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How to Shoot Sports Photography: The Camera Settings You Need to Know


Whether you are planning to photograph your kid’s first soccer game in school or keen to capture your favourite basketball team in action, photographing sports can be challenging because of the speed, unpredictability and nature of the game. It’s important to prepare yourself, get the right equipment, and learn the basic settings of your camera to get the best of photos in sports.

sports photography settings infographic

What to do when you’re there

Before going to the sporting event, research on the sport and have a rough idea of the angles you want to capture. Thereafter, get to the event location early to find a good spot where you can see the action.

Use a tripod to stabilise your camera, or a monopod if you need to move around. Be considerate and try not to block the spectators’ view when you are shooting, or obstruct the walkway with your equipment (that includes the tripod).

Be prepared to take lots of photos if you are new to sports photography, because there is a high chance that you will only get a few good ones out of them.

The camera settings you’ll need

Instead of using full automatic, opt for the Aperture Priority (Av) mode, which gives you total control of your aperture. You can focus on how much light you want to let in, while the camera automatically adjusts the shutter speed for you. In this way, your photos will be bright enough and you will be able to freeze the action. Find out more about the Av mode in Camera Basics #16: Aperture-priority AE.

There are different focusing modes in your mirrorless camera – One Shot AF and Servo AF. Choose the Servo AF mode to maintain focus on the subject even when it is moving. Learn more about this mode in A Close-Up Look at 13 Key Features of the EOS M50.

Watching your ISO is equally important. With Av mode, you can adjust your ISO freely. Set your ISO to 400 or lower when there is available daylight, or increase it to 800-1200 if it is overcast or indoors. Control your ISO speed more effectively with the guide, Camera Basics #5: ISO Speed.

To capture the actions, switch to burst mode, which allows you to shoot continuously for at least 6 frames per second (depending on the camera model). This is great for shooting fast-moving subjects and increases your chance of getting the money shot.

Learn more about the settings in Sports Photography: How to Emphasize Speed by Contrasting Stillness with Motion


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