I always try to take good photographs in soccer matches or in races at night, not using flash, and I have always the same result: too much blurred photos.

I don't have an SLR, but I'm sure that's not the problem; the problem is the setup.

What I have to do?

My camera is a Panasonic Lumix FZ18.


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    Frankly, I don't think your camera is up to the task. Ysap said that gently (+1), but the facts are simple here: most, if not all, P&S options are going to fall hard in this scenario. Heck, most dSLRs are going to fall into trouble with this situation, even with a good lens. You're into much more expensive gear to get good photos in these conditions. – John Cavan Nov 30 '11 at 5:07
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    You could try 'Panning' in order to get sharp subjects and an artistic look to overcome technical limitations. – fahad.hasan Nov 30 '11 at 6:41
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    I thought I was so clever by writing an answer about panning; then I hit submit and scrolled back up and saw you beat me to it by 15 minutes, ShutterBug! :) – drewbenn Nov 30 '11 at 6:59
  • This particular situation is one of the most hardware demanding, hence one of the most expensive type of photography. A point and shoot will fail, DSLR with most lenses will fail, only top DSLRs with some of the most expensive lenses will give good results. – Gapton Nov 30 '11 at 8:17

Actually, shooting with a compact camera rather than an SLR is part of the problem. Basically, shooting a game at night means that you don't have enough light for decent exposure times. As a consequence, your exposures are long and the moving objects are blurred. The field's lighting are rarely enough to allow you to capture moving subjects with ISO low enough so noise is not a problem. In this case, the options are to:

  1. Add lighting (e.g., use a flash - but in your specific case there are 2 problems: your camera does not support an external hot-shoe flash, which may be solved by an optical slave, and more seriously, typical compact flashes just don't have enough power to light a soccer field effectively but it may be just fine for a race track if you can get close to the action).

  2. Use a lens with large maximum aperture (small F-number). Your camera offers F2.8 which is not bad for this purpose, but in the SLR world you have lenses with bigger apertures.

  3. Use a camera with more sensitive sensor. P&S cameras typically have far smaller sensors compared to SLR's. In the digital world, the bigger the sensor - the better its light recording ability. Pro sports shooters use full-frame, or at least APS-C bodies for the advantage in high-ISO low noise images they have over P&S cameras. You can dial up the ISO in your camera but the images will become very noisy/grainy vary fast. Also note that your camera is pretty old (2007 model?) which means that even for this form factor, you can expect better ISO performance from newer technology.

So, as you see, SLR camera will certainly help you to achieve better images in these tough conditions.

On top of all - remember to always use a tripod there and a remote release if possible. Even if the players and the ball end up somewhat blurred, at least the field and the background will remain sharp.


You may have difficulty freezing the action and isolating the subject, but that doesn't mean you can't get some interesting shots: with a little planning and a little luck, you could use the longer shutter speeds to your advantage and get some great panning shots.

Also, keep in mind that action blur is due to the subject's change in position, relative to your camera, while the shutter is open. If you're standing at midfield and trying to take a picture of a player running past you at full speed: they will move a lot, relative to you, in a very short time. On the other hand, if you stand at one baseline, zoom all the way in, and take a picture of a player moving at full speed on the other baseline, but they are running directly towards you (like a defensive player trailing the play after clearing the ball), there will be very little movement relative to the camera, so the player may still be sharp.

Finally, the smaller sensor and corresponding wider focal lengths of P&S cameras gives you a much wider depth of field [be sure to read the linked questions to that question, too] than DSLRs can get. You can use that to your advantage by getting a little farther away from the action and trying to fit the whole field into the picture. Instead of trying to lock in on a single player, show the whole field: get artistic pictures like one goalie standing alone while 21 players congregate by the other goal.


Try taking the photos when the subjects are under a lamp, so there's more light to capture.

You might be able to salvage some shots using high ISO and black-and-white.

Another option is to shoot video instead of photography - smaller resolution and moving picture are much more forgiving to noise.


If you have a huge memory card (~16Gb) you can switch to the burst mode at High ISO(~3200), and pray that the light in the stadium is powerful enough(at 2fps you are lucky to get a good shot).

Tripod is recommended, but to follow the action you'll need to hand hold it.

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