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Nikon Nation Mark Pain Interview

Nikon Nation Mark Pain Interview - Mark Pain was crowned Olympic Photographer of the year in 2012. We find out more.

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Mark Pain

How did you get into photography?
It all began when I was 13 or 14 when I was bought my first SLR camera. I was fascinated by the range of shutter speeds you could choose from and the different effect they had on the pictures. It felt all the more magical as that was during the days of film so you would have to wait two or three days to get your film developed and prints back from the photo lab. That's when I think I got the bug for photography.

Congratulations on being crowned Olympic photographer of the year! What was that like for you?
Being named The Olympics Photographer Of The Year 2012 was amazing - probably the highlight of my career so far. The Olympics are the pinnacle for a Sports Photographer and London 2012 threw up some incredible images. All the best sports photographers in the world are there so to be named the best was pretty awesome. It's always nice to win an award but to win one at The Olympics is the ultimate accolade.

Mark Pain gymnast
© Mark Pain

Why do you use Nikon equipment? Was there any particular trigger?
My Nikon cameras and lenses are simply the best equipment there is to shoot sport. The Nikon cameras are somehow more ergonomic than any other camera system out there - and they always have been. There is a real bond between photographer and camera when you pick up a Nikon, and the D4 is simply the best camera they've ever made. The D3 was a real game changer when it came out, and any sports photographer that wasn't using a Nikon at the time soon wished they were. Since then there has been a natural development of the camera through various firmware upgrades, the launch of the D3s and now the D4.

Talk us through your kit.
I use D4 bodies for all of my work. My main telephoto lens is a 400mm f/2.8 which is great for football. However I also use a 300mm f/2.8 and a 500mm f/4 as well depending on the size and characteristics of the ground. My second camera body pretty much always has my 70-200mm f/2.8 on it for goalmouth action.

Mark Pain weightlifter
© Mark Pain

How did you become a Nikon ambassador?
I suppose I became a Nikon Ambassador out of recognition for my Olympics work and also from being named twice as Sports Photographer Of The Year in the recent past - it's a two way thing though and I wouldn't have agreed to being an Nikon Ambassador if I didn't have 100% belief in the equipment.

Do you have any tips for budding sports photographers out there?
My advice to any budding sports photographer is to practice and shoot as much and as many different sports as you can. Each sport is unique and has its own technical challenges. Only by shooting a wide variety of sports will you ever develop the necessary variety of skills you need to truly call yourself a sports photographer. On the equipment side - set yourself a goal of having a prime telephoto lens in your kit bag. Zooms are fine but a fixed focal length lens will always massively outperform them. The classic sports telephoto lens is a 300mm. There isn't a professional sports photographer I know that hasn't owned a 300mm at some stage.

For more information on Mark and his photography, take a look at his website.

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