Tips for rugby coverage with limited lenses?

Discussion in 'Sports' started by jamie_robertson|2, Dec 19, 2009.

  1. I've been invitied to capture the action at an amateur rugby league match in a few days. I never shoot sports and this is a favour for someone so I am not under any pressure to get great shots. Having said that, I would like to get the best I can. The trouble is, my gear is limited to the following:
    EOS 5D2 body
    24-105 f4L
    200mm f2.8L
    300mm f4 L
    1.4x extender
    Although I've never shot this stuff before I would have thought the 100-400 would have been the best lens to capture most of the action. I will probably be standing right on the touchline and will be able to move virtually anywhere I want. My 300mm will be great but when the action starts getting close I'll be stuffed. I don't have another DSLR body otherwise I could have left the 24-105 on that one for close up shots.
    No, I won't be hiring any gear. There are no camera hire shops available and, as it's a favour for someone, I won't be giving up anything except my time. Neither do I have a mate who will lend me another body.
    My own opinion is that I'll be in a right pickle. Should I just keep the 24-105 on and crop the shots taken at a distance? They'll probably only be for web and local newspaper use so the full 21MP images should be croppable with ease.
    Any advice appreciated.
  2. I'd shoot with the 200 prime, mainly, but bring the 24-105.
    Start wit the 24-105, get use to the game and the action during the first qtr. Then put the 200 prime on for next 2 qtrs. For the last qtr ( I think there are 4 qtrs in Rugby??!!), decide what yu need more of -long distance or nearby shots, to fill out your 'collection'. End up with the 24-105 for after game shots of players and fans, esp if your team wins! Take a shot of the score board so you remember what the score was when someone asks! Might consider a monopod when using the 200. bg
    Remember to try to always get 'balls and faces' in your shots of the action. Use wide aperture to blur the BG - f2.8 or 3.5 on the 200, and f4 on the 34-015 or 300 if you bring that.Set aperture priority or manual, setting the ISO high enough to keep the shutter speed over 1/500. Shoot RAW. Use central area and continuous focusing. & burst mode. Kneel and shoot as well as standing. Shoot from sunny side of the field.
    Bring extra cards - plan on shooting a good 300+ images. charge your battery day before. Easy to use Auto WB esp if shooting RAW. Fine tune in editing. Be hard on yourself when editing - first step to get ride of the 'junk'! ie. slightly or worse, shots of the ground or space or nothing. No balls and faces - probably not worth keeping. Ask yoursef if you would buy that image! Don't show your 'lousy' images. I get better at this all the time!
    Keep shootin'
  3. Thanks Steve
    That is really excellent advice, much of which I hadn't thought of. I use a 32GB card so I never have to swap cards. I get over a thousand full res RAW shots per card. I always use auto WB. I can alter the WB later if required.
    My own initial thought was to use shutter priority at 1/500 using the auto-ISO function. That way the ISO will always be as low as possible and allow me to concentrate on the action. Also, the 5D2 doesn't exactly have state of the art AF so I was also playing with the idea of possibly shooting at a smaller aperture (f/8?) to take up the slack in any slightly misfocused shots. Not sure what you think of that idea. Nailing moving action at f2.8 with the 5D sounds like a recipe for disaster. There again, I haven't really had the chance to try it yet.
    Don't worry about my editing skills. I NEVER give out a shot that isn't near perfect. Showing people my below par snaps is a huge no no. Like you said, I'll only show them my best.
    By the way, I am no rugby fan (in fact I hate it) but rugby is played in two halves (40 minutes per half).
  4. Jamie
    it's funny you say you have limited equipment you have more than enough to shoot a rugby game, I have shot rugby games for a local newspaper with a Pentax SIa and a 135mm lens and had great success albeit quite a long time ago.Fforget the 24-105 I would mainly use the 200 and have the 300 on a monopod next to you for when the action is in the other half, the secret of good sports photographer is waiting for the shot to come to you and not trying to be everwhere. One of my favorite pics is of the line out which is like a throw in in soccer the 200 is perfect for that.The rest of the game I shoot from the end line so the action is coming towards you, so you would want to shoot from the end your team is atacking. Here are a couple of examples taken with a 180 or a 300 fixed focus lens I have many more shots in my sports folder if you would like to look.
    good luck
  5. another
  6. Jamie
    I just saw your reply to the other Steve and I must say he gives some good advice, but I'm sorry you hate rugby. Look on the bright side they probably never made you play it at school in freezing rain with a sadistic sports teacher.
    Remember you don't have to love the game to realise it's fantastic potential for great shots, the facial expressions are second to none and they are not hidden like in your kind of football. I must say I think using F8 is a mistake, IT'S silly to have the potential of a 2.8 and not use it wide open or close to. I would never shoot less than 5.6 and 500th is right on the edge of stopping the action, I would aim for 1000th, nailing focus at F2.8 is easier than you think and the small depth of field will add to the impact of the shots. Give it a try you might surprise yourself, shoot the 300 wide open and you will be surprised how great the shots are if your focus is bang on.
  7. I shoot a lot of soccer. On a crop body I generally find the 200/2 too short and the 400/2.8 too long. I'd leave the 24-105 at home. Bring the 200/2.8, 300/4 and 1.4x and I think you will have ideal choices for full frame. Simply break up the game into different shooting opportunities. Spend part of your time shooting with the three set ups, the 200, the 300, and the 300 with 1.4x.
    Try to keep the sun in the faces. With soccer I generally shoot from behind the goal line to ensure that the players of the team I am shooting are coming toward me. I always shoot at the lowest possible ISO and use at least 1/500, and preferably 1/1250 or less. If I have plenty of light I close down a bit (f4 in my case) which sharpens the lens a bit and provides a little more depth of field.
  8. "Look on the bright side they probably never made you play it at school in freezing rain with a sadistic sports teacher."

