BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Steven 
 

Shooting Soccer Pictures


Hi Guys! I recently purchased the Nikon D40 and was wondering which lens would be best to get action shots in game, etc.


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12/22/2007 2:54:09 AM

 
W.    Hi Steven,
The lens you currently have is currently the best to get action shots in game, etc. Use it! Get experience with it. Find out if you would like more wide angle for the task. Or if you would like more tele. Or both. And/or if you need more light sensitivity. Then with that practical, hands-on knowledge and experience you select the appropriate lens from the available line-up.
Have fun!


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12/22/2007 4:39:18 AM

 
Scott H.   The D40 can only use an AF-S lens. My favorite is the 300mm AF-S, which I use for outdoor sports (tennis, baseball, softball, etc.). I bought mine used for $750 in mint condition on eBay. I don't know if that is within your budget. If not, try the 70-300mm AFS VR, which can be had for $450 new. Using the kit lens (18-55mm) I assume you have, you won't be able to get up close and personal (you will need at least 200-300mm).


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12/22/2007 11:17:45 AM

 
Samuel Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/21/2004
  welcome steven,
do you have a lens already?i could assume you got the kit lens but I won't.
no mention of lens speed or wether you need to play with your iso.
you've shot some games and weren't satisfied with the results?
you could have a slow lens,bump your iso up to 400 to 800 and get decent results.
a fast lens,say 200 f2.8,iso 100 and get good results.
frames per second may make a difference with action but mostly it's not the camera.
sam


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12/24/2007 10:05:12 PM

 
Joseph Dlhopolsky   In my experience, the best soccer shots have one or two players filling the frame. Because the field is so large, a 400-500 mm lens is probably the best choice. However, these run in the thousands of dollars and weigh a ton. I got some good shots with lenses in the 200-300mm range. However, you must try to position yourself on the side of the field that seems to be getting the most action and wait for the action to come to you. It would be nice to get shots from behind the net, but in my children's league, the refs wouldn't let anybody back there. I found that I could go a whole season and get perhaps ten keepers. That was in the film days. Don't get discouraged.


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12/26/2007 6:00:05 AM

 
Phil Davis   Steven,
I've done a ton of these (www.flickr.com/photos/pddcoo) both for personal and for the high school booster club. By far my favorite lens is the 120-300mm f/2.8 Sigma. It's a perfect range, and I do not think anyone else makes one similar. My 70-200 wan;t quite strong enough for the large senior teen fields, but the 120mm is too strong for near side action. As you know, it's a fast game with field switches in a blink, but this is only part of the story. Daylight games mean you can use a less expensive lens with better range (tamron 18-250!) with an extender. Night games under stadium lights mean high ISO and the fastest lens possible. I also do a lot of post processing, as I prefer to use a faster shutter speed at the expense of exposure, and also like to crop as the subject I get may not be the one I intended. Use the fastest burst mode available, and learn (for older players) how the plays tend to go. In my gallery, you'll see a significant different between the "saved shots" (for all the team moms, and the ones intended for more professional use. Practice, practice, practice. I shoot an average of 600-1000 frames per game and keep maybe 10%. Long live digital!


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12/26/2007 7:08:03 AM

 
Samuel Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/21/2004
  there you go steven,shoot at least 600 shots.don't worry about iso,which side the sun is on because shadows won't be a problem?
like phil says,who needs to know what they're doing?just crank that baby up and sort through em..maybe I misread the post.
I can't even spell crap shoot.


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12/26/2007 8:39:44 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  Sam is in rare form tonight.


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12/27/2007 12:17:23 AM

 
Phil Davis   Pretty mild, really. it's the Fred Miranda crowd that'll rip you a new one on stuff like this. I still stand by the 120-300 sigma. Soccer fields are larger than football fields, and the action can go from near to far in a blink. The newspaper guys often use two cameras, one with a 70-200, and the other with a 400mm prime. Then again, they make a living at it.


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12/27/2007 8:06:35 AM

 
Chandragopal Shroti   i support the idea pf mr Phil D above.normal photojournalists carry 70-200 or 70-300 and 28-105. u can try 400mm as stated above instead.


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12/27/2007 11:32:58 AM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  Sure, that sigma can be a real good lens. But what Sam said was funny. And true.


