How To: Capturing Action Sports Photos

Posted by Deborah Lalehzar

Jul 9th 2018

Most sports involve fast paced action that can be a challenge to photograph. With the right camera settings and speed, however, capturing those action packed moves can turn out better than imagined.

The following tips will give your camera all it needs to take those intense, dramatic, and exciting sports pictures of your favorite athletes.


One of the first things you need to think about is where you will sit at the sports game. In order to capture the best pictures of the athletes, you’ll want a close spot with an unobstructed view of the game. We suggest heading there earlier to set up your camera and grab the best seat in the house.

Lens choice

For most sports, you won't be able to get very close to the action. Longer lenses allow photographers to zoom in closely for clearer and more detailed shots.


It can be tricky to focus on fast-moving subjects so it's important to set your camera to a single point focus for responsive and accurate photos. With single point focus, your camera will focus on what’s in the middle of the shot instead of trying to focus on the entire scene. This also allows your camera to stop guessing what to focus on and makes your camera faster.

Shutter Speed

This may be the most important thing you need to get the perfect action shot. A fast shutter speed is key in capturing moving athletes without being left with a blurry photo. Start with a shutter speed of 1/500 which is fast enough for most sports and action.


In order to increase your shutter speed, you will need to open your camera’s aperture to let in as much light as possible. Using a wide aperture will also produce a shallow depth of field, blurring any background distractions to focus on the players, resulting in an image with more impact and drama.

sports photography

Burst Mode

Since sports move quickly, it can be difficult to keep up. Use your camera's continuous shooting mode (often called burst mode) to take 4 or 6 shots at a time. This will increase your chances of capturing the perfect action shot during the game.


When using a fast shutter speed, your camera might struggle with exposure. ISO refers to the light sensitivity of either the film or imaging sensor of a camera. By adjusting the ISO, you can fix exposure based on the sports setting.

Flash Off

While its not as important as camera speed, turning off your flash will help with the overall quality of your photos as well. Being a fair distance away from an outdoor game in daylight means that your flash will be practically useless. In addition, it can drain your battery pretty quickly. Make sure to turn off your flash before you start shooting.

Action photography can be a tricky when it comes to sports, but these tips on camera settings will increase your chances of capturing some fantastic shots.

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