The Right Camera Settings for Great Action Shots

It’s essential that you get yourself set up for success before the action starts in sports photography. Before the starting whistle blows and the game begins, get your camera set up with the right settings so you can shoot like a pro!


Check your shutter speed and set it to the appropriate speed. Remember this depends on what you are shooting and how fast the subject is moving.

Set your camera to the lowest possible ISO setting for the amount of light you have to work with. If you are shooting outdoors, use ISO 100 or 200. If you are in low light, use higher ISO numbers. It’s important to note that the higher the ISO, the more “noise” or graininess a photo will have. It’s important to find the right balance between noise and blurriness when finding the right ISO setting for your event.

Adjust your aperture. The aperture is the opening of a lens that light passes through and it is calibrated in f/stops. It can be a little bit confusing when you first start off. The lower the f/stop means that the larger the opening in the lens and the higher the f/stop, the smaller the opening. A larger aperture (meaning a lower f/stop) will help you increase your shutter speed and give you a shallower depth of field to help isolate players from the background. This will also help you have a fast enough shutter speed to stop the action.

Try burst or continuous shooting mode. Continuous shooting mode can take multiple shots at a time and can be best for certain types of fast-moving sports. However, remember that your memory card will fill up faster with burst mode so be sure yours has enough capacity or you will have to delete shots at half time or time outs.

If you are shooting an indoor event, you will need to adjust your white balance setting. The preset daylight white balance setting will usually work for outdoor lighting. Because indoor lighting is artificial, you may want to set up a custom white balance or it can impact your camera settings and change the colors of your shot.

You also need to turn your flash off! This is key! Flash photography can distract the players. If you have a slow lens that requires flash, you may want to invest in a faster lens or rent one from DC Sports Photography Academy.

Remember, above all, that sports photography is something that requires consistent practice. Get your settings correct and remember that with each game, you will improve more and more.

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