Quick sports checklist

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:

  • Camera
  • 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

Camera setup:

  • 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.

0 thoughts on “Quick sports checklist

  1. “A “keeper ratio” of one in 10 to one in 30 is not unusual in sports.”

    Thanks for that. All the other stuff I can figure out. Without knowing what normal is, I’ve been putting too much pressure on myself for poor shooting. Just knowing a reasonable keeper ratio really does help me to just enjoy the shooting. It definitely makes the reviewing after much easier.

  2. Michael,

    What is your “keeper ratio” when you shoot portraits, landscape, street photography, etc?

    I feel that we do put too much pressure on making every shot picture perfect and not taking in the moment.

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