Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Boerne-Champion Basketball & Nikon D700

I shot both the varsity girls' and boys' basketball teams Monday, 29 December, during their 2008 home tournament.  Both teams won handily, with the girls beating Stony Point and the boys beating the Eagle Pass Winn Mavericks.

The new gym is really well lit for a high school facility, but when shooting volleyball with my Nikon D300 I still ended up with either lots of low-light, high-noise artifacts and/or slightly blurry shots due to having to use a slow shutter speed.  This was shooting at ISO 2000, shutter around 1/250 and either 70-200/f2.8 or 50/f1.8 glass.

I was really looking forward to trying out the the new Nikon D700 for the basketball games and it was almost as good as I expected. The D700 uses the same sensor as Nikon's $5000 D3 at a much better price point.  I was able to shoot at ISO 2500-5000, shutter around 1/400 to 1/500 using my 70-200/f2.8 zoom.  Auto-focus acquisition was a bit slower than expected, probably due to the limited light coming through the 70-200.

The nice thing was my ability to get much sharper images than with volleyball, though even this camera isn't a miracle worker at ISO 5000, so some noise does start to show on the web images, though prints are a bit more forgiving.  I'll probably limit myself to ISO 3200 next time and see how that works.

It's a somewhat interesting problem.  A good photo needs a clean background so I tend to shoot from a low position, but the gym lights are very bright when shooting upward, while the players often create their own shadow. Sometimes the camera just can't get it right and I spend way too much time post-processing the images before posting them for sale. ;-)

I'd love to be able to set up lights in the gym, which mitigates the somewhat flat look you can get with low-light, high-ISO, images, but I don't see that happening anytime soon, so I'll continue to enjoy shooting the D700 and hopefully even improve on some of these enjoyable images.

Everyone have a safe New Years and feel free to say hi if you see a tall guy with grey hair wandering around the court with a camera or two (or on the sidelines of the soccer field, as the one sport I was actually competitive in starts in January. ;-)