Written by Manon

How do I set up my camera for sports photography?

Sport photography is all about capturing the right moment. Whether it is about capturing a racing car or photographing a world goal. The moment is often over in a second. That is why it is important to use the correct settings. In this article I will explain to you how you set up your camera in sports photography.

Focal length

Focal length between 70 and 200mm

Use a large focal length of, for example, 200 or 400mm to take a sports photo. Lenses with this focal length are zoomed in far, so you get a subject close. This is useful because in sports photography you often photograph from a stand or along the sidelines. If you also want to capture the environment of the athlete, use a smaller focal length. You don't have to zoom in far at that time. For example, a focal length of 70mm is sufficient.

Shutter speed

High shutter speed to freeze action

In sports photography you often capture an action moment. For this you use a fast shutter speed. With this fast shutter speed you freeze the moment, so your photo is sharp. For example, use a shutter speed of 1/1000. If you want to show movement in your photo, choose a somewhat slower shutter speed, such as 1/100. You move the camera along with a cyclist, for example, while you press the shutter release button. This way you capture the subject clearly and the background is out of focus, so you emphasize the movement.


Using a tripod

Because you often use a fast shutter speed in sports photography, you need a higher ISO value. This value depends on the location where you are photographing. For example, hockey matches often take place outside and during the day. In that case you have enough light to photograph. You then use an ISO value of 800 or 1600. Indoor and evening competitions often have less light. You then choose ISO 3200 or 6400. Note: an ISO that is too high can cause noise.


Aperture opening

The aperture number indicates how large the aperture is. The smaller the aperture number, the larger the aperture. For example, an indoor competition requires a large opening of f/4.0. You determine the aperture based on the shutter speed and ISO. Use a fast shutter speed to record an action moment. The light therefore has less time to reach the sensor. To catch enough light, use a large aperture, such as f/2.8.


Automatically focus autofocus

Autofocus is indispensable for sports photography. This ensures that you capture a fast-moving subject in focus. It is difficult to focus manually during an action moment. You often do not have time to do this. With continuous autofocus (AF-C or Al servo) the camera keeps focusing on your subject, even when you press the shutter button. That way you keep an athlete sharp when he or she follows.

Burst mode

Burst mode

Take as many photos as possible. In sports such as Formula 1 and football everything goes very fast. You can therefore not easily choose 1 moment when your photo is the most beautiful. That is why it is handy to use the burst mode on your camera. This makes a whole series of photos in a short time. You look afterwards which photo has become the best. Don't forget to bring enough memory cards.

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Article by:
Manon Camera Expert.

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