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Night time sports trouble and followed all previous tips!!!


Can any help!?!?! I am just an avid sports mom who loves taking photos... I really need to just suck it up and take classes!!!

But I search every website and forum every year we have night games.. and every year.. my pictures fail... Last night tried again,,, No luck.. We have a PLAYOFF game this Saturday in the evening... and I want to try to have options that are easy to figure. out... I usually take 400-600 team pics and then edit and share to the team.. I love it... some are good.. but no where near I want to be,, but better every year...


I have a EOS Rebel XT (I know I got I wishlist for Blackfriday & Xmas!!)

Lenses...55-250 .......  28-105.....18-55and a tamaron 70-300


I need some pics to come out as this is could be my sons last youth football game!!!!  please help... I try every setting I find and it just doesnt work



Can you share some that you think are bad?


My first inclination is to set the ISO to the max to get the fastest shutter speed.

@KVbarkley IMG_3037.JPGIMG_3044.JPGIMG_3046.JPG


WHere are you shooting from?  You are way too far form the action.


Set you camera to Av mode.  Do not, never use, any of the auto modes.  Forget they even exist. Set the Av to the widest most open aperture of you lens.  This tells the XT to use the fastest SS possible. May still be too slow but it will be all the XT can deliver.

Set the ISO to 1600.  Use auto WB.  I would shoot in Raw file format but will require some post editing but Raw can offer a stop or two of adjustment. I don't think it will help the shot all that much because too slow SS is not fixable in post.


Bottom line Kido, you need a new camera. Faster camera!


EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!


"I have a EOS Rebel XT (...)

Lenses...55-250 .......  28-105.....18-55and a tamaron 70-300"


Your biggest limiter here is a very slow camera coupled with very slow lenses.  It is difficult to get great shots with just one of those handicaps.  You have both!

The fastest way to improve your chances of getting better photos is to upgrade either or both to more faster gear. By that I mean lower f-numbers on the lenses and higher ISO numbers on the camera.


With the lenses you have ISO 1600 is probably the lowest ISO number you should use and on your camera it is the highest and last and probably not the best quality ISO. The highest ISO numbers generally are not the best IQ on any camera.


However that said, it is possible to get 'some' good photos.  Here is the secret. The three top things to get great shots at a sports game, of any kind.  Location, location, and location.  That's right. Where you shot from is the key.  SIdelines good. Roaming the sidelines great.  Bleachers, poor and will always be poor. The next best thing and mandatory is to know the sport or game you are shooting.  Surprises are never good in any photographic endeavor.  Especially shooting sports. Knowing what is coming and anticipating where the action is going is also key. Notice none of this has anything to do with photography knowledge!  


But at some point you do need to know how photography works and how your camera works. Intimately how! I guess you know about ISO for instance?  If you were to upgrade your XT with a T7i, the ISO gains is dramatic.  1600 vs 25600, now again the highest ISO numbers are not the best IQ but they do work if absolutely necessary.  However, you can set the T7i to 3200 and/or 6400 and have better results than your XT at 1600 maxed out. This is your least expensive route, to upgrade the XT.  The first suggestions are free.


I most always shoot sports in Av mode.  Never use any of the so-called auto modes on the dial. In Av mode you choose the aperture (generally the most open, low f-number on the lens) and the camera selects the fastest possible SS.  With your XT you should use ISO 800 but I will guess that is too slow but 1600 is your maxed out ISO. Not ideal. Give it a try and get back. But that T7i and it's much greater ISO range sure looks good.


EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!


Concentrate on the shots you can get rather than those you would like to get. The combination of lens aperture and camera ISO performance available to you is going to make capturing high quality action shots under typical high school night field lighting pretty much impossible.  On a better than average illuminated high school field, I will shoot at ISO 2000 with a F2.8 lens wide open and shutter speed set at 1/640 which is fast enough to freeze most action but on a lot of fields I am up to ISO 6400 with this combination.  I shoot night high school football in full manual mode with the lens wide open and shutter speed at 1/640; if the field is fairly evenly lit I will also lock ISO and adjust when I process the RAW files.  For fields with highly uneven lighting I let ISO float.  I lock shutter speed because I have yet to take a blurred photo that is worth keeping 🙂


I am not familiar with all of your lens options but for your primary choice,  I would take the one that will go as far into the telephoto range as possible with an aperture of F4 and rely primarily upon it.  A shutter speed of 1/500 is very marginal for high school football action and anything below is going to have a lot of blur but with your ISO limitations I would set the ISO as high as possible and go to Av mode realizing that you are going to lose a lot of photos to extreme motion blur.  Even 1/640 doesn't freeze everything but when you can go that fast within lens and ISO limitations it is very usable.


