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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

MMA Fighting
Michael Okoniewski, Photographer
Syracuse | NY | USA | Posted: 9:50 AM on 09.06.16
->> I've got my first Mixed Martial Arts event to cover next month. I did some research and there's the easy high angle long lens shot and the through the cage shots. Anyone on here ever cover it before? What's the idea lens combo for through the fence angle? Any other tips would be most appreciated.
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Michael Chen, Photographer, Assistant
Saratoga | CA | USA | Posted: 8:44 PM on 09.06.16
->> I've only done this kind of thing once so far; I used a 24-70 f/2.8 wide open with the plastic bayonet hood and filter removed (lights were positioned really low to shine directly into your lens), pushed up as close to the fence as I could get.

Faster lenses wide open would be even better for hiding the cage, if you've got them. If you're shooting from the floor next to the cage, it's unlikely you'll need anything longer than 85mm. A fast 50mm would probably work fantastic, provided it (1) can autofocus quickly and accurately on your camera or (2) you can manually focus it quickly and accurately. I had a 24-70mm available, so that's what I used.

A Mamiya M645 "No. 1" rubber hood (like those required for professional basketball), collapsed, works as a good bumper in case you inadvertently strike the fence with the front of your lens.
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Michael Chen, Photographer, Assistant
Saratoga | CA | USA | Posted: 8:45 PM on 09.06.16
->> Oh, also, bring a towel for your hands; there was quite a bit of sweat and other goop (I didn't want to know) that seemed to get on everything...
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Dennis Wierzbicki, Photographer
Chicago | IL | USA | Posted: 7:26 PM on 09.08.16
->> Covered this once. Mostly used a 70-200. Also used a 24-70. I wasn't allowed to get onto the apron, right next to the cage, so I just accepted the chain link was gonna be in my shots.

It was July, so I wore a short sleeve polo. Leaned my elbows on the rubber mat covering the apron around the ring.

After an hour or so, I noticed a couple small abrasions/cuts from where my elbows were rubbing on the apron.

Two days later, developed a bad staph infection in one arm. My elbow swelled up and looked like I had a tennis ball under the skin, centered on the cut I'd gotten from the apron.

Like Michael said above, who knows WHAT has dripped on those aprons, and who knows WHEN they were last cleaned or disinfected.

Moral of the story - wear a long sleeve shirt.
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Michael Chen, Photographer, Assistant
Saratoga | CA | USA | Posted: 8:04 PM on 09.08.16
->> Dennis has a fantastic piece of advice; the event I was at also asked that we all wear dark clothing. Dark long-sleeve shirts, and be mindful.

Right next to the cage, I found a 70-200 too long. The official event guy and I both had 70-200's out and ready to be used, but never touched them. If you had to be positioned away from ring, I think it'd be a great lens for this kind of thing.

If you get to go into the cage between matches for some of the fanfare (unlikely except for smaller events), an ultra-wideangle zoom can be useful; 11-24, 14-24, 16-35, whatever they make these days should do.
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Michael Okoniewski, Photographer
Syracuse | NY | USA | Posted: 9:38 AM on 09.11.16
->> Thanks to all here & the private messages I rec'd. I'll rent a 24-70 F 2.8 for my event. And as for wearing black, I learned that trick a long time ago at WWF. I use it at concerts & boxing to "dissappear".
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Martin McNeil, Photographer, Photo Editor
London | London | United Kingdom | Posted: 2:25 PM on 09.17.16
->> I've shot dozens of mixed martial arts events over the past nine years; here are some key tips

A two-body setup with a 24-70mm and 70-200mm lenses will cover almost every eventuality. I would not rely on a single camera unless it was paired with a 24-120mm, because the extra reach will be invaluable for when the action moves away from your slot across the cage - the diameter of which can be as much as 33 feet. On a few occasions, I even toted a 200-400mm lens with me to allow me to get very tight closeup shots of fighters entering or leaving the cage.

Speaking of slots: depending on the promotion that is hosting the show, you will most likely be given a fixed shooting position for the duration of the fights. You are usually expected to keep as low a profile as possible so, to ensure your comfort, bring a dark sports towel along with you so you can place it beneath your elbows on the cage apron... otherwise your elbows will end up red raw before the night is out.

If you have a modern dSLR such as the Nikon D3 or better, you can reliably autofocus through the cage mesh. The highest contrast target for your camera's AF sensor will be the waistband of the shorts the fighters wear. Having defocused mesh in your shots is the norm for these types of events, so don't worry about it.

Shoot loose, crop tight - because the fights can go from standing, to ground, and back to standing faster than you can reframe. Also bear in mind that the entire body is a target.

Be prepared to get covered in sweat and even blood when your cageside. Have a cloth ready to deal with any spatter that might get on the front element of your lens.
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Doug Strickland, Photographer
Chattanooga | TN | USA | Posted: 2:50 PM on 09.18.16
->> Jeeze, the more I read here the more I hope I never have to cover an MMA fight. Hope you're up-to-date on your hepatitis vaccinations, and good luck!
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Renay Johnson, Photographer
San Diego | CA | | Posted: 7:29 PM on 10.08.16
->> Wear dark colors. The first boxing match I shot, I wore a brand new shirt and went home with blood spots on it as I shot ringside. I shot a lot of boxing/MMA and used 24-70mm and 70-200mm lenses.
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Michael Okoniewski, Photographer
Syracuse | NY | USA | Posted: 9:34 AM on 10.16.16
->> UPDATE: My first MMA went great. I wore my dirt biking elbow pads and no raw skin. I never even used the 24-70 I rented. Instead the Canon 24-105 and the 70-200 were the ticket. The light was outstanding at 3200 iso, 1/1000 @ F2.8. Thanks for all the advice. Oh, and the black towels I bought were not needed on this night.
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Thread Title: MMA Fighting
Thread Started By: Michael Okoniewski
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