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Camera FAQ #18: How to Use High-speed Continuous Shooting to Freeze Moments Skilfully

Continuous shooting is a necessary photography technique for capturing decisive moments, such as when a point is scored in fast action sports or when a plane touches down. Let’s uncover some tricks to this as we go over some examples. (Reported by: Shugo Takemi & Charlie Furusho)


Scenario 1: Action sports with quick bursts

In fencing, actions are swift, which makes freezing moments a challenge. Using a fast shutter speed alone certainly isn't enough! This shot captures the instant when Yuki Ota on the right won a point from his opponent during the fencing qualifiers at the Asian Games. While photographing their bout, we used high-speed continuous shooting to capture the instant where the fencers thrust at each other.


Getting the shot

We positioned the fencer we were following in the right of our frame and locked focus onto him with AI Servo AF. Keeping our attention on the fencer’s shoulder, we pressed the shutter button once we thought he was about to make his move. At this point, the trick was to trigger continuous release of the shutter at the moment we though he was about to move, and not upon seeing him make his move. This way, we had a higher likelihood of capturing the decisive moment. The following were the shots obtained, the second of which turned out to be the best one.




2. The best shot



EOS-1D X/ EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x/ FL: 200mm/ Manual exposure (f/4, 1/800 sec.)/ ISO 6400/ WB: Auto


Tip: Aim to get your best shot from the second frame onwards

When using the continuous shooting mode for fast action sports, pressing the shutter button when you have noticed the moment would be too late. So think of the first frame as one to be deleted, and shoot such that the best shot would be captured from the second frame onwards.

The first frame

Interested in sports photography? Here are some more tips for aspiring sports photographers from Howie Choo. 


Scenario 2: A plane moments before touchdown

EOS 7D Mark II/ EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM/ FL: 400mm (640mm-equivalent)/ Manual exposure (f/8, 1/1,250 sec.)/ ISO 200/ WB: Auto


From the famous shooting location Senri River near Osaka International Airport, I started to shoot this passenger aircraft just as smoke began to stream from its tyres as it touched down onto the runway. The photograph above is the best shot of all the continuous shots taken, and seems to convey the screeching of the tyres and vibrations of the reverse thrust.


Getting the shot

When shooting smoke in circumstances like this, the location of the tyres will vary by the aircraft and the timing of the touchdown will depend on the wind direction, so it would be good to press the shutter button and start continuous shooting when the aircraft is inches to touchdown. In this selected shot, the front wheels have yet to make contact with the tarmac. The moment when the spoilers are deployed from the aircraft wings has also been captured.

Also, to give the tyre smoke some impact, get a close-up of the aircraft. The runway is usually some distance from the shooting point, so you will need a telephoto lens of about 600mm.


The AF function is also very important for continuous shots of subjects in motion, as it helps ensure that they remain in focus! Check out this article on Customizing the AF Function to Capture the Right Moment for some more tips.


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EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x

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EOS 7D Mark II (Body)

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EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM

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Shugo Takemi


Born in 1985, Takemi graduated from the Department of Photography at Nihon University’s College of Art. After completing his studies he relocated to Vancouver in Canada where he worked for a local newspaper, MINKEI NEWS VANCOUVER. After returning to Japan, he was involved in photography activities in various genres. His work included photography for magazines, posters for sports events and programmes. He was also a photographer for the application committee for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. Currently, he is active as a freelance photographer.


Charlie Furusho


Born in 1972 in Tokyo, Furusho is an aviation photojournalist who holds a pilot’s licence. He became a freelance photographer after working for domestic and international airlines. Besides being involved in producing advertisements, publications and calendars for airlines and travel agencies, he also teaches aviation photography and gives talks. Furusho is a lecturer for Canon Japan’s EOS Gakuen.


Digital Camera Magazine


A monthly magazine that believes that enjoyment of photography will increase the more one learns about camera functions. It delivers news on the latest cameras and features and regularly introduces various photography techniques.
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