Nikon D5 was worth the purchase

Georgia Bulldog’s Freshman Running Back #35 Brian Herrien Scores his very first collegiate touch down while UNC’s Safety #15 Donnie Miles was unable to stop him during tonights Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game September 3, 2016 at the Georgia Dome. [Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 45600, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]

While I have to know where to point the camera, which does take years of expertise to develop the Nikon D5 camera is coming through on keeping the camera in focus, great exposure and wonderful dynamic range.

One of the settings I use to help me get this photo is using the 72-point dynamic-area of AF.

You want to pick Autofocus Continuous mode for sports.

In the menu Pencil selections pick AF Activation under the Autofocus settings.

Then choose the AF-ON only. This will mean when you push the shutter release it will not focus, but just fire the shutter to take a photo.

By changing these settings you will notice the camera will stay in focus and shoot faster frame rate. Great for following a baseball player sliding into a plate and another player trying to tag them or maybe a football player running towards you to score. You will find more photos tack sharp in a series.

I generally put my focus point dead center and lock it so I don’t bump it. I am trying to get photos of moving subjects and off center is too difficult for me. I may crop later for a better composition, but I want the subject in focus first.

UNC’s wide reciever #3 Ryan Switzer is tackled by Georgia’s defensive back #2 Maurice Smith & defensive end #51 David Marshall. [Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 45600, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]
The key to getting great photos no matter the subject is always preparation. It is setting the camera up to execute what you need it to do. Dialing the camera to sports mode on some cameras will come close, but dialing in all the fine tuning makes a HUGE difference.

Georgia Bulldog’s #2 Defensive Back Maurice Smith breaks up the pass to North Carolina Tarheel’s #3 Ryan Switzer in their win over UNC 33 to 24 during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game at the Georgia Dome on September 3, 2016. [Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 36000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]
Maintaining focus is very important. You often start following a receiver as I did here before the ball arrives. They are not standing still. They also are not running in a straight line. In football the running tends to be very erratic and this is where the technology of the Nikon D5 does a better job than every other Nikon that I have ever owned up to this current model.

Georgia Bulldog’s #27 Nick Chubb Tailback pushes for more yardage as North Carolina Tarheel’s defense trys to contain him. Georgia defeated UNC 33 to 24 during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game at the Georgia Dome on September 3, 2016. [Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 40000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]
Now this a tip that has improved my photography more than anything when it comes to photographing sports. Get in a spot where you will see the athletes faces. Expressions make a big difference in communicating the effort being put forth in a play.

That is the spot I was in to get all the photos you see in this post other than this one that I took in the press box of the half time bands playing. We had another photographer at the same place on the opposite side of the field. We had the plays covered.

Georgia’s #5 Terry Godwin Wide Reciever is tackled by North Carolina’s #90 Naxair Jones defensive tackle after a reception during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff at The Georgia Dome on September 3, 2016. [Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 40000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]
In football if I am looking into the faces of the offense then I am where they are trying to go the entire game–The End Zone.

Georgia’s tail back #22 Brendan Douglas fumbles at the North Carolina 12 yardline.  [Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 36000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]
The other thing is the closer they get to me in the end zone the more that background goes out of focus. So the biggest plays are often the ones where they are in the Red Zone. The Red Zone is the 20 yard line to the goal. 

Georgia Bulldog’s #27 Nick Chubb Tailback is tackled by North Carolina Tarheel’s safety #15 Donnie Miles. Georgia defeated UNC 33 to 24 during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game at the Georgia Dome on September 3, 2016. [Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 36000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]
If you notice in all these photos the players for the most part are running right at me. Being in the end zone is like being at the finish line of track and field event. Now if you are in the end zone they do run to the right and left of you, but you are not running up and down the field to get a good angle. You just need the lenses to get the photos.

This is the lens that I have fallen in love with for sports. It is the Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S. It is on sale now for $3,399. 

