Thursday, September 27, 2012

Youth Sports: How to Get Great Action Photos

Do you want clean, crisp action shots with little or no blur in both indoor and outdoor settings like the images below?

First of all great shots start with the right equipment. Here is the camera that we use and I recommend.

Get a Nikon D7000 camera. It has a terrific processor, an expanded ISO range and shoots 6 images per second. You will pay a bit more for the 6 shots per second, but it is well worth it. The rapid shooting is important because it increases the chances of stopping the action at the right exact moment. My old camera, the Nikon D70s, only did 3 shots per second. I rarely got the exact moment that I wanted like the ball jumping off the bat or the soccer ball suspended right in front of the goalies awaiting hands. Bonus: The camera also takes great HD movies, so there is no need to carry a separate movie camera.

Here is the lens we use for indoor low light action shots to prevent motion blur. 

If your kid plays indoor sports like volleyball, basketball or hockey, and you want great picture you will need to invest in a good lens. I recommend the Tamron AF 70-200mm f/2.8 lens for indoor lower light action shots. You need an low f/stop (2.8 or lower) to eliminate the blur. Be prepared, to get a low f/stop you need to pay some money. This lens is $670. Tamron is a lower cost option than the Nikon lens which costs almost 2X. It was a smart buy and a great value. This lens works great outdoors too.

Here is the lens we use for well lit outdoor action shots

The Nikon 70-300 f/4 - 5.6 is ideal for action shots in higher light situations. We use this lens for our outdoor shots during soccer and baseball games. We like the added zoom that a 300mm lens gives. Soccer, lacrosse and football fields are long, so you will want the extra zoom that a 300mm lens gives. On bright days we do not need the f/2.8 lens, so we opt for longer lens with the higher f/4. By the way, a 300mm lens with a f/2.8 would be $5,000 (see link below). It is much cheaper to get the two lenses I recommend here than to invest in one $5000 lens, but knock yourself out if you do not want to deal with two lenses.

Here is the lens I use for close up shots.

We also use the f/3.5 18-105mm lens that came with the camera. We use the shorter lens to get close up shots. NOTE: It is tough to get the end of tournament team trophy shot with a telephoto lens because all of the other parents with point and shoot cameras get up close. You will not be able to get close with the longer lens, so you will have to wait until everyone is done and hope that the team stays still while the parents clear the way for your shot. As soon as the game is over, we switch to the shorter lens.

The Main Point

The money I spent on a great camera was worth every dollar. You cannot put a price tag on memories we captured. Buy the camera and the best lens or lenses to fit your needs and you will not regret it. I promise.


  1. I am also practicing the art of sports photography every time my son has a minor league baseball game. I find it fun but it is quite difficult. As a mother, I don't just want to get stuck at home. This is why I chose this hobby. Right now it's no longer a hobby actually. It's starting to be more of a self education.

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