Shooting sports: faster is better!

Sports photography is all about being fast, while being close to the action and ensuring a sharpened focus in order to capture the excitement of the game – and the emotional moments that will create memories for a lifetime.

In sports, you’ve gotta be fast. Whether making the play, scoring the goal, or crossing the finish line, faster is better. The same goes for photographing sports: you’ve gotta be fast. So does your camera. It has to respond instantly. It has to let you grab that crucial fraction of a second out of all the motion and excitement unfolding in front of you.

But your camera has to be more than just fast. You need to get close, too. You have to get to the heart of the play to catch the heart of the player. And once your camera gets you where you need to be, it has to be in sharp focus. Faster. Closer. Sharper. It’s a tall order, but with the speed, power and precision of modern imaging technology, it’s within your reach with the press of a button!

Fast shutter speeds freeze movement. But shorter exposures need more light, or your photos will be too dark. This is challenging with indoor venues, which aren’t lit with photography in mind. How do you deal with this? Lenses with a larger maximum aperture – or lens opening (often called ‘faster’ lenses) – bring in more light. Larger apertures also blur distracting backgrounds, concentrating attention on your subject. A higher ISO, or sensitivity setting, doesn’t put more light on the sensor, but it makes the most of whatever light there is. Current cameras have better high ISO performance than older models. Using faster lenses and high ISO together lets you shoot action in a wide range of lighting – indoor and out.

Longer focal length lenses bring distant subjects closer. Zoom lenses offer a range of angles of view, allowing you to vary your cropping and composition without changing your position. Non-zoom or ‘prime’ lenses have only a single focal length and angle of view, but often let in more light than zooms. Powerful lenses can be harder to hold steadily. If your camera brand is not using in-body image stabilization (IBIS), they will usually have it in their lenses. Stabilization helps to compensate for camera movement when shooting hand-held. If this option isn’t available, a monopod will work. Remember that while stabilization and support help prevent blurring from camera movement, they do nothing for subject movement.

Current cameras can focus on, and track, quick-moving subjects. More focusing points, covering more of the viewfinder, track your subject wherever it goes in the frame. Whenever you shoot, it will already be in focus. Decisive moments can happen at any time. Continuous shooting mode – ten frames per second or more on professional models – makes sure that you catch them. On some cameras, 4K video mode lets you extract sharp still images from the video stream afterwards.

Faster. Closer. Sharper. Match the speed and energy of the action. Take your vision to the heart of the play. Capture the excitement and emotion of the moment of victory. Create a thrilling record of achievement and accomplishment that will move and inspire for years. With the power and sophistication of modern cameras, you can do it all!

See you at the game!

By Bruce Woollatt, Camera Canada