How do the great sports photographers get those incredible photos? To some extent, it is their equipment—top-notch, fast-shooting cameras with great telephoto lenses. You don't have to spend a fortune or be a camera expert to get great sports pictures. However, you do need to use the right camera.

If you plan to do lots of sports photography, you will have to spend a bit more to get a camera that has the following attributes (for more details, see Chapter 2):

■ A fast shooter—The last thing you want is shutter delay, those interminable fractions of seconds between when you press the shutter button and the time when the camera actually captures the picture.

■ A great burst mode—The ability to shoot lots of photos one right after another means that you can keep your finger on the shutter button through an entire sequence. For example, if you are photographing a basketball layup, using burst mode means that you will be more likely to get the shot of the ball leaving the player's hand for the hoop.

■ Tracking autofocus—This focus mode allows the lens to continuously follow the action and adjust accordingly. It helps you automatically anticipate where the running player or the galloping horse will be when you press the shutter.

A bright, clear viewfinder—If you're tracking action, you need to be able to see it without difficulty.

■ A long optical zoom lens—Remember optical (and not digital) is the only relevant and useful type of zoom. While most digital cameras come with a 3X optical zoom, you no longer have to spend thousands of dollars to get an 8X, 10X, or even 12X optical zoom.

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