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12/27/2007 1:17:46 PM

 
Samuel Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/21/2004
  oh sure,i wasn't questioning the lens used,just the 600+ shots,wow.
you could pre-pocus or trap-focus in manual or even run a decent camera in full auto with any kind of tracking ability and do a lot better with half the shots.
then you could have a knowledge of how to pan,just don't tell peter..


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12/27/2007 8:51:11 PM

 
Phil Davis   I use a Canon EOS 40D which, like the EOS 20D before it, tracks just fine. I don't throw away shots because they're bad, It's just that I only keep the ones that are noteworthy. After doing this for 40 years, I pan just dandy, too, thanks. A soccer game lasts 90 minutes. Each team has 18-24 players, eleven of which are on the field at any time. Burst mode, at 6-7 FPS over a play that lasts 3 seconds, and a need to capture all the players, not just one player in particular, easily results in 600 shots. A strong volley on goal easily spans 20-40 frames. We produce a number of D1 athletes, and the kids who are in the scholarship hunt use these for their portfolios and for newspaper highlight articles. I'm not arguing the technique (or the lighting since my credentials let me set up anywhere I need to be; nor am I talking casual games) but after all these years, I still can't perfectly predict the precise moment the ball will hit max deflection on a player's face, nor the instant the keeper will punch it out. With high speed bursts, there's a good chance of getting the exact shot, even if it means discarding all the others. Sometimes I follow a break away since there is no way of knowing which defender will execute the successful slide tackle. Sometimes I shoot Tv, Av or full manual. Point is,
Steven was asking about a lens for sport played on a field of 120 yards X 90 or more. The questions suggest a new sports photographer, and the D40 suggests an excellent, but initial, DSLR purchase. It's likely he won't be prefocusing or trap focusing for awhile, and the more shots he takes, the faster he will appreciate what his camera can do.


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12/27/2007 10:04:32 PM

 
Scott H.   2004 Super Bowl, eleven Sports Illustrated photographers take 16183 pictures, an average of 1400+ per photographer (see article at http://www.robgalbraith.com/bins/multi_page.asp?cid=7-6453-6821). It would be nice if taking a good sports photo was like taking a good landscape, but that's not the case. Sounds to me that Phil knows what he is doing.


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12/28/2007 8:40:40 AM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  Putting it on auto focus and just keeping the button down happens on all levels. Trust me.


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12/28/2007 9:40:16 AM

 
Phil Davis   True, if you leave the camera with default settings. However, there are times that fast action will fool any autofocus strategy (even AI mode). When several players are mobbed together, or if you want a sudden change of subject in the middle of a play, relying on the camera may not yield the best results. I changed the programmed focus strategy to use the * button (on the 40D), though the shutter button still engages auto exposure. That way I can engage the AF only when and how I want to and can change exposure without changing focus.


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12/28/2007 9:52:24 AM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  Or you can focus yourself and shoot when you got something.


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12/28/2007 2:59:45 PM

 
Samuel Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/21/2004
  it was just my take.
but isn't that some 30,000 shutter clicks or so a year.shutter life on those pretty good?
sam


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12/29/2007 7:33:13 PM

 
Phil Davis   Yeah, but it's a matter of what's important. Just had the PCB and shutter replaced on the 20D at CRJ (Camera Repair Japan) and it cost $234 and 2 weeks (LOTS better than sending to Canon). the cameras I use get about 125-150K or so shots before needing a repair. Still cheaper than film. The high end cameras (D2/D3, 1D/1Ds) can do 200K pretty reliably.


