Ping pong (or table tennis if you prefer)

Discussion in 'Other Genres' started by grantb, Dec 6, 2011.

  1. grantb

    grantb Mu-43 Veteran

    Please post your shots of ping pong/table tennis, and tips/techniques for the photography thereof!

    It's a popular sport, and one that's notoriously hard to shoot. It's full of very fast action, often occurs indoors, yet is incompatible with the use of a flash (the players will paddle your face). You will want a fast lens or two, an empty memory card, and an extra battery in order to catch some good shots.

    Here are some I took last night at a bar where the local ping pong sharks are known to lurk:

    <a href="" title="PC042492 by grantb photos, on Flickr"> 6458510023_c899785c32_b. "1024" height="576" alt="PC042492"></a>

    <a href="" title="PC042530 by grantb photos, on Flickr"> 6458509577_4cd78fa9c7_b. "1024" height="576" alt="PC042530"></a>

    <a href="" title="PC042549 by grantb photos, on Flickr"> 6458509673_22c68b2663_b. "1024" height="576" alt="PC042549"></a>

    <a href="" title="PC042503 by grantb photos, on Flickr"> 6458510181_9def7eb0af_b. "1024" height="576" alt="PC042503"></a>

    <a href="" title="PC042514 by grantb photos, on Flickr"> 6458510403_9ddfe4898e_b. "1024" height="576" alt="PC042514"></a>

    <a href="" title="PC042524 by grantb photos, on Flickr"> 6458510459_589f388f0e_b. "1024" height="576" alt="PC042524"></a>

    <a href="" title="PC042303 by grantb photos, on Flickr"> 6458510737_c44fd62e54_b. "1024" height="576" alt="PC042303"></a>

    <a href="" title="PC042375 by grantb photos, on Flickr"> 6458511045_44e550a34b_b. "1024" height="576" alt="PC042375"></a>

    I took these with e-p3, 20mm 1.7, and Konica 50mm f/1.8. I used S mode and tried a lot of settings, settling between 1/60th and 1/160th. Faster shutter speeds can completely freeze the action of course, but then you miss the dynamic motion blur effect. I was trying to get the balls and paddles moving, but the players (mostly) frozen. Pro photos of important tournaments seem to prefer the full freeze.

    Apertures were from full open to 2.8. Most were ISO 1600. Some denoising was necessary in PP. Also I cropped the whole set 16x9 full width, as I thought it suited this venue.

    Anyway, not bad for my first try I think, but I'm looking forward to seeing some other styles and techniques. So post em up!
    • Like Like x 6
  2. RetroBoy

    RetroBoy Mu-43 Regular

    They are really good. I think you've done it just right there WRT shutter speed - fast enough to keep most things sharp yet capture the movement of the players and ball.

    Good work with the Manual focus lens too. I used your other lens, the 57 1.4 recently trying to capture my daughter in a roller derby bout. Got a few keepers but missed a lot. Either out of focus or motion blur or both.
    Had a monopod, tried panning, using remote flash, to no avail.

    I didn't have it fully open - probably f/2 but still soft and lacking contrast.

    These straight ooc jpeg EPL1 resized. Showing these 2 just as an example and as a reply to your post. Not Ping Pong but...

    Konica Hexanon 57 f/1.4 @ f2 iso 800 1/250 no flash

    <a href="" title="Derby 57 1.4 by Retro.Boy.07, on Flickr"> 6465381411_ce7afbc009_b. "1024" height="768" alt="Derby 57 1.4"></a>

    Konica Hexanon 57 f/1.4 @ f2 iso 800 1/160 with FL-36 flash

    <a href="" title="Derby 57 1.4 flash by Retro.Boy.07, on Flickr"> 6465381583_884f308288_b. "1024" height="768" alt="Derby 57 1.4 flash"></a>

    As you can see, with top speed of 160 with flash there's still motion blur as they whiz past. Not to mention the AWB has to deal with 3 light sources (flash, skylights and flourescent)

    Suggestions welcome!
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Luke

    Luke Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 30, 2010
    Milwaukee, WI
    Real Name:
    Oh man, I LOVE playing ping pong. I don't have time to play (and wouldn't know where to anyways). These great shots have given me the itch. I like to see people playing it hardcore like this. It becomes a real sport! Great photos!
  4. f6cvalkyrie

    f6cvalkyrie Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 12, 2010
    Brussels, Belgium
    Table tennis IS a real sport, and a pretty hard and physical one if you play it in competition. I've been playing in our national competition (up to 1st division for some years) between 1968 and 1997 almost without interruption.

