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Jennifer Dollman 07-26-2012 09:51 PM

Indoor gym photography buffs?
I hope this is the right forum for this thread, if not I can move!

I have been using a Canon Rebel XSi to take photos at the gym, not pleased at all. I now have my hands on a Nikon D300 but I only have a 18-55mm lens for it. I'm afraid it isn't going to be fast enough. Our gym is poorly lit, I'll probably have to crank the ISO up to "crazy"... does anyone use the D300 with a specific lens preference?

Richard Joy 07-27-2012 10:02 AM

Re: Indoor gym photography buffs?
I do some photography in our gym, so I might be able to help you out on this one.

I can't really tell from your post how much you know about photography, so please forgive me if what I'm about to say is old news to you (maybe someone else will learn something). The major difficulties in gym photography are low light and high speed motion (as I suspect you've noticed). You've got three options for handling the low light - slow down the shutter, raise the ISO setting, and/or lower the aperture setting (as in, open the aperture wider).The motion makes it impossible to slow down the shutter speed without getting a picture so blurry that it's useless. Increasing the ISO is OK, but raising it too high results in grainy photos (each camera has its own practical limit, but 1600 is about as high as I'm willing to go with mine). Opening the aperture really improves things, but it's limited by the type of lens you're using. (A wide open aperture also decreases the depth of field, but that's almost always OK in a gym setting)

So, the lower the f/stop on the lens, the lower the light it can handle. I shoot with a Canon T1i and this lens:

[url][/url] (WFS)

I think it handles the low-light situations really well. The equivalent Nikon lens seems to be something like this:

[url][/url] (WFS)

So, if you use something along those lines (or really any lens that has f/1.4 in the specs), you can keep the ISO low and the shutter speed high while still getting pictures that aren't way too dark. The 50mm range is pretty good for framing individual athletes without getting too close while they're working out.

Hank Popik 07-27-2012 10:40 AM

Re: Indoor gym photography buffs?
Any decent lens that's f2.8 or smaller is going to be heavy and carry a big price tag, I might invest in a good flash and not use the build in one.

I use a Tokina AF80-200mm f2.8 on my Canon, give a good zoom and some room to stay out of the way, with the ability to still get a good shot hand holding.

Adam Molnar 07-27-2012 12:33 PM

Re: Indoor gym photography buffs?
You might consider a fixed lens with small aperture number. They are cheaper then zoom lenses. As far as I remember Nikon 50mm (fixed) f/1.8 is much cheaper($100) than the 50mm, f/1.4 aperture($350-400), and the difference is not the big.
Well, the first one is a "D" lens, the other is a "G".

Stu Christensen 07-27-2012 01:38 PM

Re: Indoor gym photography buffs?
PM Scott McIntyre - of CrossFit Per Ardua in Nova Scotia. He's a professional photographer AND box owner.

Benji Whitehead 07-28-2012 09:48 AM

Re: Indoor gym photography buffs?
I've read great things about the Nikon 35 1.8 lens.

Bill Peabody 07-31-2012 11:45 AM

Re: Indoor gym photography buffs?
As others have mentioned above, it is about the lack of light. What mode are you shooting in? I have found to successfully shoot action in low light you need to shoot in manual mode and manage the settings yourself. I shoot a fair amount of youth basketball which takes place in dark gyms. In the box-gym I go to I think it would take a f1.8 or f1.4 (maybe a f2.8 if you pushed the iso high enough).

With that said I have this lens and for $100 I think one of the best deals out there for a Canon body is wfs - [url][/url] - But I wonder even a 50 may be too long to shoot in the gym.

The other option you would have is to get some flashes set up and bounce them off the ceiling.

What lens have you been using. Can you post a link to some example of what you have taken up to now?


Liz Stanley 07-31-2012 07:23 PM

Re: Indoor gym photography buffs?
I don't do a lot of indoor photography myself - I mostly shoot birds outdoors with a Canon 1D Mk III and a 500mm f/4. However as others have noted, your challenge is the need for high shutter speed in a low light situation. I'm not sure what you didn't like about the Canon Rebel, can you elaborate on that?

In tough lighting situations you generally need to shoot in manual exposure mode, because in auto modes the camera is going to calculate the exposure based on certain assumptions that are made for more of an average lighted scene. So if you're shooting in an auto mode, your photos are likely to be underexposed and/or blurred. Also are you shooting RAW or jpeg format? The former gives you a better ability to make adjustments to the photo for a better end result. Myself, I shoot in RAW, manual exposure, with spot metering.

I can't really speak to the Nikon line, but on the Canon side the previously mentioned 50mm f/1.8 "nifty fifty" is a great value for a very fast lens. However being a prime lens, you are limited to the one focal length, which may or may not work in your space. If you are needing something more flexible, then you'll want to look at a fast zoom, which will be considerably more expensive. What's the max aperture on your current zoom?

Robert Abitia 08-02-2012 12:09 PM

Re: Indoor gym photography buffs?
@Jennifer - Can you post a photo of your box? Maybe some examples of the photos you've taken? The suggestions above are all sound. I'd really like to see what you're working with to see what suggestions I can make. As stated before, it all comes down to amount of light and capability of your equipment. I'm guessing your XSi is more capable than you're giving it credit for. Please post some photos and leave the EXIF in tact. I'd love to give a few pointers, I'm a WAY better photographer than I am a crossfitter. I do a fair amount of photography at my box and have dealt with challenging lighting conditions shooting indoors quite a lot over the years (basketball, hockey, volleyball, night clubs, concerts). It's all the same: Poor light situations, call for adjustments. But where there's a will there's a way!


Liz Stanley 08-09-2012 08:09 AM

Re: Indoor gym photography buffs?
Yes, some examples with EXIF would be very helpful!

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