Sports photography allows you to record pivotal game-changing momentum swings, capture the thrill of victory or illustrate the agony of defeat. When it comes to sports, being well prepared (and comfortable) can make the difference in getting key shots or missing golden opportunities. Following is a list of five key accessories to help outdoor sports photographers stay on the top of their game (pun intended).
Take a look at the sidelines in any large field pro sport and you'll likely see a collection of big white lenses and the monopods
used to support them. Typically speaking, camera supports are used to stabilize the camera so that longer shutter speeds can be used. However, because sports photographers generally use very fast shutter speeds to freeze action, the primary benefit of using a monopod is to reduce fatigue. Anyone who has handheld a Canon super telephoto lens for an extended period of time knows how exhausting it can be. A monopod relieves the photographer's arms by transferring much of the support responsibility to the ground, yet it is easy to set up, adjust or break down allowing for maximum versatility compared to a tripod.
2. Photography Backpack
These days there are a number of options when it comes to photography gear transport. And while hard cases, rolling cases & messenger style bags certainly have their uses, many sports photographers prefer a good old fashioned backpack
Why? Because sports photography may require you to constantly move in order to follow the action. I've shot several football games over the last few years and the ability to stay mobile is a big plus. Using a backpack means that your gear moves with you relieving the worry that your expensive gear may suddenly go missing if unattended.
3. Sling Strap
Especially when photographing large field sports, you may find your long telephoto lens limiting when it comes to capturing other aspects of the event, such as sideline interactions, the crowd, fireworks and halftime demonstrations (just to name a few). That's why many sports photographers carry a second (and possibly third) body with a general purpose or wide angle lens attached to cover these needs.
My particular favorite is the BlackRapid Sport Breathe Camera Strap
(an update to the RS-Sport Extreme
). This strap dramatically lessens the burden of carrying a camera for long periods of time and even feels comfortable (to me, at least) while wearing a backpack at the same time.
4. Weather/Dust Protection
Yes, it's true that the Canon L-series lenses typically used for sports photography feature some type of weather sealing. While the sealing can protect your gear from the unexpected storm, it's not a feature you should rely on for extended exposure to the elements. A simple rain cover
is easy to pack, relatively inexpensive and can save your gear from damage when the light rain turns into a massive downpour. But not only can a rain cover protect from downpours, it can also shield your camera from the fine dust particles that fill the air at events such as dirt track racing
. Trust me – cleaning a plastic bag after events like this is 10x easier than cleaning your DSLR camera and/or lens.
5. LCD Loupe
Trying to review images in the bright sun can be problematic (to say the least) because of glare. The solution is simple – use an LCD Loupe
to provide glare-free viewing of your images. My particular favorite is the Hoodman Compact HoodLoupe Optical Viewfinder for 3.2" LCD Screens
which packs down to a compact size for storage and features a strap for hanging around the neck for easy access.
If you can't decide on which lens to use for sports photography, check out Bryan's Canon Outdoor Sports Lens Recommendations
So that's our top 5 sports photography accessories. Do you have other suggestions? Let us know in the comments