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Sports photography with EOS RP - Best Settings

CeeVee35
Contributor

Hello! I'm hoping to get some guidance for which settings to use for sports photography. Please know that I'm new to the photography lingo, but I'm learning. 

I'm using an EOS RP with either an RF24-105 mm F4-7.1 IS STM or RF100-400 mm F5.6-8 IS USM lens (depending on where I can plant myself on the sidelines/courtside). Right now I'm shooting basketball games indoors with decent lighting. My current settings are sports mode and auto focus. With 10 players running on the court, I'm finding it difficult to get a crisp image of the player I had in focus. I'd love a general cheat sheet of settings I can adjust to get sharper images. Thank you!

4 ACCEPTED SOLUTIONS

Hazel_T
Product Expert
Product Expert

Hi CeeVee35,

There aren't any settings that will work 100% in every situation. The best settings to use will vary depending on things like light levels at the location and the type of shot you are looking for. Sports photography is also a broad enough subject that we wouldn't be able to go over everything that could apply in one forum post. There are some general things to keep in mind and we do have helpful learning articles that can help get you started on your sports photography journey.

Sport mode on the camera is a good place to start out. In that mode the camera is in control of most of the settings and you do not have much room to make adjustments in that mode. If you want to start making adjustments to improve your photos you would need to look at using a mode like P, Tv, Av, or M. Sports photographers most commonly use either Tv or M mode. In P mode the camera controls the aperture and shutter speed. In Tv mode you control the shutter speed and the camera controls the aperture. In Av mode you control the aperture and the camera controls the shutter speed. In M mode you are in control of both the aperture and shutter speed.

The shutter speed can help with motion blur. The faster the shutter speed the less motion blur you will see. The trade off is that the faster the shutter speed the less time the camera sensor has to gather light, so in lower light conditions that can cause under exposed photos. 

Aperture can help with your depth of field. That is how wide of an area is in focus. Smaller aperture values means the iris in the lens is more open, and that will give you a more shallow depth of field. That would have your subject in focus and the background blurred. Higher aperture values means the iris in the lens is more closed, and that will give you a wider depth of field. That would have your subject and more of the area around them in focus. Like with shutter speed the trade off is that the more closed the aperture is the less light gets to the sensor, so higher aperture values can cause under exposed photos.

Another thing to look at would be to have your AF Operation set to Servo. With that set once you start having the camera focus it will continually adjust the focus to match your subject as they move closer or further away from the camera. Since there is typically a lot of movement in sports it can help with focusing. 

We have additional helpful learning articles that go over different types of photography and ways to shoot it HERE. We also have a helpful guide going over the different settings like shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and others HERE. If you would like to view the full manual for your EOS RP it is available HERE. Once you are on the web page click on the Manuals button and the one to reference is named EOS RP Advanced User Guide.

View solution in original post

justadude
Rising Star

First I want to say that Hazel_T offered a lot of excellent advice.

Adding to her comments...

I owned the RP for 4 years.  I did a fair amount of sports photography with it, mostly as a finish line photographer for marathons and triathlons.  While every shot wasn't focused perfectly, a good 95% of them were... and this was doing some rapid fire shots... usually ended up with 6,000(ish) shots for four hours of shooting.  The RP is very capable.  Most of my shooting was on AF set to servo, ISO between 100-800 (depending on time of day... closer to 100 as it got lighter).  Sports mode is fine.  I shoot sports in Tv mode (shutter priority) and set the speed on 1/500 to make sure I freeze movement.

The main thing I see that might be somewhat limiting is your aperture on both lenses.  If your budget allows, and you could find a lens (even used) with an F/2.8 aperture, it would make a world of difference.  Even an inexpensive nifty fifty with a F/1.8 might not get you as close up as you want (take your 24-105 lens to the basketball court, set it at 50mm, and pan around to see if it works), but you would end up with a lot more keeper shots.  


Gary

Digital: Canon EOS R6 Mk ll, EOS R8, EOS RP, EOS 60D, many RF, EF, and Rokinon lenses
Film: Pentax Spotmatic, Pentax K1000, Pentax K2000, Miranda DR, Zenit 12XP, Kodak Retina Automatic II, Kodak Duaflex III, and various lenses

View solution in original post

ebiggs1
Legend
Legend

"Sport mode on the camera is a good place to start out."

I will have to disagree with that a bit. If it is an outdoor sports game it may work most of the time but indoors like round ball not so much. That's why all the queries are posted here on how to do it.

 I'd love a general cheat sheet of settings 

Fine, I'll give you mine. However, keep in mind that all and any camera gear has its limitations. There are situations where nothing will work. That's just the way it is.

"I'm using an EOS RP with either an RF24-105 mm F4-7.1 IS STM or RF100-400 mm F5.6-8 IS USM lens"

First neither of your lenses are particularly fast. The RF24-105 mm F4-7.1 IS STM is your best choice for indoor basketball for a couple reasons. First it is the faster of the two lenses. Secondly, the FL is more useable for BB.

Here is what I would do. Set Av mode and start with f4, check your manual if you do not know how to set the lens.

