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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

UFC
Robert Scheer, Photographer
Indianapolis | IN | USA | Posted: 12:28 PM on 09.16.10
->> Hi gang,

Except for a couple of bar fights and various other shenanigans "back in the day", I'm shooting my first MMA event on the 25th. UFC 119 in Indianapolis.

I'm a fan of the sport, so I understand many of the intricacies, but what should I expect in terms of access, lighting and so forth?

We have a couple of local fighters on the undercard.

Thanks
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Nic Coury, Photographer
Monterey | CA | | Posted: 1:38 PM on 09.16.10
->> I haven't shot much of it myself either, but Mark Rebilas has and his blog gives a good breakdown of the technicals.

http://markjrebilas.com/blog/?p=9674

Looks like no flash and higher ISOs.
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David Bitton, Photographer
Marysville | CA | | Posted: 2:21 PM on 09.16.10
->> Robert, You are going to have a blast. The UFC staff is easy to work with and access is great. You will have an assigned shooting position where you will kneel on a folding chair. You can keep your extra gear and laptop under you while you shoot. I keep my laptop close so I can download my cards on occasion. They want you in a dark shirt so you don't stand out. You're also asked to stay in your shooting area and not move around as fighters make their way to the cage.

One of my last shoots on the Nikon D2hs was this event. I was at 1/500, wide open at 1000 ASA. Now that I have the D3s I'd shoot it at 3200.

Images from my last UFC fight are on my member page.

http://www.sportsshooter.com/members.html?id=1127
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Mike Burns, Photographer
Reston | VA | USA | Posted: 3:06 PM on 09.16.10
->> Robert,

I have never dealt with the UFC but the other shows that I have covered have all pretty much been great to work with.

David is correct when he says you pretty much have to stay in your seat and have your gear close to you which is a good thing.

Nic is correct with the NO flash and high ISO. Shooting the pro level shows (UFC, WEC, UWC) is like shooting at high noon compaired to a lot of the little local shows.

If you want to take a look at some of my images www.MMAFightPics.com is my site. Feel free to send me any questions you might have.

If you are also a fan of the sport, just try not to get caught up in watching the action. That is about all I can say.
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Kelvin Ma, Photographer, Assistant
Boston | MA | | Posted: 10:22 AM on 09.17.10
->> I covered UFC 118, also my first, a few weeks ago in Boston. Staff is pretty strict and requires you to have an escort for pretty much everything away from the ring except bathroom breaks. TV runs the show, and everything is very tightly controlled.

The event wasn't particularly friendly for deadline shooters unless you had a runner/editor. The biggest inconvenience was that there was no power ringside, which was kind of annoying since it lasted from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. The other daily photographer and I were shuttling back and forth between press row and ringside, sitting on the floor (bring a cushion or request an extra seat on press row?) while trying to transmit during deadlines. Maybe see if you can bring a long extension cord and tape it down?

But besides the logistics of filing on deadline, it's not a bad gig. Hopefully anything you can gather from my frustrations will make your night a lot easier. You'll definitely be able to use your full range of glass, as wide as your 16 and up to 300. And maybe bring some chewing gum or some strong mints. One guy bled all over our corner midway through the night, and it was smelling pretty awful by the end.
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Greg Honda, Photographer
Honolulu | HI | USA | Posted: 2:12 PM on 09.17.10
->> Depending on who you are shooting for you could be cageside, or in the upper deck. I'd just be prepared for anything because I don't believe the UFC hands out seating assignments in advance. I have some stuff from a local MMA event I shot this past weekend up on my member page.

http://www.sportsshooter.com/members.html?id=6654
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Ed Mulholland, Photographer
Pompton Lakes | NJ | USA | Posted: 1:10 AM on 09.19.10
->> Robert,

Greg is correct, they do not hand out shooting assignments in advance, so be prepared for anything as far as shooting positions. You are not allowed to wander around unless you ask in advance and have an escort.

I shoot a bit of UFC events, (which are on my blog, edmulholland.com) and they are easy to work with though. I'll be out there with ESPN next weekend covering it as well, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

I would suggest if you are cageside using a 70-200 as well as a 24-70, but you'll probably rely on the 70-200 most of the time.

Ed
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Ed Mulholland, Photographer
Pompton Lakes | NJ | USA | Posted: 1:12 AM on 09.19.10
->> One other thing, lighting as far as mma events go will be very good, television type lights, no flash allowed, but you'll be fine...

Ed
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Sam Morris, Photographer
Henderson (Las Vegas) | NV | USA | Posted: 1:42 AM on 09.21.10
->> Practice manual focusing.

Seriously. It is neigh impossible to AF through the cage.
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Greg Honda, Photographer
Honolulu | HI | USA | Posted: 3:08 AM on 09.21.10
->> I tend to disagree with Sam. If you're cageside AF through the cage is not a problem, and if you're in the upper deck you will be shooting down into the cage so the cage will not be an issue.
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Robert Scheer, Photographer
Indianapolis | IN | USA | Posted: 1:21 PM on 09.21.10
->> Thanks a lot for the help gang! Definitely.

If it were up to you, would you prefer the ringside position or the up position?

