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A good badminton photo

Discussion in 'Badminton Photography' started by kwun, Nov 14, 2003.

  1. kwun

    kwun Administrator

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    taking badminton pictures is always an interesting topic, so let's dive into that more.

    here is a picture from the ongoing China Open.

    what can we tell about the picture? what can't we tell about the picture?

    we know it is a motion shot, the shutter setting didn't manage to freeze the racket motion.

    we know that it is exposed correctly, and the color balance seems to indicate that no post-processing is done to enhance the brightness. in other words, the exposure is set correctly at shutter time.

    depth of view is pretty shallow. the front player is blurred. so the aperture is probably maxed out with a moderately telephoto lens, may be a 200mm @ f/2.8?

    my guess is that it is taken at 1/250 or so.

    the presense of noise means that the ISO setting is also quite high, i am not surprised if it is ISO1600 or 3200

    we don't know if it is cropped from a large image or not. there is a certain clarity to the image. but there is also some noise. are the noise an artifact of the ISO setting? or from cropping/enlarging?

    any expert care to comment?
     

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  2. wood_22_chuck

    wood_22_chuck Regular Member

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    Also taken from "above," not court-level ... Shallow depth of field, so focus-tracking must've been used. Interesting, since the player in focus has a forward-going momentum, i.e. going forward, but still remains in focus.


    -dave
     
    #2 wood_22_chuck, Nov 14, 2003
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2003
  3. kwun

    kwun Administrator

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    yeah. from the relative persective of the person sitting behind and in front, it is definitely a tele lens. not sure how much though. may be 300/2.8 ? :eek:
     
  4. red00ecstrat

    red00ecstrat Regular Member

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    it's a good shot kwun. i guess it was probably be taken with a 200 or 300mm lense. can't tell which exactly coz i don't know whether it was cropped or not. but i m quite sure it was taken with a conventional film SLR not a digital.
    u can see the pix was coarse. just a bit but it's normal on high speed film. the little dark dots in the shadow area weren't digital noise. those were the grains of the color negative. digital noise don't look like that. for nikon digital camera. the digital noise were some tiny straight lines in the shadow area. for canon digital camera. they look like some tiny dot in different colors.
    minor color adjustment was done. most likely, level or curve adjustment on hight light and shadow with photoshop.
    when u develop the film with normal timing and scan it straight through a scanner without any correction. it won't be so "contrast". color should be a bit more natural.
    shutter speed was between 1/250 to 1/500.
    if that pix was taken below 1/250 sec. the whole player would be blurred. when using a shutter speed higher the 1/500 sec. the hand of the player and his racket would be freezed as well not just the body.
    that's what i can tell on that pix. i hope i m right.
    nevertheless, it's a nice shot.
     
    #4 red00ecstrat, Nov 15, 2003
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2003
  5. red00ecstrat

    red00ecstrat Regular Member

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    kwun:

    nowadays, photographers will hardly use something higher the asa/iso 800 film. for those indoor sports. the asa/iso 800 film is just good enough because those professional, no no no........ i'd better say occupational photographer will have their right equipments. they won't bring a 80-200mm f3.5-4.5 to the scene like the pix u posted. in other words. they will bring right gears to a right scene.
    another thing. cropping from a large image won't affect the pix's clarity. the worse things is that. when u crop a certain part from a frame. u are not only blowing up an image, u are also enlarging the grains of the film.
    that's not clarity problems, infact u are just taking a closer look at the pix and the grains.
     
    #5 red00ecstrat, Nov 15, 2003
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2003
  6. Traum

    Traum Regular Member

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    As bluejeff has pointed out (and I'm sure you're aware of it yourself), badminton is a very fast sport, so a very fast shutter speed is needed if you're after those action shots. While this does not immediately rule out consumer- and prosumer-grade cameras, in many cases these cameras are insufficent in terms of lens speed, manual shutter speed settings (and in the case of digital cameras, film speed setting). And let's not forget that because badminton is an indoor sport, interior lighting gives you even less help in gathering sufficent light.

    As far as photography techniques are concerned, you have to anticipate what the player will do and set yourself up for those pictures. Being a player yourself would help, becuase it'll give you a better idea in the anticipation game. Also, as any sports photographer will tell you, don't be afraid to shot a lot. And I mean A LOT. Did I emphasize that you have to shot A LOT? It is impossible for even the best photographer to capture a golden moment when he can only shoot once. For every sports picture that you see in the newspaper, tens or hundreds were probably thrown away.

    -Rick
     
  7. Upquark

    Upquark Regular Member

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    I usually take photos just before the serve. Of course no action photos this way, but they're nice pics anyway. And no 'blurring'...
     
