Settings for capturing indoor youth hockey with the D3100

edited October 2013 Posted in » Nikon D3100 Forum
I was talking with a fellow D3100 owner over on my Facebook page and he was wondering which lenses and settings would be best for shooting underground mines. I thought it would be beneficial to share our conversation with all of you...

Eileen's Question: I have a D3100 with both the 18-55mm and 55-200mm lenses. Can you suggest some manual settings so that I can take indoor youth hockey pictures in miserably lit rinks? Thanks so much.

Moose's Answer: In order to capture fast action, from a distance, in low light (in a gym or arena), you need the help of a "bright" telephoto lens.

When I say "bright", I'm referring to a lens that's capable of achieving an aperture f-number between f/1.4 to f/2.8. Lower f-numbers basically allow more light to enter through the lens giving you faster shutter speeds at lower ISO's, which is critical to "freezing" fast action indoors.

The 55-200mm lens can only go down to f/4 at 55mm and f/5.6 at 200mm. This is fine for outdoor sports in bright daylight and not so good for indoor sports under poor artificial light.

I can recommend a couple lenses to you, but I'll need to know a ballpark number of what you're willing to spend.

As for settings, I would shoot in Shutter priority (S on the mode dial) and select a shutter speed between 1/250 and 1/1000. Make sure your ISO is set to Auto in order to get an accurate exposure. I would also enable burst mode, so that you can rattle off a series of shots in quick succession...usually you can find a few keepers that way.

Eileen's Reply: Thank you! Yes, I'm familiar with the lenses you recommended. One of the dads on the team has one of those $2500 lenses that you are referring to (which costs just about as much as the entire youth hockey season!) I will manually load those settings and take 100 or so pictures this weekend.

Moose's Reply: Yep, Nikon branded telephoto lenses with apertures near f/2.8 can be extremely expensive, large and heavy. In case you're wondering, Tamron offers a similar lens at a fraction of the price. The 70-200mm f/2.8 is a great starter indoor action shooter, that will allow you to shoot between 70mm and 200mm while maintaining a critical aperture of f/2.8.

If you shoot with your 55-200mm f/4-5.6 lens indoors, you may run into some underexposed (dark) shots full of image noise (grain). You can use basic photo editing software (like Picasa) to brighten your shots and for image noise, I recommend dedicated noise reduction software like Noise Ninja. Happy shooting! :)


  • edited December 2012
    Hi, I have the similar situation as Eileen. I want to shoot some indoor basketball pictures, however I can't afford the expensive lens.
    In conclusion of Moose's comment, if I still keep my 55-200mm lens, I should set to S on the mode dial and select a shutter speed between 1/250 and 1/1000? Make sure my ISO is set to Auto and set aperture to f/4-5.6?

    Please correct me if I am wrong.
  • edited December 2012
    You can try out the settings that I once used.
    In my opinion they worked pretty well.
    You can read them in this topic:
  • edited December 2012
    DSL_Beginner2012, S on the mode dial is going to prioritize the shutter speed that you want. If you set it to 1/250th (or whatever) the f/stop and ISO (in Auto) will be selected for you. For indoor basketball and depending on your photo position on the court (using flash etc.), a 55-200mm can pose some challenges. If you zoom to 200mm you definitely want to shoot at a minimum of 1/320th to help prevent blur.
  • Thanks Digital 36, I will give it a try.
  • I tried those setting and the photos came out dark.
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