Why youth football is so much fun to photograph

Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 1800, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000

Youth football is a dream come true for most sports photographers. The games are played mostly during the sunlight and the access to the action is the best you can get as compared to shooting high school varsity football which is usually played on a Friday night under poor lighting conditions and limited access.

You do not have to own the most expensive lenses to get great photos. For anywhere from $500 to $2,000 you can get a great telephoto lens to cover your kids games.

Sigma makes a 150-600mm lens for about $989. I shoot with the Sigma 120-300mm with a 2x teleconverter most of the time for football.

During the daytime there is enough light to shoot at most shutter speeds and apertures of your choosing. On a Friday Night football game under those lights you are shooting 1/500 and wide open aperture to just get an image.

Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 1100, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000

Here are my tips for those wanting to start shooting your kids youth sports activities.

  • Use a lens at least 300mm – For the money I recommend a zoom like the Sigma 150-600mm
  • Use Auto ISO
    • Set the lowest ISO to 100
    • Set the highest ISO to the one recommended by camera manufacturer as top of the normal range
    • Set the Shutter Speed to 1/4000 
  • Shoot in Aperture mode since the Auto ISO is taking care of the shutter speed
  • Custom White Balance
  • Use a monopod
  • Shoot close to wide open as possible. If shooting with a ƒ/1.4 lens this may be too shallow of depth-of-field. ƒ/2.8 to ƒ/5.6 is a good range to make the background go blurry
  • Position yourself so that the action is coming towards you and that you are where you can see the athlete’s faces
  • Shoot RAW 
  • Use Adobe Lightroom to process your images
Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 1600, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000
Parents are in love with the “environmental portrait”. They love a good photo of their kid in uniform on the playing field. I think of these like the trading card photos you see of your favorite pro players. By the way today it is easy to make your own trading cards of your kid and maybe of their team as well. Here is a link to doing it. 
Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 1100, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000
In all these photos of the youth football game I was in the end-zone. Because I am using the 240-600mm lens [because of the 2x converter] I can get some pretty good action shots without running up and down the field. I am just waiting for them to come to me.
Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 1800, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000
I shot these for my friend to use as a gift to him. Maybe you know someone who has kids who play ball and they could use some photos of their kids. 
Why is youth football so great to photograph. As compared to Pro Football here are some things that are different.
  • You don’t need a press pass
  • You can get closer to the action
  • You can get by with less expensive gear since you are shooting in daylight
  • Parking is an ease
  • No one is expecting your images right away [if you had access to pro sports you are shooting for someone who has a real deadline]

Stanley’s Tune Up Ritual for the Football Season

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 51200, ƒ/5.6, 1/1250

This past Friday Night and during the day on Saturday I went through a tune-up. There are basically two parts to the tune up.

First I have bought new cameras since the last football game and needed to calibrate the lens to the camera body.

This is a photo I took when I talked about how to calibrate your lenses in an earlier blog post. Take a look here if you want a refresher on how to do this.

Today’s top end cameras and lenses are designed for the user to optimize the focusing through calibrating the focus point. I use LensAlign and here is a great video explaining how it works.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urinJiG35PU]
So I spent a number of hours doing this with my cameras and lenses. Now I shoot with a Sigma 120-300mm lens and recommend you look at that blog post where I explain how I calibrated the lens using Sigma Optimization Pro software coupled with the Sigma USB docking station to calibrate the lens. I also use it to calibrate my Sigma 24-105mm Art and Sigma 35mm Art lens.

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 720, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000

The second thing I do each year is to go out and shoot some football games before my first job shooting a game. This year I went to the Catholic High School near me and shot their home varsity game on Friday night and then shot their 7th grade team playing the next morning.

Now before actually taking photos of the game I set my Nikon D5 camera up for shooting the game. Here is a blog post going through all the settings and explaining this is great detail for those who have a Nikon D5 and want to see my settings for sports. Here are my settings for the Nikon D4.

Let me tell you that the Nikon D5 was a definite upgrade over the Nikon D4. When shooting on high speed motor drive of 12 frames per second I can say it looked more like an old time movie. You could still see the action through the mirror because of the speed of the camera. Very cool!!!!.

