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article imageSports photographer talks European Championships, technology Special

By Markos Papadatos     Aug 16, 2018 in Sports
Acclaimed sports photographer Daniel Mitchell chatted about his experience at the 2018 European Championships, and the latest photographic equipment and new technologies, which include mirrorless cameras.
On his experience photographing the 2018 European Championships in Berlin, Mitchell said, "The event was spectacular. It is amazing to be part of any international sporting event. Watching some of the best athletes in the world compete will never get old for me. Some of the highlights for me included seeing Swedish pole vaulter Mondo Duplantis set a world junior record and championship record of 6.05 meters, and Swiss sprinter Lea Sprunger win the gold in the women's 400 meter hurdles."
Mondo Duplantis at European Championships
Mondo Duplantis at European Championships
Photo by Daniel Mitchell
Mitchell continued, "The venue in Berlin was difficult compared to the World Championships in London. The stadium was much older and smaller. As a result, it proved to be quite restrictive for photographers to move and re-position. As an example, to move around the track often required climbing and descending 100 stairs just to change angles. This is not so easy and is time-consuming if you are carrying two cameras with large lenses."
Lea Sprunger
Lea Sprunger
Photo by Daniel Mitchell
This summer, Mitchell also covered the Athletissima Diamond League in Lausanne. "This event is amazing in every way," he said. "As I personally have infield accreditation, I can move to nearly any position that I want. I truly love this freedom as it gives me the ability to push the artistic boundaries of my photography work. Diamond-League events move fast and often have two or three events happening simultaneously. As a photographer, I really have to plan and hustle between event locations to get all the athletes and the shots I want. To make matters even more complex, the ambient lighting changes a lot from events in the early evening to night-time, so this requires constant adjustments to the camera settings."
Ramil Guliyev
Ramil Guliyev
Photo Courtesy of Daniel Mitchell
The esteemed photographer noted that he looks forward to covering the Diamond League in Zurich on August 30. "This event marks one of the last major athletic events of the season," he said. "After this, I will photograph some regional sporting events including a Tennis play-off, several running races in Switzerland, and football (soccer) and many non-sporting events. Now, I am working on accreditation for the 2020 Summer Olympics that will take place in Tokyo, Japan."
Mirrorless cameras
"For the first time in a major athletic event, I made use of the wireless transmitter to send my photos directly from my camera to the Internet during and after races," he said. "In conjunction with my journalist counterparts, this allowed my photos to be published online within minutes of an event. Although this technology has been available for years, it is now mainstream use for sports photography. Speed is everything in the digital media era, and publishing your photos quickly is paramount."
Mitchell continued, "Also, for the first time that I have seen, Sony was present in the press room providing mirrorless cameras and lenses for testing during the competition. Sony had an office set up in the press hall where photographers could learn about the cameras and lenses as well as use Sony products for live events. I see mirrorless camera technology is taking hold in sports photography. This was evident to me when I was in London in 2017 where I saw a few of the first mirrorless products in use at a big sporting event. There were many more mirrorless cameras in action in Berlin of 2018."
He shared that many photographers are still waiting for the mirrorless products to mature and stabilize before investing money and time with mirrorless equipment. "With this in mind, most photographers have several tens of thousands (money) invested in DSLR camera and lenses from rival brands, as well as having time invested learning how to use the buttons, menus, and features of the camera equipment. So, changing to another brand, or mirrorless products, is not a decision to take lightly," he said.
Mitchell added that some third party "adapters" allow re-use of competitors lenses, but "the quality of the results are not as guaranteed as having all equipment from the same manufacturer."
He acknowledged that many changes in track and field technology have crept in gradually over the past years. 'It is hard to pinpoint a date for each change, but there are very many developments over the last decade. For example, high-definition video cameras, cameras from dozens of locations simultaneously, electronic timing, electronic starter pistol, instant replay video, large LED screens showing instant computerized statistics for new records, personal best performances, electronic photo-finishes, radio steady-cams (shoulder mounted, aerial, and video cameramen on segways), laser distance measurement equipment for field events, near real-time publishing of photos via WiFi and network connected digital cameras.
"Without question, event organizers have given an emphasis and position priority to video broadcasters over photographers," he admitted. "As a photographer, this is frustrating, but everyone has to adapt to the changes in technology."
Proudest moments, advice for hopefuls
On his proudest professional moments this year, Mitchell shared, "Personally, this year marks a decade of professional photography work in athletics for me. Looking back, over the last 10 years, I have been lucky to travel the world to see most of the continents, visit over 50 countries in my travels, and see and meet the world's best athletes up close."
For aspiring photographers who wish to pursue sports photography, Mitchell concluded, "As I have said previously, any aspiring photographer should consider themselves as an eternal student. It is important to learn, change, and adapt to the new technologies and demands of a photo specialist."
To learn more about Swiss sports photographer Daniel Mitchell and his photography, check out his official homepage, and Facebook page.
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