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PhotographyInspiration 014

7 tips for sports photographers in the making

Many parents and amateur photographers will know this problem: You’re taking pictures of your kids or friends at a sports event and later on, when you look at the pictures on your computer, you realise almost all of them are blurred or in bad quality. This will never happen to you again if you keep these seven tips in mind.

«What’s going on? Is my camera broken?», you might ask yourself. No worries, the good news is: «No, it isn’t». But how to take good sports pictures? Let me give you some advice. About three years ago, sports photography turned from being my hobby into a professional side project. This required upgrading my equipment, too. Going for the most expensive cameras and lenses is safe, but if you’re looking to take good sports pictures, you don’t necessarily need the most expensive equipment. What’s more important is to keep the following advice in mind:

1. Know your sport

You’ll miss out on the best shots if you don’t know the sport well enough. If, for example, you’re taking pictures at a duathlon and you don’t know where the transition zone is, you won’t have the chance to take great shots of athletes jumping onto their bikes. Positioning and perspective is just as important. Many photographers stand (or kneel) behind the goal. This makes sure they get good pictures of the keeper, but they’ll miss everything that’s going on in the midfield and defence.

2. Kneel down

Most professional sports photographers kneel down to take pictures. If you try taking pictures of the same game standing up and kneeling down, you’ll see that the ones you took kneeling down are twice as interesting as the others. Try observing photographers at the sideline next time you’re at a game.

3. Winner / loser

Often, you’ll only get to see pictures of the winning side or a cheering athlete in magazines, newspapers and other media. Scott Kelby, a famous US sports photographer, has some good advice: Take pictures of the losing side, too. Not to humiliate them, but because they show a lot of emotions, sometimes even more than the winning side.

Hardly anything needs more time than adjusting your camera settings if you don’t know where to find the function or button you need. Therefore…

4. Settings

The most important thing is to capture athletes’ fast movements. You’ll need a high shutter speed, between 1/800 sec und 1/2000 sec, depending on the type of sport (except for panning shots, but this is something for more experienced photographers). Choose a small aperture to make sure the sensor gets enough light. f/2.8 or even f/2 is ideal. With kit lenses, this often corresponds to f/5.6. Set ISO on automatic. This will make sure your pictures don’t turn out too bright or too dark even if the lighting conditions change. If you’re not quite sure which button adjusts which setting, go ahead and read the manual or look for advice on the internet. Photography is s complex field and it’s not possible to know everything from the start or figure it out by experimenting. Does it really need expensive, wide-aperture lenses such as the f/2.8?

It depends on when and where you’re taking pictures. It’s not absolutely necessary in bright sunshine, as there’s enough light. But it’s still nice, if possible, to achieve a clear separation between athlete and background. If you’re in a hall and there’s bad lighting (for example at a floorball game), kit lenses won’t do the job, as they’re often limited to f/5.6. You could try compensating by increasing ISO, but this will affect the image quality. Furthermore, some cameras don’t range higher than ISO 6400, which still isn’t enough to take a good picture with f/5.6 aperture in a hall.

5. Autofocus

You can trust the automatic setting here, as autofocus usually does a good job. It’s worth noting though that not all lenses have the same speed; autofocus depends on the camera, the lens and the aperture: The more light-intense your optics are (for example f/2.8), the more autofocus can see and the faster it will focus.

6. Practice makes perfect

Don’t give up if it doesn’t all work perfectly from the start. Stay at it and practice. If you don’t like a picture, analyse it and think about what exactly it is that you don’t like. This will help you know what to look out for and improve in your next attempt. You’ll become a better sports photographer with every shot and the quality of your pictures will improve.

7. Protecting your equipment

«Do I need a protective filter for my lens?». This is a good question. Imagine you’re at a motocross race and a stone hits your expensive lens. To be honest, I’ve been at many events and it’s only happened to me once that a stone hit my lens – and it didn’t even get damaged. With other sports such as floorball, duathlon and triathlon, nothing has ever happened and with sports such as football, where the ball is larger than the lens, you don’t need to worry anyway.

