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sports photography with the 7d.


I am new to the 7d and canon all together.  I am trying to take pictures of my sons baseball games and I cannot get the bat or ball to be clear.  I want to be able to see the seams of the ball and the name on the bat.  However I have to admit I am a little intimaidated by the 7d as I am not a professional by any means but wanted to good camera, now I am wondering if I made the right choice since I am a little confused.



If you really want to completely freeze the action of the bat and ball you need a fast shutter speed.  I'd say at least 1/1000, and probably 1/2000 just to be safe.  If you’re not very experienced in Photography then I’d use the Tv setting and set the shutter speed.  If it’s sunny out you can get about 1/1600 at a ISO 400 and f/8.  So if you’re shooting in Tv, set the shutter speed to 1/1600, the ISO to 400 and the camera will set the aperture to get the correct exposure.  Turn it to manual focus (on the lens) and set the focus for where the ball and bat are (hint: use auto-focus to lock on the batter, switch to manual, and adjust if necessary).

If there’s not enough sun the camera is going to open up the aperture, which shrinks the area that’s in focus.  Although it can look very nice, if the area in focus is too ‘shallow’ then you’re not going to get your shot.


Also, you mentioned just getting the 7D.  Not to push you into buyers remorse, but you got a lot of camera for a beginner.  It's fine if you can afford it, and the 7D is a great camera, but I feel like salemen and the internet push people into getting much more camera than they need.  A rebel could do everything I described above just as well as the 7D.


No doubt the 7D is a lot of camera and is primarily aimed at sports and wildlife photographers. You have a great camera and probably got a great deal. Enjoy your new camera and don't allow it to overwhelm you. Taking great photos is about technic and skill, your camera is just a tool. Keep things simple, practice and experiment, follow forums like this, and maybe join a local photography club or take a course. There are a ton of how to videos and books. Hang in there and you will get some great photos of your son's games. BTW, I actually like blurred balls and bats, it shows motion.

I had a EOS 30D recently stolen and thought I would upgrad to the 7D.  My kids play a lot of sports and this is what I mainly use the camera for.  The 7D seems so much different and there is not a sports mode on it.  That is all I use to shoot in.  I also have the EOS Rebel SR1 are you saying that I can take just as good of sports pictures with this camera with less headache?  Do you know what is the largest lens I could put on the rebel for a sports shot?

Thank you


The 7D should be a great camera for sports photography. That's the main reason I purchased mine.

Here are some of my camera setting to give you an idea where I normally start:

Lens 70-200mm, Tv mode, shutter priority AE, 1/1000sec. or higher to freeze action,  ISO 400 or higher, AI servo mode, high speed burst (7 frame sec), spot metering.

This works well for daylight conditions, but I'll adjust as needed. The 7D is a fast focusing camera, but you may want to use a monopod and manually focus on your subject before you take the pictures. Then when you're ready to capture the action, hold the shutter down for 6 frames or more at a time.  I usually take a lot of pictures just to come up with a few good shots, but practice helps. Have fun with your 7D

I think you made a good choice thanks to it's great AF system & the Quick Control dial on the back The learning curve isn't that different between any of them when it's a first DSLR. Also agree with the recommendations including the monopod if the camera starts getting too heavy to have full control of while shooting. What lens are you using?


"A skill is developed through constant practice with a passion to improve, not bought."

Don't be afraid of the 7D, it's a camera that gives a lot but take that as an incentive to learn. Subscribe to a few magazines (like Popular Photography), buy some books and learn how to use it properly.

I've got a lot of skiing photos published and all taken with the 7D, none of them could be taken with my old 5D Mark II or even my new 5D Mark III, that's why I'm keeping both. If you're looking for speed the 7D delivers.


I am using an ef 70-300 mm f/4-5.6 is usm.  I am willing to learn but I feel like it's gonna take me forever.  I looked into an online course to help me.  I had a sony A350 prior to this and it took good photos but I heard this canon was much better with sports photography.  And my sony had the settings and so I didn't have to really set too much.  So, this I feel like I'm starting over 🙂

The 7D is not an ideal camera for a beginner, but if you are determined and persevere you can learn to use it.


7D is Canon's most pro-oriented APS-C format camera. What that means is that the designers sort of assume most buyers will be experienced and fairly advanced... will want to make all their own settings all the way from before taking the shot to finishing the images on their computer in post-production, will need access to a lot of "tweaks" to fine tune the camera for special situations and can deal with a lot of additional complexity, aren't looking for a lot of automation.


