College football! Help!

Discussion in 'Sports' started by ryan_brunworth, Apr 28, 2011.

  1. I was hoping to get some advice/ equipment recommendations for my upcoming side gig this fall. I am an amateur and need some
    help. I will be shooting college football this season and here is what I have. Nikon D300s with nikkor 70-300 VR lens, and nikkor 18-
    55 VR. Is this enough to get started? I realize the equipment won't make the photo but I was hoping for some help. I've heard a lot
    of talk that the 70-200 is a better option for sports photography but why? Also have heard that the VR won't make a difference and
    actually might slow the AF. Can I get by with the 70-300 or should I get a different lens? Also, as this will be my first actual shoot,
    any other equipment recommendation? Monopod? Rain gear? Other necessary lenses? I may have a few games under the lights. I
    wil be shooting mostly from the sidelines. Any advice is much appreciated!
  2. I usually never answer forum questions but I worked in the media for over 30 years. I've done a lot of sports remotes. I not sure what level you talking about here but lens aside your going to need a profession camera body to survive. A body that can get knocked over and get wet and I mean real wet. I'm not sure a D300s body fits that. That's my two cents and experience.
  3. Thanks for the reply James! What would you recommend?
  4. That's hard to say but if your sticking with Nikon see if you can pick up a used D3. It really was made for shooting sports and it's a workhorse.
  5. Ryan -
    I've shot sports for years with first a D200, then a D300 - they are fine bodies and the D300 will not limit you in any way, shape or form shooting College FB.
    The D300s is very weather proof and is a metal alloy body. It is also a Dx sensor - which is not a limitation - unless you are shooting for SI.
    The 70-300 may be a dx lens - I don't have one in front of me to check or test with - so if you go with a D3 - you may have to buy additonal glass. (more on that in a moment...) The other thing right now - is D3's in the US are rarer than hen's teeth. I was just at a large camera store last night - and they said - they are out of D3's, D3x, D3s's. Low on D700's (1 left) - Bottom line - if you can find a D3 - expect to pay a premium (5 k + ) for it.
    Lens wise - The 70-300 VR is a slower AF than the 70 - 200 - it is also a "consumer" lens - so there is more plastic in it than metal - The 70-200 f2.8 is faster on AF, Better Build quality, and Better overall sharpness - It is also better in low light situations - f2.8 constant vs the 3.5 -5.6 of 70-300.
    If I were you - I'd get the 70-200 VR I or VR II - and stick with the D300s body for now. The lens will fail you long before the D300s will.
  6. Ryan, I used to shoot a lot of football back in the days of Tri-X and manual focus with an F2 body, but when I shoot sports today it's mostly figure skating. While a D3 would be an improvement I think you're fine with the body you have. You could get by with the lenses you have if you are only shooting day games. But if you are going to shoot night games or even dreary days you're going to be much better off with faster glass. I would definitely swap the 70-300 for a 70-200 2.8. The 2.8 lets you shoot in lower light by going wide open, but it also focuses faster because of the larger aperture. I would replace the 18-55 with a 24-70 2.8 for shots where the players end up on top of you, but that might be a moot point if you don't have a second body to mount it on. (When the players are getting to close you might have time to drop one body and pick up the other but you don't have time to change lenses.) Many football photographers also carry a 400 2.8 but that might be pushing things if you're just getting started. All of this can get very expensive very, quickly, so you might want to look into renting. I rent my 200 2.8 for $40 for the weekend each time I need it -- I would have to shoot every weekend of the year before it would equal the cost of buying it. As for VR, it doesn't help with motion blur from fast-moving players but it does help with camera shake, so use it. Monpod is essential with the 400 and up, but you should be able to handhold the 70-200. Since you say you are an amateur how does it work out that you are going to be shooting college ball and getting sideline access? Are you a student at the school?
  7. Dave and Craig, thank you for the advice! After looking at the D3 I think my wife would kill me if I spent that much! I
    think I'll stick with my D300s and get the lens you recommended. Thanks for taking the time to help! Any other must
    have's for shooting sports?
  8. Ryan,
    I use a D300 which is the prior model of the D300s and also a D700. The biggest advantage of the D3 would be the higher iso capability. The D700 also has the capability of higher iso. I regularly shoot at 3200 iso for interior of night sports. This is marginal for the D300s but works fine with the D3/D700. One thing I would recommend with the D300s would be to get the MB-d10 grip. With it, you can use AA batteries and get up to 8fps. The camera alone will give you 5fps.
  9. Ryan,
    Rent faster glass, a 70-200 2.8 as a minimum and even a 2nd body, see what a d3 is worth to rent and try it with with the 70-200 put a shorter pro lens 24-70 or even the older 28-70 2.8's on your d300, take spare batteries and heaps of mem cards. You don't really need a mono for a 200 lens but if you could get a hold of a 300 2.8 (rent wise) you will. Also get a grip for the 300 you will notice a big difference in the frame rate but remember burst shooting needs cards to go with it.
