Sports Photography – Using & Stabilizing Remote Cameras

In the last few weeks I have been using a lot of remote cameras to cover my sports assignments. So it seems like a good time to review how to support a portable camera. In the past, I have used everything from portable tripods to AAA batteries.

When covering a basketball game, I need to use a remote floor camera to cover wide shots of the action under the basket. In the past, when shooting with my 17-40mm lens I would use two AA batteries taped to the bottom of the front of the camera. That would tilt the camera to the angle I like to cover those shots. However since switching to a Canon 40mm 2.8 pancake lens, I’ve had to change my game plan. The lens doesn’t weigh enough to counterbalance the weight of the camera and it would fall back.

The Canon 40mm 2.8 lens is a particularly good lens for a floor remote as it keeps the camera compact and gives the right angle of the action. I now use a Gorilla Pod when I set up a goal cam for soccer as it gives me a little bit of height on the remote. By flattening the Gorilla Pod I was able to keep the camera from falling and get the low angle I wanted.

In covering basketball, I use a camera mounted to stanchion for the basket. To securely mount this remote camera, I use a Manfrotto magic arm with a super clamp on one end and a camera mount on the other. I use this setup to support most of my remote cameras.

To control the remote, I use a Pocket Wizard radio trigger mounted to the camera I am shooting with on the sidelines that is connected to the remote camera. This setup will give me two different angles of the same scene. Exposure for the remote camera in the following photo is 1/640 F5.6 at 5000 ISO.

I use this same setup for a remote dasher camera at hockey but I mount the remote upside down behind a piece of glass in the boards. This one was at  Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.


This remote gives a very unique look at the action around the goal; exposure on this remote is 1/800 f 6.3 ISO 5000.

If my shooting position is on the same end as the remote, I fire the remote with the Pocket Wizard mounted to my camera. Conversely, if I were shooting from the opposite end of the stadium then I would still trigger the remote with the Pocket Wizard but wouldn’t have it mounted to my camera.

The next time you watch a basketball or hockey game look to see if you can spot the remote cameras!

For more information on stabilizing your camera with a portable tripod, please watch the video below:

Categories: Articles, Equipment & Gear, and Sports & Action.

Tags: portable tripods, remote cameras, Rick Osentoski, and sports photography.

  • Rocky Rockshot

    Really neat info about your work on sports photography. I felt like I learnt something new. Thanks Rocky

  • Larry Janssen

    Thank you for the tip I will try it at the AMA Flat Tack race in Daytona March 14th and 15th.

  • michael huber

    when taking the basket ball picure, have try using bean bag, pod. tip the camera at 45 dregree angle then shoot your pic. ) this work on stander len thanks mike