articles for photographers

How to photograph football?

soccer ball

Sports photography and football shooting in particular is a specific genre of photography. This direction is significantly different from the usual reporting or the same weddings.

Below I will share some tips for outdoor soccer photography. Indoor shooting is a separate topic.

football photography on canon ef 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L

Choice of technique

For sports photography, you need a camera with fast autofocus and good rate of fire. You will also need a lens with long focal lengths. But take your time to look at the newest top-end cameras and lenses, football they filmed excellently 10 and 15 years ago and everyone was fine. Don't think that your task requires the latest technology. It is clear that ancient cameras are inferior to newer ones. But this difference does not play a role everywhere, especially considering that new models pay more attention to video-possibilities.

football photography on canon ef 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L

Choosing a lens

A quality lens is even more important here than a carcass.... If you buy soccer photography equipment from scratch, spend more money on a lens before thinking about a camera.

First, the focal lengths. For football, it is optimal to have a lens with a focal length of 100-400mm. This range will make you feel comfortable on the football field. 70-200mm suitable for small football pitches, at any stadium you will feel limited with it.

Secondly, I advise you to look at your own optics and not try to save money and take some sigma/ tamron / other evil spirits.

Ideal would be the Canon EF 100-400mm f / 4.5-5.6L IS II USM.

There are no complaints about this lens, except for its price.

My choice fell on the first version of the Canon EF 100-400mm f / 4.5-5.6L IS. It can be taken used for sane money.

Canon 100-400mm

Examples of football photos for the first version of Canon EF 100-400mm f / 4.5-5.6L IS:

The lens is slightly less sharp compared to the second version at 200-400mm, but nevertheless gives a very pleasant and voluminous picture. The autofocus of the first version is lightning fast, there are no complaints.

For a smaller budget, you can look at the Canon EF 70-300mm f / 4-5.6 IS II USM. Also a good option. Of the minuses - not such a convenient range of focal lengths and the overall impression of the image for four.

Canon EF 70-300mm f / 4-5.6 IS II USM

Normal option, but elks shoot better. Kenon 70-300mm, you can take only the second version. The first is terribly blurry.

100-400mm will be your primary lens for 90% of shots. It can be supplemented with a standard lens like 24-105mm /28-105mm and width type 16-35mm/14mm.

Standard zoom you will need it for the highlights BEFORE / AFTER the match. On the football field itself, such a lens is useless, except perhaps in a situation where you are filming a training session and can walk around the field.

Sample photos on Canon EF 28-105mm f3.5-4.5 USM:

Super shirik useful for non-standard shots with an unusual perspective and large coverage:

One more caveat. Here I'm talking about several lenses with different focal lengths. Someone may be tempted - and not just take one super-zoom and shoot everything on Tamron 18-400mm? You can do whatever you want. But this is a bad idea. These super-zooms have lousy autofocus and are overwhelming for the tele-range we're most interested in here. An exception may be professional Canon EF 28-300mm f3.5-5.6L USMbut the cost and weight of this lens is unlikely to tempt beginners.

By the way, on all my lenses I wear protective filters.

Choosing a camera

You need a camera with an autofocus speed of at least 7-8 frames per second. With this speed of shooting, you will feel comfortable. 5fps is a slow shutter, you can shoot with it, but many moments will elude you. Cameras shooting 10-12fps and more, of course, will give you even more control over the situation. But keep in mind that you will watch these episodes later. Too many sources are also evil. My camera shoots at 20fps, but I try not to overuse it. then you will need to spend a lot of time on the selection of successful shots. Low speed series (7-10k / s) are also effective.

cameras for shooting football

Canon cameras will suit you: Canon 5D mark III / IV, 7D mark II, 90D, Canon R6 / R5, as well as almost any model from the 1D series. However, keep in mind that overpayment for R6 / R5 is up to you personally. DSLRs do an excellent job with this. I can not advise Canon rsince This model has a viewfinder lag, which will make such shooting not very comfortable. It is quite possible to shoot sports on R (8fps are available for this), but it will not be as comfortable as on DSLRs or older models like R6 / R5. About Canon RP we're not talking here.

You also need a monopod so that you can comfortably shoot with a heavy lens for long periods of time. A monopod is a must when you only have a lens weighing about 1,5kg.

monopod Benro A49TDS4

I use Benro A49TDS4, but there are better options. For example, inexpensive Sirui carbon monopod.