    Also practice, practice, practice, know your cameras ability and your own, learn how to pump the iso to get the shutter speed you need. Learn to position yourself to get the shot given the focal length of you lens etc.
    Dump that 70-300 it won't cut it if you are expected to produce great shots by the league, both you and they will be dissapointed from the results with that current lens and if its a night shoot forget about it unless you can get faster glass.
    If you go into something like this under equiped or even worse under skilled the results will show in the work. To be brutally honest if you are asking this question you probably have some learning to do. Don't let that sentence put you off we all have to learn when we get started but whatever you do, don't oversell your ability to the league because they will expect exactly what you tell them you can do and you must deliver that quality. Tell them your an amatuer up front mate so they know.
    I can't tell you the number of times and horror stories I have witnessed by people overstating what they can do and especially over valueing there equipment the reason we drop thousands of dollars on equipment is because we have to produce every time, whats worse is no one ever wins, not your rep or the league so be up front with them. If you want examples just go over to the wedding forums there are bound to be stories there of amatuers screwing up wrecking weddings and sports is no different ask anyone who does this for a living they'll tell you.
    Best of luck
  10. A monopod and rain gear will be necessary. At some stadiums, photographers are required to kneel during plays so as not to obstruct the view of fans. In this case, knee pads will be very helpful as will some exercises to build up the quadriceps.
    I think your current lenses will get you started. Look around at the first game and see what others are shooting. At NFL games a 400 mm f 2.8 lens is very common. Many pros will have a second body with a 70-200 f 2.8 lens for "close-up" action. Some will also have a 600 mm f 4 if they have an assistant to carry it. These long lenses are very expensive (roughly $10,000). It is possible to rent them.
  11. Jerry- grip is on order. Thanks for the tip
    Mark- I appreciated your kind yet real world advice. I agreed with it 100%. The good news is I've already had these
    conversations. I'll be shooting for several small town newspapers so although I will be trying my best to get the perfect
    shots the editors are willing to put up with me as the price is right... Thanks for the thoughts though.
    All- just bought the 70-200 f2.8. That's about all I can afford right now. Do you think that will be enough for newspaper
    prints to start? We'll see how it goes. I may consider renting the 400 2.8 at some point.
    Ron- ill get the monopod and is there a rain cover that you would recommend?
  12. Ryan, if you're buying the grip just for 8 fps instead of 5, I would cancel the order and save my money. Back in the days of film, anything short of special high-speed cameras topped out at 5 fps and everybody managed to get great pictures just fine. I never even owned a motor drive when I was shooting football -- advanced the film with my thumb. Shooting figure skating today with my D200 I do use the "motor" but only put in on high speed when shooting a spin. Shooting sports is about anticipating the peaks in the action and clicking at the right time, not shooting off a spray of 5fps or 8fps and hoping for the best. The big advantage of motor drive (I still like to call it that even in the digital world) is in not having to take the camera away from your eye to advance the film with your thumb. Keeping the camera to your eye keeps you from missing shots. As for the 70-200 that will be fine for newspapers but I assume you are saying "prints" the same way I am saying "motor drive" -- newspapers want jpg files, not prints. As for the 400, if you find a need for it, ask the paper if they will pay for the rental. That's an expensive, specialized piece of glass. One of my old wire service friends used to rent one for baseball and the company reimbursed him because they didn't expect every photographer to own one.
  13. I can't imagine what James is talking about.
    D300 is just fine. Mag alloy body is just fine...
    If you have the money and with that DX body, a used Nikon 80-200mm f2.8 for $700 (or less) would be really all you would need unless you want close up facials on victories, etc.
    Anyone who tells you you need a D3 to shoot football is just plain wrong.
  14. Ryan,
    I shoot a lot of high school football (both night and day) in high school stadiums and the stadiums at both the University of Alabama and Auburn University. I've been very pleased with both the D300 and D300S. I've been hit several times and the equipment still takes a licking. It's very resilient (I wish I were too :D). I've used both with several types of lenses, including 400mm 2.8, and while it's not full frame, it's very crisp and a great work horse. No need for a new camera.
    With regard to lenses, I love the 70-300, but mainly for baseball. I would NOT recommend it for football. Check into a faster lens. The most economical would probably be a 70-200 2.8. You don't have the reach, especially considering your limitations on the sideline, but a faster lens is what you want. If I had to buy another lens, I think I'd consider a 300mm 2.8 (and will probably rent one for the next football championships I cover). The 18-55 sounds sufficient for sideline and after-game shots. I use an 18-50 2.8 and it's great for championship shots.
