Action Basketball with Sony DSC-F717: Is ISO 400-800 Useful?in Reviews: Digital Cameras
By melsnyder/Mel (5,396)
on January 25, 2003 8:43:19 AM CST
My experience with the new DSC-F717For me, one of the most exciting aspects of the Sony DSC-F717 was the stunning reduction of noise at ISO 400 and 800 illustrated in the many reviews on the Internet. Combined with the high resolution, high-speed f2-2.4 Carl Zeiss zoom proven in the F707, I figured the DSC-F717 was close to nirvana for indoor available-light basketball shooting as I was able to afford. On my Olympus C-2100UZ, images at ISO 400 were always unacceptably noisy and tough to color balance, and the slower zoom lens cut my ability to shoot available light.
My wife gave me the DSC-F717 I asked for as a Christmas present. I couldn't wait until the school holiday break was over, and I had a chance to test the DSC-F717 under "battlefield" conditions: School gyms.
The images in this gallery [ Basket Action shots ] were all shot at maximum or near-max aperature at 400 or 800 ISO, at shutter speeds ranging from 1/40th to 1/125th. I shot in 3 different gyms -- an ordinary high school ("Gym 1"), a middle school with some daylight from windows at each end ("Gym 2"), and the New Haven (CT) "Connecticut Sports Arena," a multi-sport arena with admittedly poor lighting ("Gym 3").
I felt great as I reviewed my first ISO 800 images through the EVF in Gym 1. Only when I got home and put them on the LCD screen did I pause: These are unacceptably noisy images.
Now, it's entirely possible that I got a bad camera, or am a lousy photographer, but I think neither it the case. I've been shooting flash basketball for more than 40 years, since I took Grand Prize in the Kodak High School Photo Contest in 1959 with an action basketball shot. And every ISO 100-200 shot I've made with the DSC-F717, I've found the potential for stunning resolution, color fidelity and absence of visually significant noise.
It's my conclusion that, to shoot peak action under the baskets, in the normal gym lighting found at high schools, we're not there, yet.
Don't confuse my statement with what can be done under college gym lighting designed for TV coverage -- you don't need ISO 800 there! But I think that, to get great available-light images in ordinary gyms, with the DSC-F717, you're going to need to cut your ISO to 200, and shoot at less than peak action. One technique is shooting from under the basket as the players come downcourt at you, or panning as they jump for a basket (although the yield is low on those shots).
Am I disappointed? A bit. But I have tons of low-light shooting opportunities ahead of me, with two kids (12 and 15) who are active in theatre and other less-than-ideal-lighting situations. So I'll shoot with the lens wide open and get great images there...at ISO 100 and 200, though.
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