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New Contributor
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎03-14-2019

Sports action shots for outdoor

I have a Canon Rebel T5i. I have a EFS 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II Lens and a EFS 18-55mm lens.

I've tried the sports setting on my Canon and works well sometimes. The picture turns out blurry quite a bit.

I heard using the TV setting with AI Servo will work. I still have a hard time understanding if I need to change the shutter speed, ISO, Brightness, etc. Sorry. What type of settings do you suggest when it's cloudy? I tried some settings from YouTube videos and the settings we're still dark after I turned up the brightness all the way.

So basically what I'm asking is what is the BEST setting for taking OUTDOOR SPORTS (Soccer Practice/Games) when it's cloudy and when it's sunny.

Thank you
Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 2,327
Registered: ‎11-14-2012

Re: Sports action shots for outdoor

Basically you need a shutter speed that's faster than the action. With most sports played by humans that should be in the range of 1/500 to 1/1000 but those are just starting points. This article I wrote about what I shoot will help explain most of the rest.       https://www.rccanada.ca/rccforum/showthread.php?t=147971

 

And this is worth watching to get a better idea of what camera controls allow the operator to do in different situations or lighting.      http://www.canonoutsideofauto.ca/

"A skill is developed through constant practice with a passion to improve, not bought."
VIP
Posts: 10,847
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: Sports action shots for outdoor

"... the range of 1/500 to 1/1000 but those are just starting points."

 

In photography "starting points" is a very important term. Not much is set in stone.

 

"I heard using the TV setting with AI Servo will work."

 

I disagree.  Av is what you want to use. Av lets you select the aperture (usually the most open or close to it number) while letting the camera automatically choose the fastest SS it can for proper exposure.  Granted the SS may be too slow to freeze the action but that verifies you need either a faster lens or a higher ISO number.  Once either of these is topped out, that is the limit of what you can do with your gear. At this point in your mission avoid AI-servo, use One shot.

 

"... what is the BEST setting for taking OUTDOOR SPORTS..."

 

I am going to give you a basic "starting point".  ISO 400, Av and set the lens one stop down from its widest aperture. The camera will select the SS for you.  Daylight WB setting.  Large Raw file format.  One shot preferably with just the center focus point selected. Turn the others off.

 

"...when it's cloudy and when it's sunny."

 

The above is for a sunny day. If it is cloudy increase your ISO to 800 and set the WB to cloudy day.

 

"I've tried the sports setting on my Canon..."

 

You can do much better setting everything on your own.  WHen you use these 'auto' settings the camera guesses what you want. Sometimes it guess right and sometimes not.  Set the camera yourself.

 

Last point get and use a good post editor. You got a free one from Canon when you got the camera. Great shots are made in post, not in the camera.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV, along with less and less other stuff.
VIP
Posts: 10,847
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: Sports action shots for outdoor

Extra point I am including at no additional charge Smiley Happy, if you shoot Raw format and use a good post editor you can forget the WB settings. It is easily set in post.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV, along with less and less other stuff.
Honored Contributor
Posts: 7,790
Registered: ‎08-13-2015

Re: Sports action shots for outdoor


@MaryGhost wrote:
I have a Canon Rebel T5i. I have a EFS 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II Lens and a EFS 18-55mm lens.

I've tried the sports setting on my Canon and works well sometimes. The picture turns out blurry quite a bit.

I heard using the TV setting with AI Servo will work. I still have a hard time understanding if I need to change the shutter speed, ISO, Brightness, etc. Sorry. What type of settings do you suggest when it's cloudy? I tried some settings from YouTube videos and the settings we're still dark after I turned up the brightness all the way.

So basically what I'm asking is what is the BEST setting for taking OUTDOOR SPORTS (Soccer Practice/Games) when it's cloudy and when it's sunny.

Thank you

Have you heard of the “ Exposusre Triangle “?  Do a web search for articles and videos about that topic.  The Exposure Triangle is a critical concept to understand when it comes to photography.  This concept is central to answering your question.

