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sports photography with the 7d.

Stew9
Apprentice

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.

28 REPLIES 28

travischance
Apprentice

Yes, the 7D is a great "prosumer" camera that was designed & marketed for action.  I've owned them in the past & they did great when shooting sporting events (they were my bread & butter until I upgraded to Mark IV's).

 

To freeze the player & ball is very simple; set your camera into Shutter Priority Mode (TV) at a minimum of 1/500 second.  Depending upon your lens & available light, the camera may "stop" the lens down from it's maximum aperture to achieve that shutter speed.  Depending upon your level of expertise, I'd also recommend placing your camera in "Auto ISO".  If your are moving up & down the field or the sun is moving in & out of the clouds, the ISO will definitely change throughout the day.

 

By setting the shutter speed & using auto ISO, the camera will select the aperture required.  Personally, I'm not a fan of shutter priority but I'm a sports shooter with experience.  But using these settings will get you started.  I hope this helps! 

There is a learning curve to the AF compared to most of Canon's other DSLR's BUT it has been recommended that for this situation it be set to Manual Focus & I agree with that. As for Sport mode on all the cameras that have it well it's a handy feature but it's a compromise because it has no idea of what sport you're shooting nor the intentions of the photographer. The cameras had to capture the scene in the same way the 7D will but the operator now has full control over how the scene is captured. 

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

Using AF, Back Button Focusing, and Single Point along with AI Servo is very similar to manual focusing - puts the photograhper back in command - except it's far faster and much more accurate than you or I would ever be able to do consistently with manual focus. Heck, I shot with strictly manual focus gear for more than 20 years... including a lot of sports. Since converting to the Canon system in 2001 and learning to use its AF effectively in various situations, I get a much, much higher percentage of "keepers" than I ever could manage with manual focus.

 

IMO, learn to use the technology to your advantage... don't just defeat it. Learning Back Button Focusing and Single Point and AI Servo makes all the difference in the world and puts the photographer in charge of AF, rather than leaving it up to the camera to choose.  

 

Also, today's cameras.... especially crop sensor DSLRs... simply are not very manual focus friendly. Smaller viewfinders, no manual focus indicators such as split image and microdiaprism rangefinders, and other factors make manual focus more difficult with a modern camera. With stationary subjects you can switch to Live View, use the rear LCD, focus manually or with contrast detection and zoom in to check focus... and it's highly accurate. But this isn't practical or possible when shooting sports/action. So, again, my vote would be to learn to use the AF system.  

 

I shot a sporting event on Sunday and am post-processing the images right now. As of now I've edited the first 1000, out of around 2700. I always mark my missed focus shots in Lightroom with a "rejected" flag. So far, out of 1000 I've marked two images for missed focus (I've rejected a whole lot more for other reasons... bad timing or closed eyes or lousy composition, poor exposure, etc.). I know there will be a few more and I also recall a couple images that were questionable... focus isn't perfect but is good enough to be usable for smaller prints.  I was shooting with a pair of 7Ds - mostly using the simple method I recommended above - and lenses were 24-70/2.8, 70-200/4 IS and 300/4 IS. I wouldn't expect anywhere near such consistent focus accuracy with manual focus, so I generally don't recommend it for sports (I do use MF for other things... landscapes, macro, some portraiture, etc.). But my point is that I challenge anyone to get close to that level of consistency manual focusing. I know I couldn't, and I was **bleep** good and fast with MF.

 

A key reason I wouldn't use MF shooting a baseball game is that, while it might work okay for the pre-focus situation of the batter at the plate, chances are you're going to see other action around the field and will want to quickly change your point of focus. With the right lenses and AF techniques on 7D, this can be done nearly instantaneously. There is no way you or I could MF fast enough and we also wouldn't  have time to switch AF back on. We'd miss a lot of opportunities  trying to use MF.

 

Another consideration... if you are using a zoom, the vast majority today are "varifocal". This means the lens does not maintain focus when the focal length is changed. Back in the good/bad old days of film and manual focus, more zooms were "parfocal" design... maintaining focus when zoomed. But with AF cameras, it's not necessary and varifocal designs are less expensive and easier to correct for higher image quality... might be smaller and lighter, too. So with today's zoom lenses, with any change in focal length you need to refocus. If using AI Servo autofocus, this is happening continuously and automatically. I don't know about you, but when I'm working with a zoom I am constantly changing the focal length and image composition. So this is another reason I'll keep using AF.

Dun1
Contributor

      This reply may be late to the dance so to speak.

      About 90% or more of sports photos on the Canon 7D are captured in the AV mode,

      Most sports photographers set up the 7D in AV mode as above, spot focus, using A1 servo as the method of capture

      If you wish to stop the action in most instances you increase the ISO until your 7D is able to achieve a shutter speed of at least 1,000. 

       Strew9 mentioned capturing the baseball shot everyone wants "The bat on the ball",  to capture the bat on the ball, and have the seams on the baseball and the bat logo in focus is not only take some time and work, to capture.  So much depends on where you are able to shoot the player.  Of course with the high shutter rate of the 7D you should be able to capture a sequence of shots of a batter at bat and have some good keepers to chose from.

      

        

 

Roxykay
Apprentice
What lenses could u recommend for night action shots such as varsity football games??


@Roxykay wrote:
What lenses could u recommend for night action shots such as varsity football games??

Something f/2.8, or faster.  

Where would you be shooting from?  Stands?  Sidelines?  Endzone? 

The 70-200mm focal length is an excellent "all purpose" lens for outdoor action photography.   

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"The right mouse button is your friend."

Gloflosmith123
Contributor
Help I just bought a 7d from my son who only used it to video so he’s not much help in what I want to use it for ... I want to take pictures of barrel racing ... what lenses should I be looking to buy or Do I even need to buy one ... until spring everything will be indoors so lighting might be a issue to ... any help will be so much appreciated

"...any help will be so much appreciated"

 

First advice is start your own thread. This one is 2 years old. Second, check out the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens.  It is the gold standard.

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

Gloflosmith123
Contributor
Thank u I did :)) and thanks for the info :))
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