Camera/Lens suggestions for ice hockey pictures

Discussion in 'Sports' started by allison_b|2, Aug 14, 2012.

  1. Hi everyone. I'm looking to buy a camera in the next few months to take pictures of my son and his hockey team. I want a nice enough camera/lens to take crisp, clear pictures with no blurring. Could anyone suggest good, better, best options please?
  2. Allison -
    I'm going to go on the assumption that you are talking action photos and not team / individual photos.
    Any of the new dslr's will do a decent job for you - combined with an appropriate zoom lens.
    Good - Nikon D3200 - Nikon 70-300 vr zoom lens $1,000
    Better - Nikon D7000 - Nikon 70-300 vr zoom lens $ 1,500
    Even Better - Nikon D700 - Nikon 70-200 f2.8 - $4,000
    Best - Nikon D4 - Nikon 70-200 f2.8 $7,000 +
    Of course you could substitute the equivalent Canon bodies / lenses for Nikon.
    The problem with hockey photos is two fold -
    1) they are typically played in arenas where the light is not the greatest. Nothing beats the D4 for low light - but it really is a pro body.
    2) you are shooting from the stands and behind glass most of the time - unless the league allows you on the benches or scoring area - or they have a Photo Pit.
    For a beginning photographer - I'd go with the D3200 or D7000 and a 70-300 zoom.
    Keep in mind the camera is just a tool to get the photos - you have to know and understand the mechanics of photography (ISO, Shutter Speed, Lighting, etc) to get good crisp photos.
  3. The biggest things you will need are aperture and shutter speed as Dave said the lighting is horrible and the glass often makes it worse. The 7000 helps you out with both by letting you get better results at higher ISO settings.
    A lot also depends on the age of your skaters, with the younger kids the game isn't nearly at the pace of a highschool or college game and you can have a little slower shutter speed.
    I started out with a D40 and an 18-200 when my son was young with adequate results. Then Santa brought me a D7000 same lens (18-200) my results improved but the kids were getting into a faster paced game so some issues persisted. I finally treated my self to the 70-200 /2.8 and really noticed an improvement. I assume my skill level also improved some from all the practice but still consider myself a DWC amature. For me a 200mm, at the long end, is more than enough, any more than that you get too narrow field of view unless you shoot to the far end of the rink. When you shoot, anticipate where the action is heading and use continious focus and shooting mode. Also watch for the glare from lights in back of you or you end up, as I did, with pictures watermaked by the coke machine in back of you LOL.
    Good luck and have fun with your shooting hope you will post some of your shots
  4. I don't shoot ice hockey but I do shoot figure skating, which is essentially the same thing for photo purposes -- kids moving extremely fast under relatively low light. The absolutely essential piece of gear for this is a 70-200 2.8. I own a Tamron 70-200 2.8 but it dosn't autofocus fast enough for the rink. When I shoot skating I rent the Nikon 70-200 2.8 VRII and I see noticeable improvement over even the VRI let alone the Tamron. Anything less than a 2.8 lens is just a waste of time -- believe me, I've tried it. I use a Nikon D200, but I would prefer a more current body both for faster AF and for higher ISO. Typical exposure is 2.8 at 1/160 at ISO 1600, which just barely cuts it. You also need to be down on the ice. You can't shoot through the glass -- it's typically filthy and even if cleaned it turns your $3,000 zoom into something worse than a point and shoot.
    All of this, of course, assumes that you are an experienced photographer who has shot sports before and simply needs the right gear for the job. If not, don't throw your money away on a "nice camera" because it's not the camera that makes the picture; it's the photographer.
  5. I would agree with Craig and Charlie about the 70-200, and 2.8 makes a big difference, although in my case its on Canon bodies (50D, and a Rebel Xti). I shoot in raw so I have more to work with, especially since in most rinks your photos end up with a green cast because of lighting.
  6. I was "volunteered" to shoot high school hockey by my girlfriend and after my first season, am still trying to figure optimum settings. Hockey has the ultimate challenges- low light, fast action which requires fast shutter speeds to avoid blur. But then fast shutter speeds mean expensive lenses and/or cameras. Sooo, after all that a few concrete suggestions.
    First, try to get to the penalty box. Not only are you closer to the action, but you generally avoid shooting through the glass or net present at many arenas. KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN!!! Be aware of what's going on- they have protective equipment- you don't!! Lastly, I think you'll need to spend more time learning photography. You've probably found out that shooting on automatic doesn't cut it. You'll need to be a better student of photography to be able to adjust your camera and get good shots of your son.
    I shoot with a Canon 7D. If you go that route, and get the 24- 105 lens, go for ISO between 1000 and 1600 if you can help it. I did AV at F4 with +2/3 or +1 exposure compensation. I find evaluative metering works best (not necessarily good, but best). Autofocus, go for the smaller box (3x3) or single center point.
    If shooting from the stands, you may want a 70- 200, or 70- 300 ( the canon old school 70- 210 F/4 has good quality but focuses too slow). If using a 70- 200 f/2.8 or f/4, ISO can be be between 1000 and 1600. If using the 70- 300 F4- F5.6 then you may need to set the camera to ISO 1600- 2500 depending on the brightness of the arena.
    Sound confusing? All the more why hockey photography requires you to be a student of the craft. Not trying to "indoctrinate you", but letting you know what's required for great images.
    Good luck and post a photo or two when you get them.
  7. Allison: I've been shooting ice hockey for 20 years. From waaaaay back in the film era. It's easy to get seduced into buying very expensive gear. If you live in an area where you can rent equipment, you might want to consider going that way first? It's a lot less expensive than buying the wrong stuff. I would suggest that you select gear that you can shoot on manual, and if a 2.8 lens is too pricey, a 3.5 lens will work once you learn to overexpose for the ice. You might also want to check out the "Used" departments of places like B&H Photo, Adorama, and KEH (which specializes in used equipment).
    And don't overlook the possibility of taking pictures of other players. Most folks are more than willing to pay a fair price for a nice shot of their youngster playing hockey (soccer, baseball....). I got started photographing my son's hockey team when the boys were in kindergarten. He's now a college graduate and I'm a professional contributor to a newspaper chain where I live.

Share This Page