action shots

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action shots

I've researched a little and, although there are probably many forumns about cameras for action shots, haven't found answers to some of my questions.

I'm interested in taking sports shots and have lately gone to swim meets to try to get some good actions shots. As many of you probably know, dim lighting is a big obstacle in swim rooms. So far, I've tried taking pictures with a Nikon D100 SLR camera with a 120 mm lens, a Canon EOS Reb XS (?) with a 135 mm lens, and a point and shoot Canon.

 Out of these three cameras, my friend's Canon SLR was able to take some amazing shots of swimmers diving off the boards and in the water. The pictures were never blurry, even when I zoomed from across the room. My own Nikon D100 actually performed terribly and I couldn't get any clear shots whatsoever. I couldn't zoom or get people moving at all.

So, some of my questions are:

1. What makes a camera take photos more clearly and faster than other cameras? What does the Canon EOS have that my Nikon D100 doesn't?

2. What's a good camera for amateur action shots? While I enjoy photography, I am in no way very serious about it but am willing to spend some money. I'm thinking about getting my own Canon EOS, but I am completely open to any other suggestions.

3. What are good books/articles/sources that would explain to me the basics of photography? I realize that a lot of my problems I'm having are because of my poor photography skills and not the camera. I want to learn how to use cameras to their uptmost abilities. I am really interested in learning what determine's a camera's characteristics.

Matt Whitlock
Hi blee,

Hi blee,

These are all great questions, and fortunately, we have some great resources here to help get you started.

You can take some great action shots with many consumer-grade point-and-shoot cameras once you learn a little bit about how those advanced settings on your camera works.

For starters, give Chris Miller's awesome article "Using Your Camera's ISO Setting to Get the Shot." ISO is all about capture speed, which is crucial to taking great action shots. Many of the tips here could greatly improve your camera skills, even withthe camera you already own.

If you're debating on stepping up to D-SLR, you can learn more about them in this article: "What Is An SLR Digital Camera?"

Chris has contributed some other great camera articles, which you can see here:

Give those a read, and if you're still interested in getting a new camera, post back here and we can talk models. :)


Thanks for replying so

Thanks for replying so quickly! All these articles were really enlightening.

So, what I've gathered from the articles is that the pictures from my Nikon may have been blurry because of the settings and not the camera itself. That's very interesting... This gives me much more to experiment!

Well, I'm still looking for a camera because while I say the Nikon is "mine" it actually belongs to my sibling. In choosing a camera, the criteria still stands. (I assume I would want a camera that has the ability of larger ISO setting?) Could you also suggest lens types that would have a large aperture that would be fit for movement shots?

Matt Whitlock
No problem blee, my pleasure

No problem blee, my pleasure to help.

I don't know how old you are, but do you remember film cameras (I barely do)? Remember how film was sold at different speeds? That's what ISO is all about, speed, or how fast the photo can develop and with how much light. The longer the aperture needs to be open to develop the photo, the greater the risk of motion blur.

You'd buy higher speed film because it can develop with less light, meaning the aperture didn't need to be open as long, meaning less blur. However, the higher the speed, the higher the noise. That's the skinny of it anyway.

Take the Nikon available to you and experiment. Set it to shoot at 800 or 1600 ISO, then take some action shots and see what the results looks like. What other settings also seem to affect the camera's ability to take high-speed shots?

Ready to shop for a camera? Most digital cameras will go up to 1600 ISO, the difference in being how much noise is in the image after the shot is taken. Some of the higher grade models will shoot at ISO 3200, but don't expect clear results, in my opinion.

One of the first things you should decide is what type of camera you want to buy at a high level. Are you thinking point and shoot or D-SLR. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. Ease of use vs. higher quality photos, small size vs. large size, etc.

What way are you leaning? Once you nail that one, it will be easier to compare models and find the camera for you.

After reading the article you

After reading the article you suggested, I am leaning toward a D-SLR camera. While point and shoot cameras are wonderful, the pictures I want need the advantages an SLR can give me. In turn, I'm willing to learn how to use SLR to its upmost abilities and hopefully it will help in my endeavors.

Matt Whitlock
Cool, D-SLR it is. I want to

Cool, D-SLR it is. I want to make absolutely sure you're ready to dive in head first and invest the time. D-SLRs aren't easy to use, are quite bulky to carry around, and can be very confusing.

So, step 2 after making that big decision is coming up with a budget. Everyone will be a little flexible by a hundred or two, but it's good to know if your budget is $1000 for camera body and lens, or $2500 for a camera body, lens, and maybe another lens and a speed light. I always recommend setting a budget before shopping for any larger, expensive gadget. It helps narrow down the options, and keeps most folks from getting into trouble.

So, where about do you want to bill to be when said and done?


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