DSLR and lens for low light action

Started 1 month ago | Questions thread
Wingsfan Regular Member • Posts: 354
Re: DSLR and lens for low light action

You'll definitely want to go with an F 2.8 zoom lens, ideally a 70 - 200. Any kind of prime will really limit you as to what you can achieve in a natatorium, especially because on deck access is usually limited. And never, ever get in the way of an official or coach.

A fast zoom might be okay on your rebel, but a sensor with better focus ability and more focus points, and somewhat newer technology ,will probably work better.

Just some thoughts because I haven't really seen anybody ever talk about photography in a natatorium....

I shoot a lot of swimming, for parents of swimmers and my own kids (I don't get paid for this- it's just a hobby as people had seen some of my swim photography of my kids, and asked me to do it for them). My primary gear is an OMD EM1 Mk 1 and 2 ( I use the 12-40f2.8 on the Mk1, and the 40-150 F 2.8 on the MkII). I find the longer telephoto much more useful, especially for long course. I am usually in the 800-3200 ISO indoors. I can do a 13x19" from that no problem.

my cameras are micro 4/3, which have slightly smaller sensors then a standard DSLR. My point is that a camera with a larger, relatively modern sensor should be fine at those ISO ranges. You're going to really need to focus on the lenses, and a camera body with a fairly quick frame rate, because it's amazing how just a few water droplets in front of somebody's face can ruin a picture. I tend to shoot at 10 to 20 frames per second to make sure I get a shot without any obstructions to the face. I have also, on occasion used my Canon g7x for indoor meets as well, it's got a relatively fast lens, but you can really only push it to about ISO 1600. The focus tracking is pretty poor, but it's good enough for times when I just want to take pictures of my own kids doing their respective events.

In the summer, outdoors, I'll use my zs100 or RX100 M6 enthusiast cameras if I don't want to carry a big camera around. The RX has incredible tracking ability, but it's probably out of your budget, and it's only mediocre indoors because of the limitations of the 1" sensor combined with the slower lens at telephoto ranges.

White balance can be tricky because of the lighting, and the water reflections in a natatorium. So you'll have to check it depending on where you are in the natatorium as well, as sometimes auto white balance doesn't work well, you can also find wb changing halfway through a series of shots as you pan to follow somebody down the lane, because of the color of the water, and the reflections of the lights, if you leave it in auto wb.

Keep in mind depending on the kind of swimming you're involved with, you will not be allowed at the ends of the pool, only the sides unless you have a photography pass / permit / permission.

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