How to choose the best lens for sports photography
Find out about the best lenses, shutter speeds and editing techniques for sports photography so you can capture dynamic, fast-moving images.
Sports photography is dynamic, but it can be tricky. Your subject is constantly on the move, sometimes at great distances, so some know-how is key if you want to avoid flat, blurry photos.
Let’s look at how you can pick the best lens for sports photography, the right camera settings, and some editing tips for dimensional, crisp snapshots every time.
Choosing the best lens for sports photography
Because sport is so action-packed, your lens has to be able to capture images fast and at a wider range. Here are some things to look out for:
- High shutter speed: Shutter speed refers to the speed at which your camera can take photos. Fast-moving athletes require a camera with a high shutter speed, so get a lens that can shoot at 1/4000s, minimum.
- Fast motor speed: You don’t have time to fiddle with the focus ring during a live match, so invest in a USM lens if you shoot with Nikon or Canon. USM stands for Ultra Sonic Motor, which means your lens can focus faster thanks to a built-in motor.
- Telephoto lens: Most sports photography happens at a distance, so invest in a telephoto lens. Look for one with a focal length of 70mm to 200mm and an aperture of f/2.8 if you want to really invest in sports photography. Otherwise, a lens with an f/4 capacity is the more budget-friendly option.
Editing tips for sports photography
Understanding how to choose the best lens is half the battle won. You also need to know how to edit well so your sports photos really pop. Here are some pro-level tips:
- Don’t be afraid to crop: There’s often a lot going on in the background of a sports match. Crop close to the subject matter so you draw attention to the action and cut out the distractions.
- Blur the focus to create depth: Some sports photos can look one dimensional. Bring some of the real-life action of the field to the image by blurring the focus around the players for a more 3D effect.
- Experiment with presets: Use the sports photography presets in Adobe Lightroom to give your images some oomph. Different colours and exposures can add richness to your shots, and make each photo come to life.