Settings for shooting indoor sports

edited January 2015 Posted in » Canon T5i / 700D Forum
I'm trying to shoot a basketball game but the pictures keep coming out grainy. What settings should I use so the pictures come out crisp and clear with stop action?


  • edited January 2015
    Grainy pictures are often a result of high ISO. Lower your ISO to reduce grain for cleaner looking shots.
    However, you must compromise. Low ISO requires sufficient light. When there’s not enough light, high ISO is inevitable.

    For shooting indoors sports, the challenge is this: finding extra light to provide to your camera’s sensor to shoot at low ISO while keeping shutter speed fast enough to freeze action.

    Photography 101: Reducing the ISO by 1-stop will mean you’re underexposing by 1-stop, so you must increase your exposure by 1-stop through other means. What are these other means?

    1. Your shutter speed. Most people who shoot sports shoot at 1/1000. This allows you to reliably freeze fast action. At your discretion, you may try slowing the shutter speed by 1-stop. This all depends on how fast action is. If they’re just kids, then 1/500 may be enough to stop the action (stops of light found: 1).

    2. Your aperture. You’re probably already shooting at your lens’ max aperture, so the next step to take would be to get a faster lens. If you’re shooting with a budget tele lens like the 55-200mm, your max aperture at 200mm is f/5.6. If you tend to shoot a lot of sports, you may find it worthwhile to invest in a 70-200mm f/4 or f/2.8 (stops of light found: 1 to 2).

    3. Raw file post-processing. If you shoot in raw format, you’ll have a lot more flexibility with your exposure. You’ll be able to deliberately underexpose your shot and then just bring the exposure back up when you get back to your PC. 1 stop of exposure recovery is easily achievable by all cameras. Experiment with this and you may find you can recover 2 or even 3 stops, but I would suggest to play it safe and just underexpose and recover between 1 to 2 stops (stops of light found: 1 to 2).

    So, let’s review and see how many stops of light we’ve found which can be used to lower the ISO. We’ve found up to 5 stops of light; that’s the difference between ISO 6400 and ISO 200.

    Let’s say that you don’t want to slow your shutter, which is understandable.
    Let’s also say that you don’t want to spend so much money on new gear which is also understandable.
    Then you’re just left with raw file post-processing. That’s still 1 to 2 stops of light. Every little bit helps.
  • @TPettit30 - In a nutshell, the budget 18-55mm and 55-250mm lenses just won't cut it in this situation. I second everything @ohyeahar advised. With regards to lenses that work well for basketball, the 50mm f/1.8 is the most affordable option. The next best option if you're shooting courtside is a Tamron/Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8. These lens let much more light into the camera compared to the kit lenses, which in turn give you faster shutter speeds at lower ISO's. Faster shutter speeds produce sharper images and lower ISO's produce images with less noise. Happy shooting!
  • Thank you!
  • You're very welcome @TPettit30. If you learn any new tips and tricks with your T5i/700D, please do share them with the forum. We love input and insights from photographers of all skill levels. Happy shooting!
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