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Without spending a fortune, what camera and lens can I buy for horse show photos?

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  • #41
    Originally posted by two sticks View Post
    Sorry for the novel, hope this helps!
    It absolutely helps! And thank you. I will be printing this.

    Truthfully, the numbers start overwhelming me. I took basic photography in high school (back in the days of film...the smell of developer is burned into my nostrils) and remember a bit, but not much about it. Trying to learn all this and keep it straight makes my head spin. While I do know a higher ISO should help, I am paralyzed about turning my camera to any manual settings. I just let it do what it wants...and am often disappointed but it sounds like it's my own darn fault.

    I'll give the 55-250 another shot (teehee) but I will continue to watch ebay for a 70-200 f/2.8. (maybe if I get a USM rather than the IS, I could afford one.)
    Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
    Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"

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    • #42
      Originally posted by RugBug View Post
      It absolutely helps! And thank you. I will be printing this.

      Truthfully, the numbers start overwhelming me. I took basic photography in high school (back in the days of film...the smell of developer is burned into my nostrils) and remember a bit, but not much about it. Trying to learn all this and keep it straight makes my head spin. While I do know a higher ISO should help, I am paralyzed about turning my camera to any manual settings. I just let it do what it wants...and am often disappointed but it sounds like it's my own darn fault.

      I'll give the 55-250 another shot (teehee) but I will continue to watch ebay for a 70-200 f/2.8. (maybe if I get a USM rather than the IS, I could afford one.)

      One of the great things about the new DSLR's is they give you a variety of modes that are in between fully auto and manual. On your dial, you should have the options of "TV" and "AV" - these are shutter(time) priority, and aperture priority. These are great modes to use, because you can choose to set the shutter speed or Aperture, and the camera will adjust the other control to give you the correct exposure. I would use Shutter Priority, and set the shutter speed to 1/600 (with the 55-250mm you can probably go as low as 1/400 if necessary - I wouldn't go slower than that). Take a few photos and see what the camera is giving you for Aperture. This will be displayed in the viewfinder and in the readout on the top right and also you can hit "info" to see it displayed on the back of the camera. If the aperture is less than about f/8 (I'd say for your purposes if you can get to f/11 or f/13 that will be better) then you will need to raise your ISO. ISO will be up on the right hand side, there should be a button that says ISO that you hold down and spin your dial. You can go all the way up to about 1000 before you start to get to noisy. The ideal ISO is 160 as it has the greatest dynamic range. So, in ideal situations you want to be around 160 ISO. However, to get the Aperture and shutter speed that you want, you will likely have to raise your ISO (unless it is really bright and sunny). I usually end up around 500 or 600 ISO.

      A quick break down of what you should know on your camera:

      Modes: Full Auto (A) will do everything for you
      AV - Aperture priority - you will set your preffered Aperture and your camera will adjust the shutter speed as necessary. You can still adjust your ISO manually.

      TV - Shutter (time) Priority - you choose your shutter speed and the camera will set the Aperture for you. You can still adjust your ISO manually.

      Manual (M) - You will need to set everything on your own, and know how to balance your exposure (shutter speed vs. aperture).


      So what are each of these things?
      ISO - ISO is the "film sensitivity" - in the film days, this was your film speed (100, 400, etc). ISO goes from 100 (lower on some cameras) to upwards of 6400 on the newer cameras. The "ideal" ISO is 160 because it has the greatest dynamic range. As you go higher, the film speed is higher letting more light in. Increasing your ISO will let you shoot at a higher shutter speed/aperture and still get a correct exposure. The downside to increasing your ISO is you will start to see noise in your images. Depending on your camera (some are better in low light than others) you will start to see visible noise around 1000 ISO (probably lower in lower end cameras).

