The reality is that a high quality lens, combined with a fast camera body, make an extraordinary difference when you’re shooting a sporting event. That’s why you see the pro sports photographers lugging around lenses the size of a fullback’s thigh. Those lenses (and the cameras attached to them) ain’t cheap.
But what do you do if you want to photograph a special sports event? What if you’ve got an opportunity to get down on the field for a pro ball game? Or, you want to get some high quality images from your son or daughter’s big game?
The answer is to rent a lens!
Renting a pro lens, camera body, and other expensive camera equipment suddenly levels the playing field for “weekend warrior” photographers.
Here’s my recommendation: rent one of the following lenses for a weekend and you won’t be dissapointed. You’ll come away with some shots that will make your mouth water. Friends and family will want prints. You’ll have a blast renting a big, fat, pro lens. You’ll be addicted. I guarantee it!
This lens is fixed at 300mm f/2.8. That’s nice and tight and you’ll be right up where the action is. The shallow depth of field coupled with 300mm means that you’re going to get the subject super sharp and the background nice and blurry – the way you want it. Also, don’t forget, if you don’t have one you’ll also need a monopod, or tripod to hold this monster. The massive lens mounts onto the monopod or tripod, not your camera body!
RENT NOW — Nikon 300mm f/2.8 from BorrowLenses (buy the insurance!)
RENT NOW — Canon 300mm f/2.8 from BorrowLenses (buy the insurance!)
This 400mm lens is also fixed at f/2.8. Get ready to submit some shots to Sports Illustrated. The shallow depth of field you’ll be able to achieve is crazy. And talk about being up tight and close. Your friends and neighbors will see the shots you produce and be throwing money at you to buy an image of their kid catching a fly ball in the outfield. You may even recoup your lens rental fee!
RENT NOW — Nikon 400mm f/2.8 from Borrow Lenses (buy the insurance!)
RENT NOW — Canon 400mm f/2.8 from Borrow Lenses (buy the insurance!)
Consider the 70-200 f/2.8 zoom lens if you’ll be closer to the action and need to zoom in and out. You’re still able to achieve f/2.8 all the way from 70 to 200mm so you’re all set with shooting in low light and that sweet shallow depth of field. The 70-200 is a professional photographer’s workhorse and would make an ideal second lens to carry on your backup camera (ha ha).
The very nature of most sporting events means fast-moving action. And the excitement of the moment is often times focused on one or two players in close proximity. For you, as a photographer, this translates to the following:
Frames Per Second - You need to crank out as many frames per second (FPS) as possible. Make sure you’ve got your camera set to burst mode. If you’re going to be serious about this you’ll need a camera body that lets you pull off 8 FPS. You don’t want to miss that critical moment! Here, rent one of these pro bodies and you’ll be firing off more than 8 FPS. And you’ll get “the look” from people. They’ll be thinking, is s/he a pro??
Depth of Field - A shallow depth of field will make your subject pop. Shooting a telephoto lens at a wide aperture (low F-stop) will allow you to keep the subject in tack sharp focus while blurring the background. A long telephoto lens, like a Nikon 400mm f/2.8 will do nicely.
Shutter Speed - While you’re bursting away at 8 FPS you’ll also want to be down to at least 1/1000 of second to freeze the action. Anything less than 1/1000 of a second and there may be some motion blur.
ISO - The limited light of a gymnasium means you’ll have to turn up the ISO so that you can achieve that 1/1000 of a second shutter speed. The higher the ISO, the faster the shutter speed you can select. Remember, you want to achieve at least 1/1000 of a second. If you’re inside a gym you’ll need to turn up that ISO.
The Sports Camera Settings
If you’re outside on a relatively sunny day set your ISO to 200. Get your big lens mounted on a monopod or tripod. Make sure you’re in Continuous Shooting (burst) mode. Shutter speed shouldn’t be a factor. Use Aperture Priority mode, select f/2.8, and go crazy.
If you’re inside, or dealing with limited light, set your ISO as necessary, up to 1600. Put the lens on the monopod or tripod. Make sure you’re on burst mode. Still set your aperture to f/2.8. Periodically check to make sure you’re achieving at least 1/1000 of a second.
GET THE SHOT AND HAVE FUN!