Inspired by yesterday’s Rugby game and tomorrow’s Lacrosse game, both of which I shot/will shoot for newspapers, here’s a little checklist for the 1D Mark IV and similar cameras for sports like this:
What to bring:
- Backup camera
- Spare batteries
- Spare memory cards
- Rain protection
- Pens, notepad/paper
- Business cards
- Assignment sheet (so you can prove you are official)
- Mobile phone
- Continuous drive shutter
- AI Servo/AF-C mode
- One focus spot
- For these sports, custom function III-4 set to “1”, AF Tracking priority (so that a player who comes in front does not quickly cause focus to shift)
- On my 70-200 2.8L IS lens, IS on, but set to position 2 (that means, suitable for panning). If your IS/VR lens has only “on” and “off”, select “off”.
- Record all images to both cards (the “1”-series cameras have this option for extra safety)
- Size you want
As for exposure, the need is for fast shutter speeds. 1/320th or faster.
While there are several ways to achieve that, I do it as follows:
- Outdoors, I use aperture mode wide open (f/2.8) and ISO as needed, say 200 ISO, to get super fast shutter speeds. Outdoors I can often get settings like 200 ISO, 1/4000, f2.8; or 200 ISO, 1/2000, f4.
- Indoors I generally use manual mode after metering and checking histograms. I am not afraid to go to 1600 ISO to get to fast-enough shutter speeds. Inside I can often use settings like 1600 ISO, 1/400, f2.8.
- I could also use manual and enable auto-ISO, but I have not used auto ISO in an important assignment. I like to set my own.
Positions are sports-specific: more later. But a golden rule: follow the ball; follow the action; follow emotion. In that order!
One more tip: shoot the jersey numbers and the roster, so you can write the right cutlines. I was not happy that rugby players do not have the numbers on the front of their Jerseys.
And one last tip: shoot a lot. A “keeper ratio” of one in 10 to one in 30 is not unusual in sports. And with digital, it’s free.
I hope that helps all you budding sports photographers.