When Equipment Drives the Results
Sports photography is one of those areas of the craft where the equipment really does make a difference. (If you think you’ll get results from the kids’ soccer match like those shown in the Canon TV commercials without spending from $1,800 to $6,000 for each lens — you’re living in Fantasyland.)
I typically shoot soccer sitting on a folding stool. One Nikon D300 on a monopod has a 300mm f/2.8 lens (often with 1.4x converter). A second D300 mounts a 70-200 f/2.8 lens which, with a converter, weighs just under 7 pounds. I shoot long shots with the 300, and when the action gets closer, I lean the monopod against my left leg, and reach down to my right and swing up the camera with the zoom (the 6 1/2 pound curl).
The problem with the original Nikon 70-200 is that the contacts (for camera-lens communication) tend to oxidize. When this happens, the lens won’t auto-focus. Some at Nikon, even after eight years, don’t readily acknowledge the problem, though it has been widely discussed online — especially among sports photographers. The consensus solution is to use Caig DeoxIT to clean and protect the contacts on the lens and the internal connections. Despite Nikon’s reluctance to accept the problem, the proof to many is that the DeoxIT works. But you do need to clean the lens contacts regularly. And I didn’t.
So for Saturday’s Majestics match the 70-200 fired about six shots — and stopped focusing. Nothing I could do in the field helped. So I was down to just the 300mm lens.
The team's first goal of the season.
The question is my mind is whether or not I would have made these shots if I had been switching back and forth between the two cameras. The advantage is that with only one camera and lens, you just track the action all the time. However, sitting just behind the goal line and near the corner, a lot of action is just too close, and the framing is difficult — and too tight. On the other hand, there is no time lost switching between cameras.
The aesthetic and creative contradiction: Shooting with just one lens simultaneously restricts and releases you.