Sports photographers - Frames per second needed?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by David, Aug 20, 2003.

  1. David

    David Guest

    I'm considering making the jump to digital SLR (Canon), but the frames per
    second rate has me worried.

    I'm currently using an Elan 7e, which can do 4 fps. It does me fine for my
    kids' sports. Any less and I'd get worried. I'm aware that pro SLR's can
    do 8 or 9 fps, which I'm sure is helpful someone shooting for sports

    But all the Canon digital SLR's I've looked at are doing 2.5-3 fps. Is this
    enough for sports? Seems to me that I would miss out on those "moment of
    contact" shots. I can't imagine that it's satisfactory for a pro, bit so
    much sports photography is now digital.

    Forget digital vs. film ,because I don't want to start that old crap. But
    is 3 fps satisfactory for sports photographers?

    David, Aug 20, 2003
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  2. David

    Ed E. Guest

    I've done a lot of motocross and supercross type events. Rarely would I go
    for raw frames-per-second. I was initially lured into thinking that it was
    necessary, but it isn't. It's much more important to get one good shot than
    15 odd ones.

    One thing to keep in mind that with most SLR bodies, your viewfinder will
    black out while the image is captured. That makes it VERY difficult to
    track your subject when doing a high FPS series. Only the highest-end
    bodies don't move the mirror, causing the blackout.

    If you're looking to digital, your biggest concerns should be shutter lag
    and auto-focus speed. The lower-end bodies tend to focus slower than their
    big brothers, and the same goes for lenses. If you go low-end, practice
    manually focusing on a spot and waiting for your subject to travel through
    it to capture your picture (if possible.)

    Take care,
    Ed E., Aug 20, 2003
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  3. David

    JIM Guest


    For what you are considering, I'd say 2-3 fps would be enough. Having said
    that, I use the 1V because of its tracking ability. I was tired of doing
    the focus, wait, shoot and hope exercise.

    Prefocusing a spot works sporadically if not frustratingly so. I wasted a
    lot of film trying to get focused pictures of toddlers coming at you or
    running away, never mind motor sports;) The EOS-1V can pursue, focus and
    continually shoot an approaching subject at speeds of up to 50 km/h (31mph).
    At a rate of 9 fps, AI Servo AF delivers the fastest predictive focusing in
    the world in cameras utilizing a moving mirror. No digital rig under $10K
    comes close. The big drawback to the 1V is you don't get all that just by
    buying the body:( The body alone doesn't do fps to match your 7e. You
    require the motor drive and one of those "L" lenses shooting at 1/250

    The beauty of digital is you can see what you got, if not good just delete
    and shoot again. 'Course, in sports it wont be the same shot you just
    missed. Going digital may be the wave of the future; however, I'm waiting
    for the evolution to bring me the "1VD" under $3K;)

    Shoot'em up, fast, slow, stopped, Agfa, Fuji, Kodak and all the rest will
    love you for it!!

    JIM, Aug 20, 2003
  4. David

    StillMan Guest

    I do not shoot much sports, but from what I read FPS is not what makes great
    sports shots but rather knowing the game, anticipating peak action, and
    having your shutter lag timing down pat.
    StillMan, Aug 20, 2003

  5. As others have said, it's not so much the FPS, since it's of very
    questionable use in most sports applications.

    Ten frames per second at 1/250 shutter speed still only amounts to
    catching 10/250 (or 1/25) of any second of action. That's not much. And
    most action in sports occurs in much less than a second, but that fraction
    stays the same, you just get fewer frames.

    And if you want sequential shots of something like a golfer's drive,
    forget it. Those are taken with extremely high-speed video, often with
    specialized strobes. Typical video pegs somewhere in the 24 FPS mark, and
    even that means 3-8 frames, all blurred, of a typical golf swing.

    Timing is everything. Keep working on that. And good luck!

    - Al.
    Al Denelsbeck, Aug 20, 2003
  6. David

    Mark Roberts Guest

    That's true in many cases. A couple of years ago I did a shoot at a
    Superbike race for a noted motorcycle racing web site
    ( It was my first experience with motorsports
    shooting. I did pretty well, all things considered. Got some fine shots.
    Best of all, I got to observe the guys who do this kind of stuff for a
    living and I came away very impressed (I couldn't even keep bikes in the
    frame at 600mm and ended up shooting nothing longer than 500mm). Most of
    them kept their cameras in single-shot mode all the time and I did the