  8. Raphy

    Raphy Regular Member

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    Sport specific equipment

    HI guys,
    It is very hard for me to tell you how to make good badminton photos, because first of all is is quite subjective to say which is a good photo, and which is not ;-)
    Anyways, to sum up, I would start by saying that it relies 90 % on the equipement. You have to have a camera that is quick enough and a lense that is brught enough to make a good badminton shot. That rules out mmost of the regular cameras. I am lucky enough to have started working in this field with a digital camera that had both (Canon 10D). This camera (or the D30 rom Canon) is good enough to make good shots, with an appropriate lense (Aperture minimum f;2.8)

    Of course, now that I have switched to the EOS 1D MArk II from Canon, I am in heaven, but I know it is a very expensive cam for regular badminton fans (around 5000 US $ for the body only)

    For those who have a regular camera, I suggest that you "push" your film or choose the highest sensibility (800 or 1600 ISO), to give you an extra margin of speed. Then, your aperture should be the bigger you can have on the lense (2.8 or less if you have - some lense like the 50 mm at 1.8 is not that expensive). That means that if you have a zoom with a regular cam, it is better to come closer to the court to shoot.

    If you can, choose a sports mode so that the speed is around 1/250 at the minimum. Beyond that, your image will be blurry. And for those who can't make it like that, maybe try to use lower speed (1/180 or even 1/90) but shoot during the serve or right after the point, to get some facial expressions ;-)

    Good luck to you all

    Raphael
     
  9. Traum

    Traum Regular Member

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    While I think I know what you're trying to say, you've really put it in the wrong words. A capable camera is the equipment you'll need for action photography, but it is never the case that 90% of the equation comes from equipment. Saying that would be equivalent to claiming that 90% of a badminton players' skills comes from the racquet. We all know this is not true. Rather, you should look at the equipment factor as a pre-requsite to take taking action photos.

    -Rick
     
  10. Altezza

    Altezza Regular Member

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    I tend to agree with Raphy in this case tho, maybe you can say it depends 90% on the equipment to make it 200% easier. If you are after non-action shots, then perhaps the eqpt matters less.

    It's the combination of indoor lighting, no flash allowed, high speed action, distance from the court, etc that makes it difficult to shoot badminton with consumer/prosumer eqpt. Eg. Imagine trying to take a picture of a jump smash (F/2.8 or less, 1/500 or faster, ISO 1000-1600, hair trigger or 5-8 FPS).......those are SLR/DSLR specs with a fast (F/2.8 wider apertures) lens.

    Raphy has good guidelines provided for regular camera shooting - I used the same guidelines in the early 80's during the first China/Indonesia IBF/WBF match in Singapore - 200+ (6 rolls of film) shots later I had about 30+ 'good' shots, and 1-2 shots of Liem Swie King jump smashing - ISO 800 film was difficult and expensive to find, and it still wasn't as fast as I would have liked.

    The performance difference between a $200 pocket digicam, and a multi $$$$ system like Raphy's is like the difference between the plastic/steel shaft Wal-Mart racket (plastic shuttle included) and a AT/MP fulll carbon type racket - don't tell me the eqpt doesn't make a difference here. :) It's a performance issue - not so much a skills issue.
     
    #10 Altezza, Aug 28, 2004
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2004
  11. Traum

    Traum Regular Member

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    It's true that the specs of the equipment is a performance issue, not one of skills. But that's precisely why I mentioned that the equipment factor should be taken as a pre-requiste, not "a good action photo is 90% dependent on the equipment". It's like, if you don't have the right camera, sorry, you won't be able to take clear and crisp shots of Lin Dan doing a jump smash. But just b/c you have a Canon 1Ds MkII doesn't mean you can take a picture of me doing a clumsy drop shot. :p

    -Rick
     
  12. Altezza

    Altezza Regular Member

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    You're right, it's a prerequisite.

    Keyword here is 'action photos', I would say that if you don't have the right camera, jump shot action or most action would be 99% luck or near impossible. With a 1D MKII (The 1Ds MK II is still a rumour), or a decent SLR/DSLR, a photographer with very basic skills can still have 50% chance to take pics of any action. With AI Servo, 8.5 FPS, and the right lens, and right settings (not so much skill there - just follow Raphy's guide), doesn't turn him pro, but gets him at least some pics. ;)
     
  13. kwun

    kwun Administrator

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    i took nearly 1400 pictures during the Singapore Open this year. it was nice to be able to take pictures right next to the court. i want to share the few things that i have learned from the experience. hopefully they will help ppl who are interested in getting into taking photos for badminton. just a warning though, i am only an amateur, professional probably will laugh at me for giving out these tips... ;)

    clothing - you will be sitting on the floor and knees and crouching all the time, make sure you wear something comfortable especially comfortable flexy shoes.

