No minimum frames per second are required for getting into sports photography, but a high FPS camera with a continuous shooting speed of 10fps or higher will make your job much easier.
I’m Caleb, and I have more than four years of experience as a sports photographer. I’ve shot games across several sports and levels, from boxing to basketball.
In this article, I’ll break down camera speed and what you should aim for in FPS if you’re looking for a sports photography camera.
If you’re just getting into sports photography or looking to upgrade your camera, keep reading for a straightforward explanation of this subject.
How Many Frames Per Second for Sports Photography?
You can do sports photography with a camera that shoots at any frame rate. Even if your camera doesn’t have the ideal specs in that department, you’ll probably still be able to get some good shots through careful timing and luck.
However, you shouldn’t dismiss the importance of specs just because you can succeed with subpar ones. It still helps a lot to have a fast shooting camera.
If your camera’s continuous shooting speed is at ten frames per second or higher, you’ll have a much easier time than someone that can only shoot at half that number.
Of course, that’s not the upper limit. Some of the top sports photography cameras go even higher than this in frame rate, such as the Canon EOS 1D-X Mark II, which shoots at 14fps and has remained popular with sports photographers because of it.
Why Faster Cameras Are More Useful
Why is having a faster shooting speed beneficial? Well, it comes down to having more chances to capture a big moment.
Much of the time, it’s not enough to just have good timing. Plays develop fast in many sports, and you have better chances of catching your ideal shot by shooting in bursts.
It’s just a matter of basic math. If you can take ten photos in a second, the odds are better that at least one of them will be reasonable compared to if you were only able to take four or five.
Downsides of a Faster Camera
There are a few downsides to higher FPS cameras. A major one is that there’s usually some kind of tradeoff with other features. This often comes in the form of lower resolution.
For example, the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II mentioned earlier has a resolution of 20.2 megapixels. While this isn’t bad, it’s still behind many top-of-the-line models and might not be the best for someone planning to make large prints.
Also, cameras with higher frame rates tend to cost more, especially if they have a high resolution. Sometimes, you can avoid this by buying an older camera model. The price of the EOS-1D X Mark II, for example, has fallen greatly since its 2016 release.
It Depends on Your Sport
The frame rate you need also depends on the sport you’re shooting. In some sports, timing is more important than frame rate, and you can get ideal shots just by shooting at the right moment.
In other sports, like football and basketball, there’s constant motion. With sports like this, your best bet for getting good shots is to take a high quantity of them and sort out the good ones later.
Here are some other frequently asked questions about this subject.
Does Continuous Shooting Reduce Quality?
Usually, no. Photos taken in continuous shooting mode will have the same quality as those taken in single shot mode. However, it may be harder to keep the subject in focus with continuous shooting.
Do Professional Photographers Use Continuous Shooting Mode?
It depends on what the photographer is shooting. In some sports, for example, photographers using single-shot mode are at a dramatic disadvantage.
If you’re shooting fast-moving sports, a continuous shooting speed of 10fps or higher will make your job a lot easier. However, getting good photos with a slower frame rate is possible, and it also depends on which sport you’re shooting.
How fast does your main camera shoot? Tell us in the comments!