Most sports are shot with digital SLRs in 35mm format. While some photographers have captured great sports moments with other format cameras, we will concentrate our efforts on the 35mm arena, which is the most commonly used gear. "Its not the equipment but the photographer who makes the picture" is generally a true statement. However with sports and action photography, having the wrong equipment means not getting the shots you want or need. This relates back to the section on location. The further away, the longer the lens is needed to capture the same image in the frame. Different sports require different lens lengths.
For instance, basketball is generally shot from the baseline or sideline near the baseline. You generally can get good results with an 85mm lens in this situation. However, by the time the players are at mid court, you need a 135mm to capture them. If they are playing under the far goal, a 200-300mm lens is needed to fill the frame well, yet for shooting a soccer game, a 300-400mm lens is needed for just Generally, for a 35mm camera, each 100mm in lens focal length gets you about 10 yards (9- meters) in coverage . This coverage means that on a vertical format photo, a normal human will fill the frame vertical format photo, a normal human will fill the frame fairly well. Thus, if you are shooting American
Football from the 30 yard line with a 300mm lens, you will be able to get tight shots in an arc from the goal line to mid-field to the other 40 yard marker. As players get closer, your lens may be too long. Many photographers will carry two bodies with two different length lenses for ths reason. Lens speed is also a critical factor. The faster the lens, the faster the shutter speed you can use, which as the lens grows longer, becomes even more important. This will be covered in the freezing action section in more depth.If you look at the sidelines of any Division 1 college football game or an NFL football game, you will see people with really big lenses. These range from 300mm to 600mm or longer and even then, they may have a 1.4X converter or 2X converter on. You need fast shutter speeds to freeze action with long lenses. Every F Stop
you give up requires a fasterfilm or less freezing potential. Most consumer grade long lenses and zooms have variable apertures, but most are F5.6 at the long end of the lens. F5.6 is good for outdoor day time shots, but becomes very inhibiting for night games and indoor action. Most people use lenses that are F2.8 or faster. These lenses are very expensive. A 400mm F2.8 sells for over $8000 US. They arealso very heavy and bulky. Using a monopod is a life saver with these big lenses. Besides these long lenses, you need a camera that can drive them. Today, most new cameras are
auto focus. Auto focus makes this easier on us, but the AF systems are not fool proof. Luckily, many sports lend them selves well to manual focus, so sometimes you can get a bargain on a manual version of a lens to use on a manual camera and still get good photos. However AF comes in handy for a few sports. Hockey and Soccer involve many subject to camera distance changes. Motion is less predictable and these sports are some what harder to manual focus. Football, Basketball, and Baseball are quite easy to manual focus. You may also need a flash with a high output. I personally do not recommend a flash at any sporting event. I find
the results unpleasing. However the new modern flash systems produce great results. Some sporting events like gymnastics and others are no-flash events. It is best to It is best to talk to an event official (referee, coach, etc.) before using your flash. Flashes will be covered more in the section on lighting. Other equipment which can come in handy are remote triggers. These allow you to mount a camera where you cannot be during the game and remotely triggering it, recovering it after the event. Basketball and Horse Racing are two good examples of sports where great photos come from someone who never sees the viewfinder while they are shooting. Pictures of NBA stars slam dunking the basketball taken above the rim or the winner of the horse race thundering by are done remotely.

See - Sports, Depth of Field -- Isolating the subject.

See - Sports, Focus

See - Sports, Composition

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Sports Photography