 

A DSLR is an instrument for capturing images, very much like a piano is an instrument for creating songs.  One cannot play a musical instrument competently without learning about musical scales.  Similarly, one cannot use a DSLR effectively without learning about the Exposure Triangle, as well as Depth of Field.

 

DSLRs can control all three legs of the Exposure Triangle, any two legs, any single leg, or you could control all of them manually.  As you gain experience with a DSLR, you will move from allowing the DSLR to control all three legs, to just two legs, and later on to controlling just one or none.

 

As others have pointed out, there is no best setting for any type of photography.  You learn to go with what works for you, and gets the results that you need.  And, the best way to learn is by practicing, just as you would learn to play a piano.

 

I will say this, though.  Highly experienced photographers tend to allow the camera to control only just one leg of the Exposure Triangle, if any.  Many people prefer to forego all of the camera’s automatic exposure modes, and make all of their exposure adjustments manually. 

 

I learned to use a DSLR by going to nearby park with a scenic view.  I brought a tripod and a lawn chair.  I even bought a tablet so that I could have a copy of the Instruction Manual handy.  Every time I buy a new lens, this is where I go.  It has become my “training ground”.  Every good photographer I talk to has one, or has had one in the past.  I can easily compare the performance of new gear to my other gear.

 

Because it was overlooking a body of water, I had the added benefit of being able to learn how to track BIF, birds in flight, by tracking seagulls.  I also learned that just quietly sitting there, becoming part of the area as if I belonged there, over time all of the critters would come out of hiding.  

 

50FE1EE6-EBBF-47CB-8E5B-E5418D693390.jpeg

 

They tend to be just as curious as you are about them.  They will approach you very closely.  Reminds me of fishing.

 

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"I don't rent software. I use Photoshop CS6, ACR 9.8 and Lightroom 6.8 ."
Honored Contributor
Posts: 7,790
Registered: ‎08-13-2015

Re: Sports action shots for outdoor

I pointed out photographing wildlife because I find that it tends to be harder than most sports photography.  The exposure can vary widely, and the focusing and tracking of subjects is far more difficult.  Besides, no one gets to watch you make mistakes.

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"I don't rent software. I use Photoshop CS6, ACR 9.8 and Lightroom 6.8 ."
Highlighted
Valued Contributor
Posts: 439
Registered: ‎01-25-2018

Re: Sports action shots for outdoor

Mary,

 

A lot of cameras, including the Canon Rebel series, are designed to make a lot of photography easier for the user.  But when you start trying to get the best photos from trying situations you have to move from the "easy button" to making educated decisions for the best setup.

 

Soccer was the sports photography start for me and I started when I was also coaching 6-7 year old kids and stayed with it as my daughter moved up through the ranks and into high school so I definitely had on the job training.

 

To add to the suggestions you have already gotten, here is what I have learned from about 15 years using various camera and lens systems over a variety of sports.

 

1.  Always shoot in RAW because not only does it avoid the issue of getting white balance correct at the time of exposure as pointed out by ebiggs, RAW files also give you the greatest latitude for recovering from exposure issues which is common in sports.  Most cameras will slow down processing when they have to create both RAW and JPG files so just choose RAW for output and you can create all the JPG files you want during post.

 

2.  Location is critical and you want to be as close as practical, avoid having the players heavily lighted from behind, and have a field of view that isn't blocked frequently by sidelines, coaches, officials, etc.  I am fortunate with the high school team to have sort of diplomatic cover because I coached many of the players when they were coming up and I have known them and the high school coach for years so I can be on the sidelines.  But part of this is because I coached I know when to stay out of the way of the coaches and officials.  As you know soccer moves very quickly and you don't  want to get hit by a player or a ball risking injury to you and the players.  And the game officials will take a very dim view if you crowd the sideline.

 

2a.  Soccer is perhaps the hardest field sport to shoot because the field is huge and the action is extremely fast in moving from one part of the field to another and it doesn't stop between plays like U.S. rules football.  There is no optimal place to cover the entire field optimally and I move around some during the game to feature certain players and plays.  Generally you want to capture the play moving towards you but for your team's defenders and keeper you will want photos of the opposing forwards and mids driving away from you and towards your keeper.  Just like the coaches have a game plan, you need one also to get the coverage you desire.  All of this means the importance of location is even more difficult to put into practice with soccer.

