Basketball is one of the most dynamic sports to shoot because the action is fast and the players’ faces aren’t hampered by any elements of their uniforms. Most people don’t have the opportunity to shoot for the NBA, however, many will photograph local basketball teams.
Normally, when you watch a basketball game, you are placed in an assigned seat. So, your choice of lens is essential as well as your composition. Don’t hesitate to use a wide-angle lens at a basketball game especially if it is a full arena. In order to shoot a perfectly sharp and well-exposed image of an indoor and low-light surrounding, you should choose the widest aperture (f/2.8-f/4) and rest your camera on a monopod, if not, you can use a chair. This is important in order to discourage blurring of images.
If you happen to sit afar from the action, then you need a zoom lens of 70-300mm set wide open. Fill the frame with the player and capture his facial expressions if possible. Set your lens from focus mode to AF (Autofocus) and select continuous focusing (Al Servo AF Canon/AF-C Nikon) mode in order to automatically re-focus the image on the moving player. Another tip is to pre-focus on a fixed object, say for example, the net, and wait to capture the action.
If you are in a bright arena, you should set the mode dial to manual and use a shutter speed of 1/200s or faster to capture the action. Open the aperture wide (f/1.8-f/2.8 is ideal) and increase the ISO to 800 or higher. Capture exciting moments such as when the ball is in mid-air or when a player dunks the ball. To capture multiple shots, use the burst shooting mode and hold down the shutter button as long as you want. Your camera’s abilities for rapid, multiple shot photography is set by the DSLR’s own frame and burst-mode capture rate. Each DSLR camera has this ability.
If you desire to create a motion blur during a basketball game, select a slow shutter speed (1/15 – 1/60th of a second). Place your camera on a stable rest, use a tripod, a chair, or hold it still while aiming at the moving players. This tip will make the players look blurry while keeping the rest of the image sharp. You can also utilize the panning technique, which is to pre-focus on one player and follow him with your camera’s lens in a smooth, horizontal motion while holding the shutter button.