So Av mode and f4 will allow the camera to select the fastest SS it can for proper exposure. I would set Auto ISO and set a lower and upper limit you are good with (200-3200+, etc.), again check the manual if you don't know how. Now very important use One Shot and not, never, use Ai-servo mode or modes. This is where beginners wind up with blurry shots so make sure you have One Shot and use only the center focus point, again manual if you need to.

And do come back and let me know if and how well it works for you.

 

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!

View solution in original post

wq9nsc
Authority
Authority

You will need really good lighting with those lenses, very few high school gyms and a lot of college gyms are best suited for f2.8 glass at the shutter speed you need to freeze basketball.  You will need to stay at the wider angle end of your two choices where at worst it is no slower than f5.6.

For basketball, I would set the shutter speed at 1/640 (1/800 is preferable but you need to compromise with those lenses).  Then set the lens at the maximum aperture it will provide and set ISO to auto to let it complete the equation for a standard exposure.

Use servo focus and I always use either a single point (probably 90 percent of the time) or single point with four point expansion (the rest of the time) so that the camera focuses on what I intend.

As Ernie noted, location is everything.  I shoot from the court but I still use a 300mm f2.8 on one body for basketball to cover the far end of the court.  If shooting from the stands, the 400 end of your lens would be a desirable focal length but not at its f8 aperture at that point.

These were shot in a facility with average, not great, lighting at 1/800 and f2.8.  ISO varies a bit by court position but stays in the 6,400 range.  These were all using a 1DX III body with a 70-200 f2.8 lens and that lens accounts for around 80% of the captures from a typical basketball, football, soccer, etc. event for me.

Rodger

A48I2269.jpgA48I2474.jpgA48I2914.jpg

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

View solution in original post

10 REPLIES 10

Hazel_T
Product Expert
Product Expert

Hi CeeVee35,

There aren't any settings that will work 100% in every situation. The best settings to use will vary depending on things like light levels at the location and the type of shot you are looking for. Sports photography is also a broad enough subject that we wouldn't be able to go over everything that could apply in one forum post. There are some general things to keep in mind and we do have helpful learning articles that can help get you started on your sports photography journey.

Sport mode on the camera is a good place to start out. In that mode the camera is in control of most of the settings and you do not have much room to make adjustments in that mode. If you want to start making adjustments to improve your photos you would need to look at using a mode like P, Tv, Av, or M. Sports photographers most commonly use either Tv or M mode. In P mode the camera controls the aperture and shutter speed. In Tv mode you control the shutter speed and the camera controls the aperture. In Av mode you control the aperture and the camera controls the shutter speed. In M mode you are in control of both the aperture and shutter speed.

The shutter speed can help with motion blur. The faster the shutter speed the less motion blur you will see. The trade off is that the faster the shutter speed the less time the camera sensor has to gather light, so in lower light conditions that can cause under exposed photos. 

Aperture can help with your depth of field. That is how wide of an area is in focus. Smaller aperture values means the iris in the lens is more open, and that will give you a more shallow depth of field. That would have your subject in focus and the background blurred. Higher aperture values means the iris in the lens is more closed, and that will give you a wider depth of field. That would have your subject and more of the area around them in focus. Like with shutter speed the trade off is that the more closed the aperture is the less light gets to the sensor, so higher aperture values can cause under exposed photos.

Another thing to look at would be to have your AF Operation set to Servo. With that set once you start having the camera focus it will continually adjust the focus to match your subject as they move closer or further away from the camera. Since there is typically a lot of movement in sports it can help with focusing. 

We have additional helpful learning articles that go over different types of photography and ways to shoot it HERE. We also have a helpful guide going over the different settings like shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and others HERE. If you would like to view the full manual for your EOS RP it is available HERE. Once you are on the web page click on the Manuals button and the one to reference is named EOS RP Advanced User Guide.

Thank you so, so much for your helpful and thoughtful response, Hazel_T. I appreciate your suggestions, the clear explanations you kindly provided, and the articles you shared. I’ll dive into those right away!

justadude
Rising Star

First I want to say that Hazel_T offered a lot of excellent advice.

Adding to her comments...

I owned the RP for 4 years.  I did a fair amount of sports photography with it, mostly as a finish line photographer for marathons and triathlons.  While every shot wasn't focused perfectly, a good 95% of them were... and this was doing some rapid fire shots... usually ended up with 6,000(ish) shots for four hours of shooting.  The RP is very capable.  Most of my shooting was on AF set to servo, ISO between 100-800 (depending on time of day... closer to 100 as it got lighter).  Sports mode is fine.  I shoot sports in Tv mode (shutter priority) and set the speed on 1/500 to make sure I freeze movement.

The main thing I see that might be somewhat limiting is your aperture on both lenses.  If your budget allows, and you could find a lens (even used) with an F/2.8 aperture, it would make a world of difference.  Even an inexpensive nifty fifty with a F/1.8 might not get you as close up as you want (take your 24-105 lens to the basketball court, set it at 50mm, and pan around to see if it works), but you would end up with a lot more keeper shots.  