 

3.  I shoot almost every game in manual and if radically different lighting around the playing area demands it I will set ISO to auto.  Most of the time you will have your lens set wide open (F stop set to lowest value which is the widest aperture).  For youth soccer, you can go as low as 1/500 shutter speed and get a lot of nice shots with little or no motion blur.  For high school and above I prefer 1/1000 minimum and will go higher if lighting allows but if necessary even at the high school and above level 1/500 will produce a lot of nice shots if your lens and lighting situation demand the slower shutter speed. 

 

Most of your shooting will be with your 55-250MM and I would set the F stop to its lowest value and keep it there.  Using a combination of the lowest F stop and 1/1000 shutter speed, see what ISO is required to get the standard (proper) exposure.  If the ISO is too high to provide good results (low enough noise) with your camera then drop the shutter speed.  Going from 1/1000 to 1/500 is a full stop in shutter speed which means you can also then drop a full stop in ISO (i.e. from 3200 to 1600).

 

4. I am not familiar with the AF setup of the T5i but in general you will want AI servo mode so it will follow movement and I would choose either the exact center focal point or the point vertically above that one for shooting action.  This helps you control what the focus system will choose and for many camera bodies forcing it to use a single point rather than allowing it to select which point to use during a play will result in faster focus acquisition.  It does take some practice to keep that single point where it needs to be but it is one of the techniques you will have to use to increase the percentages of good shots.

 

5.  Select continuous drive mode so that when you need to you can fire a sequence of shots but do NOT get in the bad habit of relying upon using it as a crutch.  You still need to anticipate the proper time to start taking images and if you just "pray and spray" with the shutter button you will miss a lot of good stuff because your camera will slow down as it processes a lot of "garbage" images while you miss the next good stuff.  Consciously force yourself to do a quick press and release so that you only trigger a single exposure when you want in continuous drive mode.  I have my 1DX 2 set for 14 FPS shooting but a lot of the game photos I take are just a single image via a single fast full depression of the shutter release. 

 

Over use of just holding the button down will also greatly increase your workload after the game as you have to sort through a lot of useless images increasing the likelihood that you will overlook a good capture.  You still will have a fairly low percentage of "keepers" and that is the nature of the beast in shooting sports but smart camera management will greatly increase that rate while decreasing the odds of missing some truly great opportunities.  One of the easiest players to photograph in soccer is the keeper since he/she is more confined to a certain part of the field.  Once you know the keeper, watch his/her face through the viewfinder and you will know when they are about to execute a stop or save via their expression and particularly the eyes.  At the other extreme, headers are impressive and often difficult to capture because you are forecasting the trajectory of the ball and players, often on a windy day.  If you want these kind of shots, some players are "header magnets" so track them using AI servo and keep them in frame when a keeper is sending the ball downfield or you suspect one will try to score with a header off of a corner kick.

 

6. It will get easier as you go through the season and learn the players' styles so that you can often predict where the action will move.  The coaching staff well knows the tendencies of their different players and if you get to know them and approach them at the proper time (NEVER right before OR during a game) then they may be willing to give you some tips about what to watch.   But remember you are a guest and the officials and coaches are the rulers so make sure not to get in the way and remain situationally aware.  During one high school game I shot during the Fall, I was using a 300MM F2.8 with a 1.4X extender which provides a nice telephoto view of the action but it is also a physically long lens.  I made very sure never to have the camera anywhere close to getting in the way of the side officials who stay ahead of the play and often have to run up and down the sideline.  A parent of one of the opposing team members actually forced the official to run around her a couple of times during the first half and she lost her privileges to shoot near the sidelines for the second half.  You are there to document but never become part of the action; it is both a issue of safety and and issue of respect for the game and its participants.

 

Rodger

 

 

EOS 1DX M2, 1DX, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video
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