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Monday, January 29, 2007

Choosing A Camera For...

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Sports & Action:

To catch the action, you need a camera that keeps up with it
By Christopher Robinson And Peter Read Miller

Sports/Action Sports photography is all about capturing the action—it's fast-paced and your camera has to be up to the challenge. Most point-and-shoot and advanced compact cameras aren't capable of doing the job simply because they exhibit shutter lag—the shutter doesn't fire at the instant you depress the shutter button. For the best results, a digital SLR is going to be your tool of choice. There are a few compact digital cameras on the market that exhibit minimal shutter lag, but even these wouldn't be up to the rigors of a professional like Sports Illustrated staff photographer Peter Read Miller.

Since the action will unfold rapidly, you want to be able to "action bracket" your shots by firing in a series. Professionals frequently shoot in bursts of 10-plus frames, and having a camera that can shoot those frames fast is key. Both the Canon EOS-1D Mark II and the Nikon D2H can fire at full resolution at 8 frames per second.

Most of the shots you see in magazines like SI are taken with long telephotos. As a photographer, you'll be confined to the sidelines and, in most cases, the action will be some distance from your perch. The only way to get the shot will be with a long focal length. "Faster" wide-aperture lenses will make it possible to keep the background out of focus, but these lenses tend to be expensive, large and heavy. While pros like Miller have a full collection of fast teles at their disposal, you might have to opt for a more moderately priced zoom. That's certainly not the end of the world, but you won't be able to completely throw the background out of focus. Keep in mind that cameras like the Canon EOS-1D Mark II or the Nikon D2H have a sub-full-frame image sensor, which gives your lenses a magnification factor that makes telephotos seem even longer than they are. For instance, Miller's EOS-1D Mark II has a 1.6x magnification factor, which makes a 300mm ƒ/4 lens appear to be a 450mm ƒ/4.


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