I have nikon D90 and I use for sport pictures Nikon 70-200mm VR II 2.8 and Nikon 50 mm 1.4 lenses. I am taking pictures of quad hockey skates (rink hockey) in a field (20m*40m) outdoor in the evening (Poor lighting conditions).

A. when I use the Nikon 50 mm 1.4, I use the S (shutter speed) 1/400, Automatic ISO up to 3200 (I get 1600) and I get Aperture between 2 and 2.5. Does anybody have an idea to better setting (to get more light and good pictures of the players)?

B. when I use the Nikon 70-200 mm 2.8, I use the A (Aperture) 2.8, Automatic ISO up to 3200 (I get 1600) and I get shutter speed between 1/100 and 1/160.It is not fast enough for the players and I get blurring pictures. If I use the S (shutter speed) 1/400, the picture is dark. and if I use M (manual) 1/400 or 1/500, 2.8....I get again dark picture. Do you have an idea how to use this lens?

  • what do you mean exactly with "to get more light and good picture of the player?" good for what use? – AndroX Dec 28 '13 at 17:19
  • I mean less dark pictures – user24967 Dec 28 '13 at 18:40

I would probably keep it on manual, with a speed on about 1/250 or even 1/125 and ISO 3200 or 1600. keep the aperture on either max aperture and try up to 5.6 depend on the light.

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  • THANKS! 1/125 or 1/250 is not enough for the game speed. I will continue trying. – user24967 Dec 28 '13 at 18:53
  • Then the second option is probable stepping down the aperture as much as possible, such as 1.4 or 1.8 – Yao Bo Lu Dec 28 '13 at 22:45

Hockey is a fast, difficult sport to photograph.

1/400 sounds like the minimum acceptable shutter speed, so when you're running out of aperture with the 70-200 then your only choice is to boost the iso sensitivity still further. That's not ideal, I know, but the alternative is to spend money on a new camera that will give cleaner images at high sensitivities. If you're earning money from the photos that might be the best solution, but that's for you to decide.

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  • THANKS. I am taking pictures as a hobby, so buying another camera is not a choice now. I guess I'll use the 50 mm 1.4f which gives me better pictures in the evening. – user24967 Dec 28 '13 at 18:50

I assume that the illumination of the stadium is uniform (no darker area around), so there is no need to use automatic settings because the lighting condition aren't changing. For ISO settings, choose the highest possible value that maintains the picture acceptable enough and after post process with some noise reduction software (noise ninja or others). For the aperture to use keep in consideration how much is your DOF (Deep Of Field) related to the sport action you want to put in focus and the quality/sharpness of your lens at that aperture. Usually at maximum aperture the sharpness tend to be inferior to the optimal F8 results. For shutter speed you can achieve good result also at 1/250th if the action is slow (young players or adult league), otherwise (NHL) you should not go below 1/400th. In general if you take the action laterally and using a panning technique you could have more possibility to freeze the action. Also a good help could be the use of a monopod that permit a more stable basis for your shots and having less shaking from your side.

Of course more sensible camera can improve all the process letting you shot at higher iso.

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  • THANKS. It is not the NHL but it is fast.... – user24967 Dec 28 '13 at 19:24

When I shoot death metal concerts with headbanging hairs and flying guitars with 1.8 primes and 2.8 zoom I set the ISO to max (1600), shoot raw, and use Av. This often gives me too slow shutter, and thus I use exposure compensation -1 or -2 stops for faster exposure. I cant use manual as there's lots of lights going on and off, so I found it better to let the camera try to keep up with the varying light. And then I use lightroom to develop and push the exposure. It is important to note that the end result should reflect the darkness, so you dont want to do like "Auto" does; try to make it look like daylight. Adjust exposure and drag down the black level and adjust shadows to get good depth in the scene, without making the noise too visible. Make sure you dont need to crop much, so you will be downscaling a lot to view on a normal screen. This removes a lot of the noise. Some images end up too noisy, but then I just go black and white and add postcrop vignetting. Maybe even add some grains myself, and you got a great atmospheric image. Dont go crazy with NR, it looks horrible.

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  • +1 for E.C. to account for the dark background. That is crucial in outdoor sports under the lights at night in all but the most well lit professional/college stadiums. So is shooting RAW, but the D90 is at a distinct disadvantage there as its buffer is very shallow compared to even something like a 40D or 50D, much less the 7D that can burst about 25 frames of full sized RAW files before the buffer fills when using firmware version 2.x. With most night sports the lighting is much more even than concerts, so I do tend to shoot using M exposure mode. – Michael C Dec 29 '13 at 0:55
  • The other big advantage of shooting RAW is that the color temperature of most outdoor sports lighting can vary widely as the alternating current causes the lights to flicker. There's no way you can meter for that, because it is peaking and bottoming out at 120hz. You can usually correct the WB in post. There will be frames where the lights are peaking just as the slit between the two shutter curtains starts across the sensor and is bottoming out by the time it reaches the other side of the sensor (or vice versa). Frames when the peak or valley occurs halfway through the exposure are easier. – Michael C Dec 29 '13 at 1:03

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