I have also the Sigma 1.4x and 2x converters. The 2x makes the lens a 240-600mm ƒ/5.6 lens. The 1.4x makes the lens a 168-420mm ƒ/4 lens.

For football I am using the 2x converter most all the time.

UNC’s tail back #34 Elijah Hood is pursued by Georgia’s defensive back #35 Aaron Davis. Hood had less than 10 carries during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game at the Georgia Dome. [Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 32000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]
Now just to give those who have older Nikon models some of my insights here are a couple things I am loving with the Nikon D5.

Nikon D5

Compared the the Nikon D4 that I moved up from I went from 16 megapixels to 20. The frames per second of 2 more frames has made it where you don’t really loose sight of the action. At 12 FPS it looks like a movie in the viewfinder while shooting.

Nikon D4
I gained 3 more stops due to the higher ISO. 

Georgia Bulldog’s #27 Nick Chubb Tailback pushes for more yardage as North Carolina Tarheel’s defense attempts to contain him. Georgia defeated UNC 33 to 24 during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game at the Georgia Dome on September 3, 2016. [Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 32000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]
Buying a Nikon D5 will not make you a better sports photographer. However, if you understand the technical side of photography the Nikon D5 will let you do a better job of capturing what you want to do than earlier model Nikon cameras. 

Now if you are like me with more than 30 years of experience then you know that you need to keep fresh. You need to practice with your gear just like the professional musician does every day. Take the time and shoot kids playing sports in your community regularly and refine those skills which let you anticipate what is going to happen rather than reacting. That is the other huge key to great sports photos. Those who can anticipate will always be a better sports shooter than someone who reacts and the shoots. They never get the moment.

One last photo for those interested in the highest ISO I shot at during the game. That was ISO 65535.

Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 65535, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000

Nikon D5 with Candlelight Examples

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 65535, ƒ/4, 1/125

So here is the setup I tried with my new Nikon D5 tonight. One candle and small bobble head soldier.

I also left the White Balance on Auto just to see how well the camera handled the color.

You can click on the images to see them full size to compare yourself.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 400, ƒ/4, 3 sec
Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 1600, ƒ/4, 1/1.2
Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/5

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 12800, ƒ/4, 1/10
Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 25600, ƒ/4, 1/20
Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 51200, ƒ/4, 1/60

Nikon D4, 85mm ƒ/1.8G and High ISO are great combination for bands

Nikon D4, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 12800, ƒ/1.8, 1/200

I returned to Swayze’s Venue in Marietta last night with my daughter and her friends to see Say We Can Fly.

I put one of his most popular songs here so you can hear his music. Braden Barrie is the singer who grew up in a small town and feeling a sense of abandonment, he shows listeners that no matter what struggles we face, we always have the power to make it through.


Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 12800, ƒ/2.8, 1/60

Since I broke my foot less than a month ago I wasn’t feeling like running around to setup lights. I decided to shoot the entire concert with available light.

Couple of things that become a problem when there is very little light in the venue. The major concern is bands are moving so too slow of shutter speed and they will be a blur.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 12800, ƒ/2.8, 1/60

This is why I love my Nikon D4 camera and combining it with the super fast lenses Nikon makes like the Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G and the AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 51200, ƒ/2.8, 1/80

Since Say We Can Fly was the headliner for the night, I took the opportunity to try a few things early on to see what I needed to capture all this with just the lights on the stage. By the way that is only 3 household tungsten light bulbs lighting the front, which seemed to be in the 60 watt range with one as a backlight. The one in the back I think is for the drummer to see his drums.

I started shooting Like Mike band at ISO 51200 and realized that would work, but I decided to continue to compare the different ISOs. But with the punk band Like Mike I would have had to stay at ISO 51200 because they just bounced around the stage.

Nikon D4, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 25600, ƒ/1.8, 1/320

I would later in the set of Say We Can Fly shoot some of the photos at ISO 25600 because I wanted to shoot faster than 1/200 shutter speed.  Here you can see one of those photos.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 12800, ƒ/2.8, 1/60

I worked on moving around and trying to capture the small venue feel and show my daughter and her friends down front enjoying the concert.