I am not knocking 7D at all... In fact I've been shooting with a pair of them for nearly four years now and they are an excellent sports/action camera.... for an experienced user. But, even with experience, there is a whole additional layer of complexity in the 7D's AF system. It was brand new four years ago and there was little info from Canon or other users, so it took a while to to learn to use it well. I almost gave up and went back to the 50Ds I'd used previously. Today there is more 7D-specific support and tutorials out there... folks have figured out what works in different situations and share their experiences on forums and websites, so now it's easier to get up to speed using the camera (and avoiding some of the mistakes!).


But, once learned, 7D can really do you proud. Just don't look for the point n shoot automation of some of the other models. It ain't there. Instead you get user programmable custom profiles and assignable buttons, to tailor the camera to your own uses (assuming you know what you are doing).


To start, I would encourage you to learn to use the camera as simply as possible. Eventually you can experiment with some of the more advanced settings and see what works and what doesn't, a little at a time. With moving subjects, you generally need to use AI Servo focus mode (an exception is noted below). I'd suggest selecting only the center AF point and just working to keep that on the point right where you want the lens to focus.


Baseballs and bats move very quickly when a batter is swinging, so you are going to need a very fast shutter speed if you really want to freeze the action to the point you can see the seams on the ball and logo on the bat (which, if you think about it, is very unrealistic). I would try for 1/2000 or even faster shutter speed. Don't hesitate to use ISO 800 in sunlight. The 7D can handle it well. In shade, use ISO 1600 or possibly even higher, except you might need to apply some noise reduction to images later.You also might try some slower shutter speeds so that there is some motion blur from the ball and bat... that sometimes looks more "real". Experiment with different shutter speeds (setting the ISO and aperture as needed to accomodate the shutter speed).


Go to this web page and read about Back Button Focusing. It's a technique many sports photographers use (and one reason so many sports photogs use Canon).  What you do with this technique is start focus tracking your subject and follow them for a while, concentrating on keeping the AF point right where you want the camera to focus, and then take the shot (or repeated shots) at the peak moment of action. Keep both your eyes open so that you have an idea what's happening outside the viewfinder area, but keep one eye glued to the viewfinder.


It's not specific to the 7D, but you would also do well to view this video on Youtube posted by B&H Photo. It's the first of three half hour videos about the Canon AF systems. Watch all three.


I'd also encourage you to get "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson. It's an excellent book that will be a big help, learning to handle many situations with a fairly advanced camera... not just exposure but many other related factors as well. This is not specific to 7D or Canon for that matter, so I'd also suggest you get one of the guide books specific to the camera, to help you learn to use it well more easily and quickly. There are a number of different 7D guide books on Amazon. Over the years I've gotten various guide books written by Charlotte Lowrie, David Busch and Michael Guncheon, and feel comfortable recommending any of those. Others may be good too, so spend some time reading reviews.  


Online classes might help, but a local class may be better if you can find one in your area. Maybe it's just me, but somehow an actual class and instructor always seems to make learnin' come easier.


In good light your zoom lens should be fine for your purposes. Remove any filter and use a lens hood with it. It is a good idea, as previous suggested, to stop down a bit to around f8. This gives greater depth of field, which can help cover some minor focus error.


7D can shoot at 8 frames per second. Use that if you wish... however don't become dependent upon it. You still need to time your shots if you want to catch that fraction of a second when a ball and bat come together. You will have a lot of misses no matter what camera you are using... can't be helped. Everything is moving so fast.


Using Canon cameras pretty simply as described above, the autofocus systems of 7D can track a base runner and even faster subjects quite well. But tricks such as pre-focusing (as someone suggested above) migtht be necessary with extremely fast movement such as a pitched ball and bat swing. In this case, you might want to switch back to One Shot mode (usually used for stationary subjects only, but when pre-focusing on a player at bat, you can treat them as if they were stationary).


Actually, most Canon cameras used this way.... AI Servo, center AF point only, Back Button Focusing.... are quite capable of capturing fast moving action. I used 50D and before them 30D with a lot of success. 7D are better, but not hugely when used this way. It's the difference between me getting acceptible focus on 92% of my shots with 30D, 94% with 50D and around 96 or 97% with 7D. 60D, T4i, T5i all have AF system that's quite similar to my 50Ds. If you find 7D overwhelming, don't hesitate to "downgrade" to an easier-to-use model, with more automated settings to help inexperienced users (or people who simply don't want to learn all the details of using a more sophisticated, pro-oriented camera). 

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