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 720, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000

For those of you who are just starting out shooting sports like your child’s games, don’t just go and shoot their games when getting started. Go and practice at the local recreation center and get used to following the action and keeping it in focus. I use the back focus button so I can then improve my chances of getting in focus photos. You need to try my setup to see what I mean.

Honestly being able to just walk up and start shooting a kids game like I did this weekend is so much more relaxing than getting to a game two hours early that you must do when shooting Division 1 college and when shooting the NFL.

Another thing with shooting for fun is if you want to stop you can. When shooting professionally you must arrive early and stay to the very end. Now if you want to get hired to shoot professionally then you need to learn why we get there early and stay late.

Rather than telling you what we shoot when we arrive early and stay late–let me challenge you to arrive early and stay late and try and make compelling photos around the entire game.

Have you tuned up for this football season?

Perspective changes the view of the game

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/1250

To get this photo I am in the end zone on my knees shooting down the field with what is a 600mm lens. I am actually shooting up to the players face.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/1600

What is obvious in the comparison is I am no longer on the sideline shooting the game. I moved to the press box, which is where much of the TV coverage is shot from of the game.

The perspective changes how the players appear to the audience. I believe when you are down low and shooting up at the players you give them the sense they are like the Roman gods where they tower over men.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/1250

I think shooting from the lower angle is much better most of the time, but there are times that the different perspective helps.

On those close calls the TV will go to multiple angles to see which one the angles gives a better angle on the play. This is why most major news services have many photographers covering the game so they will have a better chance of having the play covered in case one angle just doesn’t show the game play as well as needed to help the audience understand the call.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/4.5, 1/1250

This is one of those plays from the game where you want to see another angle to verify the touch down.

When I shot the game from different perspectives I wanted to capture the branding of Chick-fil-A from different views. While the shooting from down low on the players from the field is a great perspective, had I stayed with that angle only I would have missed this photo.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/1250

This is a great scene setter because I now know which game this was and that is due to the logo in the middle of the field.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/1250

My suggestion is to always get down low when shooting sports as one of your main angles, but always mix in some other angles to help give your audience a different perspective of the game.

Shooting the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game with Nikon D4 and Sigma 120-300mm w/ 2X converter

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/1250

I wanted to share some of the photos I captured from the Chick-fil-A Kickoff this year where Auburn defeated Louisville 31 to 24.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/1600

There are a couple things that helped me get some what I thought nice moments.

Camera Settings:  To see these go to blog post on them here 

  • Custom White Balance with ExpoDisc
  • AUTO ISO
    • ISO range 100 – 12800 on Nikon D4
    • Minimum Shutter Speed 1/2000 – The shutter will drop below 1/2000 once the ISO maxes out at ISO 12800
  • Continuous High Shutter Release
  • Focus
    • Continuous
    • Focus Point Selection – 21-point dynamic-area AF
    • Focus Tracking with Lock On set to 4
    • AF activation and choose “AF-ON only.” This means when I press the shutter it will not focus the lens.  It will only fire the camera. 
    • To focus I am using the AF-ON button on the back of the Nikon D4.
Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000
A few of the other photographers who are used to shooting night games at the Georgia Dome all were using their teleconverters since this was a daytime game. The arena has what is like a large white sheet over the dome giving a diffused daylight across the field.
Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/1000
The lights they use for night games were on as well for the game. So my White Balance was 4250º Kelvin and +29 Magenta.
Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/1600
I enjoy shooting from the end zone as much as I can so using the Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S with the Sigma TC-2001 2x gave me a 240-600mm ƒ/5.6 lens.
It was ultra quick at locking in on focus and tracking players as they moved across the field.
Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/1250
To get this and many of the photos you are seeing I was tracking with a player and would start shooting just about the time say a pass was to hit their hands and motor drive through in case of anything like miss to catch could happen.
Click on image to see larger version
Here is the take on that particular image above. Everyone of the images was sharp and usable.
Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/1000

Before the “Big Game” shoot the “Small Game”

What I am recommending is to go to the community recreation center in your town or local high school and shoot with the same gear getting used to it. If you rent a camera or lens, pick it up so maybe you can squeeze in a Friday night game before the “Big Game” on Saturday or Sunday.
Missed shots are more related to how well you know your gear than anything else. Be sure you are getting all you can out of the gear. Don’t blame the gear when it might be your knowledge of how to use your gear is really the problem.

