Sunday, February 22, 2015

If it ain't broke, let's fix it

College basketball is a great game.

So, let's screw it up.

In my humble opinion, the value of the "three point field goal" is too high and the value of a free throw is too low, with respect to a standard field goal.  Also, IHMO, the value of a technical foul is way too high.

Here is a very simple "solution" to this "problem": Change the point value of the baskets in basketball.

Field Goal23
Long field goal34
Free throw12
Technical free throw11

That would certainly change the flow of a game!

Yesterday Virginia Military beat Western Carolina 113-111 in overtime.  They won by hitting 20 three-point field goals and 24 regular field goals.  WC only hit 7 three-pointers.  If one takes the box scores and recasts this game with this new scoring system, things change a bit.

VMI Keydets
Jordan Weethee, F 5-10 2-5 3-4 15 5 2 3 3
Phillip Anglade, F 4-7 0-0 2-2 10 4 0 4 2
Tim Marshall, G 6-17 6-17 0-0 18 6 6 0 0
Brian Brown, G 3-8 3-7 0-0 9 3 3 0 0
Julian Eleby, G 11-22 8-15 13-15 43 11 8 3 13
Jarid Watson, C 3-4 0-0 4-7 10 3 0 3 4
Trey Chapman, F 1-4 0-0 3-4 5 1 0 1 3
Fred Iruafemi, F 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0
Craig Hinton, F 1-2 1-2 0-0 3 1 1 0 0
Christian Burton, G 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0
34-74 20-46 25-32 113 80 42 50 172
45.9% 43.5% 78.1% 60 28 25 113
Western Carolina Catamounts
Torrion Brummitt, F 11-15 0-0 9-13 31 11 0 11 9
Tucker Thompson, F 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0
James Sinclair, G 16-30 4-8 4-5 40 16 4 12 4
Mike Brown, G 4-10 1-2 4-4 13 4 1 3 4
Rhett Harrelson, G 3-12 2-11 3-3 11 3 2 1 3
Ashley Williams, F 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0
Justin Browning, F 4-6 0-0 2-5 10 4 0 4 2
Kenneth Hall, F 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0
Devin Peterson, G 2-4 0-1 2-4 6 2 0 2 2
40-79 7-22 24-34 111 28 99 48 175
50.6% 31.8% 70.6% 21 66 24 111

WC would have won because of the decreased relative value of the long shot.

(Naturally, the game almost certainly would have progressed very differently.  I cannot tell, for example, if it would have even gone to overtime.)

The other interesting part for this change is that one player, Eleby, would have score 67 points. My guess is that 100-point games for a player would not be unheard of.

When the NCAA was trying to decide if they wanted a three-point field goal, there were lots of experiments that occurred.  For example, the year that NC State won the NCAA championship (1983), the ACC had a 17-foot three pointer--a chip shot!

Also, they have experimented with doing away with the foul-out, but that did not work well.

It would be fun--let's give it a shot in the pre-season next year.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Shooting the Ping Pong Tournament, Part 3 (with conclusions)

Ping Pong (a.k.a., Table Tennis) is a very difficult and frustrating sport to shoot!
  1. Poor lighting demands high ISO.  On my APS-C cameras (Canon 7D and Sony a6000), this ISO is quite noisy.  I watched a video from Tony Northrup this weekend that talks about the "conversions" among all the shooting parameters from one sensor size to another.  In particular, he shows that the noise at a specific ISO goes as the 2-dimensional sensor size.  So a 35-mm-sized sensor (a.k.a., "Full Frame") is about 1.6*1.6 (4.096) times less noisy than an APS-C sensor.  In other words, ISO 6400 on a Canon 5D (or 6D or 1Dx) is equivalent to ISO 1600 on the Canon 7D.  I *wish* I could have shot at ISO 1600!
  2. Autofocus is a bear. I think I covered that pretty well in the Sunday post.
  3. The Sony a6000 is a competent sports camera, with the right lens.
  4. My Canon FD 100mm f/2.8 from 1975 is a great lens!
  5. I love shooting indoor sports.  My current pair of APS-C cameras do a good job, but the high-ISO performance is not so great; that is, I would really like to have cleaner pictures at ISO 6400!
  6. The background at Vaughn sucks.  Blurring out the background better would have been nice.  That means either a faster/longer lens or a larger sensor.
Is it time for me to consider buying camera with a larger sensor?  (I hate using the term "Full Frame", but I guess I have to.)

(Pause.  Take a deep breath, Elliott.)