I also like the fact that my daughter not only got to meet Braden but interview him for her YouTube Channel.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 12800, ƒ/4, 1/160

Besides getting some photos of her interviewing Braden I also got some posed photos of her and friends with Braden.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 12800, ƒ/5, 1/160

Now the most important photos to my daughter will be the ones with her friends and Braden. One of the front bands got my daughter and friends attention and that was Sanchez.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 12800, ƒ/4, 1/10–Nikon SB900 bounced with soft dome, slow sync and -1EV

Here they are with Sanchez.

While I was prepared to shoot low light concert photos, I also had my flash for a moment just like this with my daughter and friends. There was no light on them and the flash made this a moment to be held dear to her and her friends.

If I was covering this for a publication the photos of my daughter with her friends most likely wouldn’t be included like this. I most likely would have shot a photo of someone taking a photo like this to show how this is part of the event.

I love my Fuji X-E2 for my everyday camera with family

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.6, 1/70

I really love shooting with my Fuji X-E2 for family events. I feel like I can shoot available light and the images look just fine at high ISO settings.

This Sunday I was invited with my wife to a wedding shower for a young couple. I just took the Fuji X-E2 and the kit lens 18-55mm.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.2, 1/110

One thing that surprises me the most about the Fuji X-E2 is the Auto White Balance. I am a stickler for getting skin tones just right and most of the time the Fuji system does a great job.

For this event I just left it on Auto White Balance, which I rarely do with my Nikon D4.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/30

I used the OIS to be sure in the low light and slightly slower shutter speeds that the images were as sharp as I could get them in this environment.

I was pleased with the results.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.6, 1/70–with pop up fill flash set to -1 EV

Now in this group photo I added the fill flash and did have to adjust the color. In Lightroom I put the eyedropper on the lady’s color on the far right to get a better skin tones.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/35

Most of the time I didn’t use the flash and just worked the room so I wasn’t backlighting a subject. This is very important to understand for the beginner. You will learn over time that having a large window behind a subject indoors will create poor light on people’s faces.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.2, 1/18

I don’t feel like I am giving up anything when I use the Fuji X-E2 in situations like this, so I am always carrying the Fuji camera wherever I go with my family.

My wife and daughter call it my compromise camera. It is small enough that I don’t have to worry about announcing that I am carrying a camera and I look more like everyone else at events.

Love the Nikon D4 & Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM for Football

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM w/ Sigma 2x, ISO 36204, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

There are a few things that are extremely important technical aspects for a great sports photo:

  • Well exposed
  • In focus
  • Sharp

The Nikon D4 and the Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM with the Sigma 2x converter helps me to get the moments and technically being just right.

The Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Lens is a telephoto zoom lens featuring a fast, constant f/2.8 maximum aperture. This lens is the first lens designed under Sigma’s new Sports line of lenses, making it well-suited for fast-moving subjects such as wildlife, nature, aviation, racing, and other similar situations.

The built-in OS (Optical Stabilizer) system enables a reduction in the appearance of camera shake up to the equivalent of four stops, resulting in a long lens that can easily be used handheld and low-light conditions. The OS system is divided into two modes; one for general shooting applications, and one that is better suited for panning shots of moving subjects. The OS system can be further adjusted to suit your needs through the use of the USB Dock.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM w/ Sigma 2x, ISO 36204, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000 [While this is a little noisy for my tastes, the dynamic range is pretty good and the important thing is it is in focus, sharp and well exposed]

The Nikon D4 camera features a 16.2Mp 36 x 23.9mm CMOS sensor with Nikon’s FX-format and the EXPEED3 image processor. ISO sensitivity can now be extended as low as ISO 50 or as high as 204,800 with a standard range of 100-12,800 ISO. Additionally, 10 frames per second continuous shooting in FX-format for up to 200 shots ensures the decisive moment will not be missed.

