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Old November 22nd, 2012, 02:40 PM   #1
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Shooting High School Soccer question

Have a 5dmk3, with rode mic, decent Manfretto ball head 502 hd, and finder. Have a good selection of glass. Fair amount of experience shooting stills, however, I am not able to produce quality video. The big issue for me is simply focus. With the fairly high speed movement that is not all that predictable, I am unable to keep the image in focus. I do not try to manually focus. The quick focus and live view focus are fine, but the ball moves and the action is rapidly out of focus.

The question I have is simply whether or not i'd be better with a video camera of some sort that might automatically focus.

Any opinions are appreciated.

Thanks.
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Old November 22nd, 2012, 03:37 PM   #2
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Re: Shooting High School Soccer question

This might not be what you want to hear... but often at work we shoot soccer with 2/3" HD camera's and lenses at F/6-8 since for the low positioned camera's it's almost impossible to keep up focus..

So you could try stopping down.. you won't get the shallow depth of field but the upside is that it's easier to keep everything you want in focus :)
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Old November 22nd, 2012, 05:18 PM   #3
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Re: Shooting High School Soccer question

I shot my son's football games for the last two years. So it's similar, only we had mostly night games. During the daylight, I use a .9 ND to allow me to control the light better.

With the 24-105 I use F4 to 8 at 30 fps and whatever the workable ISO is. I push in tight and focus on the far side of the field using the image boost of +10, then get out of image boost and pull back to my shot range. Doing this, I never had focus issues.
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Old November 22nd, 2012, 05:52 PM   #4
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Re: Shooting High School Soccer question

One of the times that DSLRs lose out - we do a bit of football with real video cameras (even though I hate it with a passion) and the only time focus is an issue is when we're forced to shoot from close to the line, but with video lenses, one hand on zoom and one on focus is quite manageable. With the camera a bit further away, depth of field is quite deep, so focus is simpler. Shallow DoF also looks stupid on football, because you need to have everything sharp, because as cameraman, you have little control over what happens next!
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 08:08 AM   #5
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Re: Shooting High School Soccer question

Tom, I think you already know the answer to your question! A full frame camera has very shallow DOF compared to "video" cameras, even 2/3" chip cameras. Add in the lack of design for this type of lens control and you are swimming upstream.

The only way I could think of shooting this type of content is with a large, high resolution monitor and the camera baing on a tripod so you only have to think about focus. Otherwise I would get a video camera.

Remember that your viewers might enjoy seeing the game with a little more in focus as well!
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 08:35 AM   #6
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Re: Shooting High School Soccer question

That is what I have experienced so far. Somewhat frustrating. While I love the 5d for all I can do with stills, video of fast moving soccer has been disappointing.
Is there any hope that the canon consumer cams will suit my needs? There are some great deals going on right now on refurb consumer cams at Canon(Black Friday). Do any of those continually focus? The are recording in 1080 so the quality might be just fine.
like the m40 or m41?
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 12:02 PM   #7
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Re: Shooting High School Soccer question

DSLRs shoot great footage in a relatively narrow set of conditions. They lack professional viewfinder, audio, headphone and servo zoom. As you discovered, they also lack proper auto focus. For a video camera, they do however take superb stills.

I shot football (american) game film for 5 seasons. These are the features you want on a sports camcorder:
Auto Focus
Auto Exposure
Zoom
3" LCD
LANC port
Tripod
LANC Remote control
720p60 or 30p

Nice to Have Features:
Lens ring for filming in manual exposure
1080p60
Rain proof

Look at the Canon g10. I am not sure if the Panasonic TM cameras have a lanc port but they are also an option as they shoot 60p.
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 05:26 PM   #8
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Re: Shooting High School Soccer question

a refurb g10 is now 665 from Canon.

What is lanc?

would this cam continue to focus while shooting?
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 10:37 PM   #9
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Re: Shooting High School Soccer question

LANC is the name of the protocol used for remote control of cameras. When on a tripod, a LANC remote lets you start stop recording and zoom using your thumb. It mounts typically on the pan bar. Take a look at B&H. Here's a cheap one:
Libec Remote Zoom and Focus Control for LANC and ZFC-5HD B&H

If a camera has auto focus, it will focus while you shoot. For the G10, it uses something Canon calls Instant AF. There's a paragraph about it here:
Canon VIXIA HF G10 Flash Memory Camcorder 4923B002 B&H Photo

DO some searching here on the G10 or it's XA10 big brother. There are other cameras out there but last I looked, the G10 was the lowest priced one with a 3" screen. As you know, following fast sports action is hard. The 3" screen helps quite a bit. Next to that, a tripod really makes a difference in shooting watchable game film. With a remote control, you can pan and zoom smoothly simultaneously. I prefer the ones that let you set the zoom speed to a constant speed. That lets you mash on the button and concentrate on following the action. And you viewers won't be jolted by and accidental jump into hyperspeed if you mash too hard on a variable speed rocker.

