Ping pong (or table tennis if you prefer)

grantb

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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:

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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!
 

RetroBoy

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Sep 23, 2010
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Adelaide, South Australia
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

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

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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!
 

Luke

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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!
 

f6cvalkyrie

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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
Rafael
 

veereshai

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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.
 

Hyubie

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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!
 

mnhoj

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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.
 

grantb

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Olympia, Washington USA
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.
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.
 

RetroBoy

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Adelaide, South Australia
Thanks for posting RetroBoy.

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.
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...

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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!
 

grantb

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Olympia, Washington USA
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.
 

drknaim

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