D4’s AF sensor utilizes 51 strategically placed AF points that are designed to capture subjects as you choose: by working together like a net to capture moving subjects or for pinpoint accuracy. Use a single AF point to home in on the exact place on your chosen subject. Each of the 51 AF points delivers fast and accurate AF detection to an impressive low light level of -2 EV (ISO 100, 20ºC) with every AF NIKKOR lens – expect to shoot more smoothly at night stadium assignments, poorly lit indoor arenas, cathedrals, theaters and any other low-lit venues.

D4 aligns its 15 cross-type sensors in the center to detect contrast for both vertical and horizontal lines with lenses f/5.6 or faster. The five central points and three points to the left and right of them in the middle line are compatible with f/8. Which is to say that with the Sigma 2x converter the lens is ƒ/5.6 and the D4 could still autofocus in a low light level of -2 EV at ISO 100. I had a lot more light than that in the Georgia Dome.


Low light can be sometimes the best mood light

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/2.8, 1/6

Last night some of the students from the PhotogenX were sitting around outside working on their projects that they are presenting this morning. It was well past sunset and just the lights from the court were in the background, but we were sitting where if it were not for the light from their laptops we would be pretty much in the dark.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/13

You need a camera that has an ISO 3200 or better. I shot these on the Fuji X-E2 using AUTO ISO with the peak setting at ISO 6400.

I opened up the aperture to the widest setting and since the lens is has a variable aperture, as you go to more telephoto the aperture gets smaller, I was shooting between ƒ/2.8 and ƒ/4.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.2, 1/20

As the subjects got closer to the laptops the light from the screens would get brighter on their faces. So the exposure changes just slightly when they lean it to see something.

What you will notice is the shutter speed is slower than normally recommended. 1/6 of a second is pretty slow. The subjects were not moving that much, which really helped. Had this been some sporting activity I could not have done this.

I am not using a tripod.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.2, 1/20

The vibration reduction system designed into the Fuji X camera and lenses lets me hand hold images almost 4-stops darker than without this system.

What all this means is as long as you remain as still as you can the small movement caused by your breathing and your heart beating will not blur your image.

If you have an older camera that the ISO goes no higher than ISO 1600 this is a great reason to go out and buy some of the newer technology.  If you do look for cameras that will shoot at ISO 6400 or higher. My Fuji X-E2 will go up to 25600, which I have used a few times.

Fuji X E2 vs Nikon D4 Low Light Test

This is a comparison of the two cameras with just the light from a Christmas tree in the room.  Custom white balance using the ExpoDisc with both cameras.

Downloadable high resolution files links are below some of the photos so you can compare at 100%.

This is the setup

Comparison of ISO 6400 ƒ/4 and ƒ/5

[Figure 1] Fuji X E2, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/7

Crop of Figure 1
[Figure 2] Nikon D4, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/2.5 28-300mm

Crop of Figure 2

6400 @ ƒ/8

[Figure 3] Fuji X E2, ISO 6400, ƒ/8, 2.3 [high resolution file]
[Figure 4] Nikon D4, ISO 6400, ƒ/8, 1/1.2, 28-300mm [high resolution file]

ISO 12800 @ ƒ/8

[Figure 5] Fuji X E2, ISO 12800, ƒ/8, 1.0 [high resolution file]
[Figure 6] Nikon D4, ISO 12800, ƒ/8, 1/3, 28-300mm [high resolution file]

ISO 25600 @ ƒ/8

[Figure 7] Fuji X E2, ISO 25600, ƒ/8, 1/2 [high resolution file]
[Figure 8] Nikon D4, ISO 25600, ƒ/8, 1/4, 28-300mm [high resolution file]


They are different camera chips.  The one on the left is the traditional and the one on the right is in the Fuji X E2.

You have a different look and not like comparing similar chip designs.

