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Photography Question 

Hockey Pictures

I took pictures of my nephews hockey game with my Canon T2 camera and my telephoto lense using 400 VC film. Three quarters of the pictures came out unclear,dark, some were blurry, but mainly unfocused. I used my 420ex flash on a bracket. The flash took approximately 7 seconds before I could take another picture. I'm not sure if it was my lense or my flash or if it was something else. Any suggestions? Thank you in advance.

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1/16/2006 5:35:15 AM

Travis Fouche   Not sure if all of these are going to apply to you, but here are a few thoughts.

First off I have a 420ex and 7 seconds seems like a very long recycle time for that flash, it might be due for new batteries.

Secondly, I normally find that for indoor shooting I can use every extra bit of exposure I can get so you might want to try stepping up to an 800 speed film, personally I don't find the grain overly noticeable on smaller prints, haven't tried too many enlargements over 5x7 with 800 speed so I can't speak for the results of large enlargements.

As to the focus, often times in a "darker" environment the camera will have a hard time focusing because there just isn't enough light there for the autofocus to figure out what is going on. With the 420ex depending on how close you are the AF assist beam may help you out, but it may be that you are too far away for the beam to really show up on your subjects. You might have better luck if you focused manually.

Just some ideas.


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1/16/2006 7:21:19 AM

Andrew Laverghetta
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/13/2004
  If there's really bright ice, the camera could have been fooled into thinking that it's getting a lot of light and it will try to even that out, making the photos darker. Also, can you find ANY part in the photos that are sharp? By this, I mean is the focus simply off, or does it seem like the shutter speed was too slow making it impossibly to hold the camera steady for the whole time the shutter is open. I dont' think the flash would do that much good unless you were pretty close. The flash should be able to freeze the motion and I don't assume that it has done that. In this situation. I would say new batteries might help as well? You'll probably want to use the camera on P mode since you'll still probably get the motion blur on TV or AV and possibly M unless you set it to a fast enough shutter speed. Hope this helps!


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1/16/2006 5:30:51 PM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/9/2005
  How close were you to the action?

I doubt your flash reached the action if some were blurry.

What F.L?

Post an example of one good and one bad..That might help us analyze it.


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1/16/2006 6:58:39 PM

Cindy    I had my camera on auto focus already Andrew and I'm pretty sure P does the exact same thing but I have more options to choose from. I think the shutter speed was just to slow to catch anything. I was in the bleachers standing in the first row away from the ice. I did buy new batteries to try for the next time. I am still new to the manual modes so I wouldn't know what changes to make. I did have probably 5 pictues that were in complete focus. In looking at the pictures some were taken at totally different times and they should have focused and given my flash enough time. Should I not use the flash at all? I'm not sure Pete what F.L is. Travis, when you say the AF might help, are you referring to the automatic flash on the camera. Thank you for responding.

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1/17/2006 10:05:49 AM

  When shooting at distance, you need to be able to reach the subject with the flash burst. A good high power flash is essential. Promaster makes a very good unit. The 5750 will link with most cameras with the proper module. I have gotten good results from as far away as 75 feet with this unit. As for recycle time, check your batteries. They are probably the problem. I always change batteries before any project, paid or personal.

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1/17/2006 10:48:53 AM

Cindy    Thank you everyone. A couple more things, I looked at my telephoto lens and it had a circular polarizer on it, could that have been the problem? Also my zoom lense goes to 300mm will my 420ex even reach that distance. Also I used AA Nickel hydride batteries, are these better than AA Alkaline, I know the recycling time is faster with the NIMH. The NIMH gives a strong flash when they are recharged, but I'm thinking the flash output dramatically reduces after several flashes.
Thank you, Cindy

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1/18/2006 10:02:12 AM

Andrew Laverghetta
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/13/2004
  yes! definitly! The polarizer will cut off at lease one stop of light. It probably won't do anything inside besides reduce glare on something like the plexiglas shield on a player's helmet but that's too much to mess with and it probobly won't happen or do much good. 300mm isn't really a distance that a lens can reach but I'm not sure how to explain it. Either way, the 420EX will autozoom up to 135mm in the flash head itself so that it can make the most out of the flash energy it puts out. It might do you some good, but I would think if the light is good enough for them to see that puck out there, that you should just be able to use a fast shutter speed and ISO around 800. Actually, I just noticed something....
I just recently took some pictures of a college ice hockey game, held at a rink at a local high school, and I used my 24-70mm f/2.8 lens so that's probably going to be a wider aperture than what you have, let me check. Seems with the 300mm end of the lens you'll have a meax aperture around f/5.6 so that's quite a bit smaller than my 2.8. If you could get your hands on a 50mm lens that's maybe around f/1.8 (around $80) it would serve you well in multiple situations. I guess it would be a bit wider though. Anyway, with my 20D (digital SLR) I used ISO800, 1/100 second at f/2.8. If you used ISO 3200 black and white film, you could still get away with 1/100 second at f/5.6 but that wouldn't be fast enough to keep a steady camera unless you are at 100mm or less. You might try not zooming in that far? Perhaps if you're up against the glass, you could try to steady the end of the camera lens on the glass? I guess you could try to use the flash some more. You wouldn't want to use too fast of a shutter speed though because that won't get you any background info from available light. Dont' forget, these settings were specific to the conditions I was in so they might not work for you.

