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Old Mar 4, 2010, 8:28 PM   #11
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In soccer I am able to be pretty much at the sideline, so I really just need a speedy lens for that. Basketball shooting is really not a priority, and my Sony Cybershot can get decent enough gym shots.
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Old Mar 5, 2010, 7:01 AM   #12
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and will try it out this weekend at the baseball field with the Shutter Priority and Sports mode to see how I like the burst, this is what leads me towards the Canon xsi.

Can you sports photographers give me an idea of how close the 200mm zoom lenses will get me to the action? Will I be able to get pretty close to 3rd base players say from the dugout by 1st base? And what camera/lens will autofocus in burst mode best?
First off - shooting mode. Go ahead and start in sports mode OUTDOORS - it won't work indoors. But you'll quickly want to get out of that mode after you get comfortable with the camera. Shutter priority is not a good mode for sports shooting though. It seems like it should be before you actually shoot sports but it has issues - you lose control of aperture which is important because of depth-of-field. And on a camera like the xsi without auto-ISO it can lead to underexposed images. Don't use it. When you're ready to try something else, try aperture priority.
  1. Set mode to AV
  2. Set focus mode to AI-Servo
  3. Set focus point to center point only
  4. Set frame rate to burst
  5. Set aperturue to widest value on your lens
  6. Set ISO to 400
That will get you started in AV mode. There's more to learn but that's a start.

As for 200mm. If it's not a full size diamond yet then 200mm will cover the infield if you're in the dugout. By the time it's full-size you'll need 300mm+ from the dugout.

I'll discuss lenses in the next post.
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Old Mar 5, 2010, 7:04 AM   #13
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On lenses. You'll need one for baseball and soccer. You say you're on the sidelines for soccer, but what size soccer field. On a full size field, 300-400mm is pretty much needed if you're on the sidelines. A 200mm lens is only good for about 25 yards. On a soccer field that isn't much at all. It's easier with football because you can follow the line of scrimmage so you can make a 200mm lens work. You really can't do that very well with soccer. So, what size soccer field?
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Old Mar 5, 2010, 8:24 AM   #14
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A Little League diamond is 60 feet between bases and the dugout is 25 feet from the baseline. [ http://www.hksportsfields.com/images/pdf/little-field-dimensions.pdf ] That puts a photographer at least 85 feet from the opposite base.

Professional, Collegiate and even High School diamonds have 90 feet between bases and the dugout is 60 feet from the baseline. [ http://www.hksportsfields.com/images/pdf/hs_col_baseball_field.pdf ] That puts a photographer at least 150 feet from the opposite base.

"Ninety feet between bases is perhaps as close as man has come to perfection."

- Red Smith, the great baseball writer

For Little League, 200mm should do ok.

Baseball is tougher than Football or Soccer. In those other sports, nothing actually happens outside the field, so photographers can be on the sidelines. In Baseball, plays happen in foul territory, so photographers aren't allowed any closer than the dugout. You can take a photo of a play at First Base from that side of the field, but the players will all have their backs to you. To get a good shot of a play at First or Second, you need to be on the opposite side for the field. But most of the exciting stuff happens at Third and Home, and if you're on that side of the field, again, the players will all have their backs to you.

If you are on the First Base side, you can at least photograph most of the batters while they're facing you, but the left handed batters will have their backs to you so you need to be on the Third Base side to get equivalent shots of them.

If you want to shoot Baseball, your best bet is to clone yourself.
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Old Mar 5, 2010, 8:50 AM   #15
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In Baseball, plays happen in foul territory, so photographers aren't allowed any closer than the dugout.
True to an extent. But most shooters actually shoot from the baseline and NOT the dugout. For lots of little league this isn't an issue. At higher levels they will actually have a section chalked off for photographers and that section is considered out of bounds. But for rec league ball not an issue. Still it sounds like you'll be in the dugout and that's fine.

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You can take a photo of a play at First Base from that side of the field, but the players will all have their backs to you. To get a good shot of a play at First or Second, you need to be on the opposite side for the field.
Not entirely true. It depends on what you want a picture OF. If it's the first baseman just covering or batter leading off you can get great shots from the first base dugout. If you want a shot of a player diving back (if leadoffs are allowed) - again, first base dugout is where you want to be to get the shot if the subject is the runner. If the subject is the first baseman then 3rd base is the place to be.

As for shots of second base - you can get shots of the shortstop / second baseman from either dugout. The runner however is best shot from the 3rd base dugout.

The point is - your shooting position should be determined by the player that is your primary subject and by the type of shot you want.