      Shutter Speed - the speed of the shutter. 1/60 is considered the speed to stop human motion. For horses, especially the higher speed stuff like jumping, I try to be at 1/600. You also want to shoot at 1/2 x the focal length of your lens to prevent lens blur. If you are shooting with a 200mm lens, you want to shoot no slower than 1/400 unless you are using a tripod or monopod. You can do cool things with a slower shutter speed and "panning" the camera - following the motion with the camera - it's tricky and takes a lot of practice - here's one of mine:
      https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...type=3&theater

      Aperture- Aperture refers to the diameter of the opening of the lens. A larger aperture (smaller number, bigger hole) creates a bigger opening and lets in more light. f/2.8 will let in more light allowing you to shoot with a faster shutter speed for the correct exposure than f/22. Aperture is also referred to as the "F Stop." Aperture also controls depth of field. Depth of field is the size of the plane of focus. A small depth of field means only a small area is in focus. This is why if you are shooting at f/4 or f/5.6 you may have the front standard in focus while the horse, middle of fence, and back standard are out of focus. A larger Aperture like 2.8, 4, or 5.6 is going to have a very small depth of field, while a smaller aperture like f/13, f/18, or f/22 is going to have a much greater depth of field. F/11 or f/13 should be enough to have the plane of focus cover the jump from end to end.

      This image has a small depth of field - the subjects are in focus (horse and persons face) but the focus quickly drops off, the horses hindquarters and the background are soft. This was probably shot at f/4.

      This image has a large depth of field. The horse, jump standards, people on the ground, and even to an extent some of the plants in the background are sharp. This was probably shot around f/16.

      Auto Focus Modes:

      One Shot - will focus on the object you lock the focus on. If you focus on the jump, the focus will remain on the jump when a moving object (horse) enters the image.

      Al Servo - designed to focus and track a moving object. Will focus and attempt to track focus on your moving horse.

      AI focus - will attempt to switch off between the two depending on the situation it deems appropriate. I never use this as I find it always chooses the wrong thing.


      And now that I've totally hijacked... back to your regularly scheduled thread.
      It's not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got.

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      • #43
        Apologies to vxf for hijacking, but that was another awesome and helpful post! It too will be printed.
        Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
        Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #44
          It's not a hijack! I am reading with interest. I need to find someone to give me lessons and then rent/buy something. How does one go about finding someone horsey to give lessons?!
          ~Veronica
          "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"
          http://photobucket.com/albums/y192/vxf111/

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          • #45
            If you are looking for something a little smaller than the standard DSLR, consider this little guy:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sony_NEX-5

            I love the Sony Nex I have. Takes good pictures (much better ones when my pro photographer friend uses it so I can't blame the camera) and the videos are stunning. I actually just purchased a new zoom lens for it and total price for camera + standard lens + new fancy zoom lens is under $1000.

            All of the videos here have been taken by this camera - and keep in mind that the quality of the video decreases when I upload to youtube. On my computer the videos are *stunning* even in lower light conditions like indoor arenas.

            https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfo...ow=grid&view=0

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            • #46
              If you want to shoot video you need a camcorder. Not a DSLR. Good video depends on the ability to zoom and that is kludgey at best with a DSLR.

              I have a Sony Zoom and it does jump shots pretty well but to me the images always look a bit blue/cool. I have a friend with a fortune invested into Sony DSLRs, super expensive lenses and I STILL find the images to be a bit blue.

              My advice is to go to a camera store and handle the cameras. If they have a rental program, take advantage of it for you next show. You really have to handle a camera body to figure out what works for you.
              "Horsemanship is not merely a matter of bodily skills, but is based on scholarship and, therefore, is a matter of the mind and intellect." Charles de Kunffy

              http://www.equiimages.com

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              • #47
                Originally posted by two sticks View Post
                The 55 -250 and the 75-300 are going to be the same in image quality. When you say it's "too slow" do you mean you are getting image blur? This can be fixed by increasing your ISO so you can shoot at a higher shutter speed. If you have your ISO low, and it's not bright and sunny, you won't be able to shoot at a high enough shutter speed. Increasing the ISO will let you bump up your shutter speed and still get a correct exposure. Your 55-250 goes to f/4 while the 70-200 will go to f/2.8. When I'm shooting action shots I usually go no lower than f/5.6 anyways. (I do love my 85 mm f/1.8 for portraits though!).
                Okay so trying not to hijack the thread either but I do have a question. I have a Nikon D3000. Not the best on the block but suitable for an amature. I have the standard 35mm lens along with the 55-200mm lens. While at an indoor show a year ago I noticed the professional photographer, who also had a nikon, was obviously getting great shots. He told me that the reason was the lens and that it had a low fstop to let in more like...somewhere in the 2.8 or lower he said. He told me the lens specifically but its nearly $1,200 and way out of my price range.

                I noticed you said you like you 85mm f/1.8 lens. Would this catch action in the indoor?

