close up of a man holding a basketball

Long Shots | Basketball with the Alpha 1

Mine Kasapoğlu

Sometimes new ideas are born from the simplest of things. A little thought or idea can spark a new project, and using a new setting, camera, or lens can be all that is needed to have that moment of inspiration.

This is precisely what happened to Turkish sports photographer Mine Kasapoğlu when she recently used the Sony Alpha 1 and the FE 400mm f/2.8 G Master lens to photograph a basketball match.

two basketball players facing off during a game

© Mine Kasapoğlu | Sony α1 + FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS | 1/1250s @ f/2.8, ISO 2500

“A lot of people saw me as I was on live TV, lying on the floor of the basketball court. I had photographer friends sending me messages saying, 'Are you shooting basketball with a 400mm lens?’''

Whilst a 400mm lens is commonplace when shooting an outdoor sports event, such as football, skiing or cycling, in the confined space of a basketball court, it is an odd choice. However, Mine had something particular in mind when she pulled the lens out of her camera bag and mounted it on her Alpha 1.

basketball player running while dribbling the ball

© Mine Kasapoğlu | Sony α1 + FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS | 1/1250s @ f/2.8, ISO 3200

For the first two-quarters of the match, I took all the usual shots that a press agency would require from the event, so I used my 70-200mm f/2.8 G Master lens. I thought I would play around with the FE 400mm f/2.8 GM lens for the second half of the game. Nobody shoots basketball with a 400mm lens, but I liked how the images looked."
basketball player pointing during a game

© Mine Kasapoğlu | Sony α1 + FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS | 1/1250s @ f/2.8, ISO 3200

The resulting images are in-play portraits that capture the moment-to-moment expressions of the basketball players focused on the game under the arena lights.

“I always look for real expressions on an athlete's face. I don't like too much 'game face' with distorted faces and stuff. I like hero shots from real moments when an athlete is in their element. You cannot recreate these moments in a studio.”

The ability to take in-game portraits like this comes from Mine shooting with the Sony Alpha 1 and 50.1 megapixel stacked BSI CMOS sensor.

basketball player looking off into the distance during a game

© Mine Kasapoğlu | Sony α1 + FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS | 1/1600s @ f/2.8, ISO 3200

I'm quite old school and still remember all the rules of shooting with film. We would have to shoot on ISO 3200 film and accept the hard look of the film grain. But now the Alpha 1 gives me so much power because I can work in low light situations, and the images look great and clear. It is amazing to shoot in such conditions, and that ability is a huge asset."

It isn't just the Alpha 1's superb image quality in low light that helped Mine create these in-game portraits. The camera also can focus precisely in such conditions.

two players during a basketball game

© Mine Kasapoğlu | Sony α1 + FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS | 1/1250s @ f/2.8, ISO 2500

“Sports photographers are always worried about focus on faces. When you see photographers looking at their screens, they're 100% checking the focus on the face to see if they have got the shot. With the Sony Alpha 1, I don't need to check. I can shoot a whole sequence at up to 30fps and know every image is in focus. That is important because it allows me to choose the specific facial expression I want in order to portray the athlete looking their best at that moment.”

The advanced autofocusing power of the Sony Alpha 1 has changed how Mine shoots sports like basketball. “When I used to shoot on a DSLR, I would focus on the hoop and wait if I wanted to capture a player doing a dunk. With the Alpha 1, I use Tracking AF to follow all of the action and still get the slam dunk. Focusing was my number one worry, but not since I switched to Sony.”

man picking up a basketball

© Mine Kasapoğlu | Sony α1 + FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS | 1/1000s @ f/3.5, ISO 2500

The basketball portraits show Mine's passion for showing the emotions that athletes go through whilst playing. There is a greater motivation behind her work: to inspire the next generation of sportsmen and women.

“Inspiring the next generation is my mission. I like to make the athletes look so good that everybody wants to do what they do – and with my Sony kit in hand it’s easy to make everyone I photograph look their best.”

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Mine Kasapoğlu

Mine Kasapoğlu | Turkey

"Searching for light, energy and emotion, captured at the exact right time"

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