Hockey Photography

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I have never been far from a camera for most of my life, but I only started to take it seriously when I started writing for the old Hockey Sport magazine back in 1996.  Unable to find pictures to accompany my articles, I started taking my own, and it sort of grew from there.


Although I still photograph hockey, I do not confine my activities to hockey. In the last few years a local council has been using me as a staff photographer, which has involved me in some really interesting projects.


I learnt photography partly at university and partly through teaching myself. I regard myself as a professional photographer because I do not give my photographs away.


Most of the information on these pages is as a result of personal experience. And you may be surprised to hear me say that you should be cautious in taking my advice.  There is a lot of advice about photography on the Internet, some of it not particularly good. All I would say is read what I have to say, read what others have to say, and then make your own mind up.


Peter Savage




Read our ‘jargon buster’ on this page if you are new to photography


When I acquired my Nikon 400mm f2.8 lens I thought it was the greatest bit of photography kit I had ever owned. I still do. I have not used the Canon equivalent, but I’m told that’s a great lens too.


As much as I love it, it has two drawbacks.  Firstly, it is big and heavy.  Secondly, it is just a smidge too powerful if you are sitting down by the corner flag and trying to shoot goalmouth action.


Traditionally the solution to the power problem has been to use a second body with a 70-200 lens on it. If you are super rich you could used Nikon’s brilliant 200mm f2 or, do what I have been doing, use a 300mm f2.8.  All three of these solutions have their problems. They are all very heavy, even the 70-200, particularly if you are shooting with one hand on pro body.  And, with a bit of terrible heresy here, I am not a great fan of the 70-200 to shoot action on the pitch.


The solution would be for someone to build a lens which is powerful enough to give good close-up goalmouth action, but which is short and light. Well, it looks as if Nikon have done that with their recently launched 300mm f4 PF ED VR.


If you flick through the lens line-up on Nikon’s web pages you could well skip past this if you are looking for a long lens.  Quite simply, it’s not a long lens. It’s a short lens – about the same size and weight as a 24-70mm.  But at 300mm, particularly on a crop body, you have a lens with the same power as my 400mm on a full frame body.


How has Nikon done this? Without going to too much detail, they have used the same technology that goes into the manufacture of lighthouse lenses.  For a practical, everyday example, it works in a very similar way to those bookmarks that double up as magnifying glasses.  It means that the glass in the lens can be a bit thinner, hence the reduced size and weight


At the time of writing this the new lens is as rare in the UK as the proverbial hens teeth.  There are still a lot of unanswered questions.  Firstly, pro lenses are usually f2.8 or better. f4?  Is that going to be a significant drawback?  Will the lens be light enough to use one-handed on a pro body, and how will the new lens design stand up to sun or floodlights in your face?


I have one of the new lenses on order. My dealer promised delivery in April, but that’s now become May.  There has been a well publicised issue with the Vibration Reduction (VR) and Nikon’s D800 series cameras.  I suspect that Nikon is having to re-chip a lot of lenses at the moment, and hence the delay.


When I have had a chance to assess the lens (and it would be great if it arrives in time for the GB v Australia international in June), I will do a write up on it.  Meanwhile, I cannot help wondering whether these lenses are a taste of the future?  Are we likely to see a 400mm lens in this design, or even a f2.8 version?  As I am getting older, the thought of a small lighter lens is attrative, but I sure will miss the comments I get when I walk onto the pitch with my enormous 400mm 2.8!!


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