    We often had the visit of journalists, mostly without photographer, and if with photographer, then only to shoot group portraits of the teams, or the guys on the podium. The action itself was way to fast for the gear and the films of that time.

    You'll find some good TT photography on the website of the ITTF, but still much more static pictures than game pictures :frown:

    I T T F Photo_Gallery

    I think your shots are great, and show the good fun TT can be !

    C U
  5. veereshai

    veereshai Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 12, 2011
    Arlington, VA
    I miss playing TT/ping pong. I used to play a lot a year back when I was in India, not as much now. And no matter how much I practice I just can't seem to get my backhand shots right. Kinda like the villain from "Balls of Fury" :D.
  6. Hyubie

    Hyubie Unique like everyone else

    Oct 15, 2010
    Real Name:
    I love ping pong!! The last time I played it I really really worked a sweat. But we still played the whole day (and night). :smile:

    Another "Asian" (in that it seems to me that majority of the players who play it are Asian) I miss is badminton. I used to play it a lot back home, even almost to the point of joining competitions, but found that it is almost non-existent here in the US, as evidenced by the growing belly bulge. :biggrin:

    Great shots, BTW. I love how you captured the dynamics and the motion blur is just right. Good job!
  7. mnhoj

    mnhoj There and back again

    Dec 3, 2011
    Los Angeles
    Real Name:
    John M
    Great shots, tough lighting, and fast action. Two is tough. Three is great.

    I love TT/PP. Just picked up another table and a few rackets. My two older boys are hooked.
  8. grantb

    grantb Mu-43 Veteran

    Thanks for posting RetroBoy. Well I'm certainly not the fastest on MF, I just prefocus. It's easier to prefocus with ping pong than roller derby though. For most of these shots I would set up on one player and take a series, trying to get them in an interesting phase of their stroke (windup, contact, or followthrough). It's tough to time it just right because it happens so fast. I might try burst mode next time.

    I think the 57 1.4 is just not a sharp lens, at least mine isn't. It doesn't sharpen up until 4 or 5.6, and it never gets as sharp as my 50 1.8 at 2.8. My 57 is an older generation than my 50 though and has seen a lot more action. The 50 was new in the box.
  9. grantb

    grantb Mu-43 Veteran

    Thanks for the compliments everybody!
  10. RetroBoy

    RetroBoy Mu-43 Regular

    Yes I think you're right about the 57. Mine is old too and I just did the usual thing and stopped it down 2 clicks but its probably still too soft there. Not to mention shallow DOF!
    I guess at that focal length I should really stop down to between f/2.8 to 4 to get some more depth. Trouble is I would also like faster shutter to around 1/250
    so then I need ISO 3200!

    I actually have your other lens too - the Hexanon 50 1.8 (and the 50 1.7 and 40 1.8), so might have to try some others.

    Looks like I did use the Olympus 14-54 briefly at a previous bout.
    Here's a pic at 54mm f/3.5 ISO 1250 1/125.
    I see it's much sharper and better DOF...

    <a href="" title="Derby 14-54 3.5 by Retro.Boy.07, on Flickr"> 6476601223_f2f2ffa4f2_b. "1024" height="768" alt="Derby 14-54 3.5"></a>

    Sorry I don't have any ping pong pics. But I do have a table and love getting together for a few smashes and beers!
  11. grantb

    grantb Mu-43 Veteran

    A shorter zoom is not a bad choice for roller derby I think, so long as there is enough light. The Oly kit zoom II probably focuses fast enough not to have to prefocus in this situation. It's a sharp lens.