                The professional was super nice and gave me some pointers on how to "make it work" but my pictures are still dark and if they come out very grainy! Also I kept reading that the more zoom the less light...is this correct? I guess I'm just trying to get a better understand when to use what lens to optimize my usage.

                Here are some samples of the indoor pictures....

                https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...type=3&theater

                https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...type=3&theater
                Calm & Collected, 13, OTTB
                Forrest Gump (Catasauqua) , 17, OTTB
                Little Bit Indian, 29, TB
                Owner of Spur of the Moment, Custom made spur straps! Find us on Facebook

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                • #48
                  two sticks, awesome explanations for an confusing topic.

                  Everyone, remember that you can always delete with the digital. Just keep taking pix. Experiment. Repeat. It will get better. I'm still learning - of course that applies to all of life doesn't it!
                  Never argue with a fool. Noone can tell who is who.

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                  • #49
                    Originally posted by SueL View Post
                    If you want to shoot video you need a camcorder. Not a DSLR. Good video depends on the ability to zoom and that is kludgey at best with a DSLR.you.
                    I have friends that shoot weddings with a Canon 7D and the videos are gorgeous. They do many fancy things and you would never know that a lot of it is shot on a camera rather than a camcorder
                    Last edited by RugBug; Nov. 14, 2012, 01:41 PM. Reason: iPad is a typing genius...or not.
                    Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
                    Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"

                    Comment


                    • #50
                      Originally posted by cswoodlandfairy View Post
                      Okay so trying not to hijack the thread either but I do have a question. I have a Nikon D3000. Not the best on the block but suitable for an amature. I have the standard 35mm lens along with the 55-200mm lens. While at an indoor show a year ago I noticed the professional photographer, who also had a nikon, was obviously getting great shots. He told me that the reason was the lens and that it had a low fstop to let in more like...somewhere in the 2.8 or lower he said. He told me the lens specifically but its nearly $1,200 and way out of my price range.

                      I noticed you said you like you 85mm f/1.8 lens. Would this catch action in the indoor?

                      The professional was super nice and gave me some pointers on how to "make it work" but my pictures are still dark and if they come out very grainy! Also I kept reading that the more zoom the less light...is this correct? I guess I'm just trying to get a better understand when to use what lens to optimize my usage
                      This is the same issue that Two Sticks and I were talking about earlier. She gave some tricks for making it work.

                      The 85 mm f/1.8 is a prime lens, I believe. You cannot zoom at all and would probably be difficult to shoot across the ring with. It tends to be better for portraits, although can be useful for close up action. I just shot some horse stuff with my 50mm prime and it's nic enough. Most of the not great was because of me and not the camera....and I was in th ring and limited my shooting to one specific section as the horse went by. I'll see if I can upload something.

                      Here is a portrait with my 50mm prime.

                      This is a cropped action shot. (Baby horse was having a bad day and none of the shots where great, so I just cropped to a head shot)

                      This is with the 55-250 mm f/4-5.6. It looks okay here...but when enlarge, you can really tell the legs/hoofs aren't in full focus. I need to practice some of the techniques Two Sticks posted to avoid that.

                      Indoors, the 50 mm lens is much better...however, you would have to be in the ring, by your jump to really make it work. Otherwise you'd be cropping so much picture out and really stretching the resolution and probably end up with blurry pictures anyway.
                      Last edited by RugBug; Nov. 14, 2012, 01:41 PM.
                      Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
                      Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"

                      Comment


                      • #51
                        Originally posted by RugBug View Post
                        I have friends that shoot weddings with a Canon 7D and the videos are gorgeous. They do many fancy things and you would never know that a lot of it is shot on a camera rather than a camcorder
                        This. I mean, if you know what you're doing and have the right equipment, you can get some kick-butt video using a DSLR. Better than anything I've seen with your average camcorder.

                        I mean, yeah, if you just want to record your round or shoot some sales videos, a camcorder would probably be cheaper. But the DSLR video, used right, has a cinematic quality. Here's are a couple videos shot with a Canon 5DMKII:

                        http://vimeo.com/12535320
                        http://vimeo.com/3983336

                        Course this is probably out of the OPs price range, so I'll shut up. :P
                        Last edited by harvestmoon; Nov. 14, 2012, 05:00 PM.
                        "No, not anything goes, I said no rules!"