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12/29/2007 9:37:56 PM

 
Samuel Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/21/2004
  happy new year.so I can't ignore the cheap shot about film,well ok.
so you don't edit,you don't sort through 600 plus shots?i'm glad you can edit in less than 5 minutes?not that you would spend hours sorting and deleting?then I have to think you have prints made of all 600 photos,naa.
I think you offend others shooting digital,a turkey shoot?
so not to learn your craft and select the shots?old school here phil,the 12 gauge to kill a rabbit,or a 22?biting through the pellets sucks.ah der blitzgrieg.....
film


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12/31/2007 9:17:38 PM

 
Phil Davis   HNY as well. Not sure why this is so bothersome for you, nor do I think I said anything against film (I have three film cameras and still use them) other than digital is cheaper. I also use PSP, PS CS3, Lightshop, and Noise Ninja almost every day. As sports photographers know, you develop a work flow that makes it easy to select the keepers, then do post processing (takes seconds, not minutes), much of which is batch based. Yes, I do discard 90% or more of my images, not because they're bad, but because they're not the best of their series. then I crop, and make any other changes necessary. These all are jpegs, not RAW since jpegs are faster to shoot and record. Virtually every sports photographer I know does it this way. There are lots of articles on work flow optimization that explain how to handle large volumes efficiently. Landscapes and portraits are entirely different specialties, and the three do not interchange well.


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1/1/2008 11:55:35 AM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  "A strong volley on goal easily spans 20-40 frames."
Prime illustration that it's a technique instead of a specialty.
For a corner kick, you can point your lens at the goal, and push the button at the moment the ball is kicked, and just keep it down for the whole play.
You can do the same if you mounted a high def video camera somewhere that was aimed at the goal. After the game, you can select your frame. Think that's his point.


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1/2/2008 1:22:01 PM

 
Joseph Dlhopolsky   Did a quick search. An $8,000 SONY ultra high definition video camera has 1.07m effective pixel elements. I am not versed in video, but I guess that'll sure beat out a 40D.

http://www.b2bvideosource.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=BVS&Product_Code=BRC-H700


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1/2/2008 1:56:53 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  I don't know if you were joking, but the pixel count wasn't the point.
Besides that being 1mp vs whatever the 40D has,8mp-10mp.


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1/2/2008 2:48:16 PM

 
Samuel Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/21/2004
  digital is cheaper?
200 buck film camera,same lens,400 speed film,5 bucks per roll,200 exposures,40 bucks,developing,160.00.
price of d40?
so i'm probably wrong,priceless.


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1/2/2008 7:04:49 PM

 
Phil Davis   Apples and oranges.
There is no $200 camera that mounts the same lens.
Digital does not restrict you to one ISO for the "whole roll"
I use a 40D (Canon), not a D40 (Nikon). If I amortize the entire cost of my rig over the expected shutter life, the cost is 12 cents per frame. However, I only have to repair the shutter, at $234, so the next 200,000 shots cost .00117 cents each. On top of that, shutters of folm cameras do not last as long as those of digital cameras, so you have these costs on top of the costs you state.
The original poster (D40) is using digital, probably so he can share his pictures over the Internet and so as not to waste money developing bad film shots, oh, and so he can see instantly whether the shots he took were good ones. Oh, right, you can do some of that with film, too, if you have a decent scanner. then again, you can pay the developing service to produce digital copies (another cost) or develop your own (real cheap). Oh, and all that post production editing you were worried about, that's real easy and cheap with film, too.
If you like film, use film. Makes no difference to me.


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1/3/2008 5:40:26 AM

 
Joseph Dlhopolsky   Pixel count isn't the point? Tell that to the soccer Mom who wants an 11x14 of little Johnny, the next Pele, and all you've got is a 1mp video frame.

As to the The film vs. digital argument, nobody has brought up the chemicals used in film. Digital uses the same single-use non-polluting photons as film, but the electrons are infinitely recyclable. Toxic waste from the chemicals used for film production and development are, well, toxic waste.

For some, the film vs. digital in an emotional issue. So no rational argument is going to change anybody's opinion. All I know is that if I scan in film and compare to a digital print, I'm seeing grain in one while I'm seeing individual whiskers on a face that was 30 feet away on the other -- before I see any pixelation. That's enough for me. The only downside that bothered me was the lack of dynamic range in digital. The manufacturers are aware of this and are working to improve it in the latest SLRs.


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1/3/2008 6:29:15 AM

 
Phil Davis   Have you seen examples from the new Sigma that uses the Foveon chip? Also, the new Nikon D3 and D300 seem to have expanded range and have shifted more of that dynamic range to the dark frequencies. Interesting developments.


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1/3/2008 6:39:00 AM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  No, pixel count wasn't the point.


