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Tips for a beginner photographer? - Nighttime soccer advice


I am very new to photography and recently just picked up a t7 with a 70-200 f/4L IS. I take pictures at night for high school soccer games. These are some of the pictures I have taken any settings or tips I could use would be really helpful. 







Let's have Rodger help with this...  I'll ping him.   

Bay Area - CA

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Hi Manuel,

You are in a difficult situation with that combination of field lighting, T7 somewhat limited low light capability, and the need to freeze action.  From the exposure information, you have shutter speed set at 1/250 but freezing motion at the high school soccer level is very marginal even at the faster speed of 1/500 with 1/640 really being the minimum to avoid a lot of motion blur.  I generally shoot soccer at 1/1000.

Shooting high school sports at night without very good lighting is very demanding of equipment requiring a lens with a very wide maximum aperture and a camera that does well in keeping detail at a high ISO setting. 

I looked at the specs for the T7 and it looks like the maximum sensitivity for the sensor is ISO 6400 but expandable in the menu to 12,800.  However it is going to be noisy at 6,400 and even more so at 12,800 so I am not sure 12,800 with faster shutter speed is going to be helpful but I would give it a try setting 12,800 as the maximum available ISO and compare results.

With modern cameras, the setup I have found that works best is to go with manual exposure with ISO set to auto.  Set your aperture to f4, try shutter speed of 1/500, and let the ISO compensate. ALWAYS shoot in RAW instead of JPG because it allows much better noise reduction in post (along with other corrections). 

The free DPP software Canon provides is adequate for most of what you need to do in converting RAW files to JPG format and you can look at some other more advanced "AI type" noise reduction programs later AFTER you choose the setup that gets the most out of your current gear.

The other option is aperture priority mode with it set to f4, set ISO to 6400, and let it set shutter speed but I am pretty sure it will choose a shutter speed too low to freeze motion.  Neither noise nor motion blur is good but given the choice I will always take noise which can be somewhat reduced in post.

With that in mind, the practical approach is to concentrate on timing to catch those brief moments when players are frozen (IF you have to stick with a shutter speed around 1/250 given lighting conditions) and to concentrate your photography activity on the best illuminated parts of the pitch.  You also need to keep cropping to a minimum because the noise reduction that occurs when the camera operates at high ISO is already reducing detail and cropping makes that worse.  Or in short, get as close to the action as you can and in poor light it probably isn't going to work out to shoot far away action.

The attached are from a field that has decent but not exceptional lighting.  I am shooting with f2.8 lenses wide open at 1/1000 shutter speed and using camera bodies that behave very well at high ISO and those settings pushed the ISO to 10,000 or above for all of the attached.  I suspect this field has a little better lighting than where you shot your examples making it even more difficult for you. 



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


 Could you share the settings of the photos? This might help in sending you in the right direction. The others have made some good suggestions.

Canon EOS T7; EF-S 18-55mm IS; EF 28-135mm IS; EF 75-300mm; Sigma 150-600mm DG