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  1. -     Top pros in the sports field don’t bother using anything less than the best

  1. -     The big lenses you see on the sidelines at tennis matches, football and baseball games are also great for wildlife photography (but they’re heavy)

  1. -     The best super telephoto lenses for sideline photography cost as much as a good used car (but have better resale value and don’t pollute)

        • 400mm f2.8

        • 500mm f4

        • 600mm f4


  1. -     Zoom lenses also work 

        • 70-200mm f2.8

        • 80-400mm f4.5-5.6


  1. -     Large magnification and aperture give good foreground / background separation

  1. -    The only thing better than a super fast camera is two - one with a wide to tele zoom and another with a long telephoto zoom or a super telephoto

  1. -   Use the fastest media - CF and SD cards are rated for a maximum write speed. Get the fastest you can so that your flash memory card doesn’t slow your camera down

-You will build muscle mass carrying a super-telephoto lens as well as impress your friends!

hat’s a serious lens!” someone remarked upon seeing me in Forest Park in the spring of 2009, carrying a tripod-mounted 400mm f2.8 lens over my shoulder (the whole set-up - tripod, camera, lens and gimbal - weighed about 25 pounds).

“I’m a serious photographer*.” I replied. The camera attached to it was also serious, capable of 8.5 frames per second. Hiding behind the lens, it was almost invisible, but for capturing sports events, it was as important as the lens.

Professional photographers in the sports field use serious cameras: The top contenders are the Nikon D3S and the Canon 1D Mk IV (or a previous version of the same) in order to keep up with the fast action on the the sports field. These cameras are not only faster than their consumer cousins, they are considerably more rugged as well. When a 1200 pound linebacker flies off the field and flattens several photographers, their editors (and surviving family members) have to know that the equipment is still in working condition (since the photographer had to get a second mortgage to purchase it).

Professional equipment is built to last, and capable of withstanding blows that would crush a Canon Digital Rebel or a Nikon D7000. Here are some camera and lens recommendations for those of you who want to catch high school football action (those kids hit hard, too, so be ready to step back quickly) or other sports activities. I’ve listed each camera’s resolution, maximum shooting speed (in frames per second), the number of images (either jpeg or RAW) it can capture before slowing, and its approximate price. In the Canon line up, the EOS 7D looks attractive for its combination of speed and price. The Nikon value leader seems to go to the D300s, at about the same price at the 7D (though lower in speed, resolution and duration). All of the recommended lenses have built-in image stabilization and a build quality and optics that are much superior to the cheaper lenses available from both companies.

Canon 60D – 18MP, 5.3 fps, 58 jpegs, 16 RAW  - $900

Canon 50D – 15MP, 6.3 fps, 90 jpeg, 16 RAW - $1200

Canon 7D – 18MP, 8 fps, up to 126 jpeg, 15 RAW - $1500

Canon 1D Mk IV – 16MP, 10 fps, 121 jpeg, 28 RAW - $4900

Canon 1Dx (Full Frame) - 18 MP, 12 fps, - $6800

Canon 28-300 mm L IS zoom lens

Canon 70-300mm L IS zoom lens

Canon 100-400 L IS zoom lens (this is my personal favorite)

Nikon D7000 – 16MP, 6 fps, 32jpeg, 10 RAW - $1200

Nikon D300s – 12MP, 14 bit, 7 fps, 100 jpeg, 17 RAW  - $1500

Nikon D3s (Full Frame) 12MP,  9 fps, 130 jpeg, 36 RAW - $5200

Nikon D4 (Full Frame) 16MP, 10 fps $6000

Nikon 28-300 VR zoom lens

Nikon 70-300 VR zoom lens

Nikon 80-400mm VR zoom lens

Many pros have one of these lenses on one camera body and a super telephoto (see sidebar) with another camera body on a monopod (all the better to see you with, my dear).

*and it’s true, mostly



a camera


photos copyright 2012 Edward Crim