Written by Jeroen

How do I set up my camera for sports photography?

In sports photography, it's all about capturing the right moment. Whether it's capturing a race car or photographing an awesome goal. The moment often passes in under a second. That's why you'll need a fast lens and camera. You'll often be capturing action moments from the side. That's why a lens with a lot of zoom is recommended. In this article, I'll explain what you should pay attention to when it comes to sports photography.

Focal length

Focal length between 70 and 200mm

A telephoto lens is often used for taking sports photos. These lenses have focal lengths between around 70-200mm and longer. That's because these lenses allow you to zoom in a lot. In addition, you could also choose a lens with a long fixed focal length around 200mm. These don't just zoom in, they also allow you to take sports photos at shorter focal lengths. You just won't be able to zoom in on a subject as much. If you can get close to the action, this won't matter much.

Image stabilization

Image stabilization prevents motion blur

While taking action photos, you'll often be turning to follow your subject. Choosing a lens with image stabilization is recommended. This prevents motion blur. That allows you to take pictures by hand more easily.

Shutter speed

High shutter speed to freeze action

In order to capture the right moment, you need to be able to freeze it. You do this by setting a high shutter speed on your camera. The faster, the better. If your shutter speed isn't high enough, your photo will be affected by motion blur.


Aperture opening

In order to capture an action moment, you'll need a 'quick' lens. Think of an f number of 2.8. The larger your aperture, the more light will fall onto the sensor, and the higher your shutter speed will get.


Automatically focus autofocus

Autofocus is indispensable in sports photography. It enables you to keep a fast-moving subject in focus and follow it, since manually focusing during an action moment is hard. You often won't have time to do this.

Use your camera's burst mode

Burst mode

Take as many photos as possible. In sports such as Formula 1 and soccer, everything goes very fast. This means you won't be able to choose 1 moment where your photo will look the best easily. That's why it's useful to use your camera's burst mode. It will take a whole series of photos one after the other in a short time span. Afterwards, you can check to see which photo turned out the best. Don't forget to bring enough memory cards.

Use a tripod

Using a tripod

A tripod with a high load-bearing capacity and a wide leg span is recommended if you're planning to photograph from 1 spot. If you want to be more mobile when choosing a vantage point, you could also use a sturdy monopod. In addition, a tripod head that turns smoothly is a big help when following a fast-moving subject. A gimbal head is the most convenient for this. These tripod heads can be adjusted horizontally and vertically smoothly and fast.

Explore the surroundings

Explore the surroundings

Sports are often played on location. That's why it's important to decide where you'll be standing when taking a sports photo. Examine your surrounding. Check what's the best place to capture a beautiful moment from. Also try to play around with your composition. Although a straight horizon looks good on most photos, for sports photos, it's often more exiting to take them at a slant, for example.

Article by:
Camera Expert.

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