    That is precisely why I hate rugby! My nerves start jangling and my bones start hurting whenever I remember those days at school. Those are cracking photos. I hope I get somewhere near those results of yours. I accept your advice and I'll try shooting wide open at first to see how I go. My other handicap is that I've no idea what the rules for rugby are.
    "Try to keep the sun in the faces."

    John, I nearly fell off my chair laughing when I read that. I'm in the UK. It's currently -3 celcius, dark grey skies with rain, sleet and snow hammering down on us. We hardly get any sun in the summertime, let alone in December. I'll be standing on the touchline with a huge coat and hat on, dripping wet and shivering with cold. Meanwhile, there'll be a heap of idiots running round a field wearing shorts chasing a bag of wind!
    Other than that, I'll take your advice and use the telephotos. When I was first asked to do this job I immediately assumed a zoom lens would be ideal, especially as I only own one camera. I sold my 70-200 f2.8 last year.
  9. I am in central/eastern Canada where even in the dead of winter we still manage to get sunshine, but of course I don't have to go out and shoot soccer (football). I have been watching the English Premiership this week-end and just can't understand why "you" are playing in the snow! Have fun, get warm after!
  10. Hi John,
    If we didn't play sport in poor weather we would rarely play at all. The weather here can only be described as "persistently dreary". I would love the Canadian winters. Yes it's much colder but it's a nice dry cold with good light (so I believe). This place is just downright miserable all year round. Couple our weather with the state of this country thanks to Blair & Brown and no wonder so many of us are going to Australia. :-(
  11. Jamie,
    I do mostly rugby myself and becaause of light at this time of year, I'd run with the wide open 200 depending on how close you can get to the pitch, it'll allow you to go to 1/1000 and blur out the background. On a crop body that's the equivalent of a 300 roughly and should get you shots from the ten meter or the twenty two forward if shooting from the end depending on how much you are willing to lose.
    It can be a little long for those "Smile for the papers" shots as they dive for the try but that's the gamble. Your best bet is nearly always shoot from the end that your side is playing into and wait for it to come to you. If play is a little quiet or dull try some from the sidelines if you can walk around. Some of the touch judges can be iffish about that depending on the level your team is playing at but as long as you're not interfering with them or the play they're usually fairly relaxed about it. (Having a big F-off lens and being professional in appearance also helps with this)
    Saying that I shoot most of mine on a 170-500 sigma zoom which is a couple of stops slower.
  12. And don't forget the supporters
  13. And finally don't forget the glamour shots.....[​IMG]
    Most important of all, be trigger happy, just let the shots roll with your finger on the trigger as every split second changes a shot when a guy is coming into or out of a tackle or on the slide in from three meters out.
    Shoot at guys entering tackles as the facial expressions can be brilliant, and look for the steam and the muck shots if that's the kind of day it is.