    On the other hand, I once heard from a guy who shot for some of the
    skateboarding magazines. The gig there is to catch an entire stunt with
    a series of shots that demonstrate how it's done. For this there's just
    no getting around 5-8 fps: They want *every one* of the shots in that
    2-second burst. (It seems, also, that a 16mm fisheye is "de rigueur" in
    order to get the "look" sought after for the target audience!)
    Mark Roberts, Aug 20, 2003
  7. David

    StillMan Guest

    Even though I am a Nikon guy I have to second the EOS 1D, at least until the
    Nikon D2H hits the street. But then Canon will come out with something even

    If you are deciding between the 10D and 1D, AF speed and write buffer are
    probably more important than the frame rate. Check those two numbers as
    StillMan, Aug 20, 2003
  8. I'm not sure why. The 1D can do 8 fps and is the camera of choice for
    almost everyone I know. (I work for NFL photos and several other
    sports stock agencies and also am a contributing photographer for SI
    and ESPN magazines.) But it's not about frame rates as a lot of us
    use the 1Ds when we can, especially with indoor strobed sports. You
    only get 1 FPS with the strobe recycle anyway.
    It depends on the sport. Like I said, most of your indoor sports are
    shot at 1 fps anyway because of the strobes, but for football,
    baseball, soccer or anything else of that nature, it's about starting
    the motor drive at the right moment and holding it down for a few
    frames, just in case. Tennis, while an outdoor sport, it usually a 1
    fps sport too because the ball is in the frame so briefly that you
    have to time it right.
    I don't know what bodies you are looking at, but that is still
    alright. It's not about the gear, it's about the stuff in between
    your ears. My favorite photo I've ever taken was with an 8008s, when
    mountain biker flew over his handle bars.
    It'll be fine. Let's put it this way, I've shot rugby with a RZ67
    before and gotten decent photos. Auto focus and high frame rates,
    help make my job easier, but do not do my job for me. I don't rely
    too heavily on them, but they do help me out as every now and them
    something happens in the third frame that I didn't realize was going
    to happen, like a finger poke to the eye, or the player was sent
    airborne after the hit. You just don't know.

    Thomas E. Witte

    GO Photography
    Thomas E. Witte, Aug 21, 2003

  9. You cannot be serious. I use a non-motorized, manual focus camera for
    sports photography, and get excellent photographs. In fact, I excell
    in sports photography. This is really funny.
    Michael Scarpitti, Aug 21, 2003
  10. David

    JIM Guest

    Sorry Al, but I disagree with your analogy that makes 10 frames in one
    second sound slow or "not much." Just say 'one thousand and one' and
    visualize having 10 pics before your voice sound dies out! Or getting one
    pic in each 1/10th of one second.

    The real deal is not so much getting 10 frames, but the fact that a camera
    that fast is like having a hair trigger on a target gun - much less crucial
    timing involved (my reflexes certainly aren't getting faster, these days) -
    close to instantaneous shutter release - no shutter lag to be concerned
    with - AF (know any "pro" that can focus 9 shots in 1 sec?). In the 4-5
    shots as the line comes together, you are nearly guaranteed to capture sweat
    flying or a mouthpiece in the air with more than one expression to chose

    As a later poster said: " every now and then something happens in the
    third frame that I didn't realize was going to happen, like a finger poke to
    the eye, or the player was sent airborne after the hit. You just don't
    know." Baseball, or some like sport, is about the only type event lending
    itself to "focusing on some spot" and timing your shot. A fast gun, even in
    that event, makes the job easier. A pitched baseball, close to 90mph, leaves
    the hitter less than 1/2 sec to respond - I have managed the moment of
    contact of bat w/ball doing the timing thingy; however, my possibity of
    doing so increases by a factor of 5 w/those 5 frames in that 1/2 sec!

    I wouldn't necessarily downplay the gear bit too much, although we all know
    real photography aint about the gear;) Amateur nimrods are certainly better
    able today to get decent, even occasionally great, shots because of the
    improvements in photo gear. I'm certain they even accomplish some shots that
    were only attainable by a pro in the past.

    True, gear alone wont get it done, but good gear certainly can make the job
    less stressful as well as cause less sweat:) Sorry about the lengthy reply.

    Shoot'em up, pinhole to zeiss, Agfa, Fuji, Kodak and all the rest will love
    you for it!!

    JIM, Aug 21, 2003
  11. Does anyone do a `burst mode'? IE, fire the shutter, and get 3, 4, or
    whatever shots at full speed like the Styer rifle?

