Saturday, May 8, 2010

Slowly learning about sports photography

So I got the 70-200 f4 lens and got a chance to shoot one of the boys soccer games last week. I'm definitely getting more keepers but it's not just a result of the lens. I spent some more time studying what you need to do for sports photography and figured out I was doing some things wrong. First, I need to shoot in AI Servo focus mode which has predictive autofocus. Combine that with drive mode in continuous shooting and you should be able to get more in focus shots with moving subjects. That seemed to help quite a bit. I've always shot in continuous drive mode but didn't use AI Servo focus. I also set the shutter on 1/250 so I'd always freeze the action. The mistake I made was turning off the IS. I figured it would save some battery life because I was getting low and thought(I don't know why) it might slow the autofocus a bit with a moving subject. Problem is I forgot that the lens on my camera fully extended is a 320mm lens, hence some blurred shots. I'll leave IS on next time because I don't think it eats up that much extra battery and doesn't affect autofocus speeds. One other "mistake" I made was to not fix an autofocus point. I emailed one friend who does sports who said he fixes the center focus point and I've now read others do that. By not fixing it, the camera chose the focus point and while I did get a couple more interesting shots, I missed some I would have had if I had used the center focus point. And last, I shot in RAW. Rather dumb since I don't plan to do any adjustments and my camera has a higher burst rate shooting straight JPEG than RAW. So my list for next time is:

  1. Leave IS turned on on the lens. Oh and charge batteries ahead of time
  2. AI Servo focus setting
  3. Center focus point fixed
  4. Continuous drive shooting mode.
  5. Shoot high quality JPEG only.
  6. Shoot in shutter priority at 1/250 second.
  7. Check ISO speed as I go along. Found out cloudy days I need to jump to 800 or even 1600.
That's it. I really need to keep that list with my camera bag just as a double check. But I did get more keepers so I'm pleased. Should have even more next time.