I have recently bought a D7200 . I am wanting to use it to photograph my girls football games. I set it to S mode and put the side dial so Cl but they all cam out really dark. Any help would be apppreciated.

marked as duplicate by Philip Kendall, mattdm, Itai, Michael C, scottbb Feb 18 '18 at 20:02

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It's clearly a problem with underexposure.

Are you familiar with the exposure triangle? It seems that you aren't. Here's a good question with some useful answers on that.

S mode means that you set the shutter speed that the camera uses and then the camera decides what to make out of the rest of the exposure triangle. If the ISO is fixed, there's only one parameter left and that is the aperture. You can only open up the aperture to a certain extent and if you don't have a fast lens (read "large aperture"), you have to work with limited light.

CL (abbr. for Continuous Low) on a Nikon only means that the camera will take consecutive photos at a fixed frame rate that you can set in the menu (unlike CH which means that it will shoot as fast as it can) and has little or nothing to do with exposure.

Can you quote the exposure settings of a photo that is too dark? We can work from there.

There's a concept that some call "building the exposure". You need to known where you need your exposure parameters for the specific scenario to get proper exposure. If we're talking about sports, here's how I'd personally do it:

  1. Figure out the shutter speed I need to "freeze" the subject. That might be as low as 1/500 or as high as 1/4000. This is trial and error - take a few frames and review them - if they're blurry, you need higher speed; if they're not, you can try to go slower to gain some light; if you intentionally want to blur the background from movement (that's usually called "panning"), then intentionally set a lower speed, e.g. 1/100, and track the subject as it moves.
  2. Figure out what aperture I need. That's limited by the lowest f-stop of the lens. If you don't care about how much is in focus, use a low numeric value (which means wider opening, which in turn means more light). If you need more things in focus (e.g. two subjects at different distances), use a higher numeric value and keep in mind that this cuts the light you have.
  3. Figure out the ISO setting that gives a proper exposure after setting the previous two. The exposure meter inside the viewfinder of the camera can help with that. It looks like this: enter image description here

It might be with the minus on the left and plus on the right, it's just a matter of preference and can be set in the menu. Indication towards the plus means overexposure; indication towards the minus means underexposure; this is all what the camera "thinks" and the camera can sometimes be confused, so you have to account for that too. The ISO you choose depends on the camera - the higher the setting, the more noise and grain is introduced and it's up to you to decide with what amount of that you're comfortable.


You haven't told us what kind of conditions in which you are shooting. Are you shooting in bright daylight? Under cloudy skies? At night or indoors under artificial lighting? From where are you shooting? The sideline? Bleachers on the side of the field? More traditional stadium seats set back from the playing surface? These factors will affect how you approach shooting any type of sports.

You're on the right track with selecting to control the shutter time. This is the most important part of the exposure triangle when shooting sports. We can clean up the noise that results from using a high ISO a lot easier than we can eliminate blur from too long of an exposure.

Sometimes our equipment limits what we can do. Shooting sports under artificial lighting is often one of those times. Even at our lens' widest aperture and the highest ISO we are comfortable using the pictures will be dark when using the shutter times we need to freeze the action.

In marginal shooting conditions you can choose to save your images in raw format and clean them up in post processing. The power of processing raw files allows much more flexibility when shooting in marginal conditions.

Here's an image shot in poor lighting with a fairly "slow" lens:

enter image description here

Here's an attempt to improve the in-camera jpeg:

enter image description here

Here's what can be done with the raw information from the same image:

enter image description here

For more about this particular image, please see:
Lots of noise in my hockey pictures. What am I doing wrong?

For more about shooting sports in general, please see:
Why are my football action shots blurry?
Why my "action" shots are blurry even shooting on AF-C, is this a lens or camera limitation?
How can I take low-light action shots?
Recommended shutter speed for action sports?
Canon Camera Settings for Ice Hockey
Nikon D300s, Tamron 70-200 2.8 lens, Suggestions for low light settings for Gymnastics and HS soccer,

For a more general look at what might be making your photos look blurry or out of focus, please see:
How do I diagnose the source of focus problem in a camera?

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