Hockey Talk

Discussion in 'Sports' started by stevefrey, Dec 24, 2018.

  1. I shoot a lot of my kids playing hockey and wanted to know what people suggest for settings, equipment, etc. I currently have a Canon 7D and due to the low, flickering light in the local rinks I use my 50mm 1.8 for all my shots which considering it's design and lack of image stabilization, works well. I've been debating purchasing a Canon 70-200 f2.8 US II. Anybody out there a hockey fan? I'd love to hear from you.



  2. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    The flickering light may result in White Balance issues, this is because of the cyclic nature of the electricity supply to the lights: a lens choice will not really impact upon that - it is the Shutter Speed which has an effect. A Shutter Speed at or slower than one half the cyclic rate is "safe". Assuming you're somewhere in the Americas, then likely that's 1/30th sec Shutter Speed - but that's ridiculous to use that slow a Shutter Speed because you need a fast Shutter Speed to stop the action. Best to address any White Balance issues in Post Production.

    Image Stabilization is all but irrelevant for this type of shooting, because you need a fast Shutter speed anyway (as mentioned).

    I think that the main criteria for buying a zoom lens is twofold, the first being the most important:

    1. "am I generally cropping a truckload of image area out of the shots I make with a 50mm lens?" - If yes then a longer lens would be suggested.

    2. "am I restricted in covering most of the rink area with a Prime Lens?" - for example, if you are free to move about reasonably easily, then moving to a better vantage point can often be accommodated.

    Both the shots shown appear to be pulled at 1/500th sec and at F/3.2. (at ISO 2000/2500).

    The 50/1.8 is pretty sharp at F/3.2, and it attains AF pretty quickly. Sure you'd get a bit of an edge with AF and a slight improvement in Image Quality using the EF 70 to 200 F/2.8 IS USM MkII. Both are advantages, but both will cost a bit of money.

    However, I doubt that you'd use a 70 to 200 exclusively for Ice Hockey - and therein lies the rub.

    Yes I am a fan of mostly all sports.

    Nice pictures.

  4. First shot is at f/3.2, so you have room to go to f/2.8, on a pro zoom.
    Although your pix looks like it could use more exposure.

    As William said, how much are you cropping into the pix?
    If a LOT, then you would benefit from a longer lens/zoom. If not much, then your prime lens is OK.
    Note, for me, I shoot action with a fair amount of space around the subject. It is easier for me to track a fast erratic moving subject when I have space around him, rather than zoomed tight on him. Then I do final cropping on the computer.

    The other is changing subject distance.
    If the subject distance is changing a lot, then a zoom would help.
    With a prime, it is a compromise; shots will be too long, too short, or just right.

    How tight do you want to shoot?
    I've seen parents at the basketball and volleyball games in the gym with 70-200, and a couple of them are sitting on the front row of the bleachers. The only thing I can figure is that they are going for tight shots of their kid, and not a wider shot of the play.

    I shoot high school basketball and volleyball with a 35/1.8 on a DX crop camera, and shooting at 1/500 sec @ f/2.
    I really miss the flexible focal length of a zoom for the changing subject distance, especially on the close shots. But I need the lens speed more, as high school gyms are not very bright. So I crop into the pix.
  5. I do crop quite a bit of my hockey pictures. The big thing I can't get are shots on goal at the other end of the ice. This is where the longer zoom will cheer me up. Also, I'd love to be able to tighten up my shots and get more facial expression.

    For some reason I tend to underexpose my shots in post processing in Lightroom but I think its because I've become very sensitive to the monitor after viewing my monitor at all day. I notice this while viewing the pictures on my phone screen after I post them to Google pics. Do you edit in a bright room or do you turn down the lights?
  6. When I shoot basketball with my 35/1.8 on a DX camera, I just ignore the stuff on the far side of the court. It is too far for the 35.
    Actually this is also the case when I shoot soccer or lacrosse with a 70-200. I do not have enough reach to reach the goal on the other end of the field from where I am standing. Those long shots are heavy crops.

