Last year I attended and photographed a couple games of the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Syracuse Crunch. I used the Nikon 18-200VR lens which is not what I’d call a sports lens. My best shots were of the goalies as they are rather stationary and don’t move as fast as the forwards and defensemen. I ended up with underexposed photos which required a lot of post-processing. Not bad but I was using the wrong tool (i.e.., lens).
In late 2008, I purchased a Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 G ED-IF AF-S VR Zoom lens which is legendary for its sharpness and speed in focusing. At f/2.8 throughout it’s zoom range, it brings in the most light of any lens I own at these focal lengths. Using it on my Nikon D70 dSLR camera, with a crop factor of 1.5, the lens is the 35mm equivalent of a 105-300mm zoom.
So, it was with much anticipation, when I attended the AHL game between the Hamilton Bulldogs and Syracuse Crunch a couple of weekends ago. I set my camera to shutter priority mode, took a custom white balance off the ice surface and, like photographing snow, moved the exposure compensation to +1.0. I was able to get apertures ranging from f/2.8 to f/4 at a shutter speed of 1/500th of a second at ISOs of 800 and 1600. I was thrilled as the lighting in the Onondaga County War Memorial is far from ideal.
My seat was second row from the ice and gave me a great view of the end the Syracuse Crunch attack for periods 1 and 3. I still concentrated on the goalies but, as the game went on, I got braver and started taking pictures of other players skating, hitting and shooting. As much as I love my 18-200VR lens, the 70-200VR is not called the premier sports lens for Nikon cameras for nothing and was the right tool for the job.
For more hockey pictures, click here.