So you want to shoot sports? Tips, techniques and other Resources

ian408ian408 Administrators Posts: 21,898 moderator
edited November 23, 2005 in Sports

What camera is best for sports? How big a lens do I need? The answers are as
varied as the sports you’ll shoot.

I suggest looking down the sideline at any pro sporting event. A variety
of equipment see you will.

The discussion for lenses is a bit simpler. You will need a variety depending
on the sports you shoot. Anything from a fisheye on up to a 600mm prime will
do. Court sports, like Basketball or volleyball, might warrant anything from a
50mm up to a 200mm. Motor sports or surfing more often requires something
between 200mm and 600mm.

Sports photography is action often shot in low light. When you shoot in low
light, that combination of action and low light requires fast lenses to get the
shots you want. One or two stops might make the difference between a
correctly exposed and in focus shot vs. one for the bin. I might add that a
camera body with good high ISO performance helps too.

If you shoot field sports, consider a monopod. A monopod helps steady the
camera and is invaluable when shooting with long lenses.

How should I shoot my sport?

Think back to what you’ve looked at and try to think about what made the
shot for you. Was it the angle it was shot at? Shooting from a seated vs.
standing position. Or shooting from the field instead of the stands? Maybe
a long lens to capture the action without distracting backgrounds?

Ball sports should include peak action, faces and the ball.

If you want to capture your sport well, you must understand the game.
In hockey for example; you need to pay attention to not only the puck
carrier but players he or she might pass to as well as any action at the

If you plan to shoot sports at the field level, you may need permission
from the venue or authority holding the event. At the professional level,
you will probably need media credentials and those are hard if not impossible
to get. If you plan to shoot from the stands at a professional event, check
for any restrictions before you arrive (otherwise you might find yourself
faced with a decision to leave gear in the car or watch the game).


Nothing is more important than knowing your gear, becoming familiar enough
with the operation to make adjustments without looking.

Practice, practice, practice. Getting better requires practice in all conditions.
Oh, and practice :thumb

Other Resources

A great article written by Jerry Lodriguss can be found here.

For perspective from the working pro, try SportsShooter.
The site features some great shots as well as various tutorials. You must
be a member to actively participate—and that requires work—but there’s
a lot to be gained by reading.

Motorsports is a whole 'nother subject. Thanks to Seamus for dropping this little pointer to a great

For a great book on the subject, take a look at G. Newman Lewis’ Digital Sports Photography

For help lighting:
The business-side (legal, releases, etc):
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the moderator.
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