All that said, the soccer field is large and if you are in the stands, and want a closeup of your kid, the 10x zoom probably won't cut it. YMMV
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Old November 24th, 2012, 01:22 PM   #10
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Re: Shooting High School Soccer question

I have a Canon VIXIA HF-S30 that would be perfect for this on the classified. I used it for fast action sailing and it had nice results for a consumer camera. And you can't beat the price.
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Old November 24th, 2012, 09:33 PM   #11
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Re: Shooting High School Soccer question

Hey Tom, i just saw a deal on the highly praised Panasonic cam x900.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0072B5E2YIt's been going for $1000 but i saw it listed on Ben'sBargains for $668.
I've edited football footage from it and found it very good; sharp, excellent focus and 3mos chips for good color and decent sensitivity. 60p too!

While it lacks the remote port, it does have a ring which could be used for zoom, i believe.
The remote isn't as crucial for soccer, as there aren't as many breaks in recording. As opposed to Football (American).

A tripod is pretty important as has been mentioned.
I got a $40 'fluid head' for my slider and use it as a second setup for 2nd angles; i'm sure it would work for your situation, probably with a stills tripod you already own. I'll look up the details if you need it.
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Old November 25th, 2012, 08:23 AM   #12
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Re: Shooting High School Soccer question

Thanks Mark,
At the tournament yesterday I saw a guy with a somewhat serious setup.

He had a tripod, with a pvc setup on it. It extended the height to about10 feet. He also had a shoulder rig that held a small lcd monitor. it was attached to the pvc structure so as he turned, the camera did as well, He was controlling the zoom with a remote.
A bit much for me.

I do have a good head, the Manfrotto 502hd, the Z-finder for the canon 5d mark3 and a rode mic, the videomic pro. In all I've invested about 500 to get set up for video with the dslr, all seems to be for naught.
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Old November 26th, 2012, 02:05 PM   #13
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Re: Shooting High School Soccer question

Tom, while you can certainly muddle-through with your setup, a DSLR is probably the "wrong tool for the job" for filming action sports. You'll be able to use it for other shoots (it's particularly well-suited for sit-down interviews when mated with fast prime lenses wide-open).

Grab a used HD/HDV 1/3" sensor camera with a long 20x power zoom and you'll be a much happier camper, with much more usable footage.

The 5D3 does shoot great action stills, of course. An EF 100-400mm L is great for outdoor soccer/US football. But video coverage of sports often needs a different camera location and coverage, so being able to shoot video AND stills with the same rig/setup won't really help. Video is best mid-field, up high, with wide to medium shots and deep DOF. And the best action stills are often close-ups shot from the sideline, with shallow DOF

Just take a gander at the way the pros cover video and stills... the photogs have the long white lenses almost invariably on the sidelines and the video cams are way up high on ONE side of the field (this is important, too).
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Old November 26th, 2012, 09:30 PM   #14
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Re: Shooting High School Soccer question

I shoot mostly youth soccer for both photo and video. I started using video on my 60D. I bought a zacuto z finder to help with the focus, and videomic pro to enhance audio. Trying to focus a dslr especially during an evening game is too much work. I eventually bought a camcorder (panasonic tm900). It worked pretty well in low light, but realized that it didn't have the lanc remote capabilities. So i sold it.
Aside from focus, I found that the dslr did not have a fluid rendering of fast movement..even after trying different shutter speeds. Too high a shutter speed results in strobing. Too low a shutter results in too much blur in movement.
Now I use an xa10 and it is simply amazing. If you dont need low light capabilities, you can go with a cheaper canon m52.
If you are shooting soccer for technical player development, you need to shoot from a high vantage point. (I have a specialized rig that allows me to shoot at 30 feet.)
Irregardless, having a lanc remote will do wonders for the ability to pan and zoom.
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Old November 26th, 2012, 09:39 PM   #15
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Re: Shooting High School Soccer question

Hey David,
What kind of 30ft rig do you have? Is it similar to a HiPod?
Elevation is definitely needed and frequently unavailable - i've pulled my LandRover up to some fields and shot from the roof/gear rack (w/plywood). I got pretty lucky i didn't get chased off - some parks are lax, most are not.
I've seen some guys with mini scaffolds before, but didn't investigate them.

On the TM900, did you attempt zooms with the ring? Just wondering if it's possible.
After getting my AC160, i find that for certain sports, a hand on the ring is superior - for me. This is mainly due to there being no servo in the way.
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