Do I need a external flash to take sports pictures under lights on the field at night? I'm using RAW and manual exposure.

  • Unfortunately, sports photography is one area of photography where expensive equipment (fast long lens, high ISO body) is hardly replaceable. There's a reason why the illumination in stadiums is so big and powerful. – null Aug 5 '15 at 18:48

In general, no, not only do you not need it, but it won't help at all. In order to provide any meaningful amount of light more than a few feet away, you need a very, very powerful flash — much more than you can get in anything battery powered.

Unless you are right on the field — less than ten feet away from your subject — even an expensive hotshoe flash will not do much. If you're a little farther than that — twenty feet, maybe — it could help a little bit if you also have the ISO cranked up pretty high. But mostly, it's just a waste. Light inherently diminishes with the square of the distance, which means that every bit further you want to reach takes a lot more power, and there's no magic solution there, unfortunately.

| improve this answer | |
  • So i can just use the flash on the camera or no flash at all..what do you mean more then battery powered – user41678 Aug 5 '15 at 17:48
  • The flash on the camera is even less powerful, and will help even less. When you see a stadium audience and the whole thing is twinkling with flashes going off, you are seeing a whole bunch of people being silly. It won't help, and because the camera isn't smart enough to know that the flash is doing no good, it probably makes the photos worse. – Please Read My Profile Aug 5 '15 at 17:51
  • By battery powered, I mean that theoretically an AC-powered, plug-in strobe light might be able to make a meaningful difference. But good luck getting that into the stands — not to mention a very long extension cord. – Please Read My Profile Aug 5 '15 at 17:52
  • I have a sb600 external flash..should i be using that. I know i shouldnt use the flash on the camera...but im not sure if i should/bave to use the sb to get good pictures – user41678 Aug 5 '15 at 17:54
  • 4
    I don't think you're getting it. Flash is only useful for subjects at reasonably close range. The distances at which you are taking photos of field sports is too great; flash is not effective at these distances. To obtain good exposure, use large apertures and high ISO values. And leave the flash at home. – osullic Aug 5 '15 at 18:30

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.