    Paul Repacholi 1 Crescent Rd.,
    +61 (08) 9257-1001 Kalamunda.
    West Australia 6076
    comp.os.vms,- The Older, Grumpier Slashdot
    Raw, Cooked or Well-done, it's all half baked.
    EPIC, The Architecture of the future, always has been, always will be.
    Paul Repacholi, Aug 22, 2003
  12. The F5 certainly does that. When we first got ours, we set it to
    bracket everything for the first three months, to try to get an
    undersatnding of the matrix metering system. So everything we took was
    a 3-frame burst.

    We had the repetition programmed at the fastest rate. We haven't used
    it that way other than bracketing because neither of us shoots the
    kind of sports that would benefit.

    Rodney Myrvaagnes NYC J36 Gjo/a

    "Happy is he that taketh thy little ones and dasheth them upon the stones." __Psalm 137
    Rodney Myrvaagnes, Aug 24, 2003
  13. Paul, I would love to have that feature. Like a three shot burst or
    something that can be set by a custom function. And it should be just
    that easy... Adding a custom function in the firmware. Of course on
    the other hand, its sort of second nature anymore to just hold the
    shutter down for a quarter of a second or so.

    Thomas E. Witte
    Thomas E. Witte, Aug 25, 2003
  14. The other I think would be a win, is allowing the body to do
    `backward' loads like the 300v does. Then at the end, there is almost
    no time lost waiting for the rewind, pop in the new roll, and off you
    go. Hold down the rewind button as you close the back, it winds it all
    the way in and exposes bass ackwards.

    Paul Repacholi 1 Crescent Rd.,
    +61 (08) 9257-1001 Kalamunda.
    West Australia 6076
    comp.os.vms,- The Older, Grumpier Slashdot
    Raw, Cooked or Well-done, it's all half baked.
    EPIC, The Architecture of the future, always has been, always will be.
    Paul Repacholi, Aug 26, 2003
  15. On the other hand, as an occasional EOS 1000FN/Rebel S II user, I find
    having to wait whilst it winds the next film out as the race-cars or bikes
    are whizzing past to be an annoyance
    Tony Parkinson, Aug 26, 2003
  16. David

    eos1vfan Guest

    Dave, I have been laughing at many of the post in reference to your
    question. let me tell you one thing about shooting sports, " NOTHING
    I don't want to bore you with the details, but I have been shooting
    professional sports for 30 plus years. I have never seen a time where
    fps was not one of the most important factors available to me. My jump
    into digital was prolonged because of the lack of speed. It wasn't
    until Canon came along with the EOS-1D that I took the plunge. If I
    were shooting indoors with remote lighting then I would have a
    different set of circumstances where fps is not that big of a factor.
    Just wait and see what Canon has up their sleeve could it be 16 meg
    @12fps ???? EOS1VDSFAN
    eos1vfan, Aug 27, 2003
  17. (eos1vfan) wrote in message
    I'd love to see the look on Neil Leifer, Heinz Kluetmeier and Walter
    Iooss Jr's faces if they were to ever read that.

    Thomas E. Witte
    Thomas E. Witte, Aug 27, 2003
  18. I shot sports with a non-motorized manual focus camera, and I'll blow
    you all away with the single shot that matters.
    Michael Scarpitti, Aug 27, 2003
  19. David

    Annika1980 Guest

    From: (Michael Scarpitti)
    I kinda doubt that. Your skill must exceed that of all the big name pros who
    have switched to the higher fps models.
    Annika1980, Aug 27, 2003
  20. David

    Annika1980 Guest

    From: (Thomas E. Witte)

    I get what you are saying Thomas, that the photographer must also have the
    However, I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

    I have seen and admired much of your work, but it seems to me that your gift is
    one of a technical nature. You have a great variety of great equipment that
    you use (including the 1D that the fan mentioned) and you use it well. But not
    everyone has the multiple strobe setups that you do or even a 600 f/4 for that
    matter. It is your equipment that allows you to excel as well as the talent to
    know how to use it. But never trivialize the value of having good equipment.

    When I see a SI cover shot (taken through the backboard) of Shaq or Kobe
    dunking, I'm not impressed with the photographer who took it. A monkee could
    be trained to hit the remote shutter switch at the correct moment. The talent
    is in setting up all the gear correctly.

    Shooting football requires a greater degree of talent, and shooting baseball
    even more still, due to it's unpredictability.

    Now since I've got your attention, Thomas, here's a question that you are best
    qualified to answer.

    I'd like to set up a remote camera on the crossbar of the goal post at the
    local high school field. I think this could produce some interesting goal line
    shots or maybe a shot of an extra point coming at the camera.

    What equipment would I need to do this?
    Thanks in advance...
    Annika1980, Aug 27, 2003
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