Sports Action Basketball

Take your action photography to the next level

EOS tutorial

Tips and techniques with your EOS DSLR

  • Sports mode
  • Storage and battery
  • Optical viewfinder
  • Adjust shutter speed
  • Panning
  • Narrow your focus

Phil Roeder – Iowa State Basketball Tournament

Sports mode

It’s simpler to capture dynamic sports if you use Sports mode. You can then keep the shutter pressed while snapping high speed sequences. The camera uses tracking focus and dynamically changes to the best AF point to follow the action – while ensuring every frame stays sharp.

Storage and battery

Use a high-speed memory card for shooting long sequences of continuous frames. Standard memory cards fill up too fast, because the camera uses its buffer for temporary storage. Continuous Shooting Drive mode uses up battery power too, so make sure yours doesn’t run flat. If you don't have a spare battery, make sure you have the power turned off when you’re not using the camera or you activate Auto power off.

Optical viewfinder keeps both eyes on the game

Use the optical viewfinder auto focus to track and follow your subject, being sure to keep one eye open, so you don’t miss any action.

Tip: Practise keeping both eyes open, with one looking through the viewfinder and the other at the overall scene. You’re less likely to miss important moments.

Jackson Lavarnway

Adjust shutter speed

Turn your Mode dial to Shutter priority AE (Tv) and select the correct shutter speed. Racing cars moving towards you, for example, would need 1/1000s or more, whereas kids playing football in the garden would need 1/500s. The camera will then automatically select an appropriate aperture. The key to Shutter priority is anticipating what kind of action you’ll be shooting. At fast speeds, use the Auto ISO setting and you will be able to capture your subject even in failing light.

Tip: Keep people in focus when they’re approaching your camera: use a faster shutter speed to capture the action. This is ideal for use on the side-line, when a high-speed football tackle is approaching.

Practise panning

Panning is when you move the camera lens to follow a subject that’s moving parallel to you. It’s often combined with slower shutter speeds, so the subject is sharp while the stationary foreground and background are blurred. To practise, use the optical viewfinder and pivot from your hips to keep the motion smooth. If your lens has an Image Stabilizer (IS), check the side of the lens for an IS Mode switch and set it to IS Mode 2.

Narrow your focus

In sports images, the background and foreground often feature colourful and contrasting objects. To keep the subject focussed amid these busy scenes, try selecting the smaller AF points zone. It takes skill to keep them on the subject, but the result will be worth it.

Tip: Check your camera menu for the AI SERVO AF feature. When AI SERVO AF is active the camera will try to track moving subjects continuously to keep them in sharp focus. It helps to choose the subject a little early and start the tracking before they are in the ideal spot.

Stay Informed

Coming Next: Seeing the world without a viewfinder

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