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Occasional Contributor
Posts: 17
Registered: ‎03-04-2013

Sharpness of Moving Subjects Indoors

So I was a wedding photographer for years and shot square format using lots of different techniques both indoors and outdoors. The subject rarely moves unless dancing. So there was lots that can be done.   Now, I shoot a Mark4 and a Mark3 but mostly of my children during their life’s events. Yes I shoot at work (not my primary role but rather an ancillary duty), but typically outdoors where ample light is not a problem.

 

When shooting my kids at their karate tournaments, it is typically in a gymnasium. Yes there are some windows and lots of metal halide lights. But when trying to freeze the type of a katana during karate forms demonstration, one must crank up the shutter speed.   Like 640 plus. This just kills the ability to use a non grainy ISO. typically at 12,800iso at F3.2 just to keep the exposure in the ball park.

  

And of course it never fails some mom posts a pic with an iPhone that is tack sharp and I need to hear why are my photos grainy.   Granted the iPhone was not freezing the action to the same degree, but it is pretty damned good.

  

I guess my question, without using a flash, any recommended settings that will offer good results at freezing the action with keeping the ISO out of the grain.

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Posts: 1,971
Registered: ‎02-26-2015

Re: Sharpness of Moving Subjects Indoors


@mgrabow wrote:

So I was a wedding photographer for years and shot square format using lots of different techniques both indoors and outdoors. The subject rarely moves unless dancing. So there was lots that can be done.   Now, I shoot a Mark4 and a Mark3 but mostly of my children during their life’s events. Yes I shoot at work (not my primary role but rather an ancillary duty), but typically outdoors where ample light is not a problem.

 

When shooting my kids at their karate tournaments, it is typically in a gymnasium. Yes there are some windows and lots of metal halide lights. But when trying to freeze the type of a katana during karate forms demonstration, one must crank up the shutter speed.   Like 640 plus. This just kills the ability to use a non grainy ISO. typically at 12,800iso at F3.2 just to keep the exposure in the ball park.

  

And of course it never fails some mom posts a pic with an iPhone that is tack sharp and I need to hear why are my photos grainy.   Granted the iPhone was not freezing the action to the same degree, but it is pretty damned good.

  

I guess my question, without using a flash, any recommended settings that will offer good results at freezing the action with keeping the ISO out of the grain.


The iPhone is using a lot of noise reduction and sharpening. When displayed at web resolutions it looks fine. You can do the same with your photos. Likely you are critiquing your photos at 100% and full camera resolution on your monitor. If you want to match the iPhone output add as much noise reduction as needed. Or (gasp) go ahead and shoot JPG and see how those photos compare. Especially when down sized to 1920X1080.

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Posts: 1,861
Registered: ‎12-02-2012

Re: Sharpness of Moving Subjects Indoors

^^
That. Exactly.

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"?
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Reputable Contributor
Posts: 790
Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: Sharpness of Moving Subjects Indoors

Another thing you can do is use a larger aperture lens.... f3.5 the largest you have? Get an f2.8 zoom or f2.0, f1.8, f1.4 prime. This might allow you to use lower ISO, yet still have a fast enough shutter speed.

 

Not sure which cameras you are using, either. "Mark 4" or "Mark 3" leaves a lot of possibilities. Well, okay, it's probably a 1D Mark IV, that's the only model that's seen a Mk IV version recently... But there are 1D Mark III, 1Ds Mark III and 5D Mark III. 1D Mark III is a 7 year old 10MP model. 1D Mark IV is a 5 year old, 16MP model. There have been some significant advancements in high ISO performance in newer models. 1DX, 5D Mark III and even 6D would likely outperform any 5+ year old models, in terms of low noise at high ISOs. All three are able to focus in roughly 2EV lower light too. The 1DX is the most capable of the three, for sports/action shooting. It has both very high performance auto focus and very high frame rate. 5DIII has very similar, though not quite as fast acting AFsystem, about half as fast frame rate. 6D has a much simpler AF system, okay but not ideal for sports/action, and even slower frame rate. But all three are exceptionally good delivering high ISO/low noise images.

 

Other things you can try:

 

Experiment with slower shutter speeds.... sometimes if you time your shots well, catch a "peak moment", it's possible to use 1/320 or even slower with moving subjects.

 

Or, use a flash. It will allow you to use much lower ISOs. The camera's flash sync might be only 1/250, but that doesn't really matter because the flash's short duration is itself acting like a high shutter speed... typically around 1/720 with most accessory flashes. Note: if you use flash, you should set the camera to M so that the flash is treated as the main/only light source. If you use any of the AE modes (Tv, Av, P), the camera will still expose for ambient light and the flash will fire only as "fill". With moving subjects, this causes "ghosting" (which can be cool, but will want to use "2nd Curtain Sync" for it to look right).

 

Canon and some other flash can do High Speed Sync (HSS) on most Canon camera models, allowing you to use shutter speed higher than the flash sync speed (typically 1/250 or so). The problem is that HSS reduces the flash's reach considerably. So carefully watch the distance range being indicated by the flash, whenever using HSS. Also, HSS and 2nd Curtain Sync cannot be used at the same time.