One thing I’d recommend though is protecting your camera from getting wet. You can either get a camera-specific cover (for example the Waliemx pro EasyCover) or simply use a transparent plastic bag. This less expensive version is a tip by Scott Kelby. It might not look very fancy, but it works and is better than no protection. To keep your LCD display safe, MAS LCD screen protectors are ideal. They scratch easily, but if you take care of your equipment, they’ll do a great job.

If you have any good tips and tricks yourself, let me know any time. I – all other readers – are always happy to learn about others’ opinions.

For all Nikon and Canon fans, I’ve added my recommendations in three price ranges below. All that’s left for you to do know is get out here and start taking pictures. And don’t forget to kneel down when you’re taking action shots!

Nikon equipment

The least expensive price class

D5500 Body (24.20MP, 5FPS, Wi-Fi)
Nikon D5500 Body (24.20MP, 5FPS, Wi-Fi)
A DX-format SLR that features a tiltable and swivelling touchscreen, 24.2 megapixels, 39-point AF system and built-in wi-fi capability.
7

Availability

  • Currently unavailable. Delivery date unknown.

Information subject to change.

View details

17-70mm F/2.8-4.0 DC OS HSM Macro [C], Nikon
CHF 411.–
Sigma 17-70mm F/2.8-4.0 DC OS HSM Macro [C], Nikon
9

Availability

  • approx. 6 – 8 days

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

View details

AT-X 70-200mm f/4 PRO FX VCM-S, Nikon
CHF 924.–instead of 1'459.–1
Tokina AT-X 70-200mm f/4 PRO FX VCM-S, Nikon

Availability

Mail delivery

  • approx. 10 – 12 days
    Currently > 5 piece(s) in stock at the supplier

Collection

  • All locations: approx. 8 – 10 days
    Currently > 5 piece(s) in stock at the supplier

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

View details

The middle price class

D7200 Body (24.20MP, 6FPS, Wi-Fi)
CHF 879.–
Nikon D7200 Body (24.20MP, 6FPS, Wi-Fi)
The fast, versatile DSLR for passionate photographers features a wide ISO range and impressive video capabilities.
19

Availability

Mail delivery

  • more than 10 piece(s)
    in our warehouse

PickMup

Collection

  • Basel: tomorrow at 13:10
  • Bern: tomorrow at 12:45
  • Dietikon: tomorrow at 12:50
  • Geneva: approx. 26.02.2018
  • Kriens: approx. 26.02.2018
  • Lausanne: approx. 26.02.2018
  • St Gallen: approx. 26.02.2018
  • Winterthur: tomorrow at 12:50
  • Wohlen: tomorrow at 11:00
  • Zurich: tomorrow at 12:30

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

View details

AF-S VR DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 E ED
CHF 969.–
Nikon AF-S VR DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4 E ED
6

Availability

Mail delivery

  • 5 piece(s)
    in our warehouse

PickMup

Collection

  • Basel: tomorrow at 13:10
  • Bern: tomorrow at 12:45
  • Dietikon: tomorrow at 12:50
  • Geneva: approx. 26.02.2018
  • Kriens: approx. 26.02.2018
  • Lausanne: approx. 26.02.2018
  • St Gallen: approx. 26.02.2018
  • Winterthur: tomorrow at 12:50
  • Wohlen: tomorrow at 11:00
  • Zurich: tomorrow at 12:30

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

View details

AF-S  70-200mm 1:4G ED VR
CHF 1'334.–
Nikon AF-S 70-200mm 1:4G ED VR
6

Availability

Mail delivery

  • 6 piece(s)
    in our warehouse

PickMup

Collection

  • Basel: tomorrow at 13:10
  • Bern: tomorrow at 12:45
  • Dietikon: tomorrow at 12:50
  • Geneva: approx. 26.02.2018
  • Kriens: approx. 26.02.2018
  • Lausanne: approx. 26.02.2018
  • St Gallen: approx. 26.02.2018
  • Winterthur: tomorrow at 12:50
  • Wohlen: tomorrow at 11:00
  • Zurich: tomorrow at 12:30