    camera - badminton is too fast. way way too fast. a regular P&S and prosumer camera may give you one or two good shots. for real action ones, you need a SLR camera with good shutter response. a digital one is almost a must nowadays as you can take as many pictures as you like and delete away the bad ones as you go (80% of them). i used a D70 which was nice. but the professionals next to me are using the even more expensive models with burst rate that i can only envy. 5fps will increase the chance of catching the right moment much better than 3fps.

    lens - most pros use a 80-200/2.8 most of the time. unfortunately, that lens is way more than what i can afford. in fact, i mostly used a 70-210/3.5-4.5 and a 50/1.8. the 50 is sharp, but the 70-210 isn't very good at all but i had to deal with what i have.

    lighting/shutter - badminton is fast action. there is a action mode in most camera but i want more control than that. i use the shutter priority mode all the time and set the shuttler to 1/250 or 1/200. that's good enough for most shots. i think it is possible to freeze action with 1/500sec and a 50/1.4 lens, but the lens will cost US$200-300..

    ISO - not much need to be said here, use the highest ISO setting your camera give you. i used ISO1600 most of the time. the lighting in the stadium was very very good but for fast action photos, we will still have to deal with some grains and noise. being digital, we can do a post processing step and if you are planning to put the picture up on the internet, the scaling down is more than enough to take out most of the noise.

    manual focus - for action shot, i use manual focus all the time. it take ages for the camera to autofocus and then take a shot. by that time, the player already moved away. pre-focus to a certain spot and then wait for the player to move there. it is also important to hold the camera correctly, as you need two eyes, one for the viewfinder, the other one to watch the action.

    having said that, i find myself constant changing between M/AF. AF is very very nice outside the rally to capture player's emotion. set the autofocus to the middle and just let the camera focus on their faces and body. the key is to remember to not watch the game and then put down the camera when the rally is over. keep on taking pictures even after the rally is done. i have captured a few nice shots that way.

    burst - it is very hard to catch the right moment of the action. pros with lots of experience can probably do it better than me, but for me, much of it is some good guess in the timing and then the rest is luck. to increase the luck, i use continuous shooting mode. my D70 can do up to 9 shots in full res at around 3fps. so i watch the action, time it and then start right before the action and then stop afterwards. usually that's 2-3 shots. if i get lucky, some of them will come out interesting. most of the time, they are only so so.. this goes back to the discussion of the body, the faster the burst rate, the more you can take in and higher chance of a better shot.

    storage - i only have one 1G flash card, that hold 277 pictures. with digital photos however, i am able to take lots and lots without any cost. i used up the whole card just shooting the MS final alone. and unfortunately, i don't have a CF reader and downloading via USB takes ages. i wish i had one or two more to spare so i can just swap it out.

    positioning - with a media pass, i was able to shoot from right next to the court side. it was nice. the best positions are right behind the umpire, hiding behind/under the umpire chair, or at the four corners. the umpire chair position i used the 50/1.8 for all actions around the court, the corners i use both 70-210 for the other end of the court or the 50/1.8 for close-by rear court action.


    hopefully these tips will help the future badminton photographers out there. the rest is just left to your own preference of shots and imagination.

    enjoy!
     
  14. fan

    fan Regular Member

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    Nice tips, Kwun. Thanks.
    Still waiting for the pics to come out.
    It is time to save up the money for Canon 20d, capable of shooting 5 fps. Oh, X’mas is around the corner, got to make a phone call to the North Pole. ;)
     
  15. jcl49

    jcl49 Regular Member

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    I have become overly sentitive to certain words. It would be funny if Kwun were to ban words such as "iso" "cab" or "ti" from this forum. Wonder what will happen?
     
  16. red00ecstrat

    red00ecstrat Regular Member

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    sharing a little experience on badminton photography

    as u guys know. a 50mm is just a cool weapon when u are shooting in the middle of the court under the umpire. and because of it's big max aperture. i can shoot at iso 800 with 1/500 or faster in most of the situations. and with iso 800. the images are more "solid" much better than using iso 1600. here are the examples.
     

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  17. red00ecstrat

    red00ecstrat Regular Member

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    with or without shuttle cock?

    there are always arguing about badminton pictures with a shuttle cock or pictures without a shuttle cock.
    for me. i guess for regular action shots. it's better to have a shuttle cock. but for some alternative badminton shots. it isn't a "must". here's the example.
    it look rather nice of yip p.y with a posture like that along with her shadow. just imagine. how yippy's posture looks like when her racket just about to touch the bird. form my eyes. it would be much worse. from this shooting angle. u just can't have a nice posture of yippy with a bird together.
     

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    #17 red00ecstrat, Nov 16, 2005
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2005
  18. Cheung

    Cheung Moderator

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    Did you use f1.4 for those shots?
     
  19. aquaboi

    aquaboi Regular Member

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    most probably...or a f1.8 50mm maybe?
     
  20. red00ecstrat

    red00ecstrat Regular Member

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    i had stepped it down to f2 instead.
     

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