I think this has inspired me to go back out and take some more shots! lol

Hope this helps!


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1/18/2006 11:15:39 AM

Travis Fouche   The circular polarizer certainly could have had an effect, it can reduce the light reaching the film by up to two stops (so if you would have had enough light to shoot at 1/60th of a second otherwise it would need to slow down to 1/15th of a second to let enough light in).

(Most of the flash information below is based on info found at
As far as the flash, I'll assume that you are using the Canon 75-300 F/4-5.6 lens. So zoomed all the way out to 300mm you have an aperture of f/5.6. The 420ex has a guide number of 42, based on ISO 100 film, if you quadruple your film speed you can effectively double your guide number so the guide number becomes 84. With a guide number of 84 and an aperture of 5.6 we can take 84/5.6 and come up with 15, which is the flash's maximum effective range in meters. In US friendly Imperial measurements that would be about 45 feet.

If the circular polarizer was using up too full stops of light then your effective aperture would have been f/11. So then we take 84/11 and come up with about 7 meters or 21 feet.

All of this assumes that you were not using your flash in the "high speed sync" mode. On the back of the 420ex there is a switch with a green dot on one side, and a lightning bolt with an H next to it on the other side. The green dot is the "normal" mode, the lightning bolt with the H is the high speed sync mode. It took me a while to get this, but the only time you really would want to use the high speed sync mode is if you are trying to use the flash as a fill flash in a bright light situation and want to keep the aperture wide, but need a shutter speed faster than the sync speed to prevent over exposure.

As far as the motion blur concerns that some people have had, if the flash is providing the vast majority of your light then this is probably not too much of an issue, as the light provided by the flash will last for less then the 1/500th of a second that you would typically shoot at when using this lens at 300mm.

With respect to the batteries, if the flash says it is charged it is the same level of output regardless of how well charged your batteries are or what kind of batteries you have. The batteries are used to charge some high power capacitors every time, and when the pilot light lights up those capacitors are charged. The only difference is how long a set of batteries take to charge those capacitors.

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1/18/2006 11:34:24 AM

Cindy    You guys are great. I do appreciate all this information. I have read some books on photography and I have the hardest time comprehending aperature and the term f/1.8 50mm lense as Andrew had referred to. I have a 28-90 lense but would have to check what the f stop is. I use automatic mode all the time and when people tell me to set the shutter speed, I don't know how to do that. I put the film in and have at it. I have a great eye for photography and do well, but I know I could do so much more if I understood all the terms.I'm going to a game this weekend, so will take more pictures and let you all know. Thank you

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1/19/2006 5:54:20 AM

Andrew Laverghetta
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/13/2004
  Hey! sorry about that. Yeah, the 50mm lens is what used to come standard with more mechanical cameras. The field of view of a 50mm lens is supposed to be about as wide as the field of view of the normal human eye (at least the sharp part without moving your eyes back and forth). That would be pretty much the same as setting your 28-90 lens at 50mm - except - usually since the lens is only one focal length (50mm) it will be sharper than zoom lenses of similar build quality. the f/1.8 means that it lets in considerably more light than what your lens probably does. Usually, when a lens is described, it has an "f" number beside it. This denotes what the largest possible aperture is with this lens. If there are two numbers with a dash in between, that means that as you zoom closer and closer, the number will become larger, thus, letting in less light. Some examples are my 50mm f/1.8, my 35-80mm f/4-5.6, and my 200mm f/2.8. That means that the largest aperture on the 50mm is 1.8, the largest on the 200mm is 2.8 (not quite as big as 1.8) and on the 35-80mm zoom, the maximum aperture starts at 4.0 at 35mm and then as I zoom to around 50mm it changes to 4.5 and then when I get to 80mm it is 5.6. It's kind of hard to grasp but if you're interested in checking out more of this kind of stuff, type something like "basic exposure" in the search field and I'm sure there will be many things to help you out more than I can. Feel free to contact me through my gallery.

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1/19/2006 11:33:16 AM

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