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

View details

The «I don’t care about money» price class

D500 Body (20.90MP, 10FPS, Wi-Fi)
CHF 1'699.–
Nikon D500 Body (20.90MP, 10FPS, Wi-Fi)
The Nikon D500 with 21.5 MP and 4k videos is particularly suitable for sports and animal photography. Capture every moment in quality with 10 fps and a professional autofocus system.
24

Availability

Mail delivery

  • more than 10 piece(s)
    in our warehouse

PickMup

Collection

  • Basel: tomorrow at 13:10
  • Bern: tomorrow at 12:45
  • Dietikon: tomorrow at 12:50
  • Geneva: approx. 26.02.2018
  • Kriens: approx. 26.02.2018
  • Lausanne: approx. 26.02.2018
  • St Gallen: approx. 26.02.2018
  • Winterthur: tomorrow at 12:50
  • Wohlen: tomorrow at 11:00
  • Zurich: tomorrow at 12:30

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

View details

AF-S 24-70mm, f/2.8E ED VR
Show- room
CHF 2'199.–
Nikon AF-S 24-70mm, f/2.8E ED VR
This best-selling Nikon pro lens is equipped with image stabilisation technology for up to four stops of vibration reduction for handheld and low-light shooting.
12

Availability

Mail delivery

  • more than 10 piece(s)
    in our warehouse

PickMup

Collection

  • Basel: tomorrow at 13:10
  • Bern: only 1 piece(s)
  • Dietikon: tomorrow at 12:50
  • Geneva: approx. 26.02.2018
  • Kriens: approx. 26.02.2018
  • Lausanne: approx. 26.02.2018
  • St Gallen: only 1 piece(s)
  • Winterthur: tomorrow at 12:50
  • Wohlen: only 1 piece(s)
  • Zurich: tomorrow at 12:30

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

View details

AF-S  70-200mm, f/2.8G ED VR II
Show- room
Nikon AF-S 70-200mm, f/2.8G ED VR II
17

Availability

  • Currently unavailable. Delivery date unknown.

Information subject to change.

View details

Canon equipment

The least expensive price class

EOS 700D, Body (18.50MP, 5FPS)
Canon EOS 700D, Body (18.50MP, 5FPS)
6

Availability

  • Currently unavailable. Delivery date unknown.

Information subject to change.

View details

17-70mm F/2.8-4.0 DC OS HSM Macro [C], Canon
CHF 399.–
Sigma 17-70mm F/2.8-4.0 DC OS HSM Macro [C], Canon
6

Availability

Mail delivery

  • only 2 piece(s)
    in our warehouse

PickMup

Collection

  • Basel: tomorrow at 13:10
  • Bern: tomorrow at 12:45
  • Dietikon: tomorrow at 12:50
  • Geneva: approx. 26.02.2018
  • Kriens: approx. 26.02.2018
  • Lausanne: approx. 26.02.2018
  • St Gallen: approx. 26.02.2018
  • Winterthur: tomorrow at 12:50
  • Wohlen: tomorrow at 11:00
  • Zurich: tomorrow at 12:30

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

View details

EF 70-200mm f/4.0L USM
CHF 649.–
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0L USM
1

Availability

Mail delivery

  • 7 piece(s)
    in our warehouse

PickMup

Collection

  • Basel: tomorrow at 13:10
  • Bern: tomorrow at 12:45
  • Dietikon: tomorrow at 12:50
  • Geneva: approx. 26.02.2018
  • Kriens: approx. 26.02.2018
  • Lausanne: approx. 26.02.2018
  • St Gallen: approx. 26.02.2018
  • Winterthur: tomorrow at 12:50
  • Wohlen: tomorrow at 11:00
  • Zurich: tomorrow at 12:30

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

View details

The middle price class

EOS 80D Body (24.20MP, 7FPS, Wi-Fi)
CHF 1'049.–
Canon EOS 80D Body (24.20MP, 7FPS, Wi-Fi)
16

