Photos of the Rockford IceHogs Hockey with a Digicam from 2006…

A friend offered me a ticket to a local hockey game. I was initially really excited because I though I could get some great photos of the event. My excitement lessened a bit when I saw this on their website.

Cameras, Video Cameras, Audio Recorders
Cameras are permitted at Rockford IceHogs games. Cameras with lenses that are 3 or more inches in length are not allowed. Video cameras and audio recorders are also prohibited in the BMO Harris Bank Center unless specifically approved. Professional cameras are prohibited unless accompanied by appropriate media credentials.

What’s with that? I wondered… I’m not one to attend sporting events often so I don’t know how things go down usually, but that seems excessively strict. I just assumed that “professional” was any DSLR camera, so I started looking for other options. It was Thanksgiving Day, so there were a ton of deals on super-zoom bridge cameras. I almost justified buying one, but there just wasn’t enough value in those cameras given the poor lighting I expected at the game and the tiny amount I was willing to spend.

There was a few seconds where I though I might not bother taking photos, but one last option was available.

I have an old digicam I bought in Japan after dropping one I had brought with me from America. Using that meant no wasted money if photos didn’t turn out.

It’s a Pentax Optio SVi… circa 2006. Luckily I bought a new battery for it just a few months ago and I still have two SD cards that work in it (no SDHC support).

This isn’t your normal blah-sumer digicam, especially for back then when auto-only digicams were the norm.
5x optical zoom lens with an aperture range from f2.8 – f4.7… yeah, f2.8 on the wide end. I forgot it had that.
Full manual mode with a live histogram, manual focus, bracketing, focus limiter, optical viewfinder, and other advanced features.
If I can remember correct, the camera was one of the cheaper ones at the store. The one I had seen in the paper my host family father showed me was out of stock, so the Pentax was chosen out of necessity given the other options they had available. Almost 6 years later and counting, it’s still going strong.

Not everything was golden. The camera doesn’t have any features like shake reduction that most super-zoom digicams have these days. It tops out at ISO 400, so in my case photographing fast moving action from a long distance was going to be a battle. I really wanted to avoid using ISO 400 given the expected grain and lack of dynamic range, but there wasn’t enough light. I also really wanted avoid zooming, but the people in front of us were blocking most of the photo-ops that would have worked in wide angle.

Here are the results:
http://gallery.photographybanzai.com/icehogs11252011

I could have done better, but I think some of the photos turned out alright. They looked worse before some Photoshop work such as using “Noise Ninja” and healing out most of the deal pixels it has developed over the years. I didn’t try manual focus, which might have helped because I missed a few shots waiting for the camera to focus. I used normal Program mode for a few shots, but most of the time I used full manual mode to get a faster shutter speed. All EXIF is available on the gallery site (select a photo and click the info tab on the right).

That was a great exercise in using the available tools given any constraints that were placed on the situation.

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