Which lens/mode to use for Sport Action

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by I AM THE MAN, Sep 26, 2011.

  1. I AM THE MAN macrumors 6502

    Apr 10, 2011
    I am in charge of taking photographs for some school sport events but I need a little bit of help. Today was the first day, which went pretty decent (got some decent shots). I was wondering which lens would you recommend on me using for the sport event:

    A) Canon 50mm EF f1/8 Lens?

    B) 18-55mm Lens kit

    I used the 50mm Lens and got some pretty nice photos but should I stick with it or use the 18-55mm?

    Additionally, what mode should I capture in? I used both the P and Sport Modes and got great pictures with both. Is there any recommendations on which modes to use? Im still a beginner so thats why I do not tend to use the Manual Mode for shooting.

    Thank you for your help in advance!
  2. walterwhite macrumors 6502


    Jan 22, 2011
    South Central PA
    sporting events call for a longer lens like a 70-300... any recognizable brand will do well... canon, sigma, etc...

    Use a sporting setting or just set the camera to allow you to pick the shutter speed... and go with something like 1/250th up to 1/1000 or higher. Start there and have fun!
  3. I AM THE MAN thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 10, 2011
    Alright thank you! With the Equipment I have at this moment, what would you prefer? I know this is a very tight spot :(
  4. fcortese macrumors demi-god


    Apr 3, 2010
    Big Sky country
    I'm assuming you have a camera with a crop factor of 1.3-1.6, probably 1.6 (canon rebel T1i, etc) so your zoom is going to be the camera I think would best serve you in the long run. Tv (S for nikons), ie, shutter priority at =/> 1/250 seems like the best best to freeze action. Does the lens kit have image stabilization? If so that's a plus. If not, you may want to make sure you are leaning against a structure or have a tripod or monopod to keep the blurring down. Then again the faster the shutter speed the less of this you have to worry about.
  5. I AM THE MAN thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 10, 2011

    Alright thank you very much! Yes my lens does have IS and I am using a T3 Rebel.
  6. avro707, Sep 26, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2011

    avro707 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 13, 2010
    A nice fast shutter speed will work well.

    How is the 50mm/1.8 for range? Is it just right, not enough range or too much?

    If it is just right, I'd stick with it - because you can open up the aperture and get a nice depth of field blur for those single person action shots - and not need to push the ISO too high.

    I imagine you've been given a "shopping list" of shots you've got to get? Once you get them, then try the lower percentage shots.

    The prime will probably be sharper than the 18-55mm lens, but will give you less flexibility.
  7. I AM THE MAN thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 10, 2011
    Thats exactly what I'm thinking. I just need to get photos for the school's yearbook and everything so I'm still working on it. I'm finding the focal length of the 50mm Lens to be almost perfect and I would probably go ahead and stick with a sharper lens rather than a lens that can zoom a little bit. My ISO stays at 100 so I'm pretty good on that because its still daylight during these games.

    Thank you for your reply!
  8. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

    Apr 26, 2008
    I would also try AI-Servo and burst mode. If there is one subject you are concentrating on, choose the center focus spot and keep it on the target as the AI-Servo does the tracking. And you can also use Av (aperture priority). Open the lens as needed, and watch the shutter speed indicator on the viewfinder (keep it high). If it's not high enough, then crank the ISO up. Have you tried auto ISO?
  9. avro707, Sep 26, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2011

    avro707 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 13, 2010
    Daylight will be easy then. In strong light, something like F/8.0 and ISO200 will sometimes be giving you very high shutter speeds already, so if you used a bigger aperture like F/4.0, the shutter speeds will be high enough that you shouldn't have too much trouble with camera shake, even without image stabiliser features.

    Be aware of depth of field, sometimes it is useful, other times it isn't, and for track and field events, watch for other runners passing through the frame in front of the subject - eg, the runner you want to photograph is on the inside lane. This will normally cause the camera to refocus on lower end cameras.

    Good suggestions too from Alaskamoose who replied above, but beware of auto-ISO on lower cameras, or you might end up with a set of sharp but noisy images. Servo modes and continuous shooting is also a good idea - but do keep an eye on the remaining shots in the frame buffer on lower end cameras that are not really quick.

    Also, have a look at some of the images from the big news agencies, get some ideas from those.

    You have limited choice where the sun is, so use a flash if you need fill-light (if the light is behind your subject), and for things like basketball - maybe you can get close to the action and shoot up from below (use wide angle for that). And if you have liberty to do so, stage a shot, get the ball thrown up numerous times and snap the shot you want.

    If you need to get multiple people in focus and sharp, use a small aperture like F/11, F/14 or F/16 and bump the ISO to compensate for the inevitable lower shutter speed. But this is all basic stuff, I'm sure you know it already.
  10. mkubel macrumors newbie

    Aug 18, 2010
    Check out the site sportsshooter.com you can see a variety of shots by different levels of photographers.

    Don't be afraid to use manuel camera settings. With digital you can keep checking how your exposures looks. A shutter speed of 1/500 should stop the action. You don't need a monopod or need to worry about camera shake, any blur at that speed would just come from the action. (Nothing looks more ridiculous then the guy with a short lens and a monopod.)

    As you learn, you will want to get longer lenses to get tighter action.
    The best thing to do now is have fun and experiment.

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