    For me, a tight crop in camera is only possible on a stationary or slow moving subject, like the goalie in a ready position. I cannot track a fast moving subject with a tight crop, it is just too difficult. But the tighter you can go, the easier it will be to get the face.

    I have my monitor turned down, when I calibrated it. This is because most web pages, such as this one, is WHITE. So looking at a white screen is like looking at a light bulb. So I turned it down to what I feel is an acceptable level.
    My room light is not on a dimmer, so it is just ON.
    William Michael likes this.
  7. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Thanks for the information. It appears that you cannot move around or cannot move around quickly. In any event if you’re cropping a fair bit then 50mm is not the most adequate Focal Length Lens to use and buying a 70 to 200/2.8 L IS MkII will certainly improve your shooting capacity. Additionally a Zoom Lens (rather than a Prime Lens) is a more flexible tool to use for close-quarters sports photography.


    I use a room with subdued lighting and neutral coloured walls. The lighting has no harsh reflections. We can get into much detail about the lighting for Video/Photo Post Production Suites, but; one point I have noticed repeatedly is that many folk have their Monitor too bright and the Contrast too high; this might apply to your situation.

    Phone screens are not a good “standard monitor” and posting to Google pics probably means some algorithm changed the picture, anyway.


    I’ll stick to commenting, based upon on what I can see: your images are quite grainy (noisy). That’s most likely because of TWO reasons.

    1. The image was underexposed when you made it
    2. The amount of cropping exacerbated the appearance of the noise

    IMO the first point is the most important.

    You write (my bold and underlined for emphasis) “reason I tend to underexpose my shots in post processing in Lightroom”

    It is important to note that, especially when using High ISO, it is critical that the exposure be nailed in camera. Any change of exposure in post production may exacerbate the appearance of noise.

    It appears that you are using Manual Camera Mode and CWA Metering. My suggestion is that you use EVALUATIVE Metering Mode and (before the game) get a close shot of a player with little or no background or ice floor in the frame and use that to make a meter reading.

    Typically most of the rink should generally have EVEN lighting, (albeit not bright), therefore that exposure can be used for the whole game.

    I’d probably use an exposure ⅓ to ½ Stop more open, rather than the actual meter reading: this allows for a little more exposure on the players’ faces, typically in a shadow of helmet and/or overhead lighting.

    There is (quite a lot of) Subject Movement Blur in the second image. IME, I’d guess a “safe” Shutter Speed for that sport and for that level of player would be 1/1250s, but that might be difficult to attain if the lighting is poor, in any case if you buy the 70 to 200, I suggest giving it a good run at F/2.8 to allow a faster Shutter Speed than 1/500s which you are now using.

    In general terms, most sports shots are tight in on the action and on the grimaces: however if you buy the 70 to 200/2.8, I suggest that you do not frame the images too tightly, rather leave enough room to crop a little bit in post production, especially whilst you master the lens and improve your general sports shooting skills.

    In my first, I commented that IS was practically irrelevant to this type of shooting: please note that was not a suggestion to buy a NON-IS 70 to 200 zoom - as mentioned I think it almost certain you'll use a 70 to 200 for other applications, and IS will be a very useful tool to have.

    Gary Naka likes this.
  8. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Yes, I tend to avoid cropping tight on any action for the reason of making sure of sharp Focus. I am not sure that the AF Tracking is necessarily wonky but rather it's important to note that when FRAMING tight and using a very large APERTURE, there will be a relatively limited DoF. Hence my technique of FRAMING a bit wide allows a little bit of wiggle room, if, for example the AF latches onto the player's jersey, rear shoulder etc, rather than the eyeballs and the grimace on the face.

    Additional to this is fact, I tend to always shoot a bit wide anyway and for most shooting, not only sports - that is to allow Cropping (for effect) and Aspect Ratio options later, in Post Production. That technique was set in concrete at a very early stages of Photography for me, shooting freelance for for newspapers and working on the weekends for a Wedding Studio. Both those bosses always wanted a range of 'options' from every negative.

    For clarity and as a reference point: I think that the second sample image is still too wide. For me, a 'better' crop would be something like this:

  9. A follow on to William
    IS on a 70-200 may not be needed for shooting sports at high shutter speeds.
    But it can help you to hold the lens on the subject easier.
    I was surprised at how much easier it was to shoot field games with a stabilized lens than my old unstabilized lens. It was easier to hold the lens on the subject, when the image in the viewfinder wasn't wobbling around so much. Especially when I zoomed in for close shots.
    So today, I consider IS/VR a mandatory addition to medium and long zooms. The only exception is when you have In Body Image Stabilization (IBIS).
  10. I came from 2 conflicting backgrounds.
    • High school yearbook and negatives, where we shot wide and cropped in the darkroom. Primarily because when we shot anything, we usually had no idea what print format the editor wanted. So we had to leave room to crop. Tight cropping in the camera could and did result in difficult to print or unusable shots.
    • Slides. What I shot was what I projected, so I had to crop to final in the camera. This was a hard discipline to master, and I never did master it, just got acceptably good enough for me.
    Today, with high rez digital cameras and good lenses, I have enough resolution to be able to shoot lose then crop significantly into the image, and still retain good IQ.

    I found in shooting HS sports that there are two (or more) shots in many shots.
    #1 is the play. You need enough context to see and understand what is happening.
    #2 is the individual players. This is more important to the parents, who care more about their kid, and little/nothing about the play. And for some sports, TIGHT waist up shots/crops, so that you could clearly see the face in a small print.
  11. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    (I was called away earlier before I could crop and upload the sample image)


    Obviously if Steve's image was already cropped (using a 50mm lens) this crop, being tighter still would make a zoom to 200mm able to provide a great advantage for making tight shots, with a small amount of cropping.

  12. If you had more magnification, the pix below has a few cropping ideas.
    I generally shoot wider play shots, because then I can see the context of the action.
    For parents interested in their kids, the tighter shots are of more interest.
    But as I mentioned, unless the subject is stationary or slow moving, I can't crop TIGHT in the camera, I have to shoot lose then crop on the computer. An example is the purple box, I could never shoot that tight with the camera. Things are moving way too fast.
    Related to this, someone told me how some sports video are shot.
    - They use an ultra high rez camea to shoot a wide shot, so it is easier for the cameraman to track the action.
    - Then they electronically crop into the pix to get that closer image that they want.

    hocky crops.jpg

    TIGHT camera crops create another problem
    "Yes, I tend to avoid cropping tight on any action for the reason of making sure of sharp Focus. I am not sure that the AF Tracking is necessarily wonky but rather it's important to note that when FRAMING tight and using a very large APERTURE, there will be a relatively limited DoF. Hence my technique of FRAMING a bit wide allows a little bit of wiggle room, if, for example the AF latches onto the player's jersey, rear shoulder etc, rather than the eyeballs and the grimace on the face. "

    The tighter I crop with the camera, the harder it is to keep the AF point on the fast moving subject.
    In this pix I might have ended up with the AF point on the net behind the goalies head, rather than on his head.
    A good percentage of my volleyball shots are misses like that, because on a quick shift from one player to another or a fast play, I missed the player and shot the pix with the AF point on the background. :(

    In most sports, I have to use 'single point AF,' because in a game like hockey, football, soccer, lacrosse, basketball and volleyball, where the players are close together, group/area AF won't know who to focus on. In the pix, Canon's group AF using "closest subject" logic, will focus on the closer attacking player, not the goalie.

    Tracking AF "might" work, but as you said, it will probably track the red jersey, not his face.
    I tried Nikon's tracking AF, but in a team sport, half the players are wearing the same color uniform, and the tracking gets confused and looses track of MY subject, when they mix it up. And sometimes it looses the subject and locks onto stuff that does not make sense. Tracking AF needs more technology, to work right.​

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