Tuesday, January 20, 2015

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 http://itstheoptics.com/?/category/24

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.  

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