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What are the advantages of a monopod vs. a tripod?

Monopods will do little to prevent camera shake and/or increase sharpness. Pop photo published a test a couple of years ago that showed that most people did just about as well hand holding as using a monopod, and neither handholding or using a monopod was close to the results of using a good tripod. The primary use of a monopod is to hold up a large lens where you can't use a tripod, or a tripod would be impractical.(hence monopods being used with long telephotos by sports photographers). Most people are probably better off either using a tripod, or foregoing camera support alltogether. Also, if you are doing landscape work, you will need a tripod, a monopod will not cut it.... night shots or low light shots same thing.

The monopod is better than nothing, but is far less capable than a good tripod. Save the tripod for places that won't allow tripods (use mono as walking cane 'til you need it) or rough terrain where it will be impossible to setup a tripod without a struggle.

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You didn't mention what aperture you are shooting at and what shutter speeds? A tripod is not going to work for sports work, a mono pod will help but most sports shooting is going to be at higher shutter speeds so no support will be necessary in most cases.

The only way you will be able to get successful sports photos shooting indoors is with a fast lens, f2.8 or better. This will give you a fast enough shutter speed to stop the action. For wrestling I generally use a 70-200 f2.8L, I have both the IS ($1800) and non-IS version ($1200). IS will not be much of a benefit with the fast shutter speeds. Two other lenses that will work on your camera for not as much money are the 50/1.8 less than $100 and an 85/1.8 around $400. Both will require you to be fairly close to the action. You can flash but the harsh shadows are very prevalent unless you can get the camera off flash with remotes or be very knowledgeable on bouncing techniques.

Many people buy a DSLR thinking they will be able to shoot their kids indoor sports only to discover that the inexpensive 70-300 zooms they package with their camera just won't do the job indoors. For outdoors you can get by using these slower lenses but indoor sports shooting is fraught with many obstacles, bad lighting, cycling lights, low light focus issues etc. Good luck and please feel free to ask if you need more help.


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MM: Which Rebel? Original digital rebel, digital rebel XT or XTi, or film rebel?

I haven't shot the film rebels, but the digital rebel models should allow you to synronize your flash at 1/250 sec in Av mode. On some it's a custom function setting. That's how it is on my 20D. Check your camera's manual to see if this is an option for you.

Dan is dead right about low-light indoor sports shooting. But he's really talking about pro quality results, where harsh flash is a no-no.

I shoot my 20D and 100-400L IS and 17-40L lenses for indoor sports all the time, using the cutom function to synch the flash at 1/250. Particularly the 100-400 is very slow (can't open the aperture as wide) compared with Dan's lenses, and the 17-40 is only a bit faster. I don't do a lot of it, and it's for a weekly newspaper that prints at 180 dpi, so I can get away with a bit of loss in quality over having to make 300 dpi prints. You have to have a better sense of timing that way, because your flash probably only will go off once or twice in a burst of frames, but you're helped a bit because many fine wrestling poses come when both boys are straining hard but their bodies are not moving much, so a shutter of /250 or even 1/125 can do you just fine. You'll surely see shadows created by the flash, and if the gym is very dark, the flash may have to work so hard to properly expose the boys that the background turns almost black, but that's how it goes.

If you can get close to the action, say, 10 feet outside the mat ring, you can probably do some of your shooting at 70mm, which will offer a wider aperture and a bit more natural lighting look. And that zoom will get you in plenty close if you want to hone in on tight facial expressions.

Sorry this has veered off topic. Let's get back to those honkers! grin.gif

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Check the manual, MM, under "flash photography" or "using the flash," and it should tell you. If you just put the camera dial on the P setting and mount your flash and turn it on, it automatically shoots at 1/60 sec. The flash has to synchronize with the shutter to know when to pop at just the right moment. That's what I mean by the shorthand "synch the flash." But 1/60, for wrestling, will produce fewer usable shots than 1/125 or 1/250, so check the manual and see if you can synchronize the flash at a faster shutter speed.

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