I think the Fuji X E2 rocks and the main reason I wanted it was to be able to take photos in low light when I didn’t want to carry the Nikon D4.  I think it works just fine.

I do not think the Fuji will replace the Nikon D4, especially when it comes to shooting sports, but for many of the situations I work in it can replace it.

Sports Shooter Question: ƒ/4 Fast Enough for NFL?

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 with 1.4 converter, Shot at 630mm, ISO 51200, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

I saw this post on Sports Shooter and responded to the question because I think sometimes photographers consider a lens or camera and don’t realize there are many settings that can impact sharpness of a photo and acceptable noise for publication.

My Response

I think with today’s cameras capabilities with high ISO should not be a problem using a 300mm ƒ/4 lens for NFL football night or day games.

The question you should always be asking is will the photos of the subject connect with the audience. 
I would then even take test shots at many different ISO settings and then compare the results to how the photos are published for that audience.
This is closeup on the photo above. Notice one major thing between the two photos, display size. This impacts the noise being seen. Again how will the audience view your work?
If they are primarily a website then you can get away with more than in print. 
Through the years there are a few things I have noticed that really impact this discussion with sports.
I have noticed a significant difference in sharpness of my photos when I drop below 1/1000. 
There are a few factors that impact focus. So often people blame a lens when it could be a few other things.
Factors Impacting Sharpness [which can make something look in or out of focus]
  1. I found separating the shutter from focusing and using the back button to focus and the shutter release to fire the camera improved focusing.
  2. Adjust the fine tune focus on the camera to match the lens. Each camera is different. I use LensAlign 
  3. Many of the lenses that I thought didn’t focus that fast magically are great once I upgraded my cameras to newer models.
  4. My Nikon D4 all of a sudden got ten times sharper images when I upgraded the firmware.
  5. On the Nikon system we have focus tracking. You can change how fast or slow the computer tells the camera to hunt for change in focus point. This can make a difference if something comes between you and the subject ever so briefly [referee]
  6. How many focus points you use for a sport. Sometimes you need fewer and sometimes more. This is why the camera manufacturers give you choices, so you can maximize your equipment for each situation.
Here is a quick video showing how calibrating your lens can improve the focusing.

My point is you can have a ƒ/1.4 lens that should be tact sharp, but because of all the things I mentioned above will perform badly.

With today’s cameras ability to shoot high ISO, auto focus in lower light than before I think you should be just fine with a ƒ/4 lens shooting.
Here are some of my photos from a HS Football game shooting at 12,800 in earlier post.
I was curious about pushing the ISO even higher to improve the sharpness of photos and get even more keepers, so I went to another HS Football game and pushed my ISO to 51,200 and here are those results
Bottom line is always test something before shooting for the client.

High ISO is King for Night Events

Nikon D4, 14-24mm,  ISO 12,800, ƒ/2.8 & 1/125

Available Light

I try my best to always look at the light that is present and go with it before I use a flash.

When Nikon introduced the Nikon D3 the ISO on that camera went to 6400 with no trouble. Then Nikon bumped it up again with the Nikon D3S to ISO 12,800.

My newest Nikon D4 ISO goes to 12,800 comfortably and if you really need it you can bump it all the way to Hi-4 (ISO 204,800).  The Nikon D4 has other improvements as well with focusing and especially in video.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm,  ISO 12,800, ƒ/2.8 & 1/125

In the photo here of singer Marc Brousard singing at the People’s Fest at Atlantic Station the lighting for the stage was very minimal as compared to other music events. For most other major music events at Chastain Park Amphitheater or Verizon Wireless Amphitheater you could easily shoot people on the stage with ISO 400 or 800.

This is important because for the bigger venues you can actually own a much cheaper camera than you need to capture the event when the light is low.

This is true in sports as well. When you are photographing an NFL game at night the light on the field is much better than when you are shooting in a small town at their high school Friday night football game.

