With the Right Equipment Sports Photography Can be a Snap
Sports photography is one of the most difficult forms of photography there is. Taking good sports photos requires having good equipment that is up to the task of recording crisp, clear images. There are three important things to consider in regards to equipment when taking sports photos: use a manual focus/exposure camera, use a DSLR camera, and use an appropriate lens. Following these basic tips can greatly improve the quality of your sports images.
Ditch The Pocket Camera
One of the first tips is to avoid using “snapshot” or autofocus cameras. These slim cameras are popular for generic picture taking, but perform poorly when it comes to sports or action photography. The automatic focus and exposure on these cameras cannot easily achieve the proper focus or exposure on the fly, and it makes it hard to take fast moving sports photos. In addition, snapshot digital cameras have a significant time lag in between shots, which makes it likely that you as a photographer may miss that perfect moment to take a picture. Autofocus digital cameras also perform poorly in low light conditions. This restricts the environments in which a decent photo can be effectively taken. Furthermore, snapshot cameras have built-in, non-interchangeable lenses that cannot be swapped to provide the best picture possible.
Buy a DSLR
Secondly, it is a very good idea to invest in a DSLR camera. DSLR stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex, and is a type of camera that features interchangeable lenses and almost always better all-around image quality. DSLR cameras are probably best known for their great versatility; they allow for interchanging of lenses to suit the situation, and can achieve much more extreme shutter speed, ISO, and zoom settings than a snapshot camera. This gives the photographer greater flexibility when choosing what settings to use to take the optimal photo. DSLR cameras also just plain and simply put, take “better” pictures. What I mean by this is that a DSLR camera that is say, 10 megapixels, will take a higher quality image than a smaller consumer camera that is also rated at 10 megapixels. This is because DSLR cameras have larger light sensors than their smaller point-and-shoot counterparts. A larger light sensor means that the light information gathered by the sensor can be spread out over a wider area, and allows each individual “pixel” to gather more light, thus creating a less “noisy” image. DSLR cameras used to be prohibitively expensive for many people, but are now commonly priced in the $400 range for entry level models. Despite being so-called “entry level” DSLR’s, these cameras are capable of taking some extremely high quality photos.
Invest in Lenses
Lastly, it is important to use the proper lens when taking sports photography. When using a DSLR camera, you have a plethora of lenses on the market to choose from, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Some lenses may take very sharp images up close, but may not be as well suited for subjects that are further away. Other lenses may have the opposite traits. It is a good idea to invest in both one close range “macro” lens, and a medium-to-long range “telephoto” lens in order have at least one lens that is relatively well suited to any photographic situation you may encounter.
To sum everything up, when it comes to sports photography equipment there are three important things to remember: use a camera whose use emphasizes manual focus/exposure, use a DSLR type camera, and use an appropriate lens. These three pieces of knowledge can greatly improve your experience with sports photography.