I was at a local high school lacrosse game trying to take photos. I have a new Nikon D810. The lens was a Nikon 28 to 300, 3.5 to 5.6. I do not know what I was doing wrong, pictures were nonexistent. I tried manual and S mode. Lights were terrible other photographers got photos. ISO was moved full range low to high (4000)no luck. Any suggestions? Thank you, Bob

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Can you post an example of those images? \$\endgroup\$
    – Zenit
    Feb 11, 2017 at 18:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ With a rep of only "1" he can't post an image directly. He can post a link to another image hosting site. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Feb 11, 2017 at 19:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ ISO 4000 is far from high on your camera. It goes to 12800. (Or even 51200 in extended mode) \$\endgroup\$
    – ths
    Feb 11, 2017 at 19:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ when in manual mode did you take a meter reading, set your controls to the settings recommended by the meter and then take a shot, and then look at the photo on the LCD screen, and then make appropriate adjustments to the settings to achieve proper exposure? \$\endgroup\$
    – Alaska Man
    Feb 12, 2017 at 4:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related: Why are my football action shots blurry? \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Feb 12, 2017 at 4:14

3 Answers 3


The lens was a Nikon 28 to 300, 3.5 to 5.6.

The lens might not be the whole answer, but it sounds like this was a night game, and you were probably shooting more at the long end of the lens's range, so the maximum aperture would've been around 5.6. And since you were shooting fast-moving action, you probably had the shutter speed set fast enough to stop motion, maybe 1/500s? Bumping the ISO up should help, but 1/500s at f/5.6 just doesn't give you a lot of light when you're shooting at night. The field lights will seem bright, but they're nowhere near as bright as the sun.

The photographers who got good shots likely used some combination of: a faster lens and a camera that can get decent shots at ISO settings higher than yours. They might have figured out where the lights were brightest and positioned themselves close to that spot. They might have used a somewhat longer exposure and tried to time their shots for moments when there's the least motion, like a pause just before a shot.


Using matrix metering, A mode, set your aperture wide open and up your ISO till you see the shutter speed you feel you need to stop the action.

Double check that EV +/- setting is at 0

Set focus to AFC d21 for action.

A f/2.8 lens really helps at night.

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    \$\begingroup\$ If a lot of the background is much darker than the field, as is often the case with night sports, matrix metering should probably be set at about -1. Spot/partial metering can be useful if one is careful not to meter on a very light or very dark jersey without using exposure compensation. It usually works out best to set exposure manually unless there is a lot of variance in the brightness of the lights from one part of the field to the other. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Feb 12, 2017 at 3:34

Another possibility is, when shooting Manual, the meter readout inside the viewfinder will inform you if the exposure is high/low/just right, but will not override your exp setting. This is pretty much the purpose of Manual: it gives you the ability to be creative, compensate for tricky lighting conditions, etc. With Shutter mode, not sure, but it's possible that the field lights were so bright that they silhouetted the players. The 810 should have great latitude, so normally you should still get a decent shot out of it, but it really depends how strong the light was.


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