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Chapter Seven. Shooting Sports Like a Pr... > Shooting Night Games with Super-High...

Shooting Night Games with Super-High ISO

One of the most surprising things that new sports photographers learn is just how dark a playing field is at night. It may look bright from the stands, but for your camera, you might as well be shooting in a museum, because you have to maintain a high enough shutter speed to freeze the action (as I mentioned earlier, a good rule of thumb is 1/1000 of a second). So how big a problem is this? To give you an example, when shooting a Chicago Bears night game at Solider Field in Chicago, I had to shoot at 4000 ISO most of the night to get anywhere near 1/1000 of a second. From the stands, and even when down on the sidelines, it looks incredibly bright, until you look through your viewfinder and see the shutter speed. So, if it’s that dim at Solider Field, you can imagine the challenge of shooting a high school football game. That’s the reason why cameras capable of shooting at higher ISOs with minimal noise have become so popular (cameras like Canon’s Mark III, and Nikon’s D700 and D3, have such minimal noise that I’ll often shoot at 6400 ISO and the noise is barely noticeable). If you try to shoot at high ISOs like that with lower-end cameras, the noise will be so distracting that you won’t get the results you’re after. I hate to tell you to rush out and buy an expensive high-ISO camera, but like I said in volume 1 of this book, shooting sports is expensive, so if you’re going to do it, you’d better take a second job to pay for your gear.


  

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