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What is the best type of camera for sports action photography?

I want to start doing some sports action photography. I am looking to buy a camera that will work for that, as well as more general photography. What is the best affordable camera for that type of photography?

Answer:

If you want to do sports action photography you will need to invest in a DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera and some decent lenses that are suitable for sports photography.

If you are going to be taking photos of outdoor sports such as football, baseball, soccer, etc. you will need a telephoto lens with a least a zoom capability of 300mm. A good beginning range for an outdoor sports lens is a 75-300mm zoom lens. These would be considered entry level lenses but you can pick them up for a fairly reasonable price and they offer enough zoom capabilities to use for outdoor sports. Sometimes you even find some camera “kits” that will include this size of telephoto lens along with a shorter “kit” lens such as a 18-70mm. This combination of lenses can serve the beginning sports photographer well as long as there is adequate light.

However if you also plan on taking photos of indoor sports such as basketball, volleyball, etc. or outside sports at night you will need a faster lens to allow your shutter speed to be high enough to avoid motion blur. A good lens for these types of sports would be a 70-210mm f2.8 lens. On indoor sports you could even use a “faster” fixed focal length or “prime” lens such as a 50mm f1.7 or 85mm f1.8 lens. While you lose a significant portion of your zoom range you will be able to get a faster shutter speed with a fast prime lens.

Another important feature to look for in a camera for sports photography is frames per second. Having a camera with a fast frames per second rate is important as it helps you capture bursts of photos so that you have a better chance of getting the photo at just the right point of action such as when the bat strikes the ball. When it comes to frames per second and sports photography the faster the better. Having the ability to quickly capture a burst of images will help you capture the peak moment in a fast paced sporting event. Typically cameras suited for sports photography will have the ability to capture 5-7 frames per second although some entry level DSLR’s might only be able to capture 3 fps.

When shopping for a camera to use for sports photography the brand of the camera is not as important as the type and features it has. Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax all make DSLR's that are suitable for sports photography.

If you are unable to afford a DSLR and the necessary lenses your next best option would be one of the "super zoom" cameras like a Sony DSC-HX1 or a Nikon CoolPix P100. Both of these cameras have fast frames per second rate as well as long telephoto lenses built right in. While they are not as good as a DSLR they can serve as a good starter camera for someone just starting out or for a parent wanting to photograph their child playing sports.

I would recommend you check out your local electronic and camera stores as well as research cameras and prices online. The website www.dpreview.com is a great source for camera reviews and they also offer forums where you can interact with owners of the camera models you are interested in.

Regards,
Alan

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