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Settings for indoor hockey games with my camera and lens

edited December 2014 Posted in » Nikon D5100 Forum
Hello all.
I am glad I came across this forum. Hopefully I can use this and some shutter time to become a better photographer.

I have seen this question asked before, but not with my equipment.
I want to take some pictures at a few hockey games this year.
I bought a new Nikon D5100 last year and I have been having some fun with it. However, my son is on the varsity hockey team and I wanted to capture some action shots of the team. I tried shooting with stock lenses and it was not pretty.
It was dark (fluorescent lights) so I tried changing some things on my camera and it went from bad to worse. I tried the ISO, white balance and a few other things, so I gave up and went to Auto with flash off and that helped quite a bit so his first game was not a total loss. I went home and looked up lenses and came across a nice clean Nikkor ED 80-200mm f//2.8 D lens on Ebay. It is in excellent condition so I bought it.

So, I am sitting here and I am dying to get started but have no idea where to begin with this huge but awesome lens.
My son has a game tomorrow and Saturday and I wanted to practice a little before the game begins.
Can anyone tell me what settings will work with my combo?
Maybe some starting points and I can mess around a little as the game begins.

Thanks for your time



  • edited December 2014
    I'm not sure you got the lens you really wanted. That lens doesn't have a auto focus motor which camera bodies like the D5100 depend on for auto focus.
    So in short, you will not be able to autofocus. That means no tracking shots.
    Only practical thing you can do is to prefocus on a spot and then just keep your frame there. Wait for the action to come in and then rip off a burst of shots.

    Exposure settings are the usual for action sports and low light.
    The easy way would be to just turn on auto ISO, mode dial to Shutter Priority, set shutter to at least 1/500, and release mode set to Continuous.
  • edited December 2014
    Thanks for the reply.
    I figured out the auto focus as soon as I put it on and it did not motor.
    The seller assured me it will work fine with my camera.
    Hopefully we can work something out.

    Most of my shots when I used the Canon EOS Rebel were stationary shots with auto focus turned off. When I tried to use AF it always seemed to find something on the glass to focus to and I would lose some great shots.
    So, I will try this lens tonight and see if it is too much work using that big of a lens without AF.

    If I cannot use this lens and I am stuck with it, I will probably throw it back on Ebay and look into a better lens that is in my budget.

    I will try your settings tonight and get back to you.


  • edited December 2014
    Hey Jim, if you're using a lens that allows you to autofocus to shoot hockey, ideally there are spots around the rink where there are holes in the glass specifically for photographers to shoot through (usually behind the goals).
    The next best thing you can do if you don't have access to one of those holes is to simply press your lens all the way up against the glass so it doesn't interfere with the autofocus.

    Anyway, if you do decide that you need a fast telephoto lens that you can autofocus with your camera, you're basically limited to the 70-200mm variants. Nikon and 3rd parties make them. There are f/2.8 and f/4 versions.
  • edited December 2014
    I am not entirely sure how the viewfinder on the D5100 looks, but on the D3200, in addition to the little focus confirmation dot you can elect to have a rangefinder scale the the bottom center, where ordinarily you would see the exposure compensation scale. Although it's not very speedy, and not always accurate, if you get in the habit of using both those focus aids it can help with manual focus in that small viewfinder. Just remember that the focus confirmation is, like AF itself, dependent on the focus point shown in the viewfinder, so for best consistent results you should use single point focusing and center the dot.
  • edited December 2014
    Thanks @Bruto.

    I will check that tonight when I get home.
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