Extreme sports photography is among one of the under-appreciated types of photography. It is less popular than shooting weddings or wildlife. However, it is actually one of the most exciting and challenging types. The best photographers get in the thick of the action and sometimes put themselves in risky situations, to take the perfect shots.
If you are an aspiring extreme sports photographer, then you need the right gear to help you capture the action. You also need to learn about the devices that can make your shoots easier and more effective.
To help you decide on the equipment you need to launch your career, considering the following:
There are many things to consider when choosing the right camera for extreme sports photography. You need more than an ordinary DSLR to capture the best shots.
- Must be above 6 FPS. The best camera to use is one that shoots with 6 FPS (frames per second) or more. Extreme sports photography requires high-speed cameras to capture quick-moving action. You cannot afford to miss the highlights of the game just because your DSLR cannot keep up with the action.
- Must use continuous mode. You should set your camera to continuous mode to get as many shots as possible with every press of your shutter button. Moreover, to make sure that your equipment's autofocus does not lose your subject in the heat of the action, use the AF-C mode for NIKON or Al-Servo mode for Canon.
Must have back focus buttons. Instead of half-pressing the shutter button to focus and full-pressing it to capture the shot, why not use a camera with back focus buttons to control these functions separately? If you use different buttons to focus and capture the action, you avoid accidentally resetting your focus while taking your shots. Learn how to use your camera's back focus button and shutter release separately, and you will increase your chances of getting great shots.
Taking extreme sports photos requires being stealthy fast and having a sharp eye to capture the intense action in the arena or ring. You will be moving a lot to follow the action. Even if you are moving a lot, it's a good idea to have a low-profile tripod or monopod for those tricky angles. You can hoist your tripod over your head to capture a high angle shot or lie on your back for that low angle perspective.
Extreme sports photography has many considerations, and that involves selecting the right lenses. You should consider the following:
- Must be wide-angled. The best lenses for extreme sports photography are those that are wide-angled for more versatility and have a wider field of view. The ideal lenses are 50 mm and have a low f-stop of f/1.4 or f/1.8.
- Either Two Touch or Push/Pull. There are two kinds of zoom lenses, and you need to decide which one will work better for you. The usual lenses most photographers use are Two Touch—meaning one ring controls the zoom, while the other one controls the focus. On the other hand, Push/Pull lenses need to be pulled back or forward to zoom.
4. Lens Extenders
Also called teleconverters, lens extenders help capture vivid images in bright locations by increasing the focal length of the lens. Extenders also decrease the aperture of your camera, which makes it quite versatile in environments where there is too much light. Just attach the lens to the extender, which is mounted to your camera, and you can already take advantage of its function.
5. Vision Aid
Most extreme sports happen outdoors. One of the challenges of covering such events is how you can stay focused on the action without being distracted by other elements, such as too much brightness. Here are some of the tools that can help you keep your eye on the game:
- LCD Loupes. It is not easy reviewing images when the sun is so bright – in these cases, use LCD loupes or screen covers so you can review your captured shots without straining your eyes. These can be simple tubes that can be put over the screen.
- Electronic Viewfinders. If you have a mirrorless camera, it is best if you choose a model that has an electronic viewfinder which prevents light-leak. Such a viewfinder allows you to review images through it, so you do not have to take your eye off of the game.
6. High-Speed Camera Trigger
In cases where you need to cover extreme sports remotely, or if you are using two cameras where one might stay on a tripod, then using a high-speed camera trigger like MIOPS Smart Camera Trigger is a great idea. This advanced camera trigger is very handy for remote shooting since it allows you to control your camera from your smartphone. It provides advanced triggering modes like sound, laser, timelapse, and HDR. It is designed for high-speed firings, such as in extreme sports photography.
Another very useful device that you should take with you on your next extreme sports photoshoot is a high-end flashgun with a low ISO and high shutter speed. This will help improve the quality of your photos by providing additional lighting in locations with low ambient light.
Safety is the Most Important Gear
More than any equipment, always remember that safety is the most important thing you will need when covering extreme sports. Just like the athletes, you also need to be careful in your movements when you are on location. No high-quality photo is worth more than your health and wellbeing. Never risk your life just to take the best shots of your life.
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