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Posted: 3/15/2011 7:54:26 PM EDT
My cousin who is 11 plays on several hockey teams so I tried taking some pictures. I decided that my 55-250mm lens with my T1i was best suited since I was sitting on the side of the one goal so most of the pictures were taken far away.

First off, it looks bright as hell in there, but when I used a fast shutter the images were very dark! I had to use ISO 3200 and 1/320 - 1/400 ( with 1/250 a lot of things were blurred), and I of course used the lowest aperature.

Here are a few photos. SO my question is, is there any way to take better, brighter pictures without buying a $400+ lens? I'm guessing I am stuck with bright and blurry or dark and sharp?

Also is there a setting that I can use so that the Aperature changes to the smallest possible? In some pictures it changed to 4 at 55mm but in some pictures it was still 5.6 at 55mm

Link Posted: 3/15/2011 8:50:44 PM EDT
The Canon 55-200 is an f/4.0-5.6 lens. Most likely, you were shooting at f/5.6, which just isn't wide enough for indoor stadium lighting. f/2.8 is the bare minimum aperture you should be running.

As far as what settings to use, you can just put it in Av (aperture priority) mode and open it up as wide as you can for whatever given focal length you're at since it will then automatically set the shutter speed (which will end up being as fast as it can go).
Link Posted: 3/15/2011 10:36:17 PM EDT
As you have found out, indoor sports is a study in low light.  You are using the correct settings: wide open aperture and high ISO to get the needed shutter speeds.

In this case, your lens is holding you back.  The f/5.6 is killing you.  What you want is the 70-200mm f/2.8.  Depending on how close you can get to the players, prime lenses with f/1.x apertures might be an option for you.

One of the catches with high ISO is to get the exposure correct.  Underexposing brings out the noise like crazy.  One of the ways to help hide the noise is converting to black and white.
Link Posted: 3/16/2011 5:46:41 AM EDT
Only thing left to do without spending money on better glass (or strobes/lighting) is to just brighten the pictures up in post. That will increase noise, particularly in the darker areas.

To have the aperture set to the widest possible, select M and zoom your lens all the way out (55mm). At the widest angle, set your aperture to f/4, ISO all the way up and your shutter speed to whatever you want to "get by" with. When you zoom in, it will take the widest aperture it can as it is trying to set f/4 aperture. When you zoom all the way back out, it should revert to f/4.

You could take note of which focal lengths you used most frequently and try and buy one or two (consumer) prime lenses. Still going to set you back $$$, but not nearly as much as a 70-200L f/2.8.
Link Posted: 3/16/2011 9:36:21 PM EDT
Lighten them in post, run them through Neat Image or similar, and print at 4x6 or 5x7.

Rent a lens for a few days and get some good shots for bigger prints.

DONT give anybody full size pics...
Link Posted: 3/16/2011 9:41:12 PM EDT
Lighten them in post, run them through Neat Image or similar, and print at 4x6 or 5x7.

Rent a lens for a few days and get some good shots for bigger prints.

DONT give anybody full size pics...

When I open the raw images there is so much noise, I have to clue what to change to get rid of it. My camera did a great job with the jpegs!
Link Posted: 3/17/2011 5:27:07 AM EDT
Underexposed images, which you have, will induce a lot of noise when using high ISO. Since there is a lot of white in the image, your camera meter will be fooled and underexpose the image by 1 to 2 stops, so you have to manually compensate.

You really need a faster lens.

Also, get as close to the rink as possible and down to the level of the players. Filling the frame with the players and action will improve the quality of the content. To give you an idea, pros use fast primes in the 200-300 range and they get to be right next to the playing field of whatever sport they are are covering. 200mm from the stands is not going to cut it.
Link Posted: 3/17/2011 5:38:31 AM EDT
I shoot hockey events on the side and what everyone has said is exactly on track. Your glass is killing you now but don't worry it'll get much worse as your boy gets older. ( older kids move much quicker so you'll get more blur :)) ) the f5.6 your kit lens gives you is letting thru around 1/8 as much light as the f2.8 glass that everyones recommending (and is what I use).

However, you've said you don't want to spend the $600 or so for a 3rd party lens so you need to pick up some noise reduction software. There's several good ones out there, I've had decent results from Noise Ninja.

Just to brighten your day even more, at some point you'll go to rinks that don't have all their lights working and you may see a 1-2 stop difference in light in that area. 'sigh' those are the times I REALLY wish I could afford a D3s and shoot at iso 12600 or so.
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