12 Essential Gear for Sports Photography

cameras for photography
*Collaborative Post

In sports photography, you get one chance to capture moments of glory, defeat, elation, or anguish. That’s why when you come to cover a game, you have to come prepared and armed with all the essential equipment and tools you need for the trade. 

Whether you’re covering high school football or professional basketball, you need to be on top of your game. Below are just some of the most common photography gear you need to bring with you at every game.

Camera Body

The most important piece of equipment for a sports photographer will of course be the camera. While mirrorless cameras are popular these days with their unparalleled portability, most professional sports photographers still prefer to use their reliable DSLRs.

For aspiring professional photographers in the sports arena, you should look for DSLRs with a lightning-fast autofocus system and continuous shooting speeds. Every split second matters in sports photography, so you need a capable and responsive camera that can keep up with the action. This will allow you to capture the thrill of victory and the agony of a loss with remarkable clarity.

While it’s always ideal to have your own set of camera equipment, you won’t necessarily need to buy cameras or lenses for a job immediately. Through a camera hire company, you can rent professional equipment for different assignments. This allows for flexibility and cost-efficiency, especially when you’re just starting as a professional photographer.


If you’re serious about being a sports photographer, you should definitely have more than just your camera’s kit lens in your arsenal. After all, there are different moments you can capture in sports beyond wide-angle action shots.

Effective storytelling in sports photography requires taking evocative pictures that convey the emotions of not just the players, but also the referees, spectators, and everyone else present in the game. To capture these moments, you need a versatile lens like a 24-70mm f/2.8 or 70-200mm f/2.8. Meanwhile using a telephoto lens like a 400mm lens, you can capture the action in detail with razor-sharp precision.

Lighting Equipment

Remember that sports games can be held outdoors and indoors. For outdoor games like tennis or football, you may not need much by way of lighting equipment. For indoor games, however, you may need some extra illumination from external flashes and continuous lights for well-lit and well-shot action scenes. Also, sports photographers often set the ISO on the lower end to eliminate noise. Thus, your camera needs adequate lighting to fully capture the action in crisp detail.

Extra Batteries and Storage

Shooting hundreds or even thousands of images per event is pretty much normal for sports photographers, so you can just imagine the drain on the camera’s batteries. As such, a couple of fully charged extra batteries are must-haves for uninterrupted game coverage from start to finish.

In the same vein, photographers need to take multiple shots to capture split-second moments that will never happen again. This can cause them to run out of memory space—fast. To ensure you can keep up with any game, have a pack of extra SD cards to capture all the fast-paced action on the field

Monopod or Tripod

Long shooting sessions can take a toll on your arms and shoulders. As such, you need to invest in a sturdy monopod or tripod to provide stability and relieve fatigue. This will allow you to maintain steady shots throughout the game.

Remote Shutter Release

In addition to your stable mounting base, you can also bring a remote shutter release to completely eliminate blurring while capturing sports action. With a remote shutter release, you can trigger the shutter from afar without any camera shake.

Straps or Harnesses

Imagine running to get your shot but losing your grip on your camera. This would be an incredibly painful thought, not to mention a costly occurrence. To make sure this doesn’t happen, invest in a secure harness or strap that can take the weight of your camera and lenses. Also, make sure it comes with a redundant clasp just in case the strap or any of the fittings fails.

Foldable Stools

To portray the glory and power of athletes, photographers often take pictures from a lower angle. To prevent your knees from paying the price of these spectacular shots, you need a bit of support by way of a low stool. To help you stay agile and ensure portability, choose a foldable but sturdy option.

Gear Bags

Safeguard your valuable equipment during transit with a durable, well-padded camera bag. This bag should have a lot of pockets and compartments to accommodate your camera, lenses, and other equipment and tools of the trade. For added convenience, choose a carry-on-friendly bag with rollers to give your hands and shoulders a break.

Cleaning Supplies

Dust, dirt, and sudden downpours are par for the course in sports photography. Hence, you should arm yourself with a comprehensive cleaning kit to keep your lenses and camera body spotless and ready for action.

Rain Covers

One of the challenges for sports photographers when capturing game details outdoors is that they are at the mercy of Mother Nature. With expensive camera equipment on their hands, they need to find ways to ensure these cameras are relatively dry. For this reason, you need to invest in high-quality rain covers to shield your camera and lenses from the elements and keep shooting.

Armed with this arsenal of essential gear, aspiring sports photographers can tackle any challenge and capture the heart-pounding excitement of any game with confidence and precision. So grab your camera, strap on your gear, and get ready to immortalise the moments that define sporting greatness.

*This is a collaborative post. For further information please refer to my disclosure page.

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