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Shooting gymnastics

edited June 2015 Posted in » Nikon D5100 Forum
Hello, I have not been able to take good pictures at my daughter's gymnastics demos. I have been shooting in auto with no flash. Some pictures come out ok, but lots of them are blurry. I want to use both my 18-55mm and 55-200mm lenses.
Does anyone know what manual settings I could use for this indoor gymnastics event (no flash, the gym has fluorescent lights)? I'm still learning to use my D5100 and I bought Moose's cheat sheets which I find very helpful. I just wish the cheat sheets included indoor action sports with fluorescent lighting.
Thanks for any feedback you can provide.


  • edited June 2015
    If your pictures are well exposed but blurry, then your problem is either in focus or shutter speed.

    If possible, either open your images in a computer program that allows you to see the "EXIF" information, or go to your camera's menu and enable the information display in the playback. You can then find out what shutter speed and aperture was used for the blurry pictures.

    Two possibilities seem most likely. The first is that too low a shutter speed was used, and you got motion blur. Auto mode gives you no control here.

    The second is that the multi-point focusing in Auto mode was not aimed at the right subject. You also have no control here. If you want a specific person, you're better off going to single point continuous focus.

    If you are hesitant to try all the control choices, I would suggest you switch to "sports" mode. This will at least give you faster shutter speeds, and single point auto focus.

    As for the fluorescent lighting, if the color temperature is unattractive, you have a couple of options. One is to select a different white balance in the camera. There are some for different types of fluorescent lighting. "Auto" white balance usually works pretty well, but often tends to err on the cold or blue side. Experiment with others. A second way, and one you should probably do anyway, is to shoot in Raw mode, and you can then open your images in View NX2, and alter the white balance manually without degrading the picture. Once you have figured out what looks best, you can either set a camera preset to match it, or make a custom white balance setting.

  • edited June 2015
    Good advice from @Bruto as usual. I agree that your problem was probably a slow shutter speed. For any sports, you need to be using shutter priority with a speed close to 1/1000th at least, especially if you are using your 55-200mm, which is the lens I would choose. Follow Bruto's advice about white balance. You could also try panning with shooting set to continuous. It takes a little practice and works well especially if you have a tripod but can be done handheld. The idea is that you follow the subject's movement and take a few shots in succession. Another trick is to use predictive focusing. The idea here is to focus on the area where you think the subject will end up and shoot when the subject comes into frame. It is not as hard to do as it may sound. Yet another trick is to position yourself so the subject is coming towards you rather than across your view. One final trick which I have never done, but a friend regularly does, is to shoot video and then using a software package (many are free on the net), extract individual frames.
    Good luck and please come back with how you got on.
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