Availability

Mail delivery

  • more than 10 piece(s)
    in our warehouse

PickMup

Collection

  • Basel: only 1 piece(s)
  • Bern: only 1 piece(s)
  • Dietikon: only 1 piece(s)
  • Geneva: only 1 piece(s)
  • Kriens: only 1 piece(s)
  • Lausanne: only 1 piece(s)
  • St Gallen: only 1 piece(s)
  • Winterthur: tomorrow at 12:50
  • Wohlen: only 1 piece(s)
  • Zurich: only 1 piece(s)

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

View details

EF 24-70mm f/4.0L IS USM
CHF 849.–
Canon EF 24-70mm f/4.0L IS USM
13

Availability

Mail delivery

  • more than 10 piece(s)
    in our warehouse

PickMup

Collection

  • Basel: tomorrow at 13:10
  • Bern: tomorrow at 12:45
  • Dietikon: tomorrow at 12:50
  • Geneva: approx. 26.02.2018
  • Kriens: approx. 26.02.2018
  • Lausanne: approx. 26.02.2018
  • St Gallen: approx. 26.02.2018
  • Winterthur: tomorrow at 12:50
  • Wohlen: tomorrow at 11:00
  • Zurich: tomorrow at 12:30

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

View details

SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD, Canon
CHF 1'167.–
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD, Canon
4

Availability

Mail delivery

  • 5 piece(s)
    in our warehouse

PickMup

Collection

  • Basel: tomorrow at 13:10
  • Bern: tomorrow at 12:45
  • Dietikon: tomorrow at 12:50
  • Geneva: approx. 26.02.2018
  • Kriens: approx. 26.02.2018
  • Lausanne: approx. 26.02.2018
  • St Gallen: approx. 26.02.2018
  • Winterthur: tomorrow at 12:50
  • Wohlen: tomorrow at 11:00
  • Zurich: tomorrow at 12:30

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

View details

The «I don’t care about money» price class

EOS 7D Mark II Body (20.20MP, 10FPS, GPS)
CHF 1'449.–
Canon EOS 7D Mark II Body (20.20MP, 10FPS, GPS)
29

Availability

Mail delivery

  • 7 piece(s)
    in our warehouse

PickMup

Collection

  • Basel: tomorrow at 13:10
  • Bern: tomorrow at 12:45
  • Dietikon: tomorrow at 12:50
  • Geneva: approx. 26.02.2018
  • Kriens: approx. 26.02.2018
  • Lausanne: approx. 26.02.2018
  • St Gallen: approx. 26.02.2018
  • Winterthur: tomorrow at 12:50
  • Wohlen: tomorrow at 11:00
  • Zurich: tomorrow at 12:30

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

View details

EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM
cashback
CHF 1'799.–Cashback 300.–
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM
15

Availability

Mail delivery

  • 6 piece(s)
    in our warehouse

PickMup

Collection

  • Basel: only 1 piece(s)
  • Bern: only 2 piece(s)
  • Dietikon: only 1 piece(s)
  • Geneva: approx. 26.02.2018
  • Kriens: approx. 26.02.2018
  • Lausanne: approx. 26.02.2018
  • St Gallen: only 1 piece(s)
  • Winterthur: tomorrow at 12:50
  • Wohlen: tomorrow at 11:00
  • Zurich: only 1 piece(s)

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

View details

EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
cashback
CHF 2'099.–Cashback 300.–
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
29

Availability

Mail delivery

  • more than 10 piece(s)
    in our warehouse

PickMup

Collection

  • Basel: tomorrow at 13:10
  • Bern: tomorrow at 12:45
  • Dietikon: tomorrow at 12:50
  • Geneva: approx. 26.02.2018
  • Kriens: approx. 26.02.2018
  • Lausanne: approx. 26.02.2018
  • St Gallen: approx. 26.02.2018
  • Winterthur: tomorrow at 12:50
  • Wohlen: tomorrow at 11:00
  • Zurich: tomorrow at 12:30

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

View details

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Lilian Dach

Lilian Dach

Category Marketing Manager

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