    Football games are long, so I always use a monopod for both stability and wrist relief. It's always smart to have a rain jacket for your lens (and yourself too). Check into a quick compact flash disk, maybe 60MB/s. It may run you $125, but it will give you quicker processing speed. Set on fine JPG , you'll get over 1,000 pics, which is sufficient for a single game in my opinion. I have the MB-D10 battery grip, but it has been a waste of money IMHO. While it gives you 8FPS, 5FPS is sufficient for me (and I don't have the extra weight and I don't have to process as many extra photos).
    Good luck,
  15. Craig,
    There are other reasons to buy the grip. I feel the camera balances better with it, also it has a vertical shutter release. And although you say the 8fps is not needed, and I agree that when I was shooting film, 5fps was okay, hey faster is better. As a matter of fact, back in the 80s, Canon produced a pelicule-mirrored camera just for the Olympics that did 10fps. And I believe that the F4 did 6 or 7 fps. So, 8fps isn't all that different today.
  16. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I can't imagine what James is talking about.​
    I can. I shoot sports professionally. Me and the camera have been sprayed with blood, sweat, water, and spit. Enough blood that people thought I'd been hit and it took quite a while to clean the camera the next day. I've also been sprayed with champagne afterwards. And the camera has taken a knocking, including have a mic fly out of an announcer's hands and hit the camera. I don't use Nikon, but I do use the Canon 1DMk3 and I'm glad I do. However, it paid for itself quickly, and if you're not making money, it's better to use something you can afford to replace.
  17. My D300 has been soaked several times - I usually carry a towel with me to wipe it down - and I've never had an issue with it.
    Are the D3 series better sealed and built to withstand more? possibly - but you pay a price for that premium. And if you're on a budget - it is a lot easier to justify $800-1000 on a "new" D300 than a $3000 - $5000 D3...
    Now if you had said your primary body was a D40,50,60,90,3000,3100,5000,5100, even 7000 - my answer would be different.
  18. I've been shooting D1 and HS football with 300 f2.8, 400 f2.8, 70-200 f2.8 and 17-55 f2.8 on D3 and D300 bodies. You can get by with slower apeture lens (70-300 f4-5.6) for day games or broadcast night games, but wouldn't recommend it since background will be busy and quite cluttered for isolation shots. For HS night games, you'll definitely need fast glass for HS night games even if you can shoot clean at ISO-3200 since most stadiums, at least around here, are not well lit.
  19. I don't want to sound biased as I am a Canon user, but jumping ship may be more economical to get the gear needed. As far as rugged pro bodies go, the Canon 1D Mk II is a great body and what I shoot with and runs for about $600-650 used. Also, the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 is cheaper than the Nikon as they offer a non-IS (or VR for Nikon) version. This runs about $1000 used, or cheaper if you look around. I think Canon just has more options in the department you're looking at and may be cheaper to aquire the equipment needed. I'm not dogging Nikon, they make great stuff, but from my experience Canon fits my needs and wallet better for action/sports. Another thing to look into no matter which camera you get is a3rd party 70-200mm f/2.8. They are relatively cheaper and from what I hear produce good results.
  20. I've used Canon and Nikon equipment, you cannot go wrong with either one. I would make one recommendation, look at a 300mm F/4 lens. Both Canon and Nikon make excellent versions of this lens. It is just fast enough to get decent images of night football games and is sharp enough to rival High-speed mega glass in the daytime. Rent one for a day or two and try it out. I have the Canon version and it also works well with the Canon Tele-extenders. As for third party lenses, I have a few of the mid size, but all my bread and butter lenses are first line Canons. Third party lenses are good, but the Canons and Nikons are great in comparison.
  21. Thanks for all the help everyone. I've since gone on a little shopping spree on some used equipment. I now have the
    70-200 f2.8 and I got a decent deal on a 300mm f2.8. I am amazed at the difference. Now it's time to practice!!!
  22. Hey Ryan, I agree with David Haas. I shoot a lot of football, rugby, indoor soccer and basketball. I started (and got published) using a Nikon Coolpix 2100 in 2004, yes, a 2 megapixel point and shoot (not action just players posing on the sidelines). Went to a D70s, D200 (yuk!), D300, and now a D3. I often shoot outdoors with my D3 and a Nikkor 70-300 plain old $162 cheap consumer lens and get pretty good results. The 70 - 200, f2.8 VR I or II are for serious sports shooting and are a must for any indoor sport. Find a camera store that will rent everything you need and get a ton of lenses and bodies and go nuts. Decide on the gear you want to buy after that. I ran out of money after buying my D3 body but when necessary, like photographing Obama or the like, I rent fast glass ($40 from Friday afternoon until Monday morning). I usually stay on the sidelines about 10 - 20 yards ahead of the line of scrimmage or at the back of the end zone, mix it up.
    Oh yes, don't expect to get rich shooting sports. Dave

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