The fast-paced nature of many sports means that sports photography can be a difficult art to master. With so much movement unfolding before the photographer’s eyes, it can be hard to capture the perfect shot.
With that in mind, it must also be stressed that sports photography is a richly rewarding and multifaceted pursuit. Whether catching a sprinter’s emotions in the exact moment that he wins a race, or an engrossed crowd as they see a basketball sail ominously towards the hoop, the opportunities for recording memorable moments are endless.
But each artist requires a great tool in order to craft their masterpiece – and this is where the Canon 70D enters the equation. Ergonomic, light and equipped with environmental sealings to combat harsh weather, the Canon 70D is an effective and practical DSLR for sports photographers
With 7.0fps continuous shooting and a 19-point Autofocus System (AS), it allows you to stay on top of the action at all times, tracking fast moving objects at an impressive rate. While the responsive touchscreen interface makes it easy to adjust the broad collection of settings, it simultaneously adds to the overall aesthetic of the camera, giving it a distinctively modern appearance.
This is a camera that helps you to unlock your potential as a sports photographer, marrying your creative impulses with innovative digital technology.
Below we take a look at 5 pieces of advice that will help you to get the best out of your Canon 70D when photographing sports.
Shoot Lots Of Images
Have you ever watched how many photographs the press takes at a NASCAR event? Each photographer is likely to have taken thousands by the time a race winner is announced. To instantly capture that perfect image when a car is travelling at such a high speed is inevitably a tough ask. So, when photographing a moving subject, don’t risk missing a photo opportunity by limiting the number of shots you take.
As a general rule, the faster a subject is moving, the faster shutter speed is required. The Canon 70D has a max shutter speed of 1,8000s, making it suitable to freeze virtually all sports action. Coupled with the burst mode feature – which records a continual succession of images – this makes it an ideal model for successfully shooting high-intensity sports.
When AFC mode is activated, the camera’s 19-AF cross-type points work to track, and focus on, your subject – another useful feature to make use of when photographing live sport.
Sports photographers also take lots of images because they understand the important of experimentation. The process is one of trial and error, so it is imperative to try out different angles and backgrounds, as well as focusing on a range of subjects.
Try playing around with your camera’s ISO setting over the course of your shoot. Raising it will produce a brighter exposure, which will offset dim lighting if you’re shooting at night. Even subtle changes in composition will produce vastly different photos, so keep an open mind.
Make Sure Batteries Are Fully Charged
Every photographer’s worse nightmare is that their camera will suddenly run out of battery in the middle of a shoot, effectively ending their efforts for the day and resigning them to a begrudging journey home. It is a reality that has frustrated both professional and amateur photographers – don’t let it happen to you.
The uncomplicated, although often forgotten, solution is to charge your camera battery the night before you plan on using it. However, if you’re actively taking photographs over a lengthy period of time, the entirety of a baseball fixture, for example, it is advisable to carry extra batteries in your bag or the pockets of your photography vest. This ensures that if you do run out of juice, fresh power is readily available.
Powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack, the Canon 70D is renowned for its long-lasting battery life. Canon reports that it can shoot up to 920 shots when fully charged – an impressive feat for a DSLR. To really get the best out of it, then, make sure the battery is fully charged before heading off to a shoot.
An extensive battery life is essential when capturing sports events because, in order to see the best results, you will often be shooting at a high speed over the course of a few hours. This can take a big toll on your battery life, especially if the manual focus setting is not activated.
Get Comfortable, Shoot Longer
The variable and unknowable nature of sport is what makes it so endearing to us. Events ebb and flow in a way that keep us glued to the action. The result is often decided in the closing minutes, or even seconds, of the occasion. You might wait 90 minutes for the first goal to be scored in a soccer match before the crowd erupts in pandemonium.
All this means that sports photography is invariably a patient endeavour. With this in mind, photographers should be prepared to set-up for the long-run, because they never know when the action is going to peak, and catching that moment is exactly what makes the effort worthwhile.
With a rubberised grip and well-balanced body, the Canon 70D has the perfect hand-feel, making it suitable for extended shoots. Lighter than its predecessor, the Canon 7D, the newer model is easy to operate and solid. In short, a camera that is designed to keep up with the rigorous demands of sports photography.
As you move around and seek out different vantage points, the camera’s durable frame will give you the confidence to focus exclusively on the developments in front of you.
The environmental sealings also offer additional protection against bad weather, preventing moisture from seeping inside of the camera. With this in mind, you can feel at ease shooting in difficult weather conditions, and spend longer seeking out the perfect shot.
Shoot Raw Format
Shooting RAW vs JPEG is a debate that polarises the world of photography. Both have their advantages, but when shooting sports, we recommend that RAW is the way to go.
Turning on RAW mode on your Canon 70D is easy. Simply scroll through the camera settings and select quality, then press RAW.
Now for the benefits. Iconic sport photos resonate with us because they invite an emotional response. An image with a higher resolution will naturally appear more vivid and palpable to a viewer. Unlike JPEG files, the RAW file format does not compress information. It records the details of a scene in greater depth, leading to high quality, clear images that do justice to their subject. A real perk if you are planning on printing out some of your best work.
RAW files also have a higher dynamic range, meaning that they capture a greater range of light and shadow. This adds layers of depth to your images, and is particularly beneficial if you’re shooting outside. A 16-bit RAW image also has a wider colour gamut than an 8-bit JPEG image. The broader the colour gamut, the more colours your photographs will display.
Like all photographers, sports photographers edit their shots in order to achieve the best possible results. RAW files offer greater creative flexibility in the editing process than JPEG images, which are already processed, giving you more autonomy over contrast and colour.
Use Apps To Plan Your Shots
Sports photography is just as much about effective planning and utilising the best resources available, as it is having a great eye. This is where apps are particularly handy. They can enhance your results by helping you to choose the correct ISO, aperture and shutter speed settings, empowering you to shoot in all types of conditions, including those with adverse weather and light.
There is now an extensive range of apps readily available to make every photographer’s life easier. They can do anything from pinpointing golden hour – the period when natural light is prime for outdoor photos – to determining the position of the sun in the sky. These represent golden nuggets of information for sports photographers shooting outside.
Let’s say you’re watching a late evening soccer match with the intention of photographing a favourite player. Adjusting to the lighting is proving difficult. By inputting information about your Canon 70D and the focal length of your lens, certain apps will determine the right exposure settings for you. Time saved on experimenting with settings, is time gained photographing the winning goal.
Unpredictable weather: a thorn in any outdoor photographer’s side, let alone those with an interest in shooting sports. Although it is impossible to fully predict the climate, there is a multitude of apps offering pinpoint forecasting and weather updates. Checking the weather patterns for your shoot location in advance can be a real life-saver.
In essence, apps are a great repository of knowledge that, if used properly, will rapidly improve the quality and efficiency of your sports photography shoots.