My two current APS-C cameras are:
  • Canon 7D (mark 1) - $1700, 8fps
  • Sony a6000 - $600, 10fps
If I wanted to shift to "full frame", the current cameras on the market are as follows:
  • The kings are:
    • Canon 1Dx - $6000, 11fps
    • Nikon D4s - $6500, 11fps
  • The others are:
    • Canon 5D Mark III - $3000, 6fps
    • Canon 6D - $1800, 4.5fps
    • Nikon D810 - $3000, 5fps
    • Nikon D750 - $2000, 6.5fps
    • Nikon D610 - $1500, 6fps
    • Sony A99 - $2000, 6fps
    • Leica M-P - $8000, 3fps
    • Sony a7 (any of them) - $1500-$2500, 1fps
Leicas and the Sony a7* cameras are not sports camera!  They would need better fps specs.  Also, Leica does not have any AF lenses.

For completeness, there are a couple of "outside the box" medium format alternatives:
  • Pentax 645Z - $9000, 3fps (sensor size is 44x33 mm, 50% bigger than "full frame")
  • Leica S - $25400, 3.5fps;  But it can do 24 fps of 4K video.  4K video is an 8MP (3840x2160 pixel) still image.  That would work!
  • Phase One 645DF+ - $20k?,  2fps

Conclusions/How to shoot ping pong

  • Shoot from an elevated position (8-12 feet above floor level) for most of the shots
  • Be cognizant of the background as you are shooting.  A guy in a red coat wandering by can ruin an otherwise good shot
  • The best shots (to my eye) have the ball in there.
  • Shots with one competitor facing the camera are good, but try to get a few with the back of the near competitor in there, too.
  • If the player is right-handed, you are probably best to shoot from the right side of the table.  If the other player is left handed, then you definitely want to be on the right side!
  • Crank up the ISO to get a fast shutter speed
  • Use the maximum (widest) aperture
  • On APS-C, focal lengths between 50 and 100mm seem to be best (75-150mm on full frame).  But try the longest focal length you have, too, to get very tight shots from nearby, and/or regular shots from far away.
  • Try manual focusing
  • Borrow a Canon 1Dx for best results :-)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Shooting a Ping Pong Tournament, Part 2

I tried some different techniques on Sunday when I returned to the Vaughn Athletic Center in Aurora, IL, for the second day of the Butterfly Ping Pong tournament.

I used my Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM on my Canon 7D and my (new-to-me) Canon FD 100mm f/2.8 on my Sony a6000 (converted to a 72mm f/2.0 by the Metabones Spped Booster adapter).  

Yesterday, the AF couldn't tracking these targets, so I mostly did manual focus.  Since the targets are not really changing their distance to the camera, I figured that setting the focus would be better than the crappy AF I was seeing yesterday.  I was right.  I still had many out-of-focus pix, but I'd say I had 3 times more usably sharp images than yesterday.

I took 1100 pix with the a6000 (*all* manual focus using the 100mm lens) and 400 with the 7D (about half manual focus using both the 50mm and the 70-200mm).  

The a6000 really was able to do 10fps; the 7D was still slow, but not asking it to do AF sped it up a lot.  (Maybe 6fps, but in spurts).

I shot JPEG, exclusively.

I have purged all these images down to about 50 shots.  

One teaser shot (a6000, 100mm (72mm), ISO 6400, 1/800, f/2.8 (f/2.0)):

Inline image 1

I ordered a 16GB SDHC card capable of 150MB/sec (3.75 times faster than the card I have now).

You can see all my shots from Sunday at

Shooting a Ping Pong Tournament, Part 1

Much to my surprise and enjoyment, there was a major Ping Pong (a.k.a., "table tennis") tournament this weekend at the Vaughn Athletic Center in Aurora, IL.  There were 38 high-quality tables on the main gym floor, and they were mostly all busy all day Saturday and Sunday.  The event was sponsored by Butterfly.

On Saturday, I took 990 pictures over 90 minutes.  Auto Focus (AF) really had a hard time in the poorly lit Vaughn Center.  It (more often than not) decided to focus on the back splash.  I'd say that at least half of these pictures were terrible.

I had to shoot ISO 6400 (at least) in order to get 1/640 sec shutter within Vaughn.  These guys are really thin and they change their angle w.r.t. me a lot, so getting AF lock was tricky.  Background is not great.  HIGHER perspective is best.  Standing on the bleachers is a good angle.

One of my best shots: 

You can see the results of my efforts from Saturday at

Equipment observations.  

Shooting RAW is a lot slower than JPEG in my Canon 7D--maybe an average of 2 or 3 frames per second in these conditions.  I switched to Medium JPEG to get better fps.

My Sony a6000 held up well--its internal buffer is a lot bigger than the 7D, so I can take 10-20 RAW's at 10 fps in a spurt, but it takes ~15 seconds to clear that buffer.  (My SD card is 40MB/sec and each RAW image is 27MB.)  When I switched to JPEG (max size and min compression in camera, about 7MB/image), there was not a problem for it to keep up.  But my Sony kit lens (the only lens I brought-oops) is not good enough for this (16-50mm f/3.5-5.6).  

My Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L on APS-C is too long!  Something like 50-100mm would be better (so the 70-200 on a full-frame camera would be pretty good).  I did not bring my Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM--this might actually be the right lens for this on the 7D.  

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Leica lenses on Sony a6000

The Sony a6000 easily accepts the whole range of Leica M lenses.  I have the Metabone M->E adapter.  It is (as many Amazon reviewers said) very high precision.  In fact (again, echoing Amazon reviewers), it is a little tricky to get the lens onto the adapter and the adapter onto the camera.

My brief comment here is on the Leica Summicron (f/2.0) 90mm lens.  I had this lens renovated by Leica in NJ in August, 2013.

My preliminary observation on this lens is that it is remarkable.  My best evidence is from a chum who put this lens on his Sony A7r.  this remarkable snapshot shows the beautiful quality of the bokeh at f/2.0.

Sony A7r, Leica Summicron 90mm, f/2.0 1/800 sec, ISO 200

And here is a 100% crop in the upper-left corner.

IMHO: Lovely!!

(Again, I did NOT take these pictures, nor is it my camera.  But it is my lens.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Simple test of three very different lenses on the Sony a6000

(I deleted my previous post because, well, it sucked.)

I bought the Sony a6000 bundle (with extra batteries, 64GB SD card, the 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens, and other fairly useless stuff).

I borrowed a Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 sweetie lens from a chum who owns an A7r.  The other two lenses are the kit lens and a lens I bought in 1972 for my Canon film camera, the 50mm FD f/1.4.  I use a Metabones Speed Booster to couple the FD lens to the E-mount, which turns it into a 35.7mm f/1.0 lens.

Here are the three pix.  All are shot at f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/6 sec on a tripod in my office.  I used the self timer to actually release the shutter.  Post-processing on the JPEG was to remove all color (saturation = 0) and to increase the contrast by 30%.

Canon FD 50mm f/1.4 + Speed Booster

Sony 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6

Zeiss 55mm f/1.8

These look surprisingly similar!  I didn't get the distance right on the Zeiss, so the 100% crop shows the pattern a little bit bigger.  

Here is the uncropped and unedited image from the Canon (the others, at this resolution are almost indistinguishable).

I think you can see that the overall quality of the Zeiss in this specific situation is (only) a little bit better than the other two.  I am not sure if I can tell the difference between the old FD 50mm and the Sony kit lens, though.  The numerals on the Canon FD look a bit sharper, but the lines on the Sony look a bit more distinct.

The Sony a6000 is applying lens corrections (I think) to the two electronic lenses but not the Canon.  The biggest impact of this adjustment may be that this full image from the Canon, above, has a bit of dark vignetting (whereas the others do not).

Acknowledged problems with this measurement:
  1. Terrible fluorescent lighting in my office.
  2. Inconsistent framing of the target on these three shots
  3. I was not far enough away for the numbers on the chart to be meaningful.

I may publish shots from the Canon at f/1.0 and from the Zeiss at f/1.8, just for fun.

My conclusions
  1. The Sony Kit lens is absolutely appropriate for everyday use!  
  2. The old Canon is a fine (and maybe great) lens.

Here are 100% crops for the Canon at f/1.0 (equivalent) and the Zeiss at f/1.8 (I moved the tripod closer to the image for the Canon shot in order to make the target about the same size in the frame.)

Canon FD f/1.4 at f/1.0 (equivalent)

Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 at f/1.8


Friday, October 31, 2014

Canon FD 24mm f/2.8 and Metabones Speed Booster versus Sony 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS

Here is a simple (simplistic?) comparison of the Canon FD 24mm f/2.8 from 1978, attached through and Metabones FD/E Speed Booster to the Sony Kit lens, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS.

This test was performed on a Sony NEX-F3 (borrowed) camera.  This is a 16 MP APS-C sensor.

Here are the full res images:

Canon FD 24mm f/2.8 with Speed Booster, shot at f/8 (becomes 17mm at f/5.6), 1/2000 sec, ISO 200

Sony 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 at 18mm, f/8, 1/400 sec, ISO 200

The camera metered differently for these two shots.  The shot with the Sony kit lens was 0.8 stops too bright--I adjusted it down in Lightroom to match (more or less) the Canon FD image. The white balance was also different.  You can also see (maybe) that the 24mm lens (which gets reduced to a focal length of 17.14mm) is a bit wider than the 18mm kit lens.

Here are 640x480 100% crops of the red aircraft navigation light on the 8th floor of Wilson Hall (at Fermilab):

Canon FD and Speed Booster

Sony Kit lens

Here are two images inside, a bit closer to the camera (less than 1 meter):

Canon FD 24mm at f/2.2 (effective)

Sony Kit lens at 18mm, f/3.5

Canon FD 24mm at 100% crop

Sony Kit lens at 100% crop

To my eye, the Canon FD is sharper.