Gary

Digital: Canon EOS R6 Mk ll, EOS R8, EOS RP, EOS 60D, many RF, EF, and Rokinon lenses
Film: Pentax Spotmatic, Pentax K1000, Pentax K2000, Miranda DR, Zenit 12XP, Kodak Retina Automatic II, Kodak Duaflex III, and various lenses

Hi, Gary. Thanks for your response to my post. It’s helpful (and encouraging) to know that others have successfully used the RP for sports photography. I’ll check out my options for lenses with an F/2.8. I appreciate the guidance!

Glad I could help!  I know when I ask a question, it's always nice to receive replies from folks who have had actual hands on experience with the gear you are asking about.  

For your reference, I'm attaching two Canon RP samples from a triathlon I was hired to take photos at last summer, shot under a dark canopy of trees so the lighting was not as good as when I was shooting the swim portion of the triathlon. Both shot at ISO 100... one image was taken at F/3.2 for 1/500 second, the other at F/2.8 for 1/800 second.

Canon RP - shot at ISO 100, F/3.2 1/500 secCanon RP - shot at ISO 100, F/3.2 1/500 secCanon RP - Shot at ISO 100 F/2.8 1/800 secCanon RP - Shot at ISO 100 F/2.8 1/800 sec


Gary

Digital: Canon EOS R6 Mk ll, EOS R8, EOS RP, EOS 60D, many RF, EF, and Rokinon lenses
Film: Pentax Spotmatic, Pentax K1000, Pentax K2000, Miranda DR, Zenit 12XP, Kodak Retina Automatic II, Kodak Duaflex III, and various lenses

ebiggs1
Legend
Legend

"Sport mode on the camera is a good place to start out."

I will have to disagree with that a bit. If it is an outdoor sports game it may work most of the time but indoors like round ball not so much. That's why all the queries are posted here on how to do it.

 I'd love a general cheat sheet of settings 

Fine, I'll give you mine. However, keep in mind that all and any camera gear has its limitations. There are situations where nothing will work. That's just the way it is.

"I'm using an EOS RP with either an RF24-105 mm F4-7.1 IS STM or RF100-400 mm F5.6-8 IS USM lens"

First neither of your lenses are particularly fast. The RF24-105 mm F4-7.1 IS STM is your best choice for indoor basketball for a couple reasons. First it is the faster of the two lenses. Secondly, the FL is more useable for BB.

Here is what I would do. Set Av mode and start with f4, check your manual if you do not know how to set the lens.

So Av mode and f4 will allow the camera to select the fastest SS it can for proper exposure. I would set Auto ISO and set a lower and upper limit you are good with (200-3200+, etc.), again check the manual if you don't know how. Now very important use One Shot and not, never, use Ai-servo mode or modes. This is where beginners wind up with blurry shots so make sure you have One Shot and use only the center focus point, again manual if you need to.

And do come back and let me know if and how well it works for you.

 

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!

Thanks for the help and guidance, EB. I’ve been finding that sport mode may not be the best for indoor basketball courts, which is why I thought to ask the experts here. I will take your suggestions and play around a bit with the settings. I’ve only stood courtside to take shots, so no bleachers for me. And lucky for me, I was an athlete in a previous life — so I know the sports I’m shooting. 😊 The next tournament isn’t for a couple of weeks, so I’ll try to share the results after it.

ebiggs1
Legend
Legend

"... (depending on where I can plant myself on the sidelines/courtside) ..."

On the floor courtside 😁 is the best camera setting you can have. Bleachers is a big downer for good photography.

The three most important things in sports photography are location, location and location. Where you shoot from!

Second most important thing is know the sport. If you don't know what is going on, you will never get good shots unless you are very lucky. So do you feel lucky or do you know basketball?

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!

wq9nsc
Authority
Authority

You will need really good lighting with those lenses, very few high school gyms and a lot of college gyms are best suited for f2.8 glass at the shutter speed you need to freeze basketball.  You will need to stay at the wider angle end of your two choices where at worst it is no slower than f5.6.

For basketball, I would set the shutter speed at 1/640 (1/800 is preferable but you need to compromise with those lenses).  Then set the lens at the maximum aperture it will provide and set ISO to auto to let it complete the equation for a standard exposure.

Use servo focus and I always use either a single point (probably 90 percent of the time) or single point with four point expansion (the rest of the time) so that the camera focuses on what I intend.

As Ernie noted, location is everything.  I shoot from the court but I still use a 300mm f2.8 on one body for basketball to cover the far end of the court.  If shooting from the stands, the 400 end of your lens would be a desirable focal length but not at its f8 aperture at that point.

These were shot in a facility with average, not great, lighting at 1/800 and f2.8.  ISO varies a bit by court position but stays in the 6,400 range.  These were all using a 1DX III body with a 70-200 f2.8 lens and that lens accounts for around 80% of the captures from a typical basketball, football, soccer, etc. event for me.

Rodger

A48I2269.jpgA48I2474.jpgA48I2914.jpg

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