exposure right is too wide (smaller number).  As that number goes down the depth-of-field, DOF, also get smaller.  And that means less will be in focus.

 

Try selecting a higher ISO number.  The T5i has an outstanding ISO range and you should be able to use 6400 easily.

Plus I would only use the center focus point for action shots like a BB game.

 

You do realize there is a limit to what the camera is capable of?  Hopefully you are not out of it's ability.  Smiley Happy

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

PCarroll
Occasional Contributor
Thanks for the input. It worked well.

PCarroll
Occasional Contributor
Thanks for the advice. I will keep an eye for these numbers and continue to read and study my owners manual.

TCampbell
Esteemed Contributor

You may want to try out "back button focus".  

 

This moves the auto-focus activation to a button OTHER than the shutter button.  It means that as you track a player on the court, if someone close temporarily gets in the way, the camera will NOT re-focus on that distracting subject.  The camera will ONLY focus when you press the "back button".  You use a technique with your finger on the shutter as always, but your thumb on the back-button.  You activate the focus button with your thumb (or just hold it in) but as you spot someone about to get in your way, you RELEASE the back button so the camera continues to be able to shoot... but wont re-focus.  As soon as whatever was in your way is back out of your way, you can press the back-button again to resume focus.

 

On your camera the 'back button" is the asterisk (*) button -- but you have to enable back-button focus for it to have an effect.

 

Go into Menu and navigate to Custom Fn. IV "Operation/Others" and scroll over to sub-option 6 which is "Shutter / AE Lock button".  

 

You'll have 4 choices (0 through 3) and "0" is the default.  But the key is knowing how to read Canon's notation on this screen. You'll see a partial description, a slash (/), and another partial description.  Everything BEFORE the slash (/) will be performed by the front button (shutter button).  Everything AFTER the slash will be performed by the back button (the asterisk button).

 

If, for example, you pick choice #1 "AE lock/AF" it means that if you half press the front button it will perform an AE lock and if you press the back-button it will activate AF.  I would probably try #1 or #3 (#3 is identical to #1 except that it wont "lock" the AE after metering... it will meter continuously and since your subject is moving from area to area as you track them and the light may be changing, you probably want continuous metering (hence #3).  

 

If you choose #1 then as soon as you half-press the shutter, it will lock metering and keep that exposure set ... if a subject moves to different lighting it will not update the metering UNLESS you release and half-press the shutter again.   Using #3 it will just keep updating the metering as they move.

 

Back button focusing is popular among a lot of sports photographers but it isn't for everyone (some people hate it) and it does take some time to get used to the feel of it until it comes naturally to you.   But once it does finally start to come naturally to you, you'll find you have a LOT more control because now you can indepently control focus vs. shooting (you don't have to force a re-focus (to a subject you didn't want to focus on) just to be able to shoot.)

 

VERY IMPORANT:  If you DO try out back-button focus... don't forget you did that.  Otherwise the next time you grab the camera and try to take a photo, you're going to think your AF system is broken when you press the shutter button and nothing focuses (yep... done that!)

 

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

PCarroll
Occasional Contributor
Thanks Tcampbell. That's more information I didn't understand. Saw it in manual but didn't have a clue. Thank u for going into detail and explaining how it works and it's purpose. I will try this and see how it works. I really appreciate all the help. My pictures continue to improve thanks to you all.

Skirball
Respected Contributor

Start with center point focus, in One Shot mode.  You've learned about AF modes, and you've learned how to select and use your AF points.  Two valuable skills that will have a positive impact on your photography.  Once you've mastered those skills then worry about things like back button focus and whatnot.

ScottyP
Respected Contributor
Indoor basketball is very demanding on equipment,mbecause it is a.) fast action, and b.) in dim indoor light. You need a fast shutter to freeze the action, but the fast shutter does not let much light in. And you are already indoors where there isn't a whole lot of light to begin with. This forces you (or it forces your camera, if you are in auto modes) to increase the sensor's light sensitivity setting (ISO), but at high ISO your image quality is poor due to digital noise/ grain and to the camera recording less detail/resolution.

The solution is more expensive lenses with wider apertures to let more light in, but as mentioned above, wide aperture gives shallow depth of field in focus. That out-of-focus background is therefore your friend. It is also a desirable thing, when you get the focus on the intended subject anyway. Your subject will stand out if the background and foreground are blurry.
Scott

Canon 5d mk 4, 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"?

"...  lenses with wider apertures to let more light in, ..."

 

If the goal was 'more in focus' that suggestion won't help.  The "wider" aperture will make less in focus as the DOF decreases.

The OP either needs to get the focus point more accurate or use a higher ISO to keep the lens aperture smaller (larger number=larger DOF).

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