Friday, February 24, 2012

What I drag along for High School Basketball

Now that my basketball season is close to being over I thought I would answer a question that I have been asked more than a few times. That question is "What do you use when you shoot these games?" So here is the breakdown. Some stuff is not pictured above because it is all packed away for a game tonight, but I will list it below. So here we go:

Camera Bodies:
1D mark III, 1D mark II, and 50D w. vertical grip (all Canon cameras) These are all professional level DSLR bodies with fast auto focusing, a wide ISO (film speed) range, and all use the same memory cards. The 50D is a step below the 1D series bodies that I use, but it still has the same full control as the 1D bodies. I do not use anything below the level of the 50D. That is not to say that the smaller consumer level DSLR bodies, but they don't have the same image quality. Additionally it is worth saying that if you are going to be a professional photographer you should not be using a camera that is a step below what your clients are using.


Canon 70-200 2.8L: This is the work horse of all of my lenses. I use this lens probably 90% of the time. It is an amazing lens and I would have to say that most professional photographers that own this lens use it more than any other lens in their bag. When asked what lens someone should buy this one is usually at the top of the list.

Canon 24-105 4.0L IS: I originally picked this lens up for photographing teams and large groups. I was forced to start using it for basketball games in smaller gyms. It is one stop "slower" (half the amount of light) than the 70-200, but because I strobe the games that I shoot (see strobes for basketball below) it isn't that big of an issue.

Canon 17-40 4.0L: I was in the market for a wide angle lens for situations where even my 24-105 was too tight. Typically I will use this lens if I am shooting celebrations, crowd shots, or want a image of the entire gym. I purchased it instead of the fast 16-35 2.8L because I new that it would not get used everyday so I wasn't going to spend an additional $1000 for a lens that would spend more time in the bag than on the camera.

Sigma 15mm 2.8 fisheye: Okay this is a r-e-a-l-l-y w-i-d-e l-e-n-s. If you are purchasing lenses and equipment this should be the lens that you buy after you have bought 50 rechargeable batteries, your third camera bag, three or for different camera straps, and maybe even a few dozen memory cards. I really like shooting with this lens when the situation is right. The temptation when you have a fisheye lens is to use it too often.

Other Stuff

Pocket Wizards: There are a number of different companies that make radio slaves. The is a reason that Pocket Wizards are the industry standard, they work. I am currently using the Plus II transceivers and I love them. As of March 15th , or around that date, photo equipment retailers will start shipping the Pocket Wizard Plus III. These are simply an upgrade to the Plus II with a few improvements. Yes, I will begin the phased upgrade as my Plus II units need replaced.

ExpoDisc: This is the second and final custom white balance device I will even buy. Simple and easy to use. I don't need it all of the time, but when I do need to do a custom white balance it is the way to go.

Speedlights (flash): I have owned third party flash units, the Canon 430 EX, and am currently using the 580EXII. These are awesome flash units and work great. In my opinion they are well worth the additional cost.

Batteries: What more can you say. You need them. In my experience don't waste your time with third party camera batteries. They are not reliable and can let you down at the worst time.

Memory Cards: I use Sandisk cards and only Sandisk cards in my working set. I have about a dozen random manufacture cards that I carry if I need cards in a pinch. I carry about 20 compact flash cards (I think all but 4 of them are 4 GB) in two Think Tank Photo Pixel Pocket Rockets. These are the best card holders I have found. Order them from Midwest Photo Exchange. (

Pre-Release Cable: Okay so this is in my bag, but I use it more for Baseball, Softball, and Track. I picked this up from Flash Zebra for about half the cost of the Canon OEM cable. With this it allows me to fire a camera remotely while shooting another camera in my hand. Just plug one end into the camera and the other into the pocket wizard.

Ipod/Iphone: There are times when I really just need to tune the world out and focus on shooting. The is a must have. Either I am listening to House music, Pandora radio, or a playlist that I threw together. Sometimes the cheers and jeers are just too much for me to focus on the images.

Strobes: Two years ago I threw the idea of shooting basketball and wrestling with available light out the window. I was not happy with the results and I was looking for a way to let my images stand out from what other area photographers were doing. I am using two Alien Bees B800 (320 ws) strobes set at 1/4 power. Does it take a little while longer to get ready for a game?Yes, but the results speak for themselves.

So that wraps it up for now. Hope this shed some light on what I am using. Any questions, drop me a line.


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