Taking better Indoor Sport photos

This post is in response to a conversation on our Facebook community group where Janette is struggling taking photos of sport indoors (see featured image). She’s not alone and if you want to take crisp photos of sports like Ice Hockey, Basketball or any other fast paced indoor sports read on.

What’s the problem?

There are two challenges Janette is facing, poor indoor lighting and fast action.

The reason this is a problem is that your camera needs plenty of light getting through to the sensor to take the photo and if light is poor your camera will leave the shutter open longer to draw it in. When it does this any movement from you or the subject you’re photographing will look blurred. This is compounded in a sport setting where you are trying to zoom in on the subject.

How to fix it?

If I was helping a Pro Photographer or an amateur with a big budget then I’d be telling you to invest in a zoom lens that would go down to f2.8. This will allow more light through the aperture but you’ll be looking at £1000+ for this lens.

So for the rest of us here are some tips to ensure you’re getting the best from your camera.

The good thing with this indoor photography is that your lighting is going to be consistent so you can set your camera up at the start of the match and forget about it.

I would stick the camera mode to Manual (M) and turn the aperture down as low as it can go (this is the ‘f’ number, you’ll likely get f5.6 when zoomed in). Now set the shutter speed to 1/200 and your ISO to 800 initially. Take a shot and review on the back of your camera. How did it look?

Too dark…

If it came out looking dark then your only real option is to increase the ISO amount until it looks ok. You could maybe reduce the shutter speed to 1/160 or even 1/125 but if you’re zoomed in and the action is fast you’ll struggle to hand hold the camera at these speeds or slower. Another option (if you’re really clutching at straws) is to zoom out a bit and go for a wider shot. Not ideal but it will help with the light a little.

Too bright…

This is a great problem to have, you can either increase the shutter speed a notch at a time until you’re happy or reduce the ISO. A higher ISO will give a more grainy image but I’d personally take that over a blurry image any day!

Go for it!

So there it is, quite simple I hope. Manual isn’t as scary as people assume and in this situation with consistent light I’d set up this way every time. Now you don’t need to worry about metering modes or anything else, it’s all locked down so just make sure your focussing is good and you’ll do fine. (If you need help on focusing I have a full course available here).

Please take a look at the other tips that have been suggested over at the community group and let me know if this was helpful.