This is an amazing action shot!!! And so impressive. Trying to get good shots of cats when they're in motion is impossible! (For me, anyway The camera I'm trying to use might have something to do with it too)
Thanks . It's not really about the camera - any dSLR, micro 4/3 or bridge would be ok. It's more about having a directable flash unit (more power and ability to bounce the light), picking a spot and timing. I posted a little guide to how I was getting the side-on action shots on the bengal cat forums (as some people asked): [link]
I'd say the key things are: 1) Have a white ceiling in the room 2) Have a flash unit (rather than built-in flash) which has a directional head so you can point it up at the ceiling to bounce it for even light. The extra expense of having a remote flash unit isn't necessary - it's fine mounted on the camera. 3) Have a tripod to mount the camera on. 4) Set the camera to manual focus and manually focus it at a spot you can get the cats to jump/walk/run past. 5) Persuade the cats to jump/walk/run past that spot while taking the shot!
Wow, thanks so much for the extra information and the link to the previous post. I never thought of using a mounted flash and bouncing the light off the ceiling. I've only got an in-built flash on the Olympus that I use (or try to use, because it's not very user friendly), but I am upgrading to a Nikon next year, so a flash unit is being added to the "toys to get" list.
I think one of the places where I'm going wrong is having the camera on Auto-focus, which eats up precious time. Also the lens I have on the camera isn't a fixed focal length, but a zoom lens. I'm limited to two lenses for this camera, as I inherited it from my brother, when he discovered the lenses he wanted were too expensive for the Olympus. Outside, I can muddle through, but inside shots have been a nightmare, with light and refusing to use the in-built flash.
I have the Nikon SB-600 flash unit - my previous and current camera bodies (D90 and D7000 respectively) both supported "commander mode" for Nikon's CLS using their built-in flash so they can remote control it. I don't think the lower-end Nikon's support that alas, but on those lower end cameras the SB-600 can still be pointed upwards and used as bounce-flash while mounted on the camera (as can its successor the SB-700).
Not using auto-focus is best for action shots - it's rare that the auto-focus can keep with any near motion quickly enough except panning (where the focal distance stays the same). I've tried having the autofocus track a cat walking relatively slowly towards me and it still tends to lag!
The Nikon I have my eye on is the D800, since the D700 is discontinued and that's the model I've been playing around with (my brother has it) So between a higher-end model and the SB-700 mounted flash, I should definitely get some better results, as far as lighting goes. We have white ceilings and an off-white grayish colour on the walls, so there are plenty of surfaces for the light to be bouncing off of.
Even when the cats are walking slowly, the auto-focus, even on the Olympus, is more of a hindrance than a help. By the time you auto-focus on them, and you keep panning to keep them in shot, there is something else the camera decides it wants to focus on. Auto-focus really is only a help when they are still, but then the problem of lighting comes into the equation, and those spontaneous shots when you don't have time to set up the tripod (or the sound of dropping the tripod's legs down will disturb the cats), it really costs you when you're using a camera that is digging its heels in every step of the way if you try and adjust settings.
Ah, the D800 is a serious bit of kit and can certainly command CLS flashes remotely . I'd love to go full frame (FX) eventually, but it's a bit too pricey for me and some of my lenses are designed only for DX use (so would vignette heavily on an FX sensor).
The nice thing about the later generation of DSLRs is that digital noise is relatively well controlled even at higher ISOs so you can get nice shots even just using normal room lighting in the evening. My lounge has a CFL light with an uplighter-style lampshade - the CFL light is rated equiv of a 100w incandescent, so it's not that bright in the room at all (as far as cameras are concerned). I took this shot hand-held: [link]
I had the ISO at 1000 and a fast lens (35mm f1.8 wide open at f1.8). Even so the shutter speed was a lumbering 1/20s, so I had to be quite steady with my hand, but I think the results came out well .
I guess the other problem that auto-focus has indoors is that the amount of light makes it harder for the auto-focus (fast lens can help again with this of course).
It is going to take me a while to save up the money for the D800, but it is going to be worth it! I know about the vignetting problem between some lenses, as my brothers both have Nikons, but they can't use each others lenses because of that reason. So it's something that is in the back of my mind, if I want to borrow my brother's, until I get my own, full-frame is the way to go
We have fluorescent tube lights, as well as some power-saving bulbs. They seem to give off enough light, and with pale walls and ceilings the light bounces, but it isn't enough light for the Olympus. You're absolutely correct about the newer generation DSLRs are more forgiving with indoor lighting, and not having a flash. Experiments between my brother's D700 and the Olympus E-500 proved that hands down.
That is a great shot, and such a high ISO! It is really surprising that there is very little noise in the image... if it's there, it isn't leaping off the screen demanding attention. Definitely a good camera you've got there