Nikon D4, 70-200mm,  ISO 12,800, ƒ/2.8 & 1/100

Do you need to go and buy a Nikon D4 for $6,000 without a lens to take photos?  If you want the very best ISO 12,800, but Nikon even makes point and shoot cameras that will go to ISO 12,800.

If you want to shoot events like the People’s Fest at Atlantic Station as I did this past Saturday night then you need a high ISO camera.  Minimum of ISO 6400 in my opinion will just barely work before you need to add a flash.

Nikon D4, 70-200mm,  ISO 12,800, ƒ/2.8 & 1/125

For the photo of the couple I am hand holding a 70-200mm lens at 1/25 and vibration reduction technology is helping, but if they move they would not be in focus.  The light from the stage and surrounding shops is helping light them, but barely.  ISO 6400 would have me shooting at 1/10 of second.  I doubt seriously that I would have gotten this shot without the ISO 12,800.

With the recent dismissal of the entire photo department at the Chicago Sun-Times we can see the times are changing. But there is no way an iPhone given to a reporter will capture the photos I was getting. Also, just to own the Nikon D4 will not get the same results.

You have to know how the camera works and how to make it work for you to get the best photos.

To remain competitive you need to have the best gear to capture the type of photos of the subjects you want to get paid to shoot. If you don’t have the best possible the guy that is able to show a better image because of their gear will get the job.

Remember, it is the photographer with the best images of the subjects that will get the job and not the most expensive gear.

All this is to say, your images decide if you get hired not the gear, but your gear can hold you back to get good images. If you have great gear and not good images then you still want get the jobs.

Shooting Volleyball with the Nikon D4 using available light

Nikon D4, 70-200 ƒ/2.8, ISO 12,800, 1/1250, ƒ/4

Today I shot a volleyball game with just available light. I was pleasantly surprised at how nice the quality of the images were for shooting under sodium vapor lights.

The Nikon D4 is something I wish I had back in the 1980s.  During those years I was shooting sports every week for the daily newspaper that I worked back then. Now I only occasionally shoot sports.

While the Nikon D4 has the high ISO capabilities the new technology of vibration reduction also contributes to the photos being sharper than I can remember.

Nikon D4, 70-200 ƒ/2.8, ISO 12,800, 1/800, ƒ/4

White Balance Setting

To insure I got the best skin tones possible, I used the ExpoDisc.  I put the ExpoDisc over the lens and pointed it towards the lights in the gym.  I also slowed the shutter speed to 1/100 to be sure I was not catching the lights during a cycle.  After doing this for both of the Nikon D4 cameras, I cranked the shutter speed preference in the Auto ISO settings to 1/2000.

Nikon D4 Exposure Settings

  • Aperture Priority
  • Auto ISO
    • Lowest ISO 100
    • Highest ISO 12,800
    • Shutter Preference 1/2000

I also was using the Vibration Reduction on the lens to help improve sharpness due to handholding the lens.

Nikon D4, 70-200 ƒ/2.8, ISO 12,800, 1/1250, ƒ/4

With the Nikon D4 you also have auto focus setting as well to choose from. 

Auto Focus Setting for the Nikon D4

  • Continuous Auto Focus
  • 21 Grouping
  • Kept it centered and locked it
  • Focus Tracking on Long
  • Shutter on C-H 10fps
Nikon D4, 120-300 ƒ/2.8, ISO 12,800, 1/1000, ƒ/5.6
My Favorite Angle

This is my favorite angle for shooting volleyball. However, the one thing I would have loved even more was to shoot from a slightly higher angle. The reason for this would help me keep the net from trying to refocus my lens.

Why I like this angle is I can show the team I am covering. You can see their face expressions and while I cannot see the other teams faces, I can see the competition in the body language.

The good thing in shooting up a the players is it gives them this Greek gods feel.  I like athlete looking like they are bigger than life.  Shooting up at them helps to create this feel.

There you have it, my settings and secret weapon, the Nikon D4.