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                        • #52
                          Originally posted by RugBug View Post
                          I'll give the 55-250 another shot (teehee) but I will continue to watch ebay for a 70-200 f/2.8. (maybe if I get a USM rather than the IS, I could afford one.)
                          Consider the 70-200 f/4 USM IS instead. Half the price and much lighter if you shoot handheld. Money left over to buy horse stuff instead!

                          Comment


                          • #53
                            Originally posted by cswoodlandfairy View Post
                            The professional was super nice and gave me some pointers on how to "make it work" but my pictures are still dark and if they come out very grainy! Also I kept reading that the more zoom the less light...is this correct? I guess I'm just trying to get a better understand when to use what lens to optimize my usage.

                            Here are some samples of the indoor pictures....

                            https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...type=3&theater

                            https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...type=3&theater
                            You have a nice camera and a perfectly decent if not super-speedy lens. I think your photos are close to be being good but would benefit a lot from improved exposure, particularly the second one in which the horse and rider are underexposed due to the strong backlight from the windows behind. In that situation spot metering or just dialing up your exposure compensation will help. When reviewing your photos in-camera, use the histogram to check exposure on a few shots and make adjustments accordingly. The first photo appears to have some motion blur due to a slow shutter speed (the jump is in better focus than the horse and the depth of focus seems okay). Try using your shutter-priority mode to force a faster shutter speed (Tv in Canon-speak, don't recall Nikon's abbreviation for it) - you will need to dial up your ISO to maintain an accurate exposure. I think your camera can go up to 1600 at least, perhaps 3200. If you haven't used those settings, try them next time to see what you get. Most of the newer DSLRs have very reasonable noise at high ISO and may have noise-reduction algoriths that you can play with in the menus somewhere. Even if some noise is present, the overall photo will still be more pleasing with the better exposure and crisp focus that a higher ISO can offer.

                            Comment


                            • #54
                              Originally posted by visorvet View Post
                              Consider the 70-200 f/4 USM IS instead. Half the price and much lighter if you shoot handheld. Money left over to buy horse stuff instead!

                              I think I want the f/2.8, though. I just don't know if the IS is worth the increase in price or if the USM would do the trick for me.
                              Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
                              Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"

                              Comment


                              • #55
                                Originally posted by RugBug View Post
                                I think I want the f/2.8, though. I just don't know if the IS is worth the increase in price or if the USM would do the trick for me.
                                Unless you plan to shoot exclusively with a tripod, you will definitely want the IS (especially at the tele end) because that lens is heavy.

                                Comment


                                • #56
                                  OP if you are looking at something for under 1000 check out costco.com. I am a hobby photographer and I just bought a Nikon D3200 with an 18-55mm and 55-200mm lens and assorted accoutrements for under your price. So far I really enjoy using it and have gotten some nice pictures. Next I plan on getting the 70-300mm lens from Amazon.
                                  My blog: Crackerdog Farm

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                                  • #57
                                    Originally posted by RugBug View Post
                                    I think I want the f/2.8, though. I just don't know if the IS is worth the increase in price or if the USM would do the trick for me.
                                    You can still get the first generation of that lens for a good price if you know where you look. It's a great lens and I get a lot out of mine even though it costs about as much as a good camera body.
                                    Thus do we growl that our big toes have, at this moment, been thrown up from below!

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                                    • Original Poster

                                      #58
                                      Radical departure.... what do we think of the Sony Alpha A65V??
                                      ~Veronica
                                      "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"
                                      http://photobucket.com/albums/y192/vxf111/

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                                      • #59
                                        I don't know anything about it other than the technical stuff and it's not a regular DSLR. Sony has very little market share outside of their Cybershot cameras and outside of a Sony store, you can't really get the lenses in retail except for a few well-known photo stores in the big cities or through online resellers, so I never see anyone carrying a Sony Alpha except the occasional tourist.
                                        Thus do we growl that our big toes have, at this moment, been thrown up from below!

                                        Comment

                                        • Original Poster

                                          #60
                                          I am a little leery of getting a non Nikon/Cannon... but the Sony Alpha gets the most unreal positive ratings for sports/action photography and apparently can take a burst that is much much much faster than on an DSLR (as a benefit of being a DSLT).
                                          ~Veronica
                                          "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"
                                          http://photobucket.com/albums/y192/vxf111/

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