To do sports photography, you really only need a camera. However, to make the experience more convenient, most sports photographers use various equipment like camera bags, monopods, and secondary camera bodies and lenses.
I’m Caleb, and I’ve been a sports photographer for more than four years. I’ve shot several sports at multiple levels, ranging from soccer to basketball.
In this article, I’ll talk about the common equipment sports photographers use and how each piece of gear is useful.
If you’re getting into sports photography or have been curious about what goes into it, read ahead for an overview of the most common gear.
Common Equipment That Sports Photographers Use
A lot of regular camera equipment has potential uses in sports photography. However, some pieces of equipment show up more than others in this niche. In this article, we’ll just go over the relatively common ones.
Obviously, you need a camera for sports photography. Generally, the most common cameras for this field are DSLRs. They tend to be larger and bulkier than their mirrorless counterparts and historically have an advantage in tracking subjects.
As sports photography requires taking many action shots with moving subjects, many photographers choose this better tracking over the lighter weight or faster speeds of many mirrorless cameras.
Newer mirrorless cameras are making up for those shortcomings, but we probably won’t see them take over sports photography until they become cheaper and more accessible due to age.
Many sports photographers bring a secondary camera with a different lens from their primary one.
For example, if their primary lens is a 70-200mm one for midrange shots, their secondary might be a 24-70mm lens for closer ones.
This isn’t essential for sports photography, but it can help immensely. In many sports, after all, it’s not really possible to capture every moment with just one lens and focal length.
Sports isn’t the only field of photography where camera bags are useful, but they’re worth noting here anyway.
If you’re a sports photographer, you’re likely carrying a bunch of things. Multiple camera bodies and lenses, external equipment such as monopods, and even laptops to upload photos while still on-site are examples of items that might fill a sports photographer’s bag.
It’s important to have a bag that’s large enough to carry everything you need. It also helps if the bag has modular dividers, so you can change how things are stored and have enough pockets to store smaller items.
If you’re working with larger lenses, a monopod is a very good addition to your equipment list.
Basically, it’s like a tripod but with only a single leg. In some sports, where massive super-telephoto lenses are common, most photographers usually use monopods.
You don’t need an expensive monopod, but you should look for one that’s sturdy enough to support your camera and lens without flexing too much from the weight.
A Quick Memory Card
It’s easy to forget memory cards as an afterthought, but having the right one can significantly affect sports photography.
You’ll need one that has a fast write time. Otherwise, you’ll waste precious time waiting for photos to write to the card while you’re trying to shoot bursts.
Something to Drink
It’s a good idea to bring something to drink. And maybe even something that’s easy to eat quickly, like an energy bar.
Depending on the sport, events can last for hours. While most venues sell concessions, leaving your spot and searching for a stand is not always convenient.
Instead of buying something at the venue, it’s much easier to bring your own drink that you can pull out when there’s a break in the play, with no need to worry about walking off and missing something.
Here are some other frequently asked questions about sports photography equipment.
What Is The Best Lens For Sports Photography?
There’s no one universal lens for sports photography, but the most versatile options are generally 24-70mm and 70-200mm lenses. The best choice between the two depends on your chosen sport and how close to the action you are.
What Camera Do Professional Sports Photographers Use?
The most popular cameras for pro sports photographers are generally fast-shooting DSLRs such as the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II. Also, the top cameras are often older models that have become cheaper and more accessible due to their age.
While it’s possible to use a very basic setup for sports photography, investing in certain things like a good camera bag, a monopod, or even an alternate camera body can make your life much easier.
What gear do you bring for sports or action photography? Let us know in the comments.