 

If possible, try different shooting locations. Often lighting varies a lot indoors and you might be able to find some angle that is brighter and still allows you to get the shots you want.

 

I agree with the previous suggestion, too... learn to post-process your images, applying noise reduction and then sharpening them as appropriate for the final image size and resolution (as determined by usage). With proper post-processing there is simply no way the tiny little CCD sensor of a camera phone can match the potential image quality of the much, much larger CMOS sensor of a DSLR.

 

***********
Alan Myers

San Jose, Calif., USA
"Walk softly and carry a big lens."
GEAR: 5DII, 7D(x2), 50D(x3), some other cameras, various lenses & accessories
FLICKR & PRINTROOM 

 





 

 

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Occasional Contributor
Posts: 17
Registered: ‎03-04-2013

Re: Sharpness of Moving Subjects Indoors

Well I used to shoot both JPG and Raw but since I found myself cherry picking images, I sust started shooting raw only.   I am not comparing it to the iphone.  Just pointing out thats what I hear.   Yes the noice reduction hids the grain for sure.   Since most of this type of stuff is to just share with family and friends, that is helpful.  Thanks.

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Posts: 17
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Re: Sharpness of Moving Subjects Indoors

Sorry 1D MK4 and 1D MK3.   I typically ise a 16-35mm 1:2.8L   I have an 85 1.2L  but because of how the events are layes out I need the flexebility of a wide angle zoom when close.  If I am in the stands I can use a prime but the 85mm requires too much croping in afterwards and makes the problem worse.   My bugger zoom is a 4.5-5.6L  so that forces me to push the ISO higer.  Cant really change my position as I am not the house photographer and I am limitted where I can stand.

 

I will definetly work on inproving my post processing skills.  

 

Just for illistration I am attacking a jpj that is cropped but not much else as far as post processing...(shot at F3.2 1/640, iso 10,000)_C1F8300.jpg

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Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 3,853
Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: Sharpness of Moving Subjects Indoors

A side-effect of tiny image chips is that the greatly expand the depth of field (they are not capable of shooting anything with a shallow DOF).

 

If you multiple the f-stop by the sensor crop factor you arrive at the effective f-stop for purposes of calculating DOF as compared to a 35mm or full-frame digitial camera using the same focal length lens (and of course it's not using the same focal length on it's lens.)

 

An iPhone 6 camera has a crop factor of 7.21 and it's lens has a focal ratio of 2.2 and it has a 4.15mm focal length.  But if you multiple 2.2 x 7.21 you get 15.86 (basically f/16)... but that's f/16 at 4.15mm focal length.  Focused to 10'... the DOF would put everything from 1/10th of a foot away to infinity in focus (no kidding.)  One hardly even need bother focusing to use it.

 

When compared to a 35mm focal length it works out to roughly the equivalent of a 30mm lens (moderately wide).

 

BTW, the ISO range on that camera is 32-2000 (it's a Sony Exmor RS).

 

Of course the camera app converts everything to JPEG and processes the images heavily.  

 

You can certainly de-noise images and play the sharpening game too.  I've never thought much of Photoshop's ability to de-noise images... I've found other sharpening apps (actually I use a plug-in) that offers me considerably more control.  But this is mostly because noise wont be uniform across an image.  You'll typically find more noise in dark areas and less in highlight areas.  The plug-in I use (Noiseware Pro by Imagenomic) allows me to set the aggressiveness of de-noising based on the tonal range.  That's nice because heavy de-noising has the side-effect of "softening" an image.  This way I can de-noise only those areas where the noise is at it's worst and do very little in the highlight areas which don't have much noise.  Also there's probably not much detail that will be scrutinized for sharpness in the shadows, but there will be in the highlights.

 

You can then turn around and apply sharpening if you want.  But keep in mind that sharpening also increases noise.  So rather than applying a global "sharpening" adjustment to an image, I selective sharpen using a tool that allows me to "brush on" the sharpening.  I can apply it to faces, for example, and ignore other areas.

 

Lightroom should allow you to do this (I still haven't converted to LIghtroom yet... all my work is in Aperture, but it has to be moved over to Lightroom because Apple has dropped support for Aperture.)

 

Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da
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Re: Sharpness of Moving Subjects Indoors

"I was a wedding photographer for years"

 

Hmm, OK, you should be very well aware of the basics of photography?  Right?  Just some observations more than actual procedure is:

 

Your equipment.  There isn't any new camera that has significantly better high ISO than your 1D Mk IV.  Perhaps the 5D Mk III is slightly better but unlikly very much better to warrant changing.  The 1Dx is better but is not grain free,  So on this point I am saying stick with the 1D Mk IV as the best choice for you.  Probably should give the ole Mk III a rest.

