basketball on floor photo by sportoakimirka on shutterstock

Ultimate Guide to Get Great Basketball Pictures: Gear | Techniques | Photo Ideas

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Basketball is one of the most popular sports in the world. Millions of people around the globe play it, and there are so many great moments in the game that deserve to be captured in pictures. Whether you are a professional photographer or a casual enthusiast, this guide will help you get the perfect shots of your favorite sport. With tips on capturing the action, setting up the right angles, and what equipment is best for taking basketball photos, you'll be ready to take pictures that make every play look amazing.

Essentials Gear for Basketball Photography


Cameras are essential for basketball photography as they allow photographers to capture high-quality images of fast-paced action on the court. A good camera should have certain features that make it best suited for sports photography, such as:

  • Fast autofocus: This allows the camera to focus quickly on a moving subject and keep it in focus even as it moves.
  • High frame rate: A high frame rate, such as ten frames per second or higher, allows the photographer to capture multiple images quickly, increasing the chances of getting a great shot.
  • Good image quality: A camera with good image quality will produce sharp, clear images that show the details of the action on the court.

Canon EOS-1D X Mark II

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Based on these criteria, here are some camera models that are well-suited for the best basketball images:


Lens significantly impact the quality of your images and the perspective of your shots. Several types of lenses are suitable for basketball photography, including telephoto zoom lenses and prime lenses.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM

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Telephoto zoom lenses offer the flexibility to zoom in and out, allowing you to capture the action from a distance. This makes them ideal for capturing the fast-paced, high-flying action in basketball games. Some popular models for basketball photography include the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM, Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR, and Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS.

On the other hand, prime lenses have a fixed focal length, making them great for capturing sharp and detailed images. They are generally lighter and faster than zoom lenses, making them ideal for capturing low-light action in basketball games. Popular basketball models include the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM and  Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM.


Monopods provide support and stability when capturing fast-paced action. Monopods allow you to shoot with one hand, freeing up the other hand to adjust camera settings or focus. This can be especially useful when tracking a moving subject, as it provides a more stable platform for your camera than shooting with just your hands.

Manfrotto XPRO Monopod Aluminum

Image Credit:

Some popular models for the best basketball images include the Manfrotto XPRO Monopod Aluminum and Induro Alloy 8M Monopod. When choosing a monopod, look for one that is sturdy, lightweight, and can accommodate your camera and lens combination.

Memory Cards

SanDisk Extreme PRO

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A high-capacity memory card is crucial for basketball photography, as it ensures you won't run out of space in the middle of a crucial moment. High-speed memory cards are also important for capturing continuous action, as they can keep up with the fast write speeds of modern cameras. Examples are the SanDisk Extreme PRO, Lexar Professional 1000x, and Sony SF-G Series.

Camera Strap

BlackRapid Sport Camera Strap

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A good camera strap should be comfortable to wear, durable, and able to hold your camera while moving securely. It can help reduce camera fatigue and provide quick and easy access to your camera when you need to take a shot. Some camera straps are designed specifically for sports photography and feature extra padding, adjustable lengths, and quick-release mechanisms for added comfort and convenience.

Examples include the BlackRapid Sport Camera Strap, HoldFast MoneyMaker Dual Camera Harness, and Peak Design Slide Lite Camera Strap.

Effective Techniques for Energetic Basketball Photography

1. Use a High ISO

When photographing fast-paced basketball games, a high ISO setting can help ensure that the images are properly exposed, even when the lighting conditions are challenging. However, increasing the ISO also increases the amount of noise in the image, so it's important to find a balance between a high ISO setting and a low noise level.

A common ISO range for basketball photography is between 800 and 6400, but the exact value will depend on the lighting conditions and the desired effect.

2. Anticipate the Action

basketball player jumping for shooting ball

Photo by Eugene Onischenko on shutterstock

This involves predicting and positioning oneself for the best possible angle and composition for the impending play, such as a player's jump shot or a dunk. By anticipating the action, a photographer can be ready to snap the photo at the player's peak, capturing the game's energy and movement.

This can result in more visually compelling and impactful photos compared to just reacting to the action as it unfolds.

3. Open up the Aperture

Opening the aperture allows more light into the camera, which can be particularly useful in low-light conditions or when you need to capture fast-moving action. A wider aperture also creates a shallower depth of field, which can help to separate the subject from the background and create a more dramatic effect.

basketball player crouching and holding a basketball in hands

Photo by masisyan on shutterstock

For example, by using a low f-number, you can blur the background and emphasize the motion and energy of the players, making the action stand out and adding impact to your photos.

4. Shoot in Burst Mode

Shoot in burst mode captures the dynamic movement and action of the players, increasing the chances of capturing a great moment. Burst mode can also capture the ball's motion and the interactions between players, resulting in images with a strong sense of energy and movement. Additionally, shooting in burst mode can allow for selecting the best frame from a series of photos, increasing the chances of getting the perfect shot.

5. Select a Slow Shutter Speed

A slow shutter speed allows the camera to keep the shutter open for longer, allowing more light to reach the sensor and creating a motion blur effect. This can give images a sense of movement and energy, particularly with fast-moving subjects like basketball players.

photo of basketball court

Photo by Oleksii Sidorov on shutterstock

When selecting a slow shutter speed, it's important to balance achieving the desired motion blur effect and avoiding camera shake, which can result in a blurry image. In basketball photography, a common shutter speed for capturing motion blur is around 1/30th of a second or slower. Still, the exact value will depend on the movement of the subjects and the desired effect.

6. Use Continuous Shooting Mode

This mode allows you to take multiple photos in rapid succession by holding down the shutter button, which increases your chances of capturing the peak action and decisive moment in a play. For example, if you're trying to capture a high-flying dunk or a fast-paced dribble, continuous shooting mode will give you several shots to choose from, so you can select the one with the most impact and freeze the action at its most dramatic moment.

Great Ideas for Basketball Pictures

1. Photograph the Fans

fans cheering for the game in basketball court

Photo by Oleksii Sidorov on shutterstock

Capturing the excitement and energy of the fans is a great way to give your basketball photos a lively and dynamic feel. Look for shots of fans cheering, high-fiving, or holding up signs, and try to incorporate the crowd into your photos as much as possible.

2. Photograph the Coach

couch talking to the players

Photo by wavebreakmedia on shutterstock

The coach is often the heart and soul of the team, and taking photos of them in action can be a great way to capture the game's intensity. Look for shots of the coach giving instructions, reacting to the action on the court, or speaking with players.

3. Shoot Some Passing Shots

passing ball moment on the court

Photo by Fabrizio Andrea Bertani on shutterstock

Basketball is a fast-paced sport, and capturing the speed and precision of a well-executed pass is a great way to show the athleticism and skill of the players. Focus on getting shots of the ball in flight, and try to find angles that showcase the movement of the players as they pass.

4. Shoot From the Corners and Underneath the Net

basketball player jumping high and shooting ball

Photo by Alex Kravtsov on shutterstock

Shooting from the court's corners can give your basketball photos a unique perspective and help you show the entire court in a single shot. Shooting from beneath the net provides a great view of the court's action and can help highlight the players' height and power as they leap for rebounds or slam dunks.


This guide is a great resource for photographers of all levels to get the most out of their basketball photography. With the right gear, techniques, and ideas, you can capture amazing photos that showcase the game's speed, power, and excitement. So grab your camera and get ready to start taking some great shots of your favorite sport!

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