SAC vs Palomar
Additional football images can be viewed here.
Photographing college football is really exciting because you never know what you are going to get. Some games just work out be3tter than others. If the offense keeps making plays to the opposite side of the field, you won't get much. But if they make a lot of plays to your side, it's really fun. At Santa Ana Stadium, I'm kind of limited to the side of the field with the sun at my back. Otherwise, I'll be shooting into the sun and the naturally occurring high contrast will blow out most of the images. It's kind of like taking surfing images in the middle of the day, the high contrast of the lighting and black and white uniforms makes it really difficult on the camera's sensor.
Since I have access to most of the field, except where the coaches and players reside, using a lens that allows me maximum flexibility is critical. Typically, something in the 80-400mm range is optimal. It's also important that the lens be very quick to focus on the player and release the shutter. Last year I used a screw focus 80-400 but it was simply too slow to focus. Excellent DSLR body, slow lens. I also looked at another camera manufacture's push-pull 100-400 zoom lens but the optical quality wasn't quite up to par. Again, excellent DSLR body, but sub standard lens. Finally, I settled on a very high optical quality 70-400 with a low FPS DSLR. I am hoping the the lens's manufacturer will eventually upgrade their line of bodies so that I can upgrade to a higher FPS body. It's hard to believe that in this age there is not one single high FPS body with compatible high range telephoto zoom available.
The image above was shot with a cropped frame DSLR with 70-400mm zoom lens, hand held.