    By the way steal one of those Hotel Shower caps to cover the camera body, (I always take them with me) or get a decent insulated waterproof hood from the canon magazine shop, they're reasonable and will welp keep the gear dry and the hands warm. Bring a hip flask if you imbibe in weather like this. Also handy on days like those are a foldaway stool to ease the legs and shorten up the monopod.
  14. Thanks Richard, nice shots. I am shooting full frame (5D2) so I may have to opt for the 300mm. I'll take most of my kit with me to cover all eventualities.
  15. Thanks Jamie,
    Actually the lineout one seems to have gone blurry/wonky after sharpening and uploading.
    I actually managed to snaffle a couple of press passes over the years for Munster Heineken Cup games, I've been all over Europe and the UK as well as here at home, and that lets you onto the grass which allows the use of shorter faster lenses. All the Full frame will do is give you more leeway to crop :)
    Best of Luck with it, I live, eat, walk and talk the game so I'm biased, but to my mind nothing compares to to it, especially from a sportsmanship and friendly supporters point of view.
    Just rapid fire, at least 1/500 or faster (Shove iso up if ya hafta and fix noise later) and you'll be fine.
  16. Thanks Richard,
    It's an amateur RL cup final so I'll no doubt be able to go anywhere I please. I don't think there'll be any restriction on my movements. I'm just grateful that I'll be able to severely crop my shots thanks to my camera. That should sort out any focal length issues. I also have the luxury of good IQ at high ISO so that may well come in handy. 1/1000 sec at f2.8 should sort things out. I just hope the 5D's AF can keep up with the action.
  17. Rugby, a barbarian's game played by gentlemen. What a great sport, nice on a sunny day and even better in the cold and wet! I have been shooting high school level and U-17 rugby for 4 years in Canada and I love it (I love real football and American football as well). I would take the earlier advice regarding sunny days shoot with the sun at your back. I almost always shoot on Aperture priority in order to control depth of field with ISO set for the ambient light conditions. I use a Nikon D3 and a (cheap) 70 - 300 mm 4.5 unless I'm shooting for the newspaper when I rent a 70 - 200 f2.8.
    Go or the 200 mm f 2.8 and hang around the touchline (especially in a 7's game) or beyond the touch area (if there is room), you'll get great facial expressions.
    Women's rugby, at least here in Canada, is much more... lets say aggressive, than men's and is also great to shoot.
    Cheers, Dave
  18. Thanks for everyone's help on this subject. Unfortunately the flamin' rugby match was cancelled at the last minute today (after I had already arrived and set up my gear). The weather was great but the grass pitch was as hard as concrete due to ice.
  19. 70- 200 2.8 Tamron
    The way football should be played (American) - in mud!
    Feel the game - every one has a rhythm of its own.
    Rugby league and union have different rhythms.
    You should find it relatively easy as there are no fake plays as there are in American Football and no throw passes (quarterback).
  20. Ha ha, those conditions make it look more like English rugby. I know absolutely nothing about the game so I will be learning the hard way. We just need this deep freeze to thaw and I'll be there on the touchline.
  21. theres a topic on dpreview about this.. the guy has taken nice pictures on rain.. with a 600mm f4 vr,
    may be they inspire you somehow..

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