Concentrate on the shots that you can get rather than what you would like. Capture the pre-game warmup where there may still be some natural light and the action is a bit slower.  Capture player reactions after a score or turnover or even the cornerback checking off with the line judge because these are situations where a slower shutter speed will suffice.  Concentrate on staying dead steady because with the problem of motion blur there is no margin for adding any operator induced blur. 


Ernie gave you excellent advice that location is key and that is even more critical with gear limitations.  You want the desired image to fill as much of the viewfinder as possible because cropping and high ISO noise/loss of detail do not play well together.  But even after Santa brings you better equipment, location is still critical to get the most of your new gear.  Like the players, you have to fully concentrate during the game to improve your odds of reading the play and being where you need to be.  Last Saturday I enjoyed shooting an afternoon game for a friend whose grandson played what turned out to be his final high school game.  It was nice to shoot in decent lighting conditions for once but one of the best shots of the day was when I was sure the next play was going to be a pass and I ended up being in the perfect position to get a good capture of an interception.  The other photo is an example of the type you could get where a slower shutter speed wouldn't ruin the image.  My friend's grandson stepped in as a holder because of high wind conditions so even if lighting conditions would have required a slower shutter speed, he was virtually frozen and would have still been sharp even though the kicker would have been blurred.  This is a type of action shot you can capture with gear limitations forcing a slow shutter speed where you would have motion blur but not of the most important element in the image.


As you get better equipment, you will run into the limitations of that gear also because there is no absolute perfect.  The knowledge and experience you gain in working with your current setup will pay dividends as you continue to do photography and move up to more sophisticated and capable gear.  Hopefully as your child advances, there will be a nice daytime playoff game 🙂







EOS 1DX M3, 1DX M2, 1DX, 5DS R, M6 Mark II, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video

"I would take the one that will go as far into the telephoto range as possible with an aperture of F4 and rely primarily upon it."


She has nothing that has f4 and tele.


"I will shoot at ISO 2000..."


Her camera tops out at ISO 1600 so 800 is probably the best it can do and get reasonably acceptable results. It is also just an 8MP sensor. She's up against it for sure.


"Last Saturday I enjoyed shooting an afternoon game ... It was nice to shoot in decent lighting conditions for once ..."


I am jealous!  Smiley Happy Never, never done that.


"Concentrate on the shots you can get rather than those you would like to get."


I wish I had said that because it is so right. I used to shoot and XT and XTi for years.  They are capable but severely limited by today standards.  This can be done, I did it.  This is what falls under "know your sport" because you know what and where you have to be to get those shots. If you are just guessing or are confined to the bleachers, it's going to be tough.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!

It hasn't been that long since the 1 series also was highly ISO limited.  My 1D Mark 2 only went to ISO-3200 with "expansion" and it wasn't very usable at that setting.  I struggled to get decent early evening soccer photos with that even with a 2.8 lens and at the middle school level.  Things have come a long way in a very short time.  


Thanks for the info about the original poster's lens because I wasn't familiar with them.  I agree that she is really up against it and I would have better glass at the top of the shopping list.  With the modern divorce rate, I am not sure that the old De Beer's slogan, "A Diamond is Forever" still rings true but good glass comes pretty close to being forever 🙂



EOS 1DX M3, 1DX M2, 1DX, 5DS R, M6 Mark II, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video

"My 1D Mark 2 only went to ISO-3200 with "expansion" ..."


Been there done that.  I have or had most all the 1 series cameras starting with the very first 1D.  4MP I think it is and ISO tops out at 1600, I sill have it. I also stil have and I use my 1D Mk IIn. I sold the 1D2 a long time ago.  It wasn't one of Canon's finest.


I am/was, I guess, a big fan of the 1Ds MK III until the 1DX came on seen.


"I would have better glass at the top of the shopping list."


Totally agree except in her case the cheapest way better is a better camera.  A Rebel T7i will make a huge improvement over the XT with what she has already.  She can have a T7i today and be generally familiar with it right off.  100% on board with better glass as soon as possible but that's gonna cost.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!

Love the photo of the water coming off of the drum!  That really captures how bad the weather was that night.



EOS 1DX M3, 1DX M2, 1DX, 5DS R, M6 Mark II, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video