Covering Soccer with the Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II
I was asked to cover the SF Deltas scrimmage match against the San Jose Earthquakes prior to SF Deltas inaugural season. This meant that my coverage was focused on getting great stock images of the Deltas as well as showing them, a North American Soccer League team playing against an MLS opponent.
Though they didn't treat it as just a scrimmage. Chris Wondolowski, Wondo, got fired up!
After loving the 300mm for baseball, I was excited to use it for long field photos. Soccer is a sport where you really need long glass because generally you can't switch your seating position during the game, some don't even let you anywhere except behind the goal line, so you are stuck shooting across the field. You don't want to be too tight because you don't want to crop off heads or feet, so there is still a need for the 40-150mm (80-300mm 35mm equivalent) as they get closer, but you want the 300mm (600mm 35mm equivalent) for a majority of the game. Sharp from behind one goal, all the way across to the opposite goal.
I found that I again loved the C-AF+Tracking when using the 300mm, it was easy to lock on the subject and have it not jump around the background or jump onto another player entering the scene. You can see the SF Deltas players face is just a littttttle bit sharper than the Earthquakes player because the focal point was able to follow him through this play.
But for the 40-150mm, I still found I preferred regular C-AF without tracking. With tracking on, I found it would lock on the wrong subject because that focal range was busier at multiple focal distances when wider so it was hard to lock on the right subject. C-AF with a single center point seems to serve me better. Keep in mind, I was focusing on SF Deltas players, so I was able to lock on here without having it hop to Shea Salinas.
While I had the two E-M1 Mark II bodies on the 40-150mm and the 300mm, I found it was still worthwhile to have a wide angle (specifically the 7-14mm f/2.8 in this case) so that I could hop over and get some of the fans without having to worry about changing out lenses.
I tried to avoid changing lenses at a game. Some photographers will only put their lenses and bodies together inside to avoid dust spots on their sensors. I'm not that extreme because I don't like carrying/storing multiple cameras with lenses attached (horror stories about them bouncing around and breaking off) but I don't want to change lenses in a panic. With my old gear, sometimes during baseball games where there is downtime, I would switch my long glass off my 1D-X in favor of the 70-200mm when there was a runner at third and I was hoping for a play at the plate. I so strongly favored 1D-X over the 1D Mark IV that it was worth it. But even better now that I can have two E-M1 Mark II bodies for my main action bodies, and then the slower to focus E-M5 Mark II for wide angle fun.
Exciting to have another pro soccer team in the bay area, while this was just a scrimmage their regular season games will be held at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco which they retrofitted with the old bleachers from Candlestick, how cool!
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