Special Report: Best Cameras for Sporting Events

Capture the Game

This is the third part of our series were calling, "Follow the Game." In part one, we looked at the best HDTV displays for watching the game. Part two covered the best gadgets to take to the game and in this report we look at the best cameras to capture the game. Whetherit's thekid's little league or soccer game or the Dodger's season opener, taking picturesat the game creates extra demands on todays cameras. Youre going to want the camera to react fast and be able to capture an image of a fast moving subject. Theres also a good chance that youll be far from the action requiring some good stable close-up ability. Lighting may also be a challenge in case youre shooting at a night game, in bright sunlight, or among shadows.

Digital Cameras SLR vs. Point and Shoot

The first thing youll need to decide is whether you want professional gear fit for a Sports Illustrated photographer or just the best camera that fits in your pocket. That will probably mean deciding between an SLR (Single Lens Reflex) that can usually accommodate different lenses and a point and shoot camera that is small and compact yet will still take high quality pictures. The second most important decision will be the number of megapixels (MP). Megapixels aremore important if you want to generate large prints or edit photos. Otherwise they can create very large files that take up lots of memory and are a hassle to email to friends and family. On the other you can always take lower resolution pictures than the camera is capable of taking or resize and image using free software like irfanviewor other freephoto editing software.The sweet spot in today's camerasis in the 6-7MP range with 10MP or more on higher end models

Other Important Features Image stabilization

Pictures are more susceptible to blurring from shaky hands when zoomed in or in low light conditions. Its a good feature to have even if youre not zooming in from the upper reaches of the stadium. Optical stabilization that uses motion sensors and electromagnets to compensate for unwanted movement is preferable to electronic image stabilization found in some devices.

Optical zoom

Many cameras allow you to zoom digitally beyond the distance that the lens can move. This has never yielded satisfactory results in our opinion. Typical optical zooms run around 3X but some cameras go even further up to 8X or in some camcorders as high as 40X.

ISO and Shutter Speed

The faster the shutter speed, the less chance of a blurred picture. ISO is a measure offilm speed. The higher the number the more sensitivity to light. A high ISO numberallows the camera to use a faster shutter speed at lower light levels. Some new cameras claim ISO ratings of 1600 however most reviewers find image quality suffers at those settings.

Recommended SLR Cameras


Canon EOS-1D Mark II N   If you're serious about getting the very best shots and dont mind spending anywhere from $500 - $3,000 then a digital SLR with a telephoto lensis the only way to get really close to the action and capture the shot. If you have $3500 to spend and want the SLR that everyone is raving about than price out that Canon EOS-1D Mark II N
Nikon D200   If youre partial to Nikons than for just over $2,000 you can get the Nikon D200 with a nice zoom lens.
Canon EOS 30D   The Canon EOS 30Dhas a super fast shutter speed and can shoot bursts of 30 shots at 5 frames per second. It gets high marks for image quality and offers a large 2.5 inch LCD screen. Its a little on the heavy side but more metal might mean a more rugged camera The Canon Rebel XT 8MP sells for under $1000. It doesnt come with a telephoto lens but is a very popular and highly rated SLR

Recommended Point and Shoot Cameras

If you dont want to lug around something as bulky as an SLR but still have a few bucks to spend for a high quality point and shoot then we recommend these point and shoot cameras:

Canon SD 800   The Canon SD 800 offers 7.1MP fast, stabilized, wide angle lens, good image quality fast shooting speed, fast shutter speed (max 1/1600 sec)and 3.8x optical zoom for $350 The 28mm 105mm equivalent zoom lens offers an unusually wide angle in a small camera
Sony DSC-W55   For the budget minded you can get this well reviewed Sony DSC-W55 7.2MP camera for under $200. No image stabilazation but a good performer at a good price.


The Megazoomers

There's a third category of cameras that falls in between SLR and Point and Shoot. They've been called ultrazooms, superzooms, or megazooms and even though they look a little like SLRs they are much lighter and much cheaper.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7   The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7offers 6 megapizels and12X optical zoom with stabilization. You can buy one for under $300
Sony DSC H5   The Sony DSC-H5 is a 7MP camera noted for its fast reponse time and large LCD display. It offers a 12X zoom for around $450-500.


Useful Links

A collection of the latest and best deals on cameras

The best sites for top rated cameras

The best sites for the most popular cameras

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