Football Tips

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 7200, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

Here are just a few tips to help you get better football pictures this fall.

First arrive early and setup your gear for shooting sports. I recommend using the AUTO ISO setting the shutter speed to 1/2000 and having the range of the ISO from lowest to the highest that your camera recommends.

The Nikon D4 recommend ISO 100 – 12800 and if you need to for certain situation you can push this ISO as high as 204800, but anything above 12800 you will notice significant levels of noise. But sometimes that is all you can do on some High School football fields.

I would also use Custom White Balance using the ExpoDisc. I recommend setting the white balance with your shutter speed below 1/100 so that you get a more accurate reading. Then set your shutter speed to 1/2000. The Sodium Vapor lights used at some many venues has the same problem as fluorescent lights–they are pulsing rather than a constant light source.

Link to my Nikon D4 Settings for Sports

 

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 4000, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

With the cameras all set the next thing is you really need to pick a team to feature for the moment. It is very difficult to cover both teams at the same time. When you pick a team then try and stay in front of the direction they a facing when they line up.

I love to use longer lenses like the 600mm and shoot from an end zone.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/1600

In this photo I have been able to capture the Titans defense pursing the quarterback.  So the caption works really well for this photo.

St. Pius X Golden Lions #18 QB Reed Egan looks for open man down field while Blessed Trinity Titans #74 Matthew Castner and #16 JD Bertrand pursue him Friday night August 28, 2015 in Roswell, GA.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 5000, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

Blessed Trinity Titans #16 JD Bertrand out runs St. Pius X Golden Lions #8 Cameron Fannon for first touchdown Friday night August 28, 2015 in Roswell, GA.

I was able to get this break away play because I was out in front of where they are going and not where they have been.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/1250

The other thing about being down field is the background for the most part is a lot cleaner than the side lines.

For this last photo: Blessed Trinity Titans #13 Conor Davis looks for some running room while being pursued by St. Pius X Golden Lions #2 Winston O’Striker Friday night August 28, 2015 in Roswell, GA.

Try to be in a position where you are seeing the faces of your team rather than the backs of their helmets.

Best Advice for Football

Learn all you can about the game, the team and the plays they like to run. You should be as prepared as the visiting team coaches are for the game to be able to anticipate the plays so you can be in position to capture the play as it unfolds. You cannot get consistent good photos from always reacting to what is happening. You get great results from anticipating.

Shooting HS Football Look for Competition

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 4000, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

Here are four photos from the same play. Which one would you choose to use if you were the editor for a publication?

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 5000, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000
The runner is now further down the field.
Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 4000, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000
I think the first two are better than the last one because you can see the other team just missing tackles. This gives you a sense of competition.
Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 3600, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000
Now this last photo is the runner actually scoring. Is this as important as creating the tension of the actual play? You can say in the caption he scored.
Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000
Here the defensive player is reaching for the ball and it makes you wonder will he go down?
Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/1250
Now this photo you pretty much know the guy is going down. So not as much tension.
Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/800
Here this runner is going out of bounds. Not even the team is all that concerned in this photo. Not that much tension.
Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000
Notice the difference here where the offensive player may get by and the defensive team on the sidelines is wondering as well with all those expressions.
Now you can’t make this happen, but you can position yourself to get more possibilities when it happens. I like to shoot from the endzone to capture more expressions and people running towards the goal which is where I am. The players look like they are running in the direction of the audience.

Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S shooting Friday Night High School Football

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 10000, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

Gallery of images from the game

My daughter’s high school had their first football pre-season game tonight. Roswell High School played cross town rival Johns Creek high school.

In the first photo Roswell High School’s #1 full back Sheldon Evans runs for touchdown while being pursued by John’s Creek #3 defensive back Jack Somers and #36 defensive back Bryce McCain.

