Taking soccer pics at night under lights
I have the Nikon DX 40 and have been taking pictures for my son's soccer teamluckily most games have been during the day. The one night game under lights I tried taking pictures but forgot my flash and I did try different settingsbut was struggling and decided to put down the camera and watch the game. This Friday we have a game under lights again at night and I want to try again. I have Scott Kelby's book, magic lantern book, etc, but would like some "real person" suggestions. Do I have to use my flash? Should I set it to night pics? Thanks for any help you can give me!..

Comments (6)

Shell66 wrote:.

I have the Nikon DX 40 and have been taking pictures for my son'ssoccer teamluckily most games have been during the day. The onenight game under lights I tried taking pictures but forgot my flashand I did try different settingsbut was struggling and decided toput down the camera and watch the game. This Friday we have a gameunder lights again at night and I want to try again. I have ScottKelby's book, magic lantern book, etc, but would like some "realperson" suggestions. Do I have to use my flash? Should I set it tonight pics? Thanks for any help you can give me!.

Well, if your subject is over 25 feet or so...most flash won't "reach" that far (the Mid level external flashes)...The SB-800 might get out to 50 feet,'ll need a high ISO (800/1600) AND a fairly fast F/stop (F/3.5 or F/2.8) to get a good exposure..Depending on how bright the room lights are (typically,, not as bright as you need)....

Without Flash...(probably the way you will need to go)....Shoot. RAW, ISO 1600, Spot meter on a face that is in the light. and put the camera in "M" mode..and use that setting if the light stays about the same ..and shoot away.....You will have to develop each one separately...the Exposure Adj tool with your RAW converter, will become you friend very quickly...You may need to increase the exposure value in post and adjust the contrast too...And use Noise Reduction software (I use Helicon Noise Filter (Free Ver) "After" post, the results are a bit sharper than using it "Before" post. For this program. But you will get more usable files this way...NOTE: Lowest Shutter Speed 1/over the Focal length to stop the subject action. VR lens's doesn't stop Subject motion, only Camera movement from you..

Try using FL below 100mm...= 150mm on A D40...that way, you can use a 1/125s as you lowest SS. (hold your breath as you take the picture...helps stop camera shake "During" exposure. BUT 1/125 may still be to slow to "STOP" action shoots in most cases..

Hope this is useful to you.PLA5..

Comment #1


Would recommend against, at least during the game itself. Aside from range issues (to some degree surmountable powerful external flash + high ISO may illuminate a subject but not the background, which tends to be much further away...), distracting players with a powerful flash may be frowned upon..


Favor a fast lens in both respects a good wide-open maximum aperture (f/2.8 might be good; note that using a too-wide aperture may make an exposure easier but will also lower DOF, making correct focus even more critical) and one known to focus quickly..

Focal length likely favors long, unless you have very good access to the field. A zoom may be appropriate if you will be dealing with a range of distances..

A suitable lens is likely to be painfully expensive..


A continuous AF mode would seem appropriate for following players. AF-C..

You've only got 3 AF points, so that's not going to help you very much. Might make sense to only use the center point, to aim -that- at the main subject, and crop later to achieve your desired compositions 10 MP will give you some leeway unless the action is too far for your focal length..


This can get very ugly. If you're lucky enough that the lighting is pretty even across the field (or at least, where you're going to focus), then you may be able to find some combination of settings that works generally, and set it (using manual mode to lock it in) thus avoiding issues regarding differently colored uniforms (all-white uniforms versus all-black, for instance it can be tricky to precisely spot-meter off the face of a rapidly moving person, and not be fooled by the grass or the uniforms or any walls or so forth)..

If it's quite uneven through where you want to shoot, you may be best off using spot or center-weighted. If you're reasonably sure that low light is the limiting factor (likely), and you still want to stop motion, consider using shutter priority setting it to something likely to stop people (1/400s might be decent, but difficult; you may have to back down to 1/250s even), using a high ISO, and being ready to fire up the noise-reduction algorithms later. It is generally much easier to reduce chroma noise than it is motion blur..

White balance.

Best to avoid doing anything permanent shoot raw. You can take a custom white balance off the lights before the game, but it's probably still going to be fairly ugly, and raw give you more flexibility to adjust shadows and noise et al...

Comment #2

Thanks so much! I haven't done much in rawstill working with learning my photoshopbut have about three books I reference to. Would it be worth investing in a 85mm 1.8 prime for indoor stuff and this night shooting? At the moment I am using my 55-200 4-5.6 VR. I did try my friend's 70-300, but that was before I bought a monopod and by the end of the game it felt heavy. May be different now that I have a pod. Most of the time my 55-200 is adequate.When all else fails I guess edit (and shoot in raw)..

It's been nice to have so many of the players and parents rave about my pictures-the players are mostly 16 and 17 years old and love to see the game revealed through the pics. Can hardly believe what you miss watching the game that you see later in the pictures..

Again-thanks I will try this friday night...

Comment #3

As long as you can walk around the perimeter of the field, and or seat in first raw seats...YES...That would give you a 127mm f/1.8 on your D40....You should be able some nice action with 2-4 players fighting over the ball....

You may consider a 1.4x teleconverter too. that would turn the 85 f/1.8 into a 277mm f/2.6 on a D40 after the crop factor is included..

It is a big expense...BUT...if you plan to sell these down the road. You have started with Great Glass NOW. And the added f/stop may allow ISO 800, even ISO 400 at times..So your photos should Noise Free and Sharp....


Comment #4

I am pretty content to just share them with the players and parents, but it is addicting...the only if I had this or that...then finding a way to justify getting one more thing. Even harder is deleting the not so great picstrying to just keep the best onesmaybe over time or shooting in raw eliminates some of this issue..

Hopefully I can get this to work out Friday night with just the equipment I have. It will definitely be a learning experience. If it works out I will post some picsthanks!..

Comment #5

There's a lot to be said for keeping things simple..

Set the camera at 1600, and P for program..

When possible, keep the zoom around the 100mm mark, or closer, so that your maximum aperture is wider than f5.6. This will allow a decent shutter speed, to minimize blur fromt hekids..

As you shoot, pay attention to what focal lengths you are using, and after the next game, decide if an 85mm lens will be long enough for the next game?.

Chances are very, very good that you can happily shoot JPEG files, and use automatic white balance..


Comment #6

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