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Which camera settings should I use for sports photos?



Many people buy DSLR and other cameras because they want to take good sports photos. It's one of the areas where your smartphone just can't cut it. Here are the camera settings that generally give you the best results.

The gear you need for sports photos

The biggest challenge with sports photography is distance: for most sports you stand beside the action happening up to a few hundred meters away from you. If you do not want to spread up and down the tent, a phone search lens is the best tool for getting good pictures.

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For crop sensor cameras, a lens with a focal length longer than about 70 mm should work quite well for most sports. I have shot many sports photos with a Canon 18-135mm. For specific lens recommendations, check out our guides for the best lenses for your Canon or Nikon camera.

Now it is possible to take sports photos without a teleline. You just have to be much more intentional with your scene, and you will miss more pictures.

Sport Photos Shutter Speed ​​

For sports photography, shutter speed is normally the most important setting. That's what will freeze the action. The shutter speed you use depends on the sport you shoot.

RELATED: What shutter speed should I use with my camera?

The shutter speeds are faster than 1/1000th of a second will freeze pretty much everything, even fast cars. For most sports, however, you do not need to go fast.

The shutter speeds between 1 / 500th and 1 / 1000th of a second will freeze all moving people, fixed-motion balls-like tennis or baseballs-may show some motion blur.

The shutter speeds between 1 / 100th and 1 / 500th of a second will freeze most human movements. A quick sprinter or someone who swings your arms or legs will probably have some motion blur. There is also the risk of using a long lens that your shutter speed will not be fast enough to prevent blurring from the camera shaking in your hands.

It is better to go with a faster shutter speed than you think you need if you try to freeze the action. For the most part, if I shoot in daylight, I try to use a shutter speed of at least 1/800 of a second.

The second option is to use a slightly slower shutter speed than is required to freeze your subject. A small motion blur around the edges gives a sense of speed and action.

Aperture for sports photos

Since the shutter speed is so important for sports photography, the aperture takes a little back seat.

This often means that you shoot with the maximum aperture of the lens: f / 4 and f / 5.6, the maximum aperture of two common telephoto lenses, both work well for sports photos. If you want more depth of field, you can use something like f / 8 or f / 11; You just need to look at your shutter speed.

RELATED: What aperture should I use with my camera?

ISO for sports photos

As a sports photo aperture ISO selection is determined by the shutter speed you want to use. Our general advice on ISO is to use the lowest setting that you can get away with, and while it is still increasing ISO, the only option you need is to get a fast shutter speed. You shouldn't be surprised if you need to shoot it at 400, 800 or even 1600 to keep the shutter speed faster than 1/1000.


While shutter speed is normally the most important consideration with sports photography, I still prefer to shoot in the aperture priority mode – and recommend that you do so. Just make sure your shutter speed is fast enough and if it starts to fall, open the aperture or increase ISO.


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