This was shot at 8:03 pm or about 20 minutes before sunset. The Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S with the Sigma TC-2001 2x attached was locking in on focus quickly and holding steady with the Nikon D4.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 3600, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

This was shot at 7:43 pm with the sun dipping behind trees so indirect sunlight is hitting the players from the open sky.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 7200, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

As you can see having the Sigma TC-2001 2X converter was helping me reach down field. This gave me a 600mm, which was working really well for the high school game. You can get so much closer to the sidelines than you can in college or pro games.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

Here I am in the end zone and the player is crossing the 50 yard line. I am not zoomed in all the way at all. I am at 410mm.

I love shooting from the end zones because I am more likely as you are seeing in the photos to see the faces of the players because this is the direction the offense is going. If I am cover the defense then I would be on the opposite end zone and getting the defensive players faces.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

You can see the expressions on the faces of the players and show the ball and the defense at the same time. Here I captured a moment that I am sure the coaches will be talking to the offense about protecting that ball more than they are doing here.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

I love these type of photos where you see the defense doing all they can to stop the offense and also showing the athleticism of the players.

One of the photographers showed up tonight with the new Sigma 150-600mm contemporary lens. I would love to see what she got and even more which I could have tested it out. With todays cameras high ISOs I think shooting Friday Night Lights in small community football fields is possible.

I couldn’t be more pleased with the Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, and Sigma TC-2001 2x combination. I did use the new 1.4X converter as well, but preferred the 2X to get down field.

Peak Action + Exposure/Focus + Post Processing = Great Football Action Photo

Nikon D4,  Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM, Sigma 2x EX DG APO Autofocus Teleconverter, ISO 1100, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

If Ansel Adams shot football games the way many photographers do he would have never become famous.

Ansel Adams is not a great photographer because he was able to capture a great moment and compose it in a compelling way. He is a great photographer because he went beyond just the capture and spent literally months trying to process and print images just right.

Today’s cameras help you capture the zone system with little skill required by the photographer. This is the problem today. Too many photographers shoot football games for example and just crop the photograph and then publish the photo.

Same photo as above but this is with no post processing other than slight crop.

Post Processing is Key

You can see the difference between the photo above that I took into Adobe Lightroom and worked on to give me the results above, verses the same Nikon RAW NEF file exported from PhotoMechanic to a JPEG after a slight crop.

Here is another example for you to see the comparison.

Nikon D4,  Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM, Sigma 2x EX DG APO Autofocus Teleconverter, ISO 500, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

No processing other than slight crop

Comparing the Histogram on top photo

Before
After

You are not trying to get a perfect bell curve histogram. You are trying to be sure that in the top histogram you can see a lot of information on the far right. This is the details being blown out. Recovering this by sliding your highlights to the left to recover that information.

These are just the adjustments I did for the top photo. Notice with the middle of the day light the inside of the helmets tends to go black from the shadows and the highlights are blown out. I am trying to open up the shadows and recover the highlights.

Here you can see the area that I then dodged in the photo to be sure you could see the player’s face. Here are the actual slider settings for the dodge here:

RAW vs JPEG

I understand that shooting RAW takes more space and more time to process than just shooting a JPEG and using that image. I hope I have established this is not the way to make your work stand out.

With the RAW image you have all the information that landed on the CMOS chip of the Nikon D4. I have more dynamic range in this file than can be seen by my computer monitor.

With a JPEG the camera’s computer makes some assumptions and then tosses out some of that information to save on space for your image file size.

Couple of things that if you shoot JPEGs for daytime football that will become difficult for you to correct later in post processing.

First of all if your white balance is not just perfect and you want to correct it later the nuances of color shifting this to what is possible is no longer there. You have tossed out some of that information.

Second all the information in those blown out highlights is no longer there. Your ability to add folds back into those white jerseys for example will not be possible.

Third the amount of information in those shadows is also lost. The camera software assumed you wanted those areas black and therefore you have less information there to open up those shadows.

Nikon D4,  Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM, Sigma 2x EX DG APO Autofocus Teleconverter, ISO 900, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

Which photo do you prefer? This one just above or the one just below?

When it comes to evaluating the two photos there is one thing that I look for in sports photos that is hard to see in the second unprocessed image—expression. I believe your sports photos are better when you can show the expressions of the athletes you help communicate the effort and competition of the peak action.

Notice the highlights that are blown out in the lower photo and how many of the shadows are just too dark.

Post processing matters with your photos. Do more than just crop your photos and add captions and you will stand out from the pack.

