Most of my pics seem to come out with either the rider being a blurry mess or the background. I have tried using the sport setting in my Canon 400D DSLR but it doesn't seem to improve much. Any help would be much appreciated!
MTB photography help please
Basically, fast shutter speed and/or high ISO setting.
eg. 1/1000th of a second should freeze any action, if that's what you're after. However there might not be enough ambient light to allow this, so you need to turn up the sensitivity, say ISO 800 or 1600.
Try shutter priority which will let you set ISO and shutter speed - the camera will find an aperture setting to match which will allow enough light for a proper exposure, if it can (it'll let you know if it can't, in which case you need a slower shutter speed or higher ISO setting)
Alternatively, use a flash.
Put the camera into servo mode so its constantly focusing on the rider and pan along with the rider in the viewfinder whilst firing the shutter. Use the camera in Program mode (P) so the ISO, shutter speed, apeture is handled by the camera if youre unfamiliar with using manual
"Use the camera in Program mode (P) so the ISO, shutter speed, apeture is handled by the camera"
in anything but a sunny day, i.e. low light conditions, that is a recipe for blurry photos. You need to have some control over the shutter speed as stuartie said. If you must use program or sports mode then set the ISO to 400 or 800 and just accept that you will get a bit of noise in the photo.
I find that unless your panning (where you can maybe get away with 1/60 or 1/80 sec) then anything slower than 1/125 sec can give blurred photos. If the rider is coming head on on a DH sectiontry to go faster than 1/200 sec.
The best thing to do with a dSLR is to learn what the semi manual (Av Tv) and manual (M) modes do. It can be a hassle to learn but once you know what the semi manual settings do it gives you so much more control
and as rich said, learn what the different autofocus settings do. that will help.
what lens do you have on the 400D? The 17-55 kit lens?
also try using manual focus to pre-focus on a spot on the trail that you know the rider is going to pass, then time your shot as they hit the spot... panning is also a good technique to learn, I don't like high-shutter speed shots as it freezes all the action and makes for (what I think) are un-interesting shots...
Also bear in mind that most kit lenses are pretty poor at the largest and smallest apertures. They usually have a sweet spot around f8-f11 where the centre and edge sharpness is best. Wide open (eg f4 for most kit lenses) the images look pretty ropey, shutter priority mode will have a bias towards these larger apertures to match fast shutter speeds.
Not a problem if you have a decent lens.
What stuartie c says.
It sounds like you might also be having problems with the autococus focusing on the wrong thing. Be aware that the autofocus may simply not be able to cope with someone coming at you fast. So prefocus, or manually control the focus point if you can.
Blurry background isn't a problem - so long as the rider is in focus.
Steer clear of Program mode even if it has an option for a Sports Program option IMHO.
Learn to use Shutter Priority and then it depends if your subject is coming towards you or is moving across the frame left to right or right to left.
If moving across the frame you can get away with slower shutter speeds and panning the camera with the biker. This takes practice but you can get some good results. You can add a bit of fill in flash this helps freeze the action.
Also remember a little general rule about shutter speeds should be equal to the focal length i.e 100mm + 1/100th with crop-factor this will go up a bit i.e 1.5 factor = 1/150th. But it can help by not going to slow.
With AF try pre-focusing like andym says and try continues focus if you camera has it. The real trick is freezing the action without loosing the sense of speed. For example if you choose a too high shutter speed you will freeze the wheels in motion but get it just right and your biker will be sharp and the wheels just blured give the felling of movement.
Try a bit of panning with the rider to get a blurry background and sharp rider. Autofocus does seem to get a bit confused on my older camera. I usually stick it on S priority at 1/60th or 1/90th and try and pan with the rider. See this shot and it's properties. http://flickr.com/photos/ginja_andy/2896014123/meta/ Worth looking through Flickr at some shots you like and then looking at the settings.
Read what this guy has to say. http://sebrogers.typepad.com/ I have an article he did in a photography magazine recently I might be able to scan in for you.
Just keep playing and it'll come.
Or you can try and freeze the action like this
You'll need something like 1/500th or above ideally.
Also some groups for you explore. Bear in mind some of these will be using off camera flash but that's a whole other story.
This topic has been closed to new replies.