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Photo Contest Insider Blog

Which Gear Can’t be Missed by an Action Photographer?

June 21, 2016

Action photographers have an exciting job, as they get among the hype, fast movement, and enthralling acts of everything from motocross and mountain climbing, to football, snowboarding, and trekking (just to name a few!).

These fast-action shots require a different approach to other genres of photography, such as portraiture for example, and therefore action photography needs a whole different toolkit of its own.

Below are some of the most important and recommended gear that simply can’t be missed by an action photographer.


The Camera:

While it comes as no surprise that a photographer of any genre first must have a camera in order to do their work, it’s important to mention the specific kind of camera that an action photographer will need.

Action photography is just that – capturing action – so you’ll want a camera that captures a decent amount of frames per second, along with one that also has the ability to track and focus-in on rapidly moving subjects. Because your action photography will often take you away from the comforts of your own studio (and often, a power point), it’s important that your camera also has a long battery life. Using a camera that’s comfortable to carry around, hold, and shoot with will also be of a huge benefit to your work.

Tip: Professional action photographer Scott Rinckenberger recommends the Nikon D4s, with a back-up camera (not completely necessary but helpful in situations when your primary camera stops working) as the Nikon D750 Backup.


The Lens:

Photographers who cover an array of genres will understandably have different lenses for each type, for example, you would use a different lens for portrait photography (where the subject is often still) than you would for fast-action and sports photography.

Because action photographers are often on-the-go, you’ll certainly want a lens that is lightweight without sacrificing on speed or image quality. The best action lenses can often be expensive, however they are an important investment in any professional action photographer’s business (and something they will rely on completely).

Things to look out for include telephoto zooms with wide constant maximum apertures.

Tip: Digital SLR Guide recommend the following specific lenses built for an array of camera models: The CANON 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM, the NIKON 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR, the SONY 70-200mm f/2.8 G-Series, and the PENTAX Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 APO EX DG HSM.



Running out of battery power half-way through a shoot is probably every photographer’s worst nightmare, however this can certainly be avoided by stocking up on additional batteries!

As someone who is on-the-go or often far away from your home, office, or studio, you’ll want a battery that lasts as long as possible! Many professional action photographers will admit to keeping an additional 3 – 5 batteries on them at all times!

Tip: Professional action photographer Scott Rinckenberger loves the EN-EL 18a Battery and admits to keeping three of these on him whilst out shooting, even though one on its own will often last for at least a full day of photography.


A Tripod:

Some action photographers love them, while others simply hate them. No matter how you feel about tripods, you’ll probably agree that these are vital in any photographer’s toolkit.

While they probably serve no purpose when trekking on uneven ground and unforgiving landscapes, tripods can be essential for other types of action photography such as motocross or capturing images of sporting matches from the sidelines.

The trick to the perfect tripod for action photographers is that it needs to be sturdy whilst remaining fairly lightweight.

Tip: Action photographer Scott Rinckenberger recommends using the Indoor Carbon Fiber CT113 Tripod with Kirk BH-3 Ball Head.


Memory Cards:

This is another item that any action photographer will want to carry more than one of. Action photographers in particular will benefit from a memory card that has amazing speed and capacity, as you don’t want to have to wait for your camera to load when you can be taking shot-after-shot of incredible action-packed images.

Tip: For a memory card that’s fast and will keep you shooting as long as possible, many action photographers recommend the Lexar Professional 1000x 128GB CompactFlash Card.


Additional Extras:

Let’s face it, when you’re an action photographer it’s inevitable that your camera and lens will be exposed to dirt, dust, and mud. Some action photographers like to carry an air blower with them (such as the Giottos Rocket Air Blower) so that they can blow debris off of the sensor in order to stop these from affecting their gear. You’ll also want to carry other cleaning necessities with you such as sensor swabs and cleaning fluid. The best part is that these are also incredibly small and lightweight, so they can easily slip into your camera bag or backpack.

There you have it – a list of the most vital gear to take into consideration when you’re an action photographer! All of these can be housed in a backpack or photography bag of your choice so that you can easily take them with you when you’re on-the-go. A bag suited to your photography needs will also allow you to keep your hands as free as possible so you can just concentrate on what matters most – holding that camera.

Now it’s time to get among the action and capture some incredible shots!