Love the Nikon D4 & Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM for Football

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM w/ Sigma 2x, ISO 36204, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

There are a few things that are extremely important technical aspects for a great sports photo:

  • Well exposed
  • In focus
  • Sharp

The Nikon D4 and the Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM with the Sigma 2x converter helps me to get the moments and technically being just right.

The Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Lens is a telephoto zoom lens featuring a fast, constant f/2.8 maximum aperture. This lens is the first lens designed under Sigma’s new Sports line of lenses, making it well-suited for fast-moving subjects such as wildlife, nature, aviation, racing, and other similar situations.

The built-in OS (Optical Stabilizer) system enables a reduction in the appearance of camera shake up to the equivalent of four stops, resulting in a long lens that can easily be used handheld and low-light conditions. The OS system is divided into two modes; one for general shooting applications, and one that is better suited for panning shots of moving subjects. The OS system can be further adjusted to suit your needs through the use of the USB Dock.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM w/ Sigma 2x, ISO 36204, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000 [While this is a little noisy for my tastes, the dynamic range is pretty good and the important thing is it is in focus, sharp and well exposed]

The Nikon D4 camera features a 16.2Mp 36 x 23.9mm CMOS sensor with Nikon’s FX-format and the EXPEED3 image processor. ISO sensitivity can now be extended as low as ISO 50 or as high as 204,800 with a standard range of 100-12,800 ISO. Additionally, 10 frames per second continuous shooting in FX-format for up to 200 shots ensures the decisive moment will not be missed.

D4’s AF sensor utilizes 51 strategically placed AF points that are designed to capture subjects as you choose: by working together like a net to capture moving subjects or for pinpoint accuracy. Use a single AF point to home in on the exact place on your chosen subject. Each of the 51 AF points delivers fast and accurate AF detection to an impressive low light level of -2 EV (ISO 100, 20ºC) with every AF NIKKOR lens – expect to shoot more smoothly at night stadium assignments, poorly lit indoor arenas, cathedrals, theaters and any other low-lit venues.

D4 aligns its 15 cross-type sensors in the center to detect contrast for both vertical and horizontal lines with lenses f/5.6 or faster. The five central points and three points to the left and right of them in the middle line are compatible with f/8. Which is to say that with the Sigma 2x converter the lens is ƒ/5.6 and the D4 could still autofocus in a low light level of -2 EV at ISO 100. I had a lot more light than that in the Georgia Dome.

 

ISO 51200 & 25600 with Sigma 120-300mm on Nikon D4

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM w/ Sigma 2x, ISO 51200, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

Chick-fil-A Kickoff

Last night I had the privilege to shoot the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game between Ole Miss and Boise State. Ole Miss pulled away in the second half from Boise State for a 35—13 victory.

I was enjoying shooting with my Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM. I added also to my gear a Sigma 2x converter, which I used giving me a 600mm ƒ/5.6 lens. The photo above was made with that combination.

Yin-Yang

Photography has as much to do with Yin-Yang than anything I have ever encountered.

Yin-Yang are concepts used to describe how apparently opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary, interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.

When you change any one of these three you must adjust one of the other to keep a proper exposure. This is the trade-off made all the time in photography.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM, ISO 16000, ƒ/4, 1/2000

Sports Settings

Here are my default sports settings for a game with these three:

  • Aperture—While I love the bokeh at wide open, I tend to shoot around ƒ/4 or ƒ/5.6
  • Shutter Speed—1/2000 If the highest ISO is reached, then any need of more light the shutter speed will drop below 1/2000 when using the Auto ISO settings.
  • ISO—Auto ISO 100-12800, but for some of this game 100-51200
Warning about using Auto ISO—you cannot use manual and keep a constant setting. The meter will adjust the ISO up and down. If you want to truly shoot Manual Mode then you must turn off the Auto ISO.
Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM, ISO 7200, ƒ/2.8, 1/2000
I love the Bokeh on the Sigma 120-300mm and with the Ole Miss dancer opened up to ƒ/2.8. For action I find while I love the ƒ/2.8 I prefer a little more depth-of-field to keep them tact sharp.

Here are more examples with the settings showing in the lower left hand corner for you.

Click here to see the photos in slide show larger.