Manual Modes for Hockey Photography

edited February 2017 Posted in » Nikon D3300 Forum
I don't shoot in manual, but I am trying to teach myself or find a class somewhere. I found these cheats sheets today and I'm very interested. Looking at them, though, I don't see an indoor sports photography setting. Obviously, most sports are played outside, but I shoot hockey. Auto/Sports mode works pretty well, but I always have to go through and edit all the pictures and they come out kinda grainy in the dark areas. That might be normal, but I was wondering if there was a setting that worked well for fast sports photography in a weirdly lit hockey rink. This would be with a Nikon D3300 with a 55-200mm lens.
Thanks a lot!


  • I don't think you'll find an indoor sports setting for that equipment because it really is not ideal for the purpose. For indoor sports with that slow lens you're always going to have problems getting enough light without cranking up the ISO. You may have to limit the ISO in order to tame the noise, but it will be at the cost of shutter speed. Whether you can find a reliable combination of fast enough shutter speed and low enough ISO will always be an issue.

    If you have an upper limit of ISO that is satisfactory on the noise, you might consider manually selecting ISO in sports mode, or switching to S mode, and setting an upper limit to the Auto ISO in the menu. If you switch out of Sports mode you'll also have to make sure you set your AF correctly, to continuous servo, and either single point or Dynamic area. if you're aiming at a specific player, and getting a silhouette, spot metering mode might work better.

    If you're after single players, practice panning the camera to follow a player. You can often get a sharper shot at lower shutter speed with the background blurred by motion. Set your shutter mode to continuous, and fire off short bursts, as often in a series of three or four shots one of the middle ones will be sharper. It takes practice, especially to maintain focus, and may not work well if the player moves irregularly, but you can try.

    If you do need to raise shadows or change exposure, always shoot in Raw mode. You can change exposure in post much more easily then, and change it back if you get it wrong. You probably won't be able to get rid of all the graininess in dark areas, but if possible get the exposure as close as possible in the camera, rather than in post processing. Results vary with the camera. On the D3200, you'll get better noise performance by putting the ISO right at the start than you will by raising exposure in post. On some newer cameras this is becoming less so, and in some you can underexpose to gain some dynamic range and then open shadows in post with less noise penalty. You can experiment with shadow recovery and exposure compensation to see what works best in your case.
  • Hi @paige_nolden - In addition to the things @bruto pointed out, the key to getting better looking images of fast action in low light, is to use a lens with an aperture of around f/2.8 or lower (lower the better).

    For low light sports/action, I recommend you rent the Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8 (if you are close to the action) and the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 (if you are far away from the action), once or twice a year for an important event. This would allow you to capture wonderful low light action shots to remember it by.

    Depending on what part of the world in which you live, there are online retailers that do this sort of thing. In the States, we have and
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