Also, has anybody shot in the low position and mounted a remote camera in an up spot?
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Robert Scheer, Photographer
Indianapolis | IN | USA | Posted: 3:53 PM on 09.21.10
->> Greg and Sam, it may open a can of worms, but what gear are you guys using?
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Greg Honda, Photographer
Honolulu | HI | USA | Posted: 6:27 PM on 09.21.10
->> Cageside is most definitely a better spot. If I shoot Cageside my primary set-up is a Nikon D700 with a 85mm 1.4. If possible I also bring a second body with a 24-70mm 2.8. The 85mm is my lens of choice because it enables me to clear the cage easier, however, when the action is on the near side of the cage, the 85mm is too long. As Ed mentioned, most of the photographers around the cage are using the 24-70 and 70-200 2.8's.
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Greg Honda, Photographer
Honolulu | HI | USA | Posted: 6:28 PM on 09.21.10
->> BTW - Ed is the man when it comes to boxing and MMA, check out his work it's EXCELLENT!
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Greg Honda, Photographer
Honolulu | HI | USA | Posted: 6:40 PM on 09.21.10
->> Having some background knowledge about the individual fighters, and their strengths and weaknesses also help. For the main event look for Cro-Cop to attempt to end the fight standing with a left high-kick. For Mir, its all about getting the fight to the ground where he can work his world class submission game.
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Greg Honda, Photographer
Honolulu | HI | USA | Posted: 10:41 PM on 09.29.10
->> So how did it go Robert?
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Robert Scheer, Photographer
Indianapolis | IN | USA | Posted: 3:33 PM on 10.04.10
->> Hi,

It went well (just updated my page). My main contact was Rachel, a PR person for the UFC. She was a joy to work with and helped me out a lot with logistics. I ended up sitting cageside, and put my lapper on a press row table about eight feet behind me. In between bouts, I'd scramble back there, send a few photos, then go back to my seat up front. I shot all but one or two of the bouts, and got out of there a little after 1am, several hours before a flight to Denver for Colts/Broncos action.

Regarding focussing: I didn't have a 28-70, so I mostly used my 70-200, then switched to a 16-35 if they got on the cage fence nearest me. I kinda suck at manual focus these days, but I found that the AF worked well on my Mk IV and Mk III if the fighters were at mid-rink or further, and it was hit and miss when they got closer. I tried my best to line them up with the holes in the fence, but I missed more than a few things of course.

Timing seemed similar to other combat sports. To me, most of them punched slower than boxers do, kicked slower than the TKD people do, but the ground moves happened about as quick as most wrestling I've photographed.

These fighters are a different breed and can take a ridiculous amount of pain. In my karate studying days, I wouldn't have wanted any part of these guys. I did get a little stomach knot upon seeing blood after the first elbow hit the first forehead, but as the recipient almost seemed to enjoy it, it was fine with me!

If I do another one of these, I think a position in the catwalks with a 600 would be just incredible.

-B
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Tom Suarez, Photographer
Austin | texas | USA | Posted: 3:58 PM on 10.04.10
->> Robert, I have shot 3 cage fight events all though not UFC so the lighting was not as good. I shot all 3 events using a 24-70 2.8 from cage side. Focus was not an issue since I had lens pressed up against cage. I have not shot any since getting my 7D so all images were shot using the 40D with the 24-70 set at 1600iso 1/320 2.8. I covered the XFC which is what we have in Austin. Here is a link to my photos from cage side. http://tomsuarez.zenfolio.com/f406209284
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Robert Scheer, Photographer
Indianapolis | IN | USA | Posted: 1:27 PM on 10.05.10
->> I ended up using ISO 2,500 1/1000 at 2.8. I couldn't get closer than about two feet from the cage, so had to deal with it.
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Paul Hayes, Photographer, Photo Editor
Littleton | NH | USA | Posted: 6:07 PM on 01.20.13
->> I just shot my first MMA event. It was a local promotion and lighting was tricky. Without reading the above posts I settled on two bodies, one with a 14-24 2.8 and the other with an 85 1.8.

The setup mostly worked, although there were times I wished I'd had my 70-200 2.8 for close-up shots (mostly of faces in pain). But I'm not sure how great those would have been.

I shot through the cage and did what I could. Then supplemented that with other images of the crowd, fighters before and after bouts, etc.

Does anybody with experience prefer using those types of lenses or do you typically go with, say, a 35mm or 50mm 1.4/1.8 instead of one of the two I used?

And also, when shooting through the cage, particularly when the fighters are close to you, do you typically switch to manual focus?
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Martin McNeil, Photographer
London | London | United Kingdom | Posted: 12:27 PM on 01.22.13
->> Paul,

Typically I'd settle on a 24-70 on one body and the 70-200 on the other; at actual UFC events, the cage can be 33' diameter so the 70-200 is the order of the day. When shooting smaller cages, you'll find that at 24-70 is mostly all you need.

I *do* know shooters whom work with primes, but that's usually to compensate for abysmally lit venues. Larger shows are normally very well lit for HD broadcast.

On focusing through the cage: yeah, you'll have to resort to manually focusing when the action gets close to you i.e. when the fighters are pressed up against the cage mesh right in front of you. You'll likely have noticed that the mesh itself is a very juicy target for an AF sensor, being that it's highly reflective black plastic.

In the event that you have some specific questions, feel free to drop me a line.
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Paul Barkley, Photographer
Lidcombe, Sydney | NSW | Australia | Posted: 5:20 AM on 01.23.13
->> Not only do I now know what settings to start out with but also what lenses to bank my shots with. Cheers guys!! : )

I'm shooting an MMA comp her in Australia next month and haven't shot it before. Don't think access will be as tight as some UFC stuff so hopefully I'll get some candid as well as action.

Paul
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