 

You said the have to crop the 85mm f1.2 but not the 16-35mm? Are you sure about that?  And you do know that huge apertures are not generally as sharp as the same focal length lens with a smaller one.  And it does make a get deal of difference where you are when you shoot, which could let you get by with a slower shutter or lower ISO.  As a wedding photographer you should be aware of that.

 

All Tim Campbell's reasoning is spot on, as usual, but I am going to add do get Lightroom 5.7.  LR 6 is out but knowing Adobe it is best to wait for LR 6.1 before you buy it.  Anyhow, LR uses ACR 9 which is absolutely the best RAW converter there is.  And RAW is where you should be. NEVER shoot in jpg!

 

The first thing you should apply is lens correction.  After that you can do your sharpening.  And remember less is more when you edit. A wedding photographer is well aware of that fact, too.  As a wedding photographer for many years myself I am not telling you anything new.

Right, of course right?Smiley Happy

 

 

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!
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Posts: 790
Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: Sharpness of Moving Subjects Indoors

[ Edited ]

@mgrabow wrote:

Sorry 1D MK4 and 1D MK3.   I typically ise a 16-35mm 1:2.8L   I have an 85 1.2L  but because of how the events are layes out I need the flexebility of a wide angle zoom when close.  If I am in the stands I can use a prime but the 85mm requires too much croping in afterwards and makes the problem worse.   My bugger zoom is a 4.5-5.6L  so that forces me to push the ISO higer.  Cant really change my position as I am not the house photographer and I am limitted where I can stand.

 


16-35mm is sorta wide to get many types of sports shots... though it's better on an APS-H camera like yours when you can get as close as in your example. Plus f2.8 is the max aperture it or practically any other zoom provides. At least it's got USM focus, which is fast in most cases. (Don't know what your bigger f4.5-5.6L zoom is, but I would guess it's the 70-300L that has USM and is also fast focusing, though the aperture somewhat limits it to "good light" conditions).

 

85/1.2L is a wonderful portraiture lens. But even though it's USM, it  is not the fastest focusing or most ideal for sports/action. With such an extremely large aperture lens capable of rendering razor thin depth of field, a "long throw" focus mechanism is used to emphasize accuracy, at some cost to speed. This is not typical of USM lenses. They are usually the fastest focusing. For example, the EF 85/1.8 USM is noticeably faster focusing than the 85/1.2L. 85/1.2L II is faster than the original, but still not as fast as the f1.8 lens (which is also a lot smaller and lighter). EF 28/1.8, EF 50/1.4, EF 85/1.8, EF 100/2, EF 135/2L are all very fast focusing USM lenses. So are the EF 70-200/2.8 and 70-200/4 lenses, though they are one or two or even three stops "slower".  

 

Looking at your shot, I don't see that foucs is likely to be your concern, but see another likely problem... the type of lighting being used. I'm guessing it's either flourescent, sodium vapor or mercury vapor. All these types of lighting are quite challenging for most cameras, because the lamps actually cycle on and off at a high rate (120 times per second in the US, 100 hz in some other parts of the world). This "fools" the camera meter and often the white balance as well. Another reason to shoot RAW, to have more latitude to correct missed exposure or white balance. The relatively recently introduced Canon 7DII has a new feature that's said to be able to compensate for this lighting effect. I haven't used it (yet), but if it works reasonably well it might be a real game changer for those of us who get stuck shooting in these types of lighting conditions often.

 

You should further research and experiment with noise reduction. I've had the good fortune to get some guidance from someone who did a lot of testing with 7D (original) like my cameras, and has provided a lot of info on high ISO work with them. It's a combination of using extra + Exposure Compensation, using a Noiseware plug-in with Photoshop. and with particularly high ISOs even applying different noise reduction in each of the color channels.  

 

At least you can be certain you're getting much better shots than the folks with camera phones, in the background of your sample shot! Smiley LOL

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Registered: ‎03-04-2013

Re: Sharpness of Moving Subjects Indoors

[ Edited ]

Thanks ebiggs1 (I think) for the reply.   At these Karate Tornaments you are in two places.  10 feet away or 50-100 feet away in the stands.   So the 16-35mm is my choice when I am at the 10 feet away.  The 85mm is useless at that distance unless I am trying to shoot just the upper body.   So the only place to use the 85mm is up in the stands.  Thus the need for cropping.

 

My wedding photography days were over  20 years ago. In those days you shoot,  send it off to CPQ for proofing.  Use the cropping cards and send them back.  No photoshop or editing done.  The guys at CPQ would use their judgement or tweek the images on request. There was no lense correction done, no sharpening, no editing, no post processing by the photographer.  The lab made any corrections that were possible in those days. In fact if I was shooting for another studio, I never even saw the pictures.  Just dropped off the film and picked up my check..   So yes I was quite familiar with basic photography in a controled or semi controlled environment.  Never had a need to shoot a photo at 10,000 ISO because I could set up any lights I wanted (depending on the church). Dont think my Bronica SQA had an ISO even close to that. So I do confess a lack of experience when shooting in questionable lighting conditions indoors with no flash.

 

 

I have CS6 so I will be working on my post processing skills using that.

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