The Perfect Camera Settings for Action and Sports Photography

The Perfect Camera Settings for Action and Sports Photography

The 2018 school year is upon us now, and you are probably making plans to attend your first set of games to cheer on the home team!  We want to see your live action shots plastered all over social media, so to help we want to give you a few tips.

Photographing sports and action is all about speed. We want to show how to set up your camera to capture sharp, detailed photos full of excitement and drama.

Action and sports photography can be challenging, but also very exciting. The key to getting good pictures is to set your camera up properly before the event begins, so that when things kick off you can forget about your settings and focus on the action.

The following camera settings are an excellent place to start and work well in all situations.

5) Use a Fast Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is the single most important thing to get right in action photography. If yours isn't set fast enough then you'll be left with blurry, disappointing shots that no amount of Photoshop post-processing will be able to salvage.   [caption id="attachment_1581" align="alignnone" width="620"]Image by johnthescone. Image by johnthescone.[/caption]
Start by putting your camera into Shutter Priority mode and choosing a shutter speed of 1/500 of a second. This is a good starting point and should be fast enough for most sports and action. If possible, take a few test shots before the main event starts so that you can check how sharp they are. If that's not possible, periodically check your photos as you go. If you spot any blurring, switch to an even faster shutter speed.  

4) Open Your Aperture

To help you reach the high shutter speeds required, you'll need to open your aperture up nice and wide. If you have a very fast lens (such as the f/2.8 and f/4 lenses that professional sports photographers invest in), then you may be able to get away with coming down from the maximum aperture by a stop or so.   [caption id="attachment_1582" align="alignnone" width="436"]Image by Huskies Football. Image by Huskies Football.[/caption]
However, if you're using a cheaper lens with a maximum aperture of f/5.6 or smaller, you'll need to open your lens up as wide as it will go to let in as much light as possible. This is particularly true when shooting indoors, as the lighting can be poor. If you're using a zoom lens it's tempting to crop in as close as possible on your subject, but your lens's aperture is narrowest at this end of the zoom range. It's better to set your lens around the middle of its range as a good compromise between filling the frame and letting in enough light. An added benefit of using a wide aperture is the shallow depth of field it produces. This blurs any background distractions and focuses your attention firmly on the players, producing an image with more impact and drama.

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