Patience and a Pretty Good Camera.
Last week one of the parents from the other team asked me to check the settings on her camera. She wasn't sure what settings she should use to get good shots. I took a quick look and her camera was an entry level Nikon with a similar lens. There is a theory that a good photographer can make a cheap camera work well, but an inexperienced photographer may be disappointed with the best camera available. I don't know if that's exactly true, but in the case of someone who just has no idea where to start, it's hard to know where to start offering suggestions.
The camera in question was set at a very high ISO on "P" for "Program." I considered just leaving it alone, since the Program mode should do a good job making a good exposure with most any ISO. The problem with a high ISO like 3200 is that, especially in the case of an entry-level camera, there will be a lot of grain in the image. Grain, or noise, is that fuzzy looking dusty feel to a photo that makes it look kind of crummy. With high ISO and high noise, images can look kind of foggy. Even in Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom, sharpening can make things worse. There are some tools that can knock down the noise a bit without degrading the image, but if it's really grainy there's not much that can be done without really destroying the quality of the image.
If there was an easy point and shoot solution, it would be simple. Problem is, there is no such thing, and sometimes you really do get what you pay for. That can be the case with camera gear, especially when the sun gets low in the sky. The images on this page were made with Nikon D700 and D3S cameras with 70-200 2.8 and 300 2.8 lenses. I'll be back to talk about lens selection in an upcoming blog post.
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