Play at 2nd from 3rd base line:


Play at 2nd from 1st base line:


Both are usable - just different.

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But most of the exciting stuff happens at Third and Home, and if you're on that side of the field, again, the players will all have their backs to you.
Again I don't necessarily agree. I wouldn't say much exciting happens at third. Not a whole lot of plays there. What you can get is good shots of players running from second to third. So you get a good head-on shot.

Those are nice. Or shots of them rounding the base. In both cases the third base line is the place you want to be.

Another play at 3rd from the 3rd base line - this angle highlights the RUNNER not the third baseman. Good choice if you're shooting runners, bad choice if you're shooting the fielder.



Plays at the plate are best from first base LINE not dugout. I say line because of angle. The narrower angle lets you potentially get both players faces (or at least profiles). By the time you're in the 1st base dugout you're going to get more of the catcher's back.


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If you are on the First Base side, you can at least photograph most of the batters while they're facing you, but the left handed batters will have their backs to you so you need to be on the Third Base side to get equivalent shots of them.
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True. The opposite is true of pitchers. Left handed pitchers you shoot from first base, right handers from third.

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If you want to shoot Baseball, your best bet is to clone yourself.
That would be nice. But, the key to shooting sports is - you can't photograph like you watch as a fan. You can't catch every play. Choose your position based on the players you want to photograph and the types of plays you want to capture. Spend some innings on 1st baseline and some on 3rd.
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Old Mar 5, 2010, 9:13 AM   #16
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... At higher levels they will actually have a section chalked off for photographers and that section is considered out of bounds. ...
"Out of bounds"? A fielder can reach into the stands to catch a foul ball. How is the "Photographer's Box" "out of bounds"? (Nothing to do with photography. Just wondering about the game?) Can a fielder run through the "Photographer's Box" to get to a ball in play?
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Old Mar 5, 2010, 9:17 AM   #17
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We're talking high school and travel ball here. They chalk off a section by the fence and it is considiered out of play. My bad - wrong term - out of play is the term. The fielder COULD go through it if a photographer weren't standing there. In the pros they have photo pits down the line. At amateur level, as I indicated, the preference is to shoot from further down the base path than where the dugout sits. This photography area is usually past 1st base (or beyond third base).
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Old Mar 5, 2010, 11:29 PM   #18
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Really, can I just bring you guys with me to the games?? I am mostly shooting my own child in both soccer and baseball. I do spend time at both first and third (which in our rec league is about where the dugouts are) depending on whether the batter is left or right handed, when our team is at bat. My child is usually at 2nd or pitcher. If I have a 200mm zoom, will that be enough for me to be behind the fence at home and shoot the pitcher (not a huge field at this point, 8-9 year olds) or would it be worth my while to spend the extra for a 300mm?
And thanks, John, for the tips. I am going to use the Av settings you gave me tomorrow at practice and see what I come up with while I still have use of this Canon. For soccer (again smaller field, 12-14 year olds), I can move around and usually camp out at the goal my child's team is shooting in, but like I said I have been using the Sony Cybershot with the 15X zoom have become really spoiled with it because it is a massive zoom. I'll try to post some of the baseball shots tomorrow and you guys can critique. Thanks all!
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Old Mar 5, 2010, 11:49 PM   #19
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With the 15x cybershot you have a zoom range form 31-465mm in 35mm eq. So for you to match that range with a canon dslr. You will need a 300mm on the long end of a zoom giving you what would equal 480mm. If you want to keep the long reach like in your cybershot 15x it will not be cheap. The canon EF 70-300mm USM IS will run you about 500-550 dollars. The sigma 70-300mm HSM would be another lens that you may consider, but it is pretty new, and not much is know about it. It is about 450-500 dollars. Because these lens have high speed AF motors.

There are other lenses in the 70-300mm range, it the 200-250 dollar range, but they will not focus fast enough for sports. Examples are the tamron 70-300mm LD DI lens. A good lens, but will not be suite for your needs of sport. But it would be a good general photograph zoom lens.
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Old Mar 6, 2010, 6:12 AM   #20
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Also for outdoor sports, the kit zoom lenses will not be great, they are not that fast in auto focusing. You would again need to invest in a 500+ dollar lens with fast auto focusing motors to get better results.
Actually the kit lenses focus pretty quickly. The pro lenses aren't any quicker on the D5k (the lenses are all AF-S). . Autofocus isn't the problem with the kit lenses, it's the reach. To get better focusing performance, you'll need to step up in body.
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