Memory cards

For continuous shooting, you need the fastest memory card possible. Shooting in bursts quickly clogs the camera buffer. If you have a slow memory card, it will freeze recording and the camera will spend more time buffering and recording. The faster your card is, the better.

How do I adjust the exposure (AV, TV, M modes)?

When shooting action scenes, you need a very fast shutter speed to freeze motion. The standard minimum for such events is 1/1000. If you set a slower shutter speed, for example 1/500, then the ball in motion will be indistinct.

photo of football at exposure 1/500

The second point about exposure when shooting soccer is that you really want to keep the players separate from the background. If possible, it is better to get rid of the background altogether. The maximum open aperture and a good high-aperture lens will help in this. From this it follows that the optimal shooting mode will be AV - that is, aperture priority. You can also set the manual mode, fixing the shutter speed at 1/1000 and the maximum open aperture, and set the ISO to AUTO.

TV mode is undesirable for such shooting, because you will not control the depth of field. Very often, players have a lot of unnecessary visual information and the best way to get rid of it is BOKESHKA... For the same reason, lenses 400mm f2.8, 600mm f4, etc. are used for professional matches. They are needed not because there is not enough aperture, but to isolate the players from the background.

How to focus?

Nowadays advertisements have been buzzing about fabulously cool eye autofocus ... you don't need it. As fast and accurate as it is, the camera picks faces randomly. There is no time to switch between faces - it's too long. Therefore, we shoot at the center point in the tracking Servo-mode. You can also program the AF-ON button to turn focus on / off.

By the way, in this frame my focus went to the judge, but the photo did not lose because of this:

highlights in football


Any serious photographer shouldn't even have this question! RAW ONLY. The raw file format (RAW) allows you to tweak complex lighting in post-processing. It may be that you have to shoot backlit. It is the raw format that will allow you to easily cope with this on any camera.

raw or jpg

There are two excuses for shooting JPGs:

  1. you need to give the photo to the customer immediately after shooting
  2. you have a slow card - the JPG format will allow you to shoot faster in bursts with a weak memory card

About electronic shutter

Modern cameras allow you to take pictures at a much faster speed when using an electronic shutter. In case of Canon R5it really helps given its limitations in high-speed photography.

12fps on a mechanical shutter, which the manufacturer promises, is far from always available due to a number of restrictions indicated on page 467 of the advanced user manual for this camera (more on this in the video below). Therefore, on the R5 / R6, it is sometimes easier to turn on the electronic shutter, which proved to be excellent in football without any artifacts. I shot 1100 frames on the R5 mixed with a mechanical / electronic shutter and did not see the difference between them, even in the most dynamic scenes.

football photography on canon ef 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L

But, if we talk about simpler cameras, then the electronic shutter has problems with the rolling shutter, which can lead to marriage in photographs. Determine how much this mode is working in your camera, you can only empirically.

Choosing the optimal shooting point and angle

In the diagram below, with the camera icon, I showed the optimal points for shooting a football match if you want to get interesting and emotional close-up photos of the players. And in general, for PHOTO shooting it is better to be located there. Why? I describe in more detail in my video at the end of the article.

position of the photographer for shooting football - angle and point of viewAs for the angle, it is best to shoot from the lower level. You will need to kneel or sit down - from this angle, the photos will look most advantageous. More details - again in my video review.


As far as lighting is concerned, there is usually plenty of it at such events and you do not control it. What you can do is stand on the side of the stadium where the sun will not shine into your lens. It is best to avoid backlighting. But again, it depends on the timing of the shoot and the ability to choose the optimal position. In any case, shoot in raw format, this will give you the opportunity to fix complex lighting later.

General recommendations

You should come to the stadium in advance to familiarize yourself with the situation and understand where you will be filming from. Plus, you can take interesting shots before the match.

I almost forgot about the batteries. If you don't have battery pack, I recommend changing the battery after the shooting time. One battery is barely enough for two halves. Continuous shooting drains the battery.

A very important recommendation - don't get hung up on technique. The coolest camera won't make good shots if you don't know how to use it. More than once people asked me such questions - should I buy such a lens, tk. photos are blurred. Then, during the conversation, it turned out that they simply did not know how to use the existing equipment. Changing the lens would not have helped improve those photos in any way. The vast majority of modern (and not even very modern) cameras will allow you to shoot football at a more or less normal level.

In general, to get good shots you definitely need: long focus lens, dexterity, good reaction speed and straight arms.

My training video on "how to shoot football matches":

If you still have questions ...

You can discuss this topic in the comments to the video. If you have detailed questions for me personally, then you can order an individual consultation.