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Looking to improve basketball shooting D700 or D3 With links

John Cerra

Westfield, US
214 posts

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John Cerra Silver Member Nikonian since 12th Sep 2006
Sun 29-Dec-13 05:45 PM

Hi everyone,

I volunteer to shoot basketball for my old high school, a Catholic School with a nationally ranked boys team and a high state ranked girls team. After shooting last year with a new D600 and a D300s, I set my mind to improving my keeper rate, as defined by getting critical focus. Lighting in the gym is not great, I need to shoot ISO 3200 on the D600 to shoot 1/400 at f2.8, and a stop behind that for the D300s. Needless to say, my zooms stay home, and I shoot with a 20 mm f2.8, a 50mm f1.4 G (just got it,) a 85mm f1.8 D and 180 f2.8 AF.

I love everything about the D600, the IQ is fantastic and has cured me of sensor lust for the D800....except the consumer grade AF, which I feel is not the best for this task.

The D300s has a snappier feel, I think the AF is quicker, but the smaller sensor means ISO 3200 is blah, and I need to keep it a ISO 1600.

Below are some links to my Smugmug site, this directory is PW protected with the password of : Kodachrome.

The single biggest problem is that even in AFC-C with me holding the AF-Lock on, to many times the camera moves the focus to the background, the audience.

Horrendous example of this: http://johncerra.smugmug.com/Nikonians-Discussion/i-x8QCnq5/A

A few shots later: http://johncerra.smugmug.com/Nikonians-Discussion/i-4fPjGKB/A

Finally a keeper: http://johncerra.smugmug.com/Nikonians-Discussion/i-xMWkzRr/A

I have had this happen numerous times with the 85mm shooting down the court. I have deleted most, but here are examples with the better AF of the D300s: http://johncerra.smugmug.com/Nikonians-Discussion/i-zx6qq2v/A

That is usable on the web, but I can't find anything in focus.
A couple of shots later, better, but AF not right: http://johncerra.smugmug.com/Nikonians-Discussion/i-rJbZgcz/A

Shooting across the court presents the same challenge, even if you think close to players means bigger image/easier AF. From an eight shot sequence of an Alley-oop, the first seven the plane of focus bisects the basket, on the last shot it drifts back to the audience:

http://johncerra.smugmug.com/Nikonians-Discussion/i-qNcK8pC/A
http://johncerra.smugmug.com/Nikonians-Discussion/i-rgnMccm/A



One possible solution: Using the longer lens and filling up more of the frame, seems to get better AF. Three examples:

http://johncerra.smugmug.com/Nikonians-Discussion/i-hMMzzdF/A
http://johncerra.smugmug.com/Nikonians-Discussion/i-bLqVdRL/A
http://johncerra.smugmug.com/Nikonians-Discussion/i-gSPVfrh/A

I have resorted to cheating with the D600 and using a 20 mm F2.8. Interesting results at times:
http://johncerra.smugmug.com/Nikonians-Discussion/i-T4rZRQS/A
http://johncerra.smugmug.com/Nikonians-Discussion/i-X6LPZ7g/A




So my question: what would you do to improve the keeper rate (Better IQ is a plus)? Would you:

1. Find a 135 F1.8, longer lens fills frame is best solution?
2. Upgrade the D300S to a D700
3. upgrade the D300s to a D3
4. Improve techniques
4. Ask in the D3 or D300s or D600 forum

All pictures are presented uncropped, except fot the last two shots.

Thanks

John

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

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