Nikon Digital Cameras – Tips For Shooting Indoor Sports

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But the one thing all cameras of any size or brand share is a thirst for light. Most consumer cameras come with lenses that are more than adequate for standard picture taking. However shooting indoor sports is not standard by any means.

There are two key problems when shooting in a gym. First, though a gym may seem brightly lit to our eyes it’s actually quite dim to a camera. The second problem is distance; we have to sit at some distance from the action so our zoom lenses get a lot of exercise. Unfortunately this is where indoor sports hit its biggest photographic snag. We start out in light that is barely enough for the camera to operate and then we zoom the lenses out reducing the light even further.

The best way to handle this is to fool the camera. This trick works on most digital compact cameras and all DSLR’s. The first thing to do is set the ISO (film speed) up to about 400. This will help increase the camera’s sensitivity making the most of the light that’s available.

The next step is to set the camera in Av or Aperture exposure mode. On Nikon digital cameras the Av mode is activated either on the top command dial or by using the menu system on compact cameras. This is the mode that controls aperture settings and we want the widest the lens allows. Remember, this is the smallest number on the aperture scale often around 3.5. By making this setting we are telling the camera to always use the widest, most open aperture that the lens offers. The camera must respond by selecting the fastest shutter speed that the lighting will allow in order to make an exposure. By using faster shutter speeds we have the best chance to stop action blur.

The last thing to do is to turn off the flash. A built-in flash has a range of only 10 feet, it’s not doing any good and the flash slows down the camera as it recharges after each shot.

Some words of warning: Not every camera has an Aperture exposure mode. Many of this year’s ultra compacts are an example. Next, by using the setting described there is no guarantee that your images will be successful; each gym’s lighting is different. The photographer may be able to use a lower ISO or be forced to accept grainy pictures by using an ISO setting higher than 400.

A pro photographer with a thousand dollar lens standing court side expects about a 35% to 40% success rate, with our consumer cameras and equipment hitting 20% to 25% success is considered very good. The best tip is to over shoot; the success rate doesn’t increase but the number of successful shots will.

As a next step, learn about capturing moving subjects at the peak of action to help prevent even more motion blur.