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1/3/2008 9:44:02 AM

 
Phil Davis   OK, then back to the original point: you wouldn't shoot a corner kick that way for loads of reasons. Rather you would use a tight zoom (300mm, remember?) and pan from the corner to the goal (or beyond) following the ball, not a player. Doing anything else risks losing the action if the ball doesn't complete it's intended path (and it usually won't). Similarly, a volley might mean 10 rapid shots and deflections from a variety of players and from positions within feet or 40 yards out. You can open up enough to encompass the entire goal area, but the results won't be as satisfying, and there will be depth of field problems with fast shutter speeds under cloudy or stadium light conditions. If you're shooting small kids playing 6v6, these are not issues.


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1/3/2008 10:09:35 AM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  Do you remember?""A strong volley on goal easily spans 20-40 frames."
Keeping the button down is a way a lot of people go about getting a picture. But try to tell me that there's a lot of skill in that.


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1/3/2008 10:24:29 AM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  Oops, 'don't try to'


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1/3/2008 10:28:07 AM

 
Phil Davis   Quite well, but you're making the assumption that you just press the shutter and hang on. You don't. You're simultaneously changing zoom, subject, ISO, shutter speed, releasing and repressing, overriding AF, switching from Av to Tv to manual and so forth. There's quite a bit of skill involved, physically demanding, and it takes constant tuning of technique. If you don't do it often, no explanation will satisfy you, nor are you equipped to understand. Like I said before, I don't do landscapes and don't pretend to be an expert there. You really should look at the web reference in Joe D's earlier post.


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1/3/2008 10:35:21 AM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  Now that's quick to bring up the menu and change iso, all while shooting 10 frames in a row. But I know that statement isn't worded how it was meant.
But there's not even skill in that. Changing iso? It gets darker, you shoot into the sun, you change iso. So what.


If I can understand Sam, I can understand anything.


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1/3/2008 10:45:42 AM

 
Phil Davis   No, I meant it pretty much as it sounded; dial twirling, not menu touches. Doing it is not hard. Knowing when and why is what matters - and it's hard to shoot into the sun at night games. Going from bright midfield to dark corners to a pensive face in the stands, to an announcer back lit in his booth takes adjustments. Granted, you can choose the shot and wait for it, or you can seize the shot when it appears. Others must do it, too, or all those buttons and dials wouldn't be programmable. And you're right: capturing a freeze frame in a well lighted venue requires no skill at all. Any poltroon can do it.

So glad you understand sam.


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1/3/2008 11:33:02 AM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  Since you said you meant it about changing iso requires skill, I guess I should explain that shooting into the sun was a situation that can require changing iso, not that all games are played during the day.
And I guess I should also tell you I wasn't talking about just getting a freeze frame. It was casting a net of 40 frames per play and calling it seizing the shot.
But then again, you can shoot 10 frames, change iso, change modes, all in two seconds.


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1/3/2008 11:48:13 AM

 
Phil Davis   Sure, if you have each programmed to a different dial. Just like playing a piano. 2 seconds might be pushing it a bit, but certainly within 5. What's more likely is a burst on the field, then changing settings to catch the coach and bench reaction, then spinning back, etc. This is lots easier to do on the newer DSLRs (40D, D300) than it was on the 20d or D200. And, no, changing ISO does not require any particular skill, as you well know, but I did mean changing an entire range of settings very quickly while zooming from detail to background requires practice, if not skill. Nor did I call bursting "seizing the shot". That's silly. What I called seizing the shot is the technique that you apparently favor, which is as valid as any depending on your objective. I envy those who can drop in on a volleyball game, catch that one perfect exposure in a single shot, then leave having nothing more to accomplish or learn.


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1/3/2008 1:03:38 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  Oh, there's always something to learn.


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1/4/2008 12:20:35 AM

 
Samuel Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/21/2004
  what did they use before digital to capture these sports venues?they had no ability as to capture,the lenses sucked.
these old film cameras are about 62.00 bucks.great lenses mount to them,and it's still the operator.no photoshop plug-ins.
expertise?you shame those that can replicate your goal in half the shots.by knowledge,not abundance.
I wish myself to master these techniques.to learn and capture.no more questions,no more answers.
50 to 100 years yeah...


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1/4/2008 9:25:56 PM

 
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