Sports Photos in Bad Lighting
problem: Indoor gyms and non-professional stadiums donít
have a lot of light. Even a ďbrightĒ high school ball
field will have less than a thousandth of the light outside
at high noon.
real problem: Most
of us donít have as much money as we would like.
So we say
ďIím just an amateur, so I donít need as good a lens as a
we donít say, but really mean:
with my limited budget, I want to take
photos in badly-lit amateur venues and get pictures
as good as those on the cover of Sports Illustrated!
Professional sports photographers use fast lenses,
monopods, and get close to the action.
Expensive professional lens(es) with fast fixed aperture
(f-stop) and image stabilization.
Sideline passes at the Superbowl.
high speed lenses are big, heavy, and very EXPENSIVE.
For example, a 300mm f2.8AF lens can easily cost $4,000.
Popular-priced zoom lenses are at their slowest Ė least
sensitive to light Ė when the longer focal lengths are
canít get sideline passes but you can get nosebleed
seats in the high school stadium. The lights in the high
school stadium are not very bright.
focal length 135mm or 200mm lens are often much faster
than zooms, if you can find one that fits your camera.
Cameras that have a lot of backward compatibility, like
the Pentax *ist series, will work with cheap old 135mm
f2.8 or 2.5 lenses that often have more than four times
the light gathering ability of modern zooms!
the more popular autofocus cameras such as the Nikon,
Minolta and Canon cameras, very few of these lenses have
ever been made available at popular prices.
world: Set your camera to do the best that it can and
hold the camera steadier than your body can do on its
Get down on
the sidelines so youíre closer to the action
let your worries about ďgrainĒ ruin your photos:
speeds or digital equivalent have higher noise levels or
grain. So far, so true.
photographers worry so much about a little grain that they
choose slow film speeds (ASA or ISO ratings).
thatís a good choice for brightly-lit landscapes Ė
not for action!
photos need high shutter speeds, and you canít get high
shutter speeds without high film speeds
(or the digital equivalent).
image thatís a little grainy is better than a grainless
image which is blurred.
set the ISO as high as it will go.
camera to the AV or A setting. This is the exposure mode
where you choose the lens opening and the camera chooses the
highest shutter speed possible under the lighting
the lens wide open (largest aperture).
monopod provides more image stability than an IS lens
that costs an extra $500 (or more). While neither
image stabilization nor a monopod can freeze action, they
both greatly reduce the shakiness of your hands and body
monopod only has one leg, if the action comes toward the
sidelines itís easy to run away!
helps keep your neck and back from aching due to the weight
of the camera and lens.
absolutely the best tool you can buy for sports photography.
the peak of the action.
along with the subject most important to you. When the
principal subject is stationary relative to the camera, even
slow shutter speeds can look sharp.
means swinging the camera and lens along with the action.
When done properly, you can get fairly sharp photos even at
speeds as slow as 1/30th of a second.
the action tightly. Even if you only get a couple of
good pictures out of a session, thatís not such a bad thing.
ahead of the action. Be ready when the athletes get to
the perfect spot.
your sports photos to us. Weíll look them over and tell
you candidly what you can do to make them better.