Sport shooting #1 – starting equipment

In many areas of photography, you can get nice results with high-end point-and-shoot cameras (such as the Canon G series), and sometimes with a cheaper point-and-shoot.

Sports photography is not one of those. For sports shots, you want:

  1. Short exposure times, so that you can freeze the player’s motion.
  2. Good autofocus, so you can focus on the player.
  3. Telephoto lenses, so you can get close enough to the action.
  4. A decent-sized sensor, so the level of noise is acceptable.

Put those all together, and the answer you get is “SLR”. I’m a Canon guy, so I’ll talk in those terms, but there are equivalent choices in Nikon’s line since the two biggies are always fighting for the top of the heap.

At the entry-level, you need:

  • A DSLR of relatively recent vintage.
  • A lens that goes to 200mm (preferably a zoom, ‘cause it’s easier to use).

That puts you at perhaps $500-$750 at the low end, and that will be enough to get started shooting sports if you are shooting outside during the day.

I will warn you at the outset that sports photography can be an expensive passion. The midrange camera bodies and lenses are on the order of $1K each, and the ones the pros use are in the $4K-$7K range for the bodies or lenses.

I started with a Canon Rebel XT (about $750 at the time), and a Canon 28-135 F4.5-5.6 zoom lens (say, $300).

So, what do you think ?