is 3fps fast enough for sports?

Discussion in 'Sports' started by edd_nava, Apr 9, 2008.

  1. Hi,
    I am on the verge of ordering the canon xti with grip, but I am wondering if the
    3 frames per second are fast enough for sport photography which I wish to get
    into. Mainly surf photos and MMA/Boxing?

    I am too scared to buy a used 20d on ebay/CL, so I want to buy new. I know the
    build isn't the greatest on the xti, I've had my rebel 2000 for 7 years and it's
    still good as new. What do you think?
  2. You'll get different opinions on this. I think 3 fps is generally enough if you anicipate action. There was a time when sports was shot with Speed Graphics - you might get a frame off every 5 seconds if you were really good.
  3. 3fps should be OK for boxing and surfing. You might need more for sports like soccer and

    I used to shoot rugby in the days before I had a motordrive, and got some good single shots
    just by anticipation, so really high speed drives are not obligatory unless you're a pro and
    have to capture the absolute precise instant when the ball leaves the bat.
  4. I captured some good shots at 3 fps back in the past. But had even better peak action shots at 8 fps. As much as one can know about a sport and anticipate the action, the faster capture rate helps. There is no way to fully anticipate all action timing. The high fps helps in capturing two or three frames in that split second the action is happening. Another off-shot of a high fps is that the camera will have a lower time lag between pressing the shutter button and taking the picture. That too helps in capturing the peak moment.
  5. Another thing to note is that the 3FPS camera bodies are usually also less well equipped (than their bigger, faster brothers) when it comes to autofocus performance. Just as (or more) important than being able to catch the perfect facial expression or hand placement in a rapidly changing sports scene is the ability to actually have it in focus. This is especially true considering how often such events are shot in less than ideal light, and you need to have he lens wide open... which means a shallow depth of field, which makes focus that much more critical.

    As noted above, really knowing your subject matter is priceless. But a more pro-ish body will not only offer you far more sensitive AF, but generally more FPS and a much larger buffer so that you can sustain a longer series of large RAW files in short order.
  6. When I had the XTI's only, the 3fps was okay, but frustrating because there were always missed shots in baseball and hockey. Now I have an XTi and 40D and they are used differently. Very little missed puck/ball with 6.5fps; great longer shots in outfield where speed is not as critical. Given my druthers, I would opt for 40D/1DMkIII.
  7. I'd definitely consider getting a used higher end machine over a new entry level. If you're scared of the list, the bay, or even the classifieds here, then try That's considered to be the safest place in the world to buy used gear. EX condition 20D $525, 30D $700, 1D around $1000. The way KEH rates stuff an "EX" looks pretty close to new. And yes, $1000 for a 1D, even though it's "only" 4mp, makes sense, for its speed and focusing capabilities, if you're out to build a strong sports portfolio instead of out to make poster sized prints.
  8. hmmmm. It still seems like a toss up and though I am not only going for sports at the beginning it seems as 3fps is an ok start. KEH is great I hear, but do you have to buy the battery/charger separately? This will be my first dslr and maybe I'll grow out of the xti soon and want a 40d.
    I guess the only question is should I cut the BS and get the 40d now or get the xti now and use it as a backup. It seems like the "real" photographers all have a back up.
  9. A KEH camera listing will always spell things out specifically, like "includes charger and battery". The 20D I mentioned did have these things. Sometimes they will also mention including the original CD, instruction manual, USB cable, etc.
  10. To me it sounds like you will always regret not having gotten the 40D in the first place - every time you miss a shot (for whatever reason) you will blame the XTi. Do yourself a favor and skip the XTi and get the 40D - better controls, bigger viewfinder (which is really important in sports and action photography), faster fps and all around the better camera. Yes, it is more expensive, but in the end it really is not that huge of a price difference! For what you get, the 40D is a bargain!
  11. It is a complete myth that a 10fps camera will help get bat on ball and other peak of the action images due to the frame rate: in 1/10th second, a 90mph pitch will move about 13 ft - enough for the ball to be missing entirely from the shots either side of the hit. Shots of that kind require timing, the same way that the batter needs to time his shot. That requires experience, and familiarity with your camera's shutter lag. Very short shutter lag can be helpful in sport shooting (even an old rangefinder film body will outgun most SLRs in that dimension) - and is a good reason to get a better body.

    Frame rate comes into its own when action is less predictable, or evolving rapidly, as with a motor sport crash for example. The importance of frame rate depends on the sports you intend to shoot. Be sure that whatever body you get, you don't short change yourself on lenses: a pro level body with slow aperture, slow focussing lenses will be more of a handicap than a lower end body with better lenses.
  12. Some excellent advice on boxing/MMA here:

    and Joe Gallo produced some great shots on the back of it:

    Surfing requires long telephoto lenses and good tripods: it's not a low budget activity. Be prepared to spend $5,000 and up to get equipped!
  13. Of course 3 fps is fast enough. Capturing peak action in sports isn't about mashing down the shutter button and praying. It's about understanding the sport that you're shooting, anticipating the action and squeezing the shutter release at just the right time. As Robert pointed out, sports used to be shot with Speed Graphics. But even since then, a 2 1/4 TLR was the standard camera for boxing for many years, and in 35mm film, 3 fps on a Nikon FM or 5 fps on a Nikon F2 (and the equivalent on corresponding Canon models) was as fast as it got. I used to make my living shooting high school and little league baseball, football and basketball with manual focus Nikons and never owned a motor drive until years later. As with many questions, it's the photographer that makes the picture, not the camera.
  14. I started out (in digital) shooting hockey with a D100 at 3fps. As has been said above, it's definitely do-able. It helps greatly to know the sport you're shooting and be able to anticipate the action. But don't be discouraged by what people tell you. Sure, you'll get fewer keepers, but with practice, there's no reason you can't produce great photos.
  15. Indeed the Graflex Speed Graphic camera was used to shoot sports at one time, but I think even Weegee himself would prefer the faster, multiframe per second cameras of today.
  16. <<It is a complete myth that a 10fps camera will help get bat on ball and other peak of the action images due to the frame rate: in 1/10th second, a 90mph pitch will move about 13 ft - enough for the ball to be missing entirely from the shots either side of the hit.>>

    WOW! Thanks Mark. Kinda puts some things in perspective and really highlights the need to know the sport one is shooting.
  17. For what it's worth, I have been shooting sports with an xti. As has been mentioned, knowing the sport and anticipating is the key to good sports photography. At 3 fps, I have captured a number of bat on ball and many a ball just coming off the bat, which I think is an even better shot. I have had no regrets with this body so far.
  18. Cool. The reason I haven't opted for a 40d yet is because I hear the IQ isn't much different from the XTI, 3fps is very "do able" and the price is double.
    Though the XTI feels cramped in my hands, once the grip is on it feels good so I can't buy the cam with out the grip. Thnx everybody for their help.
  19. I responded in the other thread on this, it's simple more frames per second is better with sports, you can get by with 3fps but your success rate ahould be better with more important is it you get a higher amount of keepers? Also make sure you get some fast glass on the camera, one gym I shot MMA in I had to go 3200 @ f/2.8, not sure of the shutter speed now, maybe 1/200.
  20. with the XT(same speed), you basically have to treat it like its a one shot deal. 3FPS is too slow to rely on a burst. Then again, i still shoot with my A1 without a motordrive, one frame ever 5or so.

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