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

basketball on floor photo by sportoakimirka on shutterstock

The world's most popular sport is basketball, with hundreds of thousands playing it in every corner of the globe. There are millions of dribbles happening across the face of the Earth, and millions of times that can be captured in a game of basketball.

This guide will help you take good shots of the game, be you a pro photographer or an enthusiast. You'll learn tips on how to catch the action, set up for the best angles, and get the right equipment to make sure you see pictures of basketball that show off every play.

Essentials Gear for Basketball Photography

Camera

Basketball photographers will need cameras that can allow them to take quality photos of the fast actions happening on a basketball court. The following properties of a camera are considered the best for sports photography:

  • Fast Autofocus: This feature enables fast focusing on a moving subject and keeping it in focus while it moves.
  • High Frame Rate: With a high frame rate, approximately 10 per second, the photographer can quickly take multiple pictures so as not to skip a great shot.
  • Image quality: A good quality camera should take very sharp and clear images so that the action on the court is clearly outlined down to the detail.

Canon EOS-1D X Mark II

Image Credit: amazon.com

With this criteria applied, some camera models well fitted for the best images of basketball are:

Lens

The lens will play a significant role in image quality and shooting perspective. Many suitable types of lenses that could come in handy here include the telephoto zoom lens and the prime lens.

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

Image Credit: amazon.com

The telephoto zoom lenses give that extra reach that you need to zoom in and out of action. This makes it suitable for capturing basketball games with all the fast, high-flying action. Some of the 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 contrary, prime lenses are lighter and faster, and their focal length is fixed. They are great for sharp images. That generally makes them lighter and faster than a zoom lens, which makes them ideal for capturing low-light action in a basketball game.

Popular basketball models include the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM and  Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM.

Monopod

Monopods provide excellent support and stability when shooting fast-moving action. Besides, they let you shoot with one hand and give freedom to the other to execute some camera settings or focus.

The latter is significant for fast-movement subjects; it provides a better point for your camera if you're not using just your hands.

Manfrotto XPRO Monopod Aluminum

Image Credit: amazon.com

Some recommended models for the best basketball photos are the Manfrotto XPRO Monopod Aluminum and Induro Alloy 8M Monopod. In choosing a monopod, find something made of a solid but light material that can support your camera and lens combination.

Memory Cards

SanDisk Extreme PRO

Image Credit: amazon.com

High-capacity memory cards are pretty essential in basketball photography. This is because you do not want to run out of space while capturing that vital moment.

High-speed ones are just as important since they will make continuous action possible with the present-day fast write speed of modern cameras. Examples are SanDisk Extreme PRO, Lexar Professional 1000x, and Sony SF-G Series.

Camera Strap

BlackRapid Sport Camera Strap

Image Credit: amazon.com

A good camera strap should be comfortable and robust enough to support your camera in the correct position as you move.

It can lower fatigue on your camera, making it easy for you to capture the perfect moment whenever it comes.

Some are characterized by extra padding, adjustability in length, and quick releases for convenience. These are specially made for sports photography.

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

Top Basketball Photography Techniques

1. Use a High ISO

This becomes particularly useful when photographing fast basketball games, ensuring that the images are highly exposed in cases where light is poor.

Since noise increases with an increase in ISO, some kind of balance has to be maintained between a high ISO setting and low levels of noise to make images great.

Standard ISO for basketball photography can go from 800 up to 6400, depending on the lighting conditions and effect intended.

2. Anticipate the Action

basketball player jumping for shooting ball

Photo by Eugene Onischenko on shutterstock

This would translate into forecasting and positioning oneself to have the best sight and composition of what will happen next when a player is about to throw a jump shot or a dunk.

Anticipation means that the photographer should be at the perfect spot to shoot a picture as the player reaches the top of his jump. This helps record the energy and movement in the game. In most cases, this leads to shots being more engaging and visually impactful.

3. Open up the Aperture

Opening the aperture lets more light in the camera. This is appropriate for shooting under low light or freezing acions at high speed. A wide-open aperture also creates a shallow depth of field that helps disconnect the subject from the background dramatically.

basketball player crouching and holding a basketball in hands

Photo by masisyan on shutterstock

For example, opting for a low f-number blurs the background. This emphasizes the players' movement and energy, with the action standing out. It eventually adds real impact to your photographs.

4. Shoot in Burst Mode

Burst mode will help you to capture as many moments of dynamic movement and action by the players as possible. This increases the chances of capturing a great moment.

Burst mode would also capture ball motion and player interaction in photographs that are high in energy and movement.

Ultimately, the best shot would be taken from a consecutive series of photos, usually all taken at that specific moment.

5. Select a Slow Shutter Speed

Slow shutter speed means keeping the shutter open for a more extended period, letting in more light to reach the sensor. You can apply a blur effect on your subject's movement. For example, runners in a basketball picture.

photo of basketball court

Photo by Oleksii Sidorov on shutterstock

When a slow shutter speed is used, you must balance the length of exposure intrinsic to the desired motion blur effect and anticipated camera shake that could make the photo blurry.

In taking pictures for basketball or capturing motion, the slowest usually applied shutter speed ranges from 1/30 of a second going down. However, the exact value depends on the movement of the subject and the desired effect.

6. Use Continuous Shooting Mode

Burst mode allows you to grab shots in quick succession of more than one photo using a press-and-hold method on the shutter button.

This way, your probability of capturing a peak action and the decisive moment in a play increases.

For example, if you want a big dunk or the fastest dribble, the continuous shooting mode will give you plenty to pick out, which makes the best impression. This way, you can freeze the action at just the right dramatic moment.

Photography Ideas for Basketball

1. Take Photos the Fans

fans cheering for the game in basketball court

Photo by Oleksii Sidorov on shutterstock

Make your basketball photos come alive and kicking by capturing the crowd's excitement and energy. Get shots of fans cheering, high-fiving, or holding up signs, and try to get the crowd involved in your shots as much as you can.

2. Photograph the Coach

couch talking to the players

Photo by wavebreakmedia on shutterstock

You can also take photographs of the coach, who is often the heart and soul of the team. What to focus on includes the coach giving instructions, reacting to plays, or talking to players.

3. Hit Some Passing Shots

passing ball moment on the court

Photo by Fabrizio Andrea Bertani on shutterstock

Basketball is a reasonably quick sport, and one can best illustrate the speed and preciseness of a good pass. It brings out the athletes even better in pictures. Try to catch the flight of the ball running past players, and find those movement angles that reveal how the players pass back and forth.

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 viewpoint and help you capture the entire court within a single shot.

Shooting from beneath the net will provide a spectacular view of the court action and help emphasize how high and mighty the players are leaping for boards and slam dunks.

Conclusion

This is an excellent guideline for photographers at any level in basketball photography. With the proper gear, techniques, and ideas, you are sure to get some nice shots that will highlight the